From: Dave Knapp
To: All 94-05-03 00:%:58
Subject: DOBSON LETTER
I don't normally inhabit this echo; I have a low threshold for
it. But I recently sent the following letter to Dr. James
Dobson, who appears on a radio talk show and runs Focus on the
Family Ministries. Tell me what you think.
May 2, 1994
Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D., President
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, CO 80995
Dear Dr. Dobson:
I was introduced to your film series in the early 1980's,
and I have followed your radio program since then. My wife and I
have written you once before to give you information on a
ministry with which we are affiliated, Engaged Encounter. I have
admired you and seen you as an honest spokesman for the Christian
faith, and, though we disagree on some topics, we have enjoyed
reading your monthly letters.
But your most recent letter, that of April 1994, has made me
wonder if my perceptions have been correct.
In it, you recount some details of your interview with Dr.
Phillip Johnson, who has written the book Darwin on Trial. I
have read Dr. Johnson's book and am familiar with his arguments,
and I have corresponded with Dr. Johnson myself; we disagree, but
are able to do so in a mutually respectful and civil manner. The
debate over the validity of evolution is not, I believe, a
"salvation issue." However, your treatment of this issue
concerns me greatly. You printed the following:
"Now, after 135 years of exhaustive research, the
transitional forms still have not turned up. They
don't exist in the geological record. This and other
convincing criticisms of classical evolution make it
difficult to understand why so many intelligent and
highly educated men and women still hold a position
that is not supported by verifiable scientific data.
Darwin tried to tell us that the various life
forms evolved on earth from a single-celled organism
swimming in a primordial 'soup.' ... From that
spontaneous beginning in an African swamp came a
dazzling array of evermore complicated species...
Evolution is the only belief system which holds
that events in the natural world move from disorder to
order on their own initiative."
Scientists sometimes exaggerate a position for the sake of
argument; it can be a useful tool. However, there is a point at
which exaggeration becomes misrepresentation; your passage above
is well over that line.
Several statements in the above passage from your letter are
I'm not talking about a difference of opinion about how to
interpret data; I mean you made erroneous statements that might
be interpreted as falsehoods. I don't have space here to explain
in detail, but:
- Transitional fossils have been found, though not as
many as Darwin originally predicted.
- Evolution, most especially common ancestry, is indeed
supported by verifiable scientific data. One might
legitimately disagree about the quality or quantity of
the data, but they exist, and they lend support to the
- Evolution theory does not predict a one-way rise from
less complicated creatures to more complicated
- Evolution theory does not predict that events will
necessarily move from disorder to order on their own.
- Other scientific theories do predict transitions from
what we would perceive as disorder to what we would
perceive as order.
I do not seek to debate evolutionary theory; rather, I am
concerned that as Christians it is our duty to speak truth, not
falsehood, and to act in an honest and ethical manner. I
honestly hope that your above statements were made from
ignorance, not purposeful mendacity.
We will never promote God's kingdom through the use of
inaccuracies or false statements.
Without integrity and truth, our witness to the world is a
hollow one. I strongly urge you to consult someone who is
conversant with science, evolution, the scientific method, and
the evidence for evolution. In my opinion, Dr. Johnson does not
meet these criteria. Please feel free to contact me; my address
and phone number are given below. I am a scientist: I obtained a
Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1986, and I now do
research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I am
also a Christian who believes that the Bible is the inspired word
of God. I have thought long and hard about these issues, and
studied them a great deal. It does not matter to me so much that
we do or do not agree about evolution; it does matter to me that
you, a high-profile Christian, not make public statements that
would appear to be dishonest.
Thank you very much for your consideration. Since you asked
me to write about the issues you raised, I hope that I will not
receive a form letter in response. I pray that God will move
your heart to hear my concern and love.
In Christ's love,
(s) Dave Knapp
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