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re: suicide program run by drug companies?
I read with great dismay about the "suicide program"
[in the November 2005 Signpost]. I assure you that it is far from
being the benevolent program it appears to be. Check out: www.teenscreenfacts.com
and www.psychsearch.net. Both of those Web sites contain a lot of
For example, did you know that one of the groups pushing for teen
screening has received millions in contributions from the pharmaceutical
companies and that the federal government, after researching the
area, found absolutely no evidence that screening reduces teen suicide
I beg you to take the time to find out more for the sake of the
—SANDRA, Salt Lake City, Utah
re: don’t let public lands be sold off
I am writing because your help is urgently needed. Please call
your representatives and tell them in no uncertain terms that you
will not tolerate the sale of public lands in order to offset budget
At this point, there are two proposals before the U.S. House of
Representatives that will allow corporations and individuals to
purchase nearly all of our public lands (except those already protected
for other purposes).
A provision included in the House "budget reconciliation"
bill would carve out a loophole in the U.S. mining law to allow
companies and individuals to buy any unprotected public lands, whether
or not those lands contain minerals. Hundreds of millions of acres
of public lands, including some of America's last best places, could
be up for grabs at rock-bottom prices.
The other bill, HR 3855, would mandate that 15 percent of all
public lands be put up for sale by October of 2006 in order to pay
for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
If either of these bills pass, our nation's river heritage will
be at risk. Most of the rivers on public land are unprotected by
any special designation, leaving drinking and irrigation water throughout
the West vulnerable to destructive activities. While the House "budget
reconciliation" bill exempts existing Wild and Scenic Rivers
from the land grab, it leaves the door open for the purchase of
thousands of outstanding river miles awaiting Wild and Scenic designation.
It seems that after giving the rich a huge tax cut Congress is
now looking for ways to pay for essential services, and they will
stop at nothing short of selling off our heritage.
—BRIAN SHIELDS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMIGOS BRAVOS
re: what are they afraid of?
Mike Lafave, in his October 2005 letter to the Signpost in support
of the teaching of intelligent design, asks, "It makes me wonder,
What are they so afraid of?"
Speaking only for myself, Mike, what makes me afraid has less
to do with science vs. faith, but with how far in the past five
years this nation has come to becoming a theocracy. The founding
fathers set up barriers to a state-supported religion (what is referred
to as separation of church and state), for good reason: so that
all persons would be free to practice their own religion, or no
religion, in peace, without the government favoring one religion
over another. Up till 2000, these barriers remained firmly in place.
But those who support the teaching of Intelligent Design in our
schools want to tear down these barriers, creating what in essence
is state-supported religion. And that really scares the hell out
—GARY W. PRIESTER, Placitas
re: intelligent design
The current controversy about teaching evolution in high school
has both sides ill informed.
My credentials on this subject go back to Purdue, where my interest
in the difference between living and nonliving systems led me to
switch from theoretical physics to biophysics. A main difference
is the much greater organization and complexity found in living
systems. Forty some years of research in that field resulted in
my being invited to participate in two Gordon Research Conferences
on the origin of life. This has all given me some perspective on
evolution and on the related problem of the origin of life.
The advocates of downgrading the teaching of evolution claim it
is just a “theory” and not a “fact.” In
“fact,” just the opposite is true.
A fact is something that one can observe, and the observational
evidence for evolution is all over the place. It began, as Darwin
pointed out, with the observation of differences between species.
One can also see it in the remarkable similarity of the anatomy
of all animals and even some amphibians. But in the twentieth century,
molecular biology unveiled much more powerful observational evidence.
All forms of life use the same exact genetic code. Only one code
exists for all forms of life from viruses to bacteria to plants
and animals. Thus, all life is one at a basic indivisible level.
The simplest explanation for this is that all life came from the
same primitive ancestor.
Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence that, as the French Jesuit
said, “evolution is the guiding principle of the Universe.”
Not only life but the universe itself is evolving. First there was
light; then subatomic particles; then the three atoms hydrogen,
helium, and some lithium; then the first generation of stars—where
the elements found in our bodies were “cooked up” in
those nuclear furnaces; then second-generation stars with solar
systems, including our earth.
To understand all this, we need to consider “What is science?”
Science is based upon two fundamental assumptions:
1. Everything in the universe is guided by fundamental invariant
2. We can understand those laws.
The first assumption could not hold in a polytheistic universe
where different “gods” ruled different phenomena. A
monotheistic backdrop was required for science to develop.
The second assumption is consistent with the statement that “all
mankind are created in the image of God.” Since the laws of
physics—the laws of the universe—may be considered as
the thought of God, the statement that we have something in common
with that great “thought” gives a common basis for our
hope that we can understand the thoughts of the Creator. As Einstein
often said, he wanted to understand how the “old one thinks.”
So one can see that not only is science not fundamentally in conflict
with religion—or better, with spirituality—but science
is in part a consequence of Judeo-Christian teachings.
Now, is the idea of evolution in conflict with the Bible? The
very first written document that broke out of the ancient worldview,
replacing cyclic time with time that has just one direction, is
the Old Testament. This book is filled with “prophets.”
Only when time is one-way—and thus novel, entirely new phenomena
come into existence—will you need prophets. Of course, a reality
where time is one-way is a necessary foundation for evolution. The
concept of evolution embodies—and requires—one-way directed
time. Moreover, the basic idea of evolution is that creation occurs
in steps—not all at once. This very idea is at the center
of Genesis I, where God creates the world not all at once, but in
steps. So I am astonished when religious “fundamentalists”
are upset by the idea of evolution; they are upset by an idea underlying
the Old Testament and at the foundation of their own religion.
Part of the problem is American high school science texts—among
the worst in the world. Some texts do present, and some biologists
do believe, that evolution is guided solely by chance. This reinforces
the assertion of some that life is “an accident.” But
modern science has shown that life is not an accident. It is programmed
(in ways we are just beginning to understand) in the laws of the
universe. We now know that if any of the physical laws were changed
ever so slightly, the resulting universe would be incompatible with
life. If the gravitational constant were changed by just a percent,
suns would die out within a year or so, for example. The laws of
this universe are balanced on a “knife edge” that not
only allows life, but makes it inevitable that eventually it will
For more information on this issue, see Life's Solution: Inevitable
Humans in a Lonely Universe, by Simon Conway Morris, 2003, Cambridge
—DR. RICHARD D. MOORE, Placitas