DARWIN AND GOD
Dr. Marc Siegel's article on Darwin and God  displays a certain naïveté in dealing with evolution and faith. For instance, Siegel asserts, "Evolution does not attempt to explain how life itself first came to be." This is strictly incorrect--how life came to be is one of the essential pieces of evolution. While certainly the formation of life remains a relative mystery to scientists, the initial spark of life is an important part of evolution, and simply inserting God where there is uncertainty is one of the classic follies of nonscientists. Comforting super-naturalists that God may have sparked life is similar to Newton comforting himself that God threw an apple on his head before he developed the first theory of gravity. Siegel continues to say that simply because modern scientists have not unraveled certain mysteries, they will never be unraveled. "Neurologists can map every neuron and synapse and still not account for the human mind or for consciousness." Once the human mind is understood completely as a working model, of course scientists will be able to explain consciousness and the human mind. Siegel's article displays a breathtaking misunderstanding of the scientific process. Simply because there is uncertainty in one element of a field doesn't mean the good Lord is lurking there. Where would science be if we all took Siegel's view?
Plant City, Fla.
Most of the people I talk to agree with Dr. Marc Siegel. As a Catholic I have never found a problem with evolution. I am a biologist and marvel always at how God created the world--how He is revealed in nature. I am especially bothered that contempt for science is being taught in the schools. How can we teach biology and how can we ever teach geology? How can we build museums that laughably attempt to show that the world is 6,000 years old? How about the theory of gravity?
California City, Calif.
Marc Siegel's article "Darwin and God" shows great familiarity with conventional wisdom but not much familiarity with science. Intelligent design is not so much a theory as it is an attempt to explain the existence of life and speciation in light of the latest discoveries in genetics, microbiology and paleontology. Intelligent design is supported by the fact that no fossils have been found that could be considered transitional between species, a fact that Stephen Jay Gould recognized, and addressed, with his "punctuated equilibrium" theory. Also, there is no known mechanism by which beneficial mutations resulting in increased complexity could have occurred for natural selection to act upon. In fact, the transmission of the genetic code is a conservative process, inherently hostile to genetic mutation except within narrowly prescribed limits. No interspecies mutations have ever been observed in living creatures or in fossils. The only possible exceptions would be human scientific experiments (i.e., applied external intelligence). Mutations have never been shown to result in beneficial changes that could be classified as steps to another species. How can scientists, or anyone, know exactly how evolution occurs if it has never been observed, except for small variations within species? The statement that "evolution does not attempt to explain how life itself first came to be" is ridiculous to the point of dishonesty. The entire purpose of Darwin's theory was and is to explain the existence of the universe and everything in it in the absence of God.
Salt Lake City
Mike Davis brings up very important points in "25 Questions About the Murder of New Orleans."  However--you brought up using Amtrak trains to help evacuate residents. I want to clarify that Amtrak did play a part in the evacuation, but it was ignored by the media. According to a news release from the National Association of Railroad Passengers website , "Amtrak ran an evacuation train from Avondale Yard in New Orleans to Lafayette on September 3. New Orleans Regional Transit Administration buses transported passengers from the city to the yard. Once aboard the trains, meals-ready-to-eat, water, and medical and security personnel were available." I hope this helps clarify Amtrak's response to emergency in New Orleans.
BILL BENNETT'S ABORTION FANTASIES
What Bill Bennett says about aborting black babies ("Bill Bennett's Abortion Fantasies" ) is true. However, it's also true that if all the white babies were aborted, then crime would go down. Similarly, his statement can be applied to any racial group for the simple reason that there are members of all racial groups who contribute to crime. Thus, reducing the numbers of any one group should, in theory, reduce crime. However, this simplistic analysis, of which the conservatives seem to be fond and which seems to be eaten up by some percentage of the population, looks for a single cause for a complex problem. It also omits any other effects of such an extreme act. For example, since a number of blacks and other minorities seem to be on the lower end of the economic scale and take low-end service-related jobs, one possible factor contributing to crime, who would be left to fill those jobs? Another group would probably move into that societal niche and probably perpetuate the cycle.
Of course, TV news and the press missed one bit of truly race-based behavior--when the white sheriff and deputies of a neighboring county shot at folks trying to leave New Orleans and refused to let them cross the bridge to safer ground (the excuse was that they were not going to let criminals into their neighborhoods.) To my knowledge, there have been no consequences. When members of Congress suggest punishing people who couldn't afford to evacuate, why is no one investigating these incidents?