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Guest Editorial

Vote down Origins of Life bill

Christi M. Terry, Ph.D., University of Utah Park City resident

Senator Buttars proposes a bill that requires instructing students that not all scientists agree on any origin of life theory. He states the purpose of this bill is to "stop opinionated teachers from teaching human evolution as fact." The bill is supposed to encourage students to critically analyze origin of life theories and to erase the idea that the state of Utah endorses any one theory.

Students should be taught critical analysis. Where this bill fails is that it singles out one subject, evolution. He is not asking students to critically analyze history, sociology or theology. The only logical reason to single out origin of life teachings is it goes against a religious belief that man was formed on Earth in the image of God and exists in that form today. He has not asked that students be told the Theory of Relativity has dissenters (it does) and the state must avoid the perception that it endorses Einstein’s theory. He has not asked that students be told not all agree the Earth is round. This bill targets the teaching of one theory and the reason it is targeted is it goes against a religious belief.

This bill is misleading when it states not all scientists agree on one theory that explains the origin of humankind. No, not all scientists do, but the great majority of scientists understand there is very convincing evidence that organisms that inhabit this Earth have shared common traits and have evolved from common ancestors. The preponderance of scientists understands that evolution results from heritable changes in populations spread over time. To force science educators to tell students that scientists do not agree about any origin of life theory suggests there is a raging debate in the scientific community on evolution. There is no such raging debate. To suggest there is, is disingenuous.

The argument against evolution consists of something known as irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity argues that some things are so complex that they could only come about through divine intervention. Fifty years ago, before the development of genetic techniques, that argument could be made about the construction of certain proteins. We now have strong evidence that such proteins have evolved from less complex structures. By settling for the explanation of divine intervention for things we currently don’t understand, we encourage complacency. We discourage discovery.

About 90 percent of U.S. adults believe in a higher power. There is no dearth of believers. People believe, even though we now know the sun does not revolve around the Earth as suggested in the Bible. Darwin’s theory of evolution has not caused people to stop believing in God. There is not a problem here that needs to be fixed. The only problem is that evolution is a threat to Senator Buttars’ literal creationist religious beliefs. Therefore I appeal to his beliefs don’t you think Jesus would prefer thatyou direct yourself in concrete efforts to improve children’s lives like decreasing class sizes so it is easier to learn, requiring daycares be safe, ensuring that all children have access to decent health care and are breathing clean air? The LDS Church position has been "Leave geology, biology, archaeology and anthropology, none of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research." Please, Senator Buttars, you are in a position to improve Utah. Quit making us the butt of late-night talk show jokes and put your efforts toward more productive legislation that will not result in litigation and the loss of state monies.


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