Let's talk: E-mail
In a recent column I promised that I would include some of my e-mail letters from readers in postings on the blog.
I’m not certain if I will do this on a certain day, but I am going to do so at least once a week.
Here are a few related to a column that ran a few weeks ago. The Rev. Steve Kern, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, had contacted me about a story I wrote on a pastor who wrote a book about science, specifically evolution, being intertwined with religion.
Kern disagreed completely and the column was about his thoughts about science and religion. Here is the resulting correspondence in italics. I’ve placed my answers below each letter, along with another e-mail about a completely different story:
Ms. Hinton, This is in response to the above article. You quoted a pastor, the Rev. Steve Kern, who was, and I assume still is, bewildered by the theory of evolution. He also criticized evolution because, he believes, it says that God is not needed. What’s the point of helping others if natural selection is true?, he asks. the only opposing view is that you mention Rev. Michael Dowd and his book “Thank God for Evolution” with no further information. You have provided no critical analysis of Rev. Kern’s statements.
The fact that he was bewildered is hardly a criticism of the scientific theory of evolution. I was bewildered by algebra, more often than not. This does not disprove algebra. It is more a criticism of the person, not the theory. Further, what does the fact that God may or not be needed have anything to do with it. We don’t ask that of the scientific theory of gravity. The theory of gravity is accepted in the scientific community just as evolution is. Natural selection has nothing to do with whether we should help others. That’s ridiculous. People who accept evolution healp others the same as those who don’t. One can have morals and ethics whether they accept evolution and independent of any religious belief. Even though I accept evolution I still give a significant amount to charity.
Giving no context or an objective analysis of the statements is not responsible. Evolution is a scientific theory that has been scrutinized, refined and accepted by large numbers of people who have studied it objectively from all over the world and by people from different faiths. This is the same scientific community that has given theories that Rev. Kern does accept eg. gravity, electrodynamics, genetics, etc. Even though you may not accept evolution (I really don’t know), a more balanced article is still expected. Maybe input from the science side of the newspaper would have helped since this really is an article critizing evolution, not really a religious article.
Anyway, thanks for your time.
Carla: Thanks Kir for the e-mail and I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted.
I wrote an article in February about churches participating in a Darwin Day related initiative and I included comments from several Oklahoma pastors who hold similar beliefs as Michael Dowd. In that article I had quite a bit of contrasting opinion from an Oklahoma pastor who actively opposes evolution. It was a rather lengthy article. A few weeks later we had the story on Michael Dowd’s presentation at First Unitarian Church in which I basically summed up Dowd’s presentation on his book “Thank God for Evolution.”
The column was a way to get the opposing view out there, since the story on Dowd’s presentation was simply about his presentation.
In this case, I thought it was well established in the column that Kern was speaking out about an earlier story (which did not run in the Religion portion of the paper, but in the main section of the paper because it happened on a Sunday and was tied to another event the following Wednesday) on Dowd.
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