I dearly hope everyone who is honoring me by reading this expository letter is aware of an incident that occurred at Northern Michigan Hospital on July 29 between a Traverse City Record-Eagle reporter named Keith Matheny and Petoskey Public Safety Director Michael Vargo.
I‘ll dust off your memories of the incident with the following excerpt taken from an editorial written by the Record-Eagle‘s editorial board:
“Petoskey Public Safety Director Michael Vargo last week intentionally interferred with a Record-Eagle reporter as he attempted to photograph the arrests of two people at Northern Michigan Hospital (Aug. 5).“
I know all too well from personal experience that Petoskey is a city of the “phone call“ and the question: “Who are you?“ The Record-Eagle discovered this truth inadvertantly when Vargo informed the newspaper matter of factly: “... the hospital does not like bad publicity about the strike.“
I felt the “power“ of the “phone call“ and the question, “Who are you?“ on two different occasions. The most recent occurred last winter after I had commenced a letter writing campaign to various elected and non-elected state officials as well as Congressman Bart Stupak and the Emmet County Commission to convince Sheriff Pete Wallin to direct his jail administrators to raise the temperature inside jail cells to a humane level.
Whereupon, two days after I had written a letter to each county commissioner (“... to petition the government for a redress of grievances.“) regarding an apparent violation of the Emmet County jail‘s inmate population‘s 8th Amendment rights, one of Vargo‘s boys and three of Wallin‘s brown-shirted boys stormed into the Petoskey city library, surrounded me, informed me that I was under arrest, handcuffed me and transported me to their “clubhouse“ and incarcerated me.
On the other memorable occasion, I experienced the Gestapo tactics of one of Vargo‘s lieutenants. Shortly after I vociferously defended my right to peaceably assembley, freedom of speech and public access to state property with the NCMC president, I was arrested... during the arrest, Vargo‘s swaggering lieutenant uttered this threat to me: “Step on the property of North Central Michigan College again and you will be arrested for trespassing.“
I now hope the reader is better able to understand why the evocative incident at Northern Michigan Hospital was not an abberation -- it was typical.
Steve A. Redder
(Emmet County and Petoskey police department reports confirm that Steve Redder was arrested at the Petoskey Public Library on an outstanding Friend of the Court warrant from the 17th Circuit Court of Kent County. -- ed.)
War & oil
Melissa Yeomans: That was an excellent article on war and oil in the Northern Express (8/21).
If you write on the subject again, you might also wish to take into account that much of the manufacturing capacity of the United States has been shut down, and it was a source of energy use. Now that we import goods from overseas with “embodied“ energy, such as the car, that is no longer considered in our calculations. It should be.
In the same issue on page 5, Robert Downes noted that the proper response to the Middle East would have been a crash program in alternative energy. I agree. How to get there is the question.
John H. Tanton Petoskey
The battle over creation
I‘d like first of all to commend Anthony Weber‘s cordial response to my article opposing teaching creationism as science in Michigan‘s public schools (Letters, 8/28). While we may disagree, and even feel the ideas of the other are pernicious, it is good to see that we may express our disagreements civilly.
Now, on to spirited argument! (Or, perhaps in my case, aspirited argument!)
Mr. Weber touts the scientific credentials of the leaders of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, but one of them was trained as a lawyer, and the other as a mathematician. These fellows do not meet my criteria for scientists with solid experience in a relevant field. These guys are just laymen interested in biology (like me), and these are leaders of this movement to change the science curricula of our schools.
Don‘t get me wrong, as an interested amateur myself, I respect and applaud lay interest in science. But, as interested in science as I am, I would resign from any scientific organization that would have me as a leader. I am not a scientist, and neither are Messrs. Johnson and Dembski.
The third leader Weber mentions, Michael Behe, is a more interesting case. He is trained in a relevant field, and even has capability in it. If you are a stone-cold opponent of evolution, you‘ll find little comfort in Behe‘s work--he actually believes in evolution, he just thinks he can prove that some “outside intervention“ was necessary to make life develop. But Behe has never presented his theories in an established, peer-reviewed context. He‘s never presented his views to the prestigious American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, his professional organization. He‘s a member of the organization, and has the right to present a paper, but yet he doesn‘t.
We can only suppose that Behe feels his work on ID will not stand up to criticism from the real experts in his field. Instead, he publishes in the popular press and presents findings at ID lovefests.
Though Behe is a specialist in modern biochemistry, his main point against evolution is actually nothing but a rehash of William Paley‘s eighteenth-century arguments about the impossibility of natural complexity having arisen without the direct intervention of a designer. Richard Dawkins effectively refutes Paley‘s argument for common readers in his _Blind Watchmaker._
All Behe does is revive Paley by finding new gaps in scientific knowledge (specifically biochemical ones) and declaring that the only possible way across these gaps is God. The trouble with the God of the Gaps is that as science finds physical explanations for the biochemical processes Behe wonders about (as it will), there will be fewer and smaller gaps for God to inhabit. Messrs. Behe and Weber would probably be best advised to find somewhere else for their God other than in the steadily closing gaps in scientific knowledge.
Mr. Weber‘s quotes about metaphysics are curious indeed. The point of view of Michael Ruse, who declares evolutionists to be “as metaphysically based“ as any creationist, is essentially that there is no “truth“ at all in the sense that I (and probably Mr. Weber) understand it. I have to say, Ruse is a strange bedfellow for someone teaching at a Christian School.
Ruse‘s point is that there is absolutely no way of knowing the world that is not based, at some level, on metaphysical assumptions. This, however, does not make all beliefs and systems of belief equal, and it doesn‘t make Intelligent Design theory into science.
Just to set the fossil record straight: Piltdown Man (discovered 1912) was a fake, a famous one, and one worth reading about; Nebraska Man (1922) was a case of mistaken identification (NOT a fake) that was never widely accepted by scientists anyway; Peking Man (1929) and Java Man (1891) are neither of them “fake“ and both are still fairly well-accepted as hominid fossils, as far as I know. There are disputes and differing interpretations, of course, but that‘s science for you.
Science is an incomplete project. There are disputes between scientists of good intentions. There are conflicts of interest. There is still an awful lot of work to be done in completing the picture of how life developed on this planet. But as one writer wrote in response to Behe, “the remaining question marks are not threat to science - on the contrary, they are a challenge added to thousands of other challenges that science met and meets. In this instance, too, science will be successful.“
Hopefully Michigan will make its rightful contribution to the progress of our understanding, but only, I suspect, if science education is allowed to continue concentrating on science rather than religiously inspired pseudo-science.
Oran Kelley TC
While recently vacationing in your beautiful city I picked up a copy of the Northern Express Weekly (August 14th edition) and read Oran Kelleys article, Creationism Has No Place in Our Schools. I would like to submit a Creationists response.
Since both Creationism and evolution are studies of historical events neither can be proven scientifically as neither can be tested using the scientific method, i.e., the tenants are not observable, repeatable and able to be proven false. Instead, both theories have to be proved or disproved by evidence as in a court of law. Though evolutionists like to call their theory fact, it is nothing more than a constantly changing belief system that makes assumptions about past events based upon limited observations.
To illustrate this point let me refer to the almost universally accepted science (Kelleys words) presented by evolutionists at the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial. Witnesses for evolution confidently declared the earth to be 100 million years old and claimed a recently excavated tooth was that of a prehistoric Nebraska Man. Today, no evolutionist would agree with the supposedly 100-million-year-old-earth fact and Nebraska Mans tooth was later discovered to be from a peccary -- a relative of the common pig. It is now known that virtually all the evolutionary facts presented at the Scopes Trial were false though the evolutionists at the time considered them beyond reproach.
Kelleys assertion that he does not know any creation scientist nor has he read any technical creation research simply shows his ignorance of the field. Had he gone to the annual International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA this year he would have met over 100 creationist scientists (and one evolutionist scientists who admittedly left the conference with his belief in evolution badly shaken) and been given access to 55 recently published technical articles concerning creation science.
Kelley also claims science is prejudiced against all theories that dont fit the facts. I would agree, which is why I do not think evolution is a science but a religion of blind beliefs. For instance, atheist astronomer Fred Hoyle admits the chances of DNA spontaneously aligning itself into a configuration that would make life possible to be equal of that of a typhoon blowing through a junk yard and constructing a Boeing 747. Though impossible, evolutionists still claim it happened. Not just once but millions of times! True scientists do not believe in the impossible.
Kelley finishes his article by equating creationism with Nazi propaganda. Does he not know that Nazism was premised on the evolutionary theory that certain races were superior to others because they evolved further? This racist philosophy has been inherent part of evolutionary theory since its inception as evident by the full title of Darwins book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Joseph Goebbelslike all Nazisdespised and ridiculed the Bible but were enthusiastic supporters of evolution and all its insidious implications.
I applaud Representative Ken Bradstreet for proposing legislation that would allow the teaching of Creation science along side of evolution in public schools. Are evolutionists so insecure in their beliefs they cannot stomach an intellectual challenge? I challenge Mr. Kelley -- a writer with a strong interest in the topics of evolution and sociobiology -- and his evolutionary friends to actually read some creation science research (an excellent creation science website is at www.answersingenesis.org). Their lives might be changed forever.
Anthony J. Mungovan Indianapolis, IN
Adding things up
While Anthony Weber awaits an EXPERT to prove evolution, he might go back to the
basics. Start by thinking about all the species alive on earth today. Study them
and learn about them. Then pray to GOD for understanding of a really big
number: all the species that proceeded and have become extinct. Then study the
earth‘s geology and the vast amount of time that life has been here.
If he looks deep into his soul for understanding of these disaplins and prays
that the one species that he mentions in his epistle does not go extinct, he
can congratulate himself for bravery.
Stewart McFerran via email
Letter to Advice Goddess
The first and last time I wrote in to a columnist was when Al Gore was still undecided about running in 2004, and the columnist wasted about 1000 words on how his beard (or lack of) would be a deciding factor in the outcome. Thank you for writing a column that has pertinence as well as humor, and as far as I know, has yet to deal with the “hard“ issues of male facial grooming.
I write in response to your “If the shrew fits...“ column that I read while working in Boyne Falls Michigan, which was printed in the Northern Express Weekly out of Traverse City MI.
I live in Marquette MI, which is on the shores of Lake Superior, and considered kind of isolated by fellow Michigan natives. And as far as good columns go, or good journalism for that matter, we might as well be in the arctic circle reading bear fat scribblings on birch bark.
For a female writer to so vividly describe what has been my relationship situation for the last three years, meant a lot, as I was beginning to slip into a state of self induced female bias, and holding broad resentment to an entire gender that unfairly deserved my spite.
Although I do desire more than red meat, nude girlfriend and a remote control, I must say that you‘re quite close to explaining what is “man“ in terms of personal freedom, and time apart. We are, generally speaking, fairly easy to figure out, and until wounded by the type of woman you aptly depict, usually rather positive. Look only to our youth when we have yet to realize the dichotomy of sexuality vs. friendship, and you‘ll find what makes most guys happy.
Again, thank you, and I have new optimism in believing that there are women out there who actually have a goddamn clue about what it is to be involved with someone.
Keep on spreading the truth,
Matt in Marquette