Letters to the Editor printed by the Chicago Tribune on 9/4/93 in response
to the Vista schools article.
PARK FOREST--It is generally accepted that a public school is not the proper
place for teaching religion. Therefore, the recent decision by a California
public school district to introduce the teaching of creationism in its
classrooms is a disturbing and dangerous one.
As an explanation for the origin of the world and of man, the biblical
story of creation is clearly religion, while the theory of evolution is clearly
science. Science has a legitimate place in a public school classroom; religion
Those who advocate the teaching of creationism often do so under the guise
of presenting "the other side." But calling a viewpoint "the other side" does
not necessarily bestow the viewpoint with validity. For example, in teaching
about the Holocaust it is hardly valid to present as "the other side" the view
held by some that the Holocause never existed, since there is simply too much
incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.
Likewise, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth and man
were not created in the manner described in Genesis.
As a result, a public school should have no interest in presenting this
view as "the other side" when it is totally without the support of science.
OAK PARK--Is the fuss in Vista, Calif., and elsewhere really about creation
versus evolution? Or is it rather about whether minds should be open or
The scientific method is a self-correcting system of thought. That is its
glory, but it seems to terrify dogmatists to the point where some of them would
deny God the right to create through evolution should He so choose. And nobody
knows that He didn't.
Creationists stress the very important proposition that humankind is not
incidental to the universe, just as anti-Galilean geocentrists did nearly 400
But we humans have not lost any special quality we may have had because
Earth is no longer seen as the center of everything, and we will lose none for
recognizing that we spring up out of that great wellspring of life that
animates the world if not the universe. If that isn't sacred, what is?
As to purpose, perhaps Shelley cam close when he suggested we are "the eye
with which the Universe beholds itself and knows itself divine." And that
requires clear vision and objectivity, not dogmatism and closed theologies.
Charles F. Davis