On government promotion of religion and evolution
The first letter is one I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They edited out a couple of lines, which I will keep in. The second letter is an excellent letter by a Stephen Ewbanks, of Kokomo, Indiana, published in their local newspaper. His letter deals with myths about evolution. Evolution of course is not right or wrong based on any moral implications of it but it is right based on the evidence for it. Mr. Ewbanks letters touches on that very subject. I could not have written a letter that better reflected my very own sentiments.
"The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution in support of religious symbols in war memorials. This is very unfortunate. The government cannot and should not be in the business of promoting religion. It is not the function of government. Yes, most who gave their lives for our nation were Christians. But not all were, of course. Some were Jews, Muslims and yes, some were even atheists, though a great lie has formed around them that they don't exist in combat. War memorials should be universal and represent all veterans, not just those of the majority religious belief.
As in the Rhode Island case of the atheist teenage girl (who is getting numerous death threats) who objected to a government prayer banner at her public school, there are many people who believe their rights are somehow being violated if our government isn't actively promoting their religious views. This promotion could be in a prayer banner or war memorial or in the Pledge of Allegiance. At least though, theists in the U.S. aren't imprisoning atheists for criticism of religion, as in one case in Indonesia."
‘Origins’ does not validate prejudice
"A recent letter published in the Kokomo Tribune tries to link Darwin’s theory of evolution with racism and “subjugation and eradication” of people. This is simply not true. There is no scientific basis in the theory of evolution for racism. Accepting evolution as true does not in any way encourage anyone to hurt another person.
Darwin’s phrase “Preservation of Favoured Race” refers mostly to things like horses, pigeons and cabbages. Darwin’s ideas on human “races” are dated and belong to the 19th century. For a modern view on race and science, I recommend “The Mismeasure of Man,” by biologist Stephen Jay Gould.
People found justification to eradicate and subjugate others long before Darwin. Examples can be found in the way some European conquerors and colonizers treated the native people in the Americas. Examples are found in the Bible. Later on, people misused the ideas of Darwin to justify things they had already been doing. This is not a problem with the theory; it is a problem with humanity.
The African slave trade was centuries old before Darwin published “Origins” in 1859. It is notable that many slave owners, like George Washington, were religious. It took a war to end slavery. Jim Crow then thrived in the very parts of our country known for being extremely religious and also anti-Darwin. Evolutionary theory was not the cause of this.
I believe racial prejudice comes from the culture we grow up in. We end it when we refuse to pass racist ideas on to our children. This is something we can work together on, regardless of our theological or scientific views."
Stephen Ewbank, Kokomo