We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but we’ll do it in this case. The letter-writer is Rev. Charles D. Pollak, who signs his letter like that, to which he adds Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired). We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
The letter begins by referring to an earlier column by Brian Hicks, a contributor to the Post and Courier, probably this one: Creationists eschew Darwin, then try to make their message evolve. It’s about the “teach the controversy” situation in South Carolina that we’ve been writing about. The rev was upset by what Hicks’ wrote, and he says:
In a recent column, Brian Hicks once again attacked “religious fundamentalists” while extolling scientists who, according to Hicks, all agree with Darwin’s theory of evolution. They don’t, of course.
He [Hicks] ridicules the very idea that students might gain from debating arguments for and against Darwinism. In this, he demonstrates a woeful misunderstanding of the value of such intellectual pursuits used successfully by Plato and Socrates and countless educators throughout the past several millennia.
Aaaargh!! The Socratic method of education, which is common in law schools, has nothing to do with the mind-destroying experience of debating with a creationist. Then the rev tells us:
I have an engineering and scientific background and am a full member of Sigma Xi, the honorary fraternity of research scientists and engineers. I also commanded a nuclear submarine for four years. Today I am an Anglican priest. So I believe I can speak with some authority on both scientific and religious matters.
What a résumé! Let’s read on:
It is clear to me that there is nowhere near the disconnect that rigid bigots on both sides of Darwin’s theory display. In fact, there is much more compatibility between science and religion that someone like Hicks apparently understands.
You didn’t miss that, did you? The rev thinks the scientists who don’t yield to Oogity Boogity! are bigots. We continue:
Scientists have been wrong in the past, and the most eminent always seek new answers to age-old questions.
Yeah, yeah. We’ll skip his examples. That’s supposed to get you thinking that the “Darwinists” are likely to be wrong today. There’s no evidence that they are (indeed, all the evidence supports them), but even if such evidence were found, it wouldn’t do anything for the creationists — they’ve been wrong and evidence-free from the beginning. Here’s more:
Religionists have also been wrong in the past. One famous example: The church fought Galileo after he began teaching that the planet Earth revolved around the sun, rather than the reverse. And, of course, Galileo’s observations today are universally accepted.
That was surprisingly even-handed. Well, creationists like some aspects of the Galileo story — they imagine themselves in his place, being persecuted by the Darwinists. Moving along:
We as a people would be best served, and our children best educated, if we debated these matters in a fair and reasonable manner. Let me recommend two books for skeptics: “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, a former atheist and Yale-trained lawyer who examines the legal evidence for Christianity’s beliefs, and “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, another former non-believer who taught at both Oxford and Cambridge universities, and who became convicted by his intellectual pursuits of the truth.
Don’t hold your breath expecting the rev to recommend of a couple of science books. He doesn’t do that. Hey — does he seriously expect that Strobel or Lewis will find their way into a science class? Maybe he does.
Did the rev really command a nuclear sub? Maybe he did, but we’d rather not think about that. And now we come to the end of his letter:
Those who wish to suppress debate, in our schools and elsewhere ought to be resisted with all the strength we possess. Suppression of debate leads inexorably to government takeover, to fascism. Rather, I say, “Let the debate begin, and may the real truth be revealed.”
Suppression of debate! Government takeover! Fascism! O you evil Darwinists!
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