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Letters
January 10, 2006

Dear Editor,

I think I have to reply to Dr. Tenke "Many scientists miss the other point." I hear his argument frequently among scientists who are Christians and as a chaplain at MIT that is the bulk of my 'parish'. To summarize the argument, the reasoning is that science cannot answer certain questions; and one of the principle ones it cannot answer is whether there is purpose in the universe. Since 'Intelligent Design' answers that question with a yes, it cannot be science for it answers a question science cannot answer.

There is nothing wrong with that reasoning as far as it goes. The problem is that it completely leaves out the other side of the point: If science cannot answer the question, then answering "no" is as unscientific as answering "yes." I see another article in today's Presbyweb about Richard Dawkins trumpeting "No, no, no!" in a British television series why do I not see columns like Dr. Tenke's demanding that Dawkins' books be banned from public school classrooms as unscientific? Where are any scientists arguing that purposelessness should not be taught?

I do know that science is supposed to be a practice, not a philosophy. That practice is not supposed to be afraid of any questions, or hypotheses, or doubts about existing orthodoxy. Real science would look for ways to answer the questions raised by both design and purposelessness. Even the theory that the question of purpose cannot be answered should itself be subject to doubt and testing. To categorically refuse to deal with one differing answer (but not the other!) is not science it's dogma.

Rev. Kevin Ford
MIT Board of Chaplains

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