Letters for the week of August 3-9, 2005 

Supporters of evolution think Phillip Johnson is Cro-Magnon, plus the Wayans brothers army sets us straight about them.

"Phillip Johnson's Assault Upon Faith-Based Darwinism," Feature, 7/27

Ignore that man behind the curtain
Phillip Johnson must have been a great lawyer. Confirmation abounds for Darwin's "descent through modification," while there isn't a shred of evidence for the existence of either designer or design in the natural world. Johnson merely asserts that random mutation and natural selection couldn't possibly have caused the bounteous life on our planet -- yet he has people eating out of his hand.

But then again, maybe there's a wee bit more to this than honest intellectual inquiry. The Wizard of Oz must be awfully jealous right about now.
Richard Pfeiffer, Berkeley

Maybe the monkeys took megadoses of vitamins
I feel sorry for people like Philip Johnson. But he is not alone. He follows in a long line of highly intelligent, persuasive, and accomplished intellects who, at the end of an otherwise salutary career, lose their intellectual bearings in a new field, tarnishing their legacy in the process.

Think of William Shockley (inventor of the transistor who strayed into questionable racial theories), Linus Pauling (winner of two Nobel Prizes who espoused megadoses of vitamin C as a cure-all), or Thomas Gold (discoverer of the pulsar who later wasted millions trying to prove a radical theory of the origins of oil and natural gas), to name a few.

Intelligent design may or may not be creationism, but it is certainly not science.
Tom Burns, Berkeley

Surely you jest
I am stunned by Justin Berton's conclusion: "The arc of man's understanding of the universe's creation is long. ... Today, we rely on evolution. Maybe in the 25th century, it will be intelligent design," insinuating as it does that ID is somehow progressive, ahead of its time, and not the reactionary-though-savvy strategy of the Christian majority. And this on the heels of exposing Johnson's deliberate deceptions to make ID academically palatable. Has the Express fallen so far that it upholds intellectual dishonesty as a badge of progressivism?

Further, it is unpardonable that Berton would allow Johnson's assertions about "Darwinian orthodoxy" to go unchallenged, as well as his intentionally deceptive conflation of Darwinism (natural selection) with evolution (descent with modification). The SCIENCE of evolutionary biology has a rich history of challenges to Darwinism (natural selection) as the primary mechanism/driver of evolution. These critiques began with Thomas Henry Huxley, gained power with the experimental embryologists of the early 20th century, and have been largely vindicated by biological structuralists and the "Evo/Devo" movement of the past 25 years. These non-Darwinian critiques have consistently argued that biological variation is highly nonrandom and patterned. Not by a creator, mind you, but by biological processes that can be and are being studied and understood, as revealed by recent advances in developmental genetics.

Whatever one's religious views, are we serious about moving into a technologically complex future thinking and teaching that a legitimate aim of science is to extol the creator's handiwork?
Clifford Baron, Alameda

Don't hold your breath
In spite of Phillip Johnson's widely-professed discomfort with either side of this debate "cramming their convictions down" our throats, he also curiously insists that the "truth of a God" will eventually be obvious to all!

Too bad Professor Johnson seems deaf to his own wise declaration that "being religious or antireligious is the same thing: it's a position about religion or God, and it goes beyond the evidence and into confident assertions that are based more on personal convictions than they are scientific testing."

Though probably an unpopular theory for those of us who have fed our minds on this seemingly endless passionate debate, I suspect that a true answer to our evolution will only be possible when there is also an answer to spatial infinity.
Gerta Farber, Berkeley

"Do I look like a muthaf#&%! role model?," Take Out, 7/13

Homie, don't play that
I am offended that you would overlook the wonderful opportunity the Wayans brothers are trying to create, and think it is more important to criticize their work. I see no one else, black or white, offering such a huge opportunity to African Americans and, I'm sure, anyone else that may be interested. As a thirty-year-old up-and-coming filmmaker, this is huge. Not only is there potential for jobs and skills training, but this gives us hope that Oakland isn't dead and people still care for us here.

So the Wayanses haven't created the most sophisticated works. Is that a reason for them not to give back to communities that need help?
D. Fortune, Oakland

Homie says: Lighten up
Why beat up the Wayans brothers? There is a time to laugh and a time to be serious. Hello! Have you forgotten that these guys are "comedians"?? Are you telling me that the Wayans brothers are not capable of being serious leaders and role models outside of their raunchy comedy? Lighten up! It's only "Hollywood." Sometimes us African Americans have to laugh to keep from crying. Personally I do believe these guys are capable of being successful, responsible role models. How dare you slander their character. If that's the case, take a look at Magic and his situation(s), or President Bush the cheater. Let's not go there. Instead of being negative, be positive. Allow the Wayans brothers the opportunity to advance before offering such negative comments and energy.
Latika Allen, Oakland

"The Danger Beneath," Cityside, 7/13


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