The Sandoval Signpost

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The Gauntlet - Illustration İRudi Klimpert

letters, opinions, editorials

The Signpost welcomes letters of opinion to encourage dialog in the community. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.

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: and Both of those Web sites contain a lot of information.

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 at all?

I beg you to take the time to find out more for the sake of the children.

—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 deficits.

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.


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 of me.


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 (absolute) laws.

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 occur.

For more information on this issue, see Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, by Simon Conway Morris, 2003, Cambridge Press.




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