Don't be so certain on scientific assumptions

I take issue with Richard Dawkins' comment "Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science" ("Views on evolution say a lot about a candidate," Aug. 26).

Perhaps the wisest science teacher I know told his class that science proves nothing true; it can only prove things false. Until something is proven false, we can only assume it to be true until further notice.

Science has proven itself wrong in the past. Remember Pluto? When I was in primary school, everyone knew it was a planet. Now, kids are taught that it's not.

Science is constantly updating itself, and things that we knew for certain 20, 50 and even 100 years ago will eventually be refuted.


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Moral view is broader than the church view

Peter A. Laird ("Birth-control mandate puts religion in a bind," Aug. 26) speaks only to the issues that one religious group has with contraception, and makes no mention of the users of contraception -- individual people.

If a woman or man chooses to follow Roman Catholic principles, fine -- no use of artificial birth control, reliance on natural family planning, lots of babies. But we must acknowledge that this is not the choice of the majority.

Laird seems to be more concerned with the moral issues providers face around contraception. Really?

A health care provider is not the individual who is personally concerned with an unwanted pregnancy, does not have to deal with the physical and emotional factors involved in a pregnancy, does not have to parent in a situation where perhaps there is not enough financial or emotional capital to be the kind of parent a person wants to be, does not have to make an agonizing decision around an unplanned pregnancy (and none of those decisions is easy).

I don't question the "sincerely held conviction." If the recommendation adopted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services truly is a dilemma for the hospitals and clinics run by the Catholic church, perhaps they should be restructured to serve only patients who are not interested in being in control of their own lives and families.

And this should be loudly and broadly advertised, perhaps with a banner across the front of the facility: Modern reproductive health care is not available at this facility.


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Bigger class sizes may not be the best idea

Hurrah for the comments of William A. Cooper ("Pay teachers more, demand results without nonsense," Aug 26)!

We need more voices to be raised in our quest to improve our educational system, for all of the reasons he mentions. Most of his proposals show that he has a good understanding of the situation.

However, I do wonder about Cooper's idea that increasing class size is part of the answer.

Most college students have experienced the pleasure of sitting in a large lecture hall, deliberately taking notes from a great teacher, but how early in one's educational life can students be expected to respond to larger group experiences?

"Add five students to a class," he suggests, but to what base? I wonder if Cooper has visited a classroom in an elementary school to witness the wiggling youngsters, craving personal attention and encouragement.

Also, his statement: "We need to get back to the basics" opens the big question of what is basic in our curriculum. I expect that Cooper has some ideas here also, but he has made an important statement, and we need to get on with the discussion.


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It's not a frivolous role for a modern city

There's a lot of outcry about Minneapolis hiring a bicycle coordinator. This is understandable, because people feel that it's a luxury expenditure at a time when the city can't even afford the necessities.

However, I favor the position, because Minneapolis cannot continue to grow as bike-friendly city without continued governmental support, including someone designated to be responsible for bike-related issues.

You may wonder why such growth matters at all. The reason is that the continued vibrancy of the Twin Cities' culture and economy depends on attracting young people and businesses to the area.

One of the major selling points is livability. This livability must be stewarded, and one way is to work hard to increase transportation alternatives.

An increasing portion of the population is making an increasing number of trips by bike.

Using a bicycle for transportation is preferable because bike transit is environmentally friendly, healthy, cost-effective, and safer than car and truck traffic. It reduces congestion and wear on our already overstressed roads.

Just because biking somewhere may bring a smile to your face doesn't mean that bicycles are toys. They are viable transport, but only if we have the ability to use them.

A bike coordinator will increase that ability and make Minneapolis a truly 21st-century city.