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[Original Star Tribune Letter To Which I Responded]

Doubting Darwin

The Faribault School District is altogether justified in removing Rod LeVake from his assignment as a biology teacher (Star Tribune, Aug. 14).

In spite of having scientific credentials LeVake still apparently fails to understand that all scientific truth is tentative and provisional as well as incomplete and imperfect. This does not, however, detract from either the 'usefulness or validity of a scientific theory to explain the facts of organic evolution. He also needs to under stand that organic evolution is as much a fact as gravity is a fact. The evidence in support of this unifying idea is so massive and so compelling that to not give provisional assent is to just be perverse.

The issue at hand has nothing to do with LeVake's rights to freedom of speech or with academic freedom. The issue is his competence and his adherence to a curriculum that bears the imprimatur of the world's scientific community.

He has the right, as does any other scientist, to question any and all scientific theories as long as their arguments are based on good science. However, neither LeVake nor any one else can find or construct a sound argument against a scientific theory from a religious conviction. The Neo Darwinian synthesis has been examined, analyzed,, criticized and evaluated by thousands of the best scientific and philosophical minds in the world for over 140 years and is still recognized as the only scientifically valid argument (theory) that can satisfactorily explain the natural phenomenon we call organic evolution. -

Rodney Sheffer, Deerwood, Minn., retired biology teacher.

[My Response]

From: Ross Olson [ross{at}]
Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 3:30 PM
To: Editor Star Tribune
Subject: Doubting Darwin

Retired Biology Teacher Rodney Sheffer thinks evolution is a fact like gravity, and that to question it is such a blatant manifestation of intellectual incompetence that a teacher who doubts Darwin deserves to be fired. ("Letters From Readers," 8/20/2000)

He is not alone in his opinion, but like all the other intelligent, well educated and articulate proponents of the evolutionary world view, all he does is thump the table and appeal to both sweeping scientific generalities plus evolution's widespread acceptance in academia. Not a shred of specific evidence is quoted and he seems to have no awareness of the powerful scientific case against evolution.

That evidence -- often suppressed -- includes the incredibly improbable structure of living things and their irreducible complexity (all the highly ordered parts of a cell have to be present and working for a cell to function). These are not just little squabbles about a specific mechanism. Life has no more likelihood of beginning, or improving itself, by natural or chance events than a Sunday newspaper has of coming come out an explosion in the print shop.

If Mr. Sheffer were in the old Soviet Union, would he be defending Marx and communism as the unifying principle of all reality? His defense of evolution does not sound scientific, but religious. He has taken Darwin on faith and dare not look at any contrary evidence. On the other side, the real scientific evidence leads to the conclusion that there is a Creator -- and for many, that is a direction to be avoided at all costs.

Ross S. Olson MD
5512 14th Ave. So.
Minneapolis MN 55417

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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