Skepticism

A Pimple That Needed To Be Popped.

 

In my area there is this guy, and he thinks that just because he has the title Reverend he can spout off inaccuracies in the local paper. Well I believe otherwise. So I wrote a letter to my paper addressing a certain man’s foolishness. I also personally emailed him. He did not respond nor did the paper publish my letter.

Tell me why you think I was ignored. Was I too impolite? Was this too controversial for a religious area? Or was it because I wrote above a third grade reading level? Since most local paper’s target audience reads at a third grade level.

 

Editor:

On Friday March 6, the Reverend Ron Whitehead wrote a letter addressing the theory of evolution in an inaccurate manner. Reverend Whitehead stated that evolution was “just a theory.” With all due respect, I fear that the Reverend does not understand what a scientific theory is or what is required for something to become a scientific theory. In science, the word theory applies to a well tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Scientific theories are built upon evidence and well-tested experiments. The Reverend also stated that evolution has not and never will be proven. I am sorry to say that if evolution was not supported by sufficient evidence it would not be considered a scientific theory.

Evolution is a scientific theory and gravity is also a scientific theory. I seriously hope that the Reverend does not deny the existence of gravity. Should he leap from a tall building he will find that gravity is not “just a theory.”  Evolution by natural selection predicted that bacterial resistance would happen when antibiotics were introduced. Given time, heredity, and variation, any living organisms (including bacteria) evolve when a selective pressure (like an antibiotic) is introduced. Should the Reverend ignore this fact, and forego his doctor’s properly prescribed antibiotic he could wind up in as much trouble as he would by ignoring the theory of gravity.

The Reverend also repeated the common misconception that humans evolved from monkeys.  This is not true. Humans and monkeys share a common primate ancestor; we did not evolve from modern monkeys.  However, both humans and monkeys, like all other life on this planet are still evolving today.

The Reverend went on to imply that morality comes from the Bible. I can agree that there are some good moral values portrayed in the Bible, however there are also many ideas sanctioned by the Bible that our society today would consider misogynistic, unethical and immoral. For example, the Bible promotes civility and love (I Corinthians 13). But it also supports slavery (1 Peter 2:18; Ephesians 6:5-9)

I consider myself to be a moral and ethical person. I believe that these morals and ethics are determined by what mankind has learned over time to be beneficial. I can decide whether an idea is moral on the amount of good it produces. I do what is right because what is right usually helps the people around me and produces the greatest amount of good. I value courage and truth, and I find it truly courageous to do what is right, not because I am seeking a reward, such as an afterlife, but because I am helping my fellow man.

I would also like to point out that acceptance of evolution by natural selection does not mean that one cannot believe in God. And no, your wife is not a monkey, but she is a primate just like you and me.

 

Since the silly argument of Reverend Whitehead was not addressed publicly, I have decided to keep bugging the editor with more letters about the crap they occasionally publish. I am also going to send another email to Reverend Pimple and explain to him the repercussions of misinforming an already misinformed area. 😉

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Cassie

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11 Comments

  1. March 15, 2009 at 3:11 am —

    I don’t think you were too impolite, Cassie. Indeed, not impolite at all. I found your letter to be quite reasonable.

    But then I am a godless heathen who accepts evolution and has no problem acknowleding that I am a primate.

  2. Deanna
    March 15, 2009 at 4:35 am —

    To paraphrase Tim Minchin…if he thinks evolution is only a theory, hopefully he’ll feel the same about gravity…and float the fuck away. Your argument seems clear, well thought and well explained. I think it’s shameful that a newspaper would not print an opposing view to anything printed in its pages, however I can also see how it could easily turn into a slanging match. Good on you for not giving in to one sided, apparently ill-informed, arguments

  3. March 15, 2009 at 5:32 am —

    They won’t publish your letter because they don’t agree with your opinions. I believe that is how they think they win the argument.

  4. FFFearlesss
    March 15, 2009 at 6:47 am —

    Bloody brilliant. And yes, it does sound far too intelligent to run in a local opinion page. You relied far too much on logical arguments and not enough on intuition. Okay, off to read Elle’s post now.

  5. Dieke
    March 15, 2009 at 9:31 am —

    Great, great letter. And indeed, far to intelligent and ‘controversial’ to have it printed in a local newspaper – especially when you’re in a religious area.
    Well, I agree with everything else FFFearless said.
    They probably ritually burned your letter.

    And let’s not forget that religion is far less then ‘just a theory’, it’s ‘just a story’.

    But, I have a question: Do you have to be/ or is it a great advantage to be religious, in order to be in politics, because you have to swear on the bible or something? I heard this once, and sadly enough, I consider this to actually have some truth in it. Or am I to negative here?

    -for the record, I’m not American. Else I probably would have known.

  6. March 15, 2009 at 8:59 pm —

    It must be that the public reads in 3rd grade level, there is no other explanation. It is inconceivable. It’s as Sherlock Holmes says, if all options are eliminated, the only one remaining must be true or some gibberish like that. In this case, they must be reading in a 3rd grade level. ^_^
    Remember, relying on intelligence in newspapers drive away audiences. ^_^

  7. March 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm —

    As an accomplished LTE writer, I think I know the exact reason why your letter wasn’t published:

    Length.

    A good LTE would be about the length of your first two paragraphs; an ideal one would be the length of the first. And even then, they might edit it.

    Now, all papers are different, so if you’ve seen them publish letters of the length you wrote, that’s a different matter of course, but most papers want them to be as short and sound-bitey as possible.

  8. March 15, 2009 at 11:10 pm —

    What @shanek said. Your letter was 483 words long. Most papers limit letters to the editor to 200 – 300 words. I’d encourage you to trim it down and try again.

  9. SteveT
    March 16, 2009 at 9:20 am —

    I’ll ditto what @shanek and @oskar said. Way too long for a typical letter to the editor. Hard to see how you edit it down enough without losing some of the intellectual heft, though.

    One thing you might consider is asking if they would let you do a guest column. Our local town rag does this occasionally for locals who need to go beyond the usual length limits.

    Keep trying. You write well, and it’s a message that needs to be repeated often!

  10. exarch
    March 19, 2009 at 11:33 am —

    Yeah, length was my initial thought too. I get the impression the original article (or letter) wasn’t all that long itself, so your rebuttal surely can’t be longer.
    I doubt the language has anything to do with it, so don’t dumb it down as it seems quite understandable already.

  11. April 16, 2009 at 11:05 pm —

    You just have to hit the key points, and maybe reference a web site for more information.

    Letters are hard to write, but it is fun when they’re printed. Even in the Internet age.

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