George Graham wrote a letter to the editor (Jan. 21) in response to Publisher Steve May’s Jan. 14 “LeadOff: La.’s creationism ‘junk science’ law nearing implementation.” Graham was disappointed in the tone of the editorial and bothered by May’s suggestion that Louisiana would continue to suffer economic stagnation when the “best and the brightest” entrepreneurs pass us by, if creationism or intelligent design are taught in the public school science classrooms. Perhaps May could have chosen words more judiciously. Phrases like “junk science” and “educationally regressive” can sting. Graham writes of his faith and belief in creation of the world by God and offers to name many of Acadiana’s own “best and brightest” who attend church and believe in creation by God as he does.

Graham’s letter highlights Christianity specifically, stating that The Independent Weekly has neglected the “passionate and committed Christians among the ‘best and the brightest’ of the business world.” And therein lies the beginning of my disappointment with Graham’s criticism of the editorial.

There are a multitude of religious views on how the world was created. In Hinduism there are several creation stories. In Buddhism creation is seen as ongoing. The Hebrew creation story, shared with the Christian Bible as Genesis and in Islam’s Koran, is believed by many Americans to be a literal truth, where God created all in six days and rested on the seventh day. Others see it as a parable but do believe that God created all life forms as their own separate immutable kind. This is the position that supporters would like to put in schools and is called “creation science” or “intelligent design.” This position is not supported by the tenets of science. 

Science is the attempt to understand the history of the world and how the world works through observation and experiment. Scientists ask questions, generate hypotheses and try to disprove them. Scientists seek the simplest explanation and demand reproducibility and peer review of data and conclusions. The science of biological evolution is a robust theory about how life forms change over time through genetic variation and natural selection.

A religious belief is not generally scientific and should not claim to be, just as a scientific theory is not generally religious and should not claim to be. Science seeks to answer “How does the world work?” While religion at its best seeks to answer “How do I work to be good in the world?” Confusing religion and science cheapens the former and stifles the latter.

The Independent was criticizing the politicization of science education by those who would teach creation science and intelligent design in the public school science classroom. These belief systems have no place there, but indeed are welcome and expected in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Graham’s argument concludes with a request that The Independent be more spiritually tolerant. We should agree to be respectful of religious beliefs — all religious beliefs, not Christianity alone. I also believe we should work to understand what science is, how it works and what it does.

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