Facts on Evolution
In response to the letter from Mike Zavednak (Feb. 26 issue), “Our Natural World” columnist Doug Nichols writes:
Several points must be raised about Mr. Zavednak’s letter because, although I am sure it was heartfelt, it was inaccurate and misleading. First and foremost, evolution is an observable fact of nature, from microbes to stars. (If so inclined, some might choose to interpret this as the way God made the universe.)
Second, Mr. Zavednak’s statement about no transitional fossils having been found in the 150 years following the publication of Darwin’s book is quite incorrect. To see just how well paleontology supports Darwin, he should consult the “The Fossil Record 2″ by M. J. Benton (London: Chapman & Hall, 845 pp.). There are many books that are easier reading than this reference, such as those by Stephen Jay Gould noted below, but the point is that a vast body of data on fossils has been developed since 1859, all of which verifies just what Darwin predicted.
Third, Mr. Zavednak presents an analogy involving Berthoud’s downtown street project, which seems to be the “argument from design.” This does not really pertain to evolution, but in any event, the philosopher David Hume rather effectively discredited the argument from design 250 years ago (for a more recent discussion, see the book by Richard Dawkins noted below).
Fourth, Mr. Zavednak confuses biogenesis and evolution, but regardless of how life originates, it most certainly does evolve, primarily via the process of natural selection. Now, after some 3.5 billion years, modern biologists (including those who study DNA) find that all living organisms are related. All living forms evolved from earlier ancestors (as proven by fossils and DNA).
Fifth, I said nothing in my column about mutation, but mutation does not result in lost information as Mr. Zavednak incorrectly claims, mutations (along with genetic recombination) provide the raw material for heritable variation, and natural selection works on variation.
Finally, I would point out that as a professional paleontologist, I built a long and successful career on the direct results of evolution: changes in fossils through time that provide the key to determining their geologic age. I know from experience that evolution is a fact. I am inspired by the words of Charles Darwin, who stated, “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
To learn more about evolution, visit these Web sites:
I highly recommend the books of Stephen J. Gould, such as “The Panda’s Thumb” or “Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History,” and there many others by him. If interested, see also Richard Dawkins, “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design.”
Fairness Doctrine Revisited
There’s been an ongoing debate about the Fairness Doctrine. In a nutshell, Republicans are against it and Democrats are for it. I think, however, there is confusion as to what the objective of the doctrine really is. The purpose, actually, is to hold radio stations responsible for operating in the public’s best interests. After all, the public owns the airwaves; this goes back to the Communications Act of 1934.
There are a few factors at work here. First, we tend to focus on television news instead of looking at all media. The heart of the battle is talk radio. For example, 91 percent of weekday talk shows are conservative. Therefore, we have a great imbalance on our nation’s publicly owned radio airwaves.
Second, there is a radio-ownership monopoly in America where one company owns 1,200 stations. That’s a lot of control by a single corporation of what or who gets airtime. Some argue for and against the monopoly. But the reality is it directly influences what we get to hear on AM/FM radio. Again – think about the 91 percent. Lastly, the supporters of the doctrine do not want to silence conservative voices. Instead, the policy promotes adding more viewpoints to our public airwaves.
After all, the public owns the airwaves, not just the conservatives, not just Clear Channel. I think we tend to forget that.
A Grateful Thanks to Scouts and Community
The Berthoud House of Neighborly Service would like to thank area Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for another record breaking food drive. This food drive was made possible through the efforts of many outstanding adult leaders and parents that organized and coordinated the event and the many young Scouts that went door-to-door collecting food. Last Saturday, Feb. 28, more than 5,000 pounds were collected.
This agency also thanks the Berthoud community for its generous support of this food drive. All food will be distributed locally, providing assistance to qualifying individuals and families. HNS helps Berthoud-Loveland area residents become self-sustaining through emergency services including food, clothes, utilities, prescriptions and shelter. The Berthoud office of the House of Neighborly Service is open Tuesdays only, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and is located at the First Presbyterian Church, 8th and Massachusetts.
Berthoud House of Neighborly Service
Staff and Volunteers