Magazine article New Internationalist


Magazine article New Internationalist


Article excerpt

The New Internationalist welcomes your letters. But please keep them short. They may be edited for purposes of space or clarity. Letters should be sent to or to your local Nl office. Please remember to include a town and country for your address.

The views expressed on the letters page are not necessarily those of the New Internationalist.

Questionable truth

I wish to take issue with Greg Croke on the Science versus Creationism debate (Letters, Terror takeover, Nl 427). I am neither a scientist nor religious.

Greg states that 'science insists that it can provide us with all truth'. If science insists on anything, it is that 'all truth' is an unattainable ideal, akin to the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Indeed, it is a fundamental principle of science to apply a large dose of scepticism to anything that is claimed to represent absolute truth. The reluctance of scientists to claim certainty about any perceived 'fact' is often used by creationists to argue that evolution, for example, is Only a theory', as if that somehow places it upon an equal footing with blind faith in a religion.

The basis of every scientific conclusion about nature rests upon observation. Scientists look at what happens, record it, and compare it with other things that also happen. When a pattern appears to emerge, then that may lead to a hypothesis and eventually perhaps a theory. Even something as fundamental as gravity is defined in science in terms of various 'theories'.

Science always allows for the possibility, no matter how well established may be the so-called 'facts', of some way of defying the rules. By contrast, how tenaciously religions cling to their doctrinal beliefs, regardless of how obviously they may be flawed.

Greg argues against subjectivity and for revelation as a way of defining truth. Unfortunately, that presents an insurmountable problem, since each of us, by definition, is subjective. As such, the objections that he makes to the scientific method apply no less to the revelatory one. I would still not take issue with the final statement that 'some truth can only come by revelation'. The truth that pain hurts, the truth that love conquers all, the truth that peace is better than war, to name but three. However, these are not 'scientific' truths, neither are they 'religious'; and if anyone is sceptical of them then that is because that person has not yet experienced the necessary revelation. Just like those who have not yet experienced the revelation that creationism is utter nonsense.

Nick Godwin Edinburgh, Scotland

Different perspective

I was glad for the mostly positive and insightful attention you paid to a religion so controversial to the modern world at present (Islam In power, Nl 426).

However, I struggle to understand why so little mention is made of Indonesia - a country with the most number of Muslims in the world. Given Indonesia's unique mix of both extreme and moderate Muslims, coupled with the various issues revolving around religion which are constantly being debated, the country would have been able to give readers a different perspective on the religion in Southeast Asia.

Dlyana Alan Singapore

The bright side

I read Zoe Cormier's Essay, 'Toxic Planet', with great interest (Nl 426). She ably documents the toxic soup we all live in. However, there's a bright side to the equation. Who would trade modern medicine for the medical knowledge of 100 years ago? Much of what we know about keeping healthy has come about at the same time as our industrial society. …

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