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Intelligent Design Intrigues, but Is It Science?
February 4, 2005; Page A9

In regard to "The Branding of a Heretic" by David Klinghoffer (Taste page, Weekend Journal, Jan. 28), about Richard Sternberg , a research associate at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, who published, as editor, the first peer-reviewed article to appear in a technical biology journal laying out the evidential case for Intelligent Design:

Mr. Klinghoffer fails to identify the real problem with the "Intelligent Design" hypothesis. The reason most scientists reject ID is that it fails to add anything to our understanding. Placing any kind of "super-intelligence" in our explanatory chain of the origins of life simply puts the final question off. If one proposes that some kind of intelligence is behind it all, then one must in all fairness inquire into the origins of that intelligence and so on, an infinite regression.

Dr. Sternberg is suffering not because his colleagues are unfair, but because he has chosen to substitute religion for honest scientific inquiry. His colleagues should be applauded, not reviled, for defending reason.

Terry W. Noel
Associate Professor of Management
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship
California State University
Chico, Calif.

Dr. Sternberg is vilified for apparently exposing the conventional dogma of evolution as being the answer to all natural processes.

Well, Dr. Sternberg is in good company. Galileo Galilei was also pilloried for violating dogma. In Galileo's case he was found guilty by the 16th century Inquisition of the Catholic Church for stating the earth was not the center of the universe. Like Galileo, Richard Sternberg may yet be exonerated by those less dogmatic than the National Museum of Natural History.

Could it be that first there was Intelligent Design and then there was evolution? Otherwise when did evolution first commence, given the currently dominant scientific theory of the big bang?

William D. Allen Sr.
Placentia, Calif.

To set the record straight:

It should be noted that Richard Sternberg is not a Smithsonian employee. He is a staff member of the National Center of Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health. As a research associate he has permission to study collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History for a three-year term.

Dr. Sternberg's characterization of his work conditions and treatment at the Smithsonian is incorrect. He was never denied office space, keys or access to the collections. More importantly, the private religious beliefs of employees and research associates are respected by the museum, and have no bearing on their professional standing within the museum.

Randall Kremer
Director of Public Affairs
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution

It would have been helpful for your readers if Mr. Klinghoffer had disclosed that Richard Sternberg , the man who abetted the publication of this creationist screed, is an editorial board member of the Baraminology Study Group, whose Web site tells visitors that it a "Christian fellowship for those researchers dedicated to discovering the Creator and His design for the present living world." And one also learns that the BSG is hosted by Bryan College in Tennessee, a fundamentalist Christian institution named in honor of Darwin's opponent William Jennings Bryan. I doubt if institutions that feature fundamentalist beliefs and are still seething over the Scopes monkey trial are objective enough to present real scientific alternatives to evolution. The fact that Mr. Sternberg , who snuck this paper into his journal through the back door, is now being shunned by his co-workers should be inferential as to the lack of rigor in any actual "peer review" of the paper. I encourage all Americans to celebrate their faith -- but please don't dress up those beliefs as science and then profess outrage when true scientists disagree.

Rich Black
Newark, Del.

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