Leicester Secular Society

THE OLDEST SECULAR SOCIETY IN THE WORLD - FOUNDED 1851
Sections on this page: — Evolution and Creationism in LeicesterLetters in Leicester Mercury, February-April 2006Would You Adam and Eve It? (17 October 2006)Letters in Leicester Mercury, October-November 2006
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Evolution and Creationism in Leicester

Young-Earth Creationists have been active in Leicester for a long time. The US-based organisation ‘Answers in Genesis’, headed by the Australian Ken Ham, has its UK (and Europe) Headquarters in Leicester, where it is run by Dr Monty White. (Their address was previously 147 Queens Road, but they have recently moved to 16 Morris Road, a warehouse where they stock their extensive literature.) The ‘Biblical Creation Society’ has a postal address in nearby Rugby. Both have connections with the local Evangelical churches.

This page is devoted to recent events (2006) and is based mainly on correspondence and features that have appeared in the Leicester Mercury. I've copied the articles and letters here, rather than putting in links to their website, since it is often difficult to find old letters and articles on the site, and they don't seem to keep them available for long. I'm sure there are other significant letters that I have failed to record.

For my Darwin Day article (11 February 2006) and replies by the Bishop of Leicester, and an Imam, see the page on Evolution and the Church of England.

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Letters in Leicester Mercury, February-April 2006

ATHEISM IS A CRUEL BELIEF (16 February 2006) George Jelliss (First Person, February 11) questions the Church of England's official standpoint on evolution. / Not being an Anglican, I'll leave them firmly sitting on the fence, but I will turn to Mr Jelliss and his lazy treatment of Darwinism. / I believe in those aspects of evolution that can be observed scientifically: Speciation and specialisation. However, I take issue with Mr Jelliss's belief in the "essential correctness" of Darwinism - that we have evolved as part of a series of biochemical accidents in the absence of a Divine Creator. / Darwin himself stated: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down". / Such "irreducible complexity" has been shown to exist by non-religious scientists (such as Michael Behe). An example of this is the blood-clotting process. / Where does just that one example now leave the Darwinist? / In the absence of an answer, he has to accept the atheistic rules he sets for himself, leaving us all alone in a cold, uncaring universe, going nowhere and meaning nothing. / If we are just a cosmic accident, then what value can we place on human life? Secular atheism is a cruel belief system and, if adhered to logically, offers nothing to the individual. It leaves no sympathy for those who are suffering and offers no help to those in need. / Nazism and Communism show the horrific results of atheistic evolution applied practically. / Mr Jelliss has every right to believe whatever he wishes (and to speak about it), but is it not pointless and absurd to devote one's time to an organisation that promotes the absence of "Someone", providing only emptiness to take His place? / Dan O'Donnell, Braunstone.

EVOLUTION THEORY IN CRISIS (23 February 2006) George Jelliss (First Person, February 11) claims a mass of evidence for the theory of evolution, but fails to mention that it is a theory in crisis. / It is being questioned deeply by many scientists who are prepared to suffer the ridicule of the establishment. / While evolution takes place at a low level, meaning creatures adapt to their surroundings, this is called micro evolution. However, evidence from microbiology shows there is intricate design at cell level with no mechanism for macro evolution to take place. Macro evolution refers to one species developing into another species. / The blue-green algae that scientists say made our planet aerobic by producing oxygen is not a simple plant. It is a complex system of suntraps that converts light into food by photosynthesis and then gives off oxygen as a waste product. / The earliest life forms found in the pre-Cambrian marine rock in British Columbia, Canada, shows highly-developed sea creatures, not the simple single-cell amoebas scientists expected to find. / Mr Jelliss cites DNA as proof for evolution. DNA systems in plants, animals and humans need information in order to function. Where does this information come from? / A million pages of information are required to make a human being. The information is far more complex than that required to build a spacecraft or the most sophisticated computer. How did this information evolve? / I have read a nuclear physicist's book on Genesis and The Big Bang. / He maintains, by using Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, it can be demonstrated that the six days of creation in Genesis is the same time as the 20 billion years proposed by cosmologists. / Victor Herbert, Leicester.

ONLY THE BIBLE HAS THE ANSWERS (01 March 2006) From his assertion that "the evidence for the wonder of evolution is in every living thing and fossil", perhaps your correspondent Frank Fieldmann (Mailbox, February 18) has access to evidence that is not known to the rest of us. Evolutionists have been desperate to find some evidence for their beliefs for years, which might explain why the very best "evidence" school text books have for evolution, peppered moths and Haeckel's embryos, are both utterly fraudulent. / Perhaps he has discovered a natural mechanism for the creation of information, or uncovered a plausible mechanism for the spontaneous increase in genetic information, which are just two of the many phenomena that evolutionists are at a loss to explain? / There is still not a shred of evidence to support the idea of "molecules to man" evolution, and the fossil record is far more consistent with a catastrophic global flood and shows no evidence of transitional forms, hence the need for evolutionists to concoct bizarre theories such as punctuated equilibrium. / The most credible scientific explanation we have for the wonder we see all around us is outlined in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verse 20: "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so men are without excuse." / John Kirk, Birstall.

IN DEFENCE OF CHURCH SCHOOLS (02 March 2006) I find it ludicrous that secularist Mark Sperry should complain that church schools are insidious (Mailbox (February 22). The evolutionists' dogma is far more bigoted than any other belief system. The Bible was the basis of English Law and traditional moral values for centuries, but a godless minority have taken control of our educational policies in state schools. At the last census 72 per cent ticked the box indicating that they were Christians. Secularists who dismiss the Bible as myth are willfully ignorant of God's Word, the Bible, that it is the Maker's handbook. They claim to be better informed than God! Is the silent majority of decent people to be denied the freedom to choose what their children are taught? The Church, with a few exceptions, has failed to equip believers on how to refute the theory of evolution. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the biblical account of creation. Excellent publications on the subject may be obtained from "Answers in Genesis", a Leicester organisation. / S. E. Ellis, Oadby.

CHRISTIAN CHURCH DEALS WITH UNCHANGING TRUTHS OF LIFE (08 March 2006) I have been reading the Mercury for many years and enjoy it. / Recently, you had a man speaking of evolution and asking if the Church would back this theory (for that is what it is). Maybe he has not heard of the Piltdown man fraud or the Peppered moth fraud or the Lucy fraud or the Haechel fraud and many more. One trouble with the evolutionist is, when new information comes, he has to change his view. / This is all to do with little man, with his little mind, trying to cope with things beyond him. The Church has to do with things far greater and higher, more wonderful and divine than this world. The man of the world has no hope of things getting better, but the Christian has a sure and certain hope for the future that is found on the Word of God, and God's word does not change as little man's has to. / David Densham, Leicester.

TITLE? (31 March 2006) The main problem with the evolution/creationism controversy is the age-old one of pride, which dates back to the Garden of Eden, and which has resulted in the mess that humankind has found itself in ever since. / For an evolutionist to admit the existence of an all-powerful Creator is to recognise that He is far superior to any person who has lived, or who will ever live, and that is too much for them to acknowledge. / B. Rowe, Leicester.

Comment (online): No, the main problem with the evolution/creationism controversy is the age-old one of pride, in which humans created human-centric fiction to cope with the unexplainable, and the nonsensical religious comfort blanket that some of them have found themselves unable to let go of ever since. For a creationist to admit the fairytale delusion of an all-powerful creator is to recognise that our planet is not the centre of the universe, and that being just lowly animals ourselves, we are not superior enough to have even the remotest idea (let alone any proof) about how or why we got here. Not knowing for sure (even if "for sure" means making it all up) is too much for their scared little minds to cope with. Fairytales are for children who haven't learned to tell the difference between reality and fiction. Where is the pride in saying "I don't know how we got here, and would never have the audacity to claim I do know"...? Creationists are the ones with the pride problem! They can't admit we're just animals, can't admit nobody really knows how we got here, can't admit that even if there might be a creator, our stupidity, pomposity and arrogance probably consign us to being nothing more than an embarrassing mistake. Most evolutionists don't believe humans are superior to anything - quite frankly, we're not proud of our species, just ashamed of what a bunch of insufferable dimwits we're surrounded by. / Keith, Nottingham

Comment (online): No. The main problem is that creationism is based on superstition with no evidence apart from books thousands of years old (if you can call that evidence). You believe it as an act of faith, don't expect me to do the same. / Tim, Leicester

TITLE? (4 April) George Jelliss states (Mailbox, March 22) that the Mercury should refrain from printing any more misleading information on evolution by creationists - and this from a man who only a few weeks ago was declaring his love of free speech. / Mr Jelliss accused Paul Taylor, of Answers in Genesis, of misleading the public by saying that the Nobel Prize-winner Francis Crick had disputed "molecules to man evolution". Since Crick had stated that the origin of life by chance was so unlikely that an alien origin should be considered as a possibility, it is clear Taylor was correct. / Dr Crick did question that mankind had evolved from molecules. / This is not to "confuse two issues", as Mr Jelliss alleges, because though evolutionists, for the sake of convenience, do distinguish between the two, it is partly to disassociate (in theory) the later diversification of life on earth by random mutation and natural selection from the horrendous difficulties involved in any chance origin of life in the first place. / In this way, they can deceive people into thinking that the origin of life is a peripheral issue to be solved eventually while still adhering to the nonsense commonly termed "Darwinism". / Stephen Glasse, Blaby.

Comment (online): Surely it is time to stop this nonsense. You believe in creationism because it fits with your religious faith. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no belief in some divine creator and feel life from molecules offers an explanation. However, I do not know nor understand the technical aspects of how this happened any more than you know how your God created the Universe in seven days. Enjoy and celebrate your faith but don't bend science to try to justify it and certainly don't try to force it on me or my children at school. / Neil, Leicester.

It puzzles me to read George Jelliss's comment that the Mercury "should not be further spreading this disinformation" about evolution because I am sure that he believes in free speech and an unfettered press. Besides, the more those people expose themselves through their deceits, the more they can be confuted with facts, as he has ably done. / John Lawrence, Leicester.

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Would You Adam and Eve It?

The following is the text of a full page article featuring Dr Monty White of 'Answers in Genesis'. (17 October 2006)

Answers in Genesis is spreading a fundamental Christian word all over Europe - and it is based in Leicester. Lee Marlow reports.

In a warehouse in Knighton, a friendly man with Abraham Lincoln's beard and the look of an oversized teddy bear is settling into his heartfelt, if slightly unsettling, Old Testament stride. He's about to hit me with some Very Worrying News. / "If you don't accept God as your saviour," says Dr Monty White, "then you will go to hell." / Ah. / "Unfortunately," he explains, "that is what will happen. I look around the world today and all the problems we are seeing now are the result of us taking our eye off God. / "When you die and you stand before God and you are not a believer and you have not accepted Christ as your saviour, then you will be condemned by God." / And? / "And hell is waiting for you." / Oh dear. / "Yes, that is where you are going," says Dr White. / "That is what it says in the Bible - and I'm sorry if I keep returning to the Bible - but it forms everything I believe to be true."

This is a moment I'm unlikely to forget in a hurry, sitting in the international headquarters of worldwide Creationist group Answers in Genesis - which also happens to be a boardroom in a large warehouse on an industrial estate in Knighton - and being told by a man I've just met that I'm on a highway to hell. / In a nation which is predominantly Church of England, occasionally churchgoing and broadly Christian, it's still a surprise to meet a man who believes it all so thoroughly and unashamedly passionately as Dr White. / He says the world is going to the dogs - but his group, AiG, can save us from ourselves. / He recommends non-believers take a long, hard look at what the Book of Genesis means. It might just sort us all out. / Answers in Genesis, so that we're clear, is the religious group that does exactly what it says on the tin - that is, it says you can unearth the meaning of life in the Old Testament book of Genesis.

"I was like you once," says Dr White. "I didn't believe. I used to read the Bible so I could bait my Christian friends." / Then, one day, he says - although it wasn't a sudden transformation, it was a slow about-turn that took four or five months - he realised everything he thought was right was wrong and the people he had enjoyed poking fun at had been correct all along. / It was a magical feeling, he remembers, wistfully, and it left him feeling warm and happy inside. / That day, he stopped blaspheming, tried to stop sinning - although we all sin, he says, even those trying their hardest not to - confessed his wrong doings and welcomed Jesus into his life. / Since that memorable day, he says, everything has been much better. / It seems churlish to disagree with Dr White. He is an affable gent who, you can see, is happy in his own skin and content that his theory on life is right and that others - even fellow Christians who don't quite travel that extra religious mile - are wrong.

Dr White is a very clever man who was once the registrar at Cardiff University. He believes the world would be a better place if we all thought like him. / Maybe he's right. His message, after all, is finding a growing and accepting audience across Europe and America. / While congregations have dwindled at churches across the country, Answers in Genesis continues to grow. / AiG has 10 full-time employees, three part-time staff and three volunteers. Two associate speakers are expected to join around Christmas.

Answers in Genesis works like this, says Dr White: There's the warehouse, where they dispatch between 30,000 and 50,000 videos, DVDs and books every year, and the ministry, where they travel the UK and Europe retelling the greatest story ever told. / It costs about 500,000 to keep the show on the road. One fifth of that comes from the sales of merchandise. The rest, says Dr White, they sit down and pray for. He's not joking. / "Every day," he says, "we will meet at 9am and pray and one of the things we will pray for is money." / Sometimes they pray for a new van. "We've needed a new vehicle three or four times in the past few years and we've prayed and we've received enough money to get one. The power of prayer works." / If it does, Dr White, why don't you pray to save dying children rather than praying for a new van? / No, no, says Dr White, shaking his head, it doesn't work like that. "Death happens. You can't escape that. / "Death happens because of Adam's sin. Nothing would have died if Adam had not sinned." / He hands me a magazine called Answers. The main article is titled: Do Leaves Die? They don't, it concludes.

A few pages later, there's a feature entitled Darwin's Legacy - An Assault Against God. / There's the religious rub. Followers of Creationism believe God created the Earth and everything else in six days and rested on the seventh day. / They believe that Adam ate the apple - although it wasn't actually an apple, it was a fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, explains Dr White - and subsequently ruined it for all of us by submitting to sin. / They visit churches to spread this message and some schools, though but Dr White says very little about this, admitting every time they venture into the classroom they get criticised. / "We prefer to keep that side of our work quiet," he says. / "I would like to see this [Creationism] taught in school," he says. He wouldn't like just anyone teaching it, though - he wants to teach it, or someone like him, so the children get the real thing, not some jaundiced run-through by a sceptical teacher. / What sets Creationists apart from other fundamental Christians is their belief that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that while Charles Darwin may have had a point about evolution, we didn't come from primates, we are descended from Adam and Eve.

Ironically, at the rear of the boardroom is a cupboard full of fossils. Dr White says every fossil you have ever seen is less than 6,000 years old. / Are you sure about that, Dr White? / "Yes. I studied geology at university. I know that methods of dating these rocks are flawed." / Three miles away at New Walk Museum, Leicester, they have one of the oldest fossils in the world. Unearthed somewhere in Charnwood and dating from something like 550 million years ago, it really is a sight to behold, says natural science curator Mark Evans. / Is there not any chance that these geological experts might be, somehow, 549,994,000 years awry? / Mr Evans thinks that is unlikely.

Dr White wafts away those 550 million years as if it's nothing more than a trifling difference of opinion. / The scientists are wrong, he says, because it says so in the Bible. It all comes back to the Good Book. / What if the Bible is wrong? / It isn't wrong, he says. / What if it is, though? / "Well, as John Wesley once said, if I'm wrong and the Bible is wrong and there's no hereafter," he says, "at least I've had a good life here on Earth."

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Letters in Leicester Mercury, October-November 2006

I'M LOOKING FOR SOME ANSWERS (20 October 2006) Following your article on Answers in Genesis (Mercury, October 17), I wonder if Dr White can clear up these questions for me. Were humans created after other animals, as in Genesis 1:25-27, or before other animals, as in Genesis 2:18-19? Were plants created before humans, as in Genesis 1:11-13, 27-31, or after, as in Genesis 2:4-7? Does Adam die on the day he eats from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:17) or does he live on for another 930 years (Genesis 5:5)? Did Noah enter the Ark on the day that the flood began (Genesis 7:11-13) or seven days before (Genesis 7:7-10)? Did the flood last 40 days (Genesis 7:17) or 150 (Genesis 8:3)? Before we dismiss people such as Dr White as mere harmless fools, maybe we should read what they actually believe and read the dangers. Among other things, Genesis endorses the burning of pregnant prostitutes (Genesis 38:24). I hope he has not taken it too literally. / Simon Perry, Oadby.

TRUTH BEHIND VALUES (24 October 2006) Your reporter Lee Marlow is to be commended for his balanced article on Dr Monty White, leader of Answers in Genesis in Europe (Leicester Mercury, October 17). There is conflict between Creationists and nearly everyone else in the land except, perhaps, some Muslim and some Jewish believers, whose teaching also has God creating all things. It is easy to understand the conflict for the atheistic, science-based thinkers who hold to evolution as the route from primordial soup to human kind. What of others, though? / It is difficult to understand how people who think of themselves as Christian do not believe the foundational documents of the Christian faith. It is understood that there is no other source of data on which to build an understanding of God, Jesus and creation. The Bible must, therefore, be the final arbiter of all truth for the Christian. It seems, therefore, that there are many people who are deluded in their belief that they are Christian. This is important because, in the current political climate, there is a need to be clear about the mix of religions in our homeland. This data is essential for integration of the population, the structure of our society and for law-making. If the majority of the population, for instance, thinks that an action is blasphemous, then our law may reflect that. Our population has had Christian influence of various types, some good, some not so good but, to be clear, this nation is not and has never been a Christian one. / Eric M Singer, Wigston.

Comment (online): Mr. Singer sounds very clever, but this is really a load of meaningless waffle. / Peter West, Newfoundpool.

EVOLUTION CLAIM (25 October 2006) The article on creationism raises serious issues. / You are warmly invited to a talk by one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists, Professor Steve Jones FRS called Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right, in Lecture Theatre 3, Ken Edwards Building, Leicester University at 7.30pm on Tuesday, November 7. / The talk is free and everyone is welcome. / Allan Hayes, Leicester Secular Society.

CREATION'S TRUTH FOR ALL TO READ (25 October 2006) I am in complete agreement with Dr Monty White and the organisation Answers in Genesis (Mercury, October 17). / The truth about creation is not only found in Genesis, it runs throughout the Bible. / The Lord Jesus Christ taught it and quoted from Genesis, as did apostle Paul and other New Testament writers. / Millions of Christian believers all over the world base their lives on the truths of the scriptures, the word of God. I am happy to be one of them and I shall continue unashamedly to teach creation and the rest of the Bible in the school where I work. / Margaret E Siddans, Leicester.

CREATION IS A PERSONAL BELIEF (28 October 2006) I can only hope Margaret Siddans works in a church school (Mailbox, October 25). I would certainly take exception to you indoctrinating my children in this way. / You are free to believe as you wish, but you have no right to teach other people's children this unless you work within a church school or have been asked to. / It's up to my children to decide which religion they choose to follow, and to do this, they need rounded, clear information about all religions, not biased indoctrination. / Keep your personal beliefs just that - personal! / Sue Boyd, Leicester.

CREATION OF EMBARRASSMENT (30 October 2006) Reading Lee Marlow's article about the infamous Creationist group Answers in Genesis, the UK chapter of which is based in Leicester, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (Leicester Mercury, October 17). / Neither reaction, however, is suitable for all right-thinking people when confronted by such a threat to education and scientific literacy. / Reading of their ignorant claims, I am reminded of nothing so much as the adage that everyone has the right to their own opinion, but no-one has the right to their own facts. / Answers in Genesis and their kind are strangers to hard scientific facts carefully built up by patient observation, hypothesis, experimentation and theorising by some of the most brilliant minds over many centuries. / It used to be said that there is a mountain of evidence for evolution: It is closer to the truth to say that there is a whole Himalayan mountain range of evidence freely available for anyone to inspect. / Ignorance is no defence: While not everyone would wish to curl up with a hefty undergraduate textbook, eminent scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones, Carl Zimmer and Edward Wilson have written many fascinating books explaining the broad outlines of evolutionary theory to the interested layman. The truth is, indeed, out there. / Some readers may be familiar with the landmark case in Dover, Pennsylvania, late last year, when a school board's attempts to have so-called "intelligent design" (alias warmed-up leftover Creationism) taught in schools was decisively kicked into touch by a judge who described the movement as one of "breathtaking inanity". / That such a group has seen fit to besmirch our city and county with its scientifically illiterate brand of Bible-thumping fundamentalism is a deep embarrassment. / Referring to the tactic of attempting to inject their scientific illiteracy into school curricula, Dr White tellingly admitted: "We prefer to keep that side of our work quiet." / I wonder why? / S J Payne, Earl Shilton.

Comment (online): Payne recommends works by Dawkins. Is this the same Dawkins, whose TV documentaries were described in the Guardian as "intellectually lazy polemic"? Mind you, I've read books by all the evolutionists quoted in Payne's letter. Has he read any of Answers in Genesis's publications? Ignorance is no defence, I'm told. As usual, we are told about the "mountain of evidence". Where? Payne has not given us any. It is a hollow mountain. / Paul Taylor, Leicester

SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATIONS ARE NOT VALUE-FREE (1 November 2006) Sue Boyd (Mailbox, October 28) appears to suggest that Creationism is the only personal belief concerning origins. / This is not the case: Evolution is also a belief. / Evolutionary atheism is taught as scientific fact in almost all state schools, even though there is not a shred of evidence to support the idea of "molecules to man". / An argument commonly used by evolutionists is that creation is religion, but evolution is science. / This is nonsense. Science is not value-free. All evidence is interpreted according to opinions and assumptions held. / Evolutionists ask us to believe that, at some indeterminate point in time (and at one time only), purely by chance, a random soup of inanimate chemicals (how did they get there?) spontaneously became life and that this life endowed itself with the ability to reproduce. / They then ask us to believe that these chemicals developed an ability to generate, among a myriad of other things, massive amounts of information. As if that were not enough, we are asked to believe that random mistakes in the copying of this information led to an increase in the amount of information in the offspring. There is not a whisper of evidence to support any of these suggestions. / Everything we see around us is powerful evidence of our Creator, and despite the best efforts of the mainstream media, about half the population agrees there is no better explanation for creation. / As the Bible tells us: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20, NIV). / Our children must be free to make up their own minds, but please don't ask them to do so without all the evidence. Or perhaps Sue Boyd only wants them to be indoctrinated with her personal beliefs? / John Kirk, Birstall.

Comment (online): I invite Mr Kirk to the free public lecture on "Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right" by Professor Steve Jones FRS, on Tues Nov 7, 7.30pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester. / Allan Hayes, Leicester.

SEEKING TRUTH (4 November 2006) John Kirk (Mailbox, November 1) speaks of evolution as if it was just a matter of arbitrary personal opinion when it is the result of two centuries and more of geological and biological research by thousands of scientists (many of them religious believers), devoted to the honest pursuit of truth. / George Jelliss, Leicester.

WORLD REVEALS GOD'S EXISTENCE (8 November 2006) The idea of rejecting God's existence has existed from ancient times (First Person, October 31). But the rise of this idea actually began in the 18th century in Europe with the spread and political effect of the philosophy of some anti-religious thinkers laying the groundwork for the materialist philosophy. This view denied the existence of a Creator while it maintained that the universe is a constant, stable, and unchanging collection of matter. The coming of the universe into being from non-being is the greatest proof possible that it has been created. / Nevertheless, the evidence of science itself puts a definite end to these theories. All of this evidence leads us to the conclusion that the universe works with a certain "consciousness". What, then, is the source of this consciousness? Surely it is neither the living nor the non-living beings in it. Nor can they be the ones that maintain the harmony and preserve the order. The existence of God reveals itself in countless proofs in the universe. / The famous physicist Sir Fred Hoyle makes a striking observation about the origin of life. In his book The Intelligent Universe he writes: "The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way (by coincidence) is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747." / The existence of God is obvious. Ignoring it would only be the beginning of the greatest damage we could ever do to ourselves - because God is in no need of anything. He is the One who shows His greatness in all things and in all ways. / Suleman Nagdi, Leicester Council of Faiths.

Comment (online): No one is suggesting that people who believe in God should be ignored, but there is serious lack of attention paid to those of us do not believe in God - for example we are excluded from the Leicester Council of Faiths. The big issue is how people with different beliefs can live together in harmony and to their mutual advantage. Incidentally, there are religions that do not have a god, and a substantial proportion of members of religions that officially believe in a god do not themselves believe in God - religions evolve. Sir Fred Hoyle was indeed a famous Physicist, but he was wrong over the steady state universe and continuous creation of matter, and the quoted remark unfortunately does not take account of step-by-step evolution. / Allan Hayes, Leicester Secular Society.

GORGE HAS A LONGER HISTORY (17 November 2006) Rob Briars (Mercury Mailbox, November 13) tells us of a gorge near Mount St Helens in the US formed in a few days following the eruption in 1980, but it is not clear which of several such formations he is referring to. He claims it is one-twentieth the scale of the Grand Canyon. In fact, the deepest one that I can locate, known as Lava Canyon, is only about 100ft deep and no more than a few miles long. It was originally formed by ancient lava flows, subsequently filled in with dirt, and then was scoured back down to its original lava rock by huge mud flows caused by melting glaciers. So, it has a much longer history of formation than a few days. In contrast, the Grand Canyon is immense, averaging 4,000ft deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000ft deep at its deepest point and 15 miles wide at its widest. The rocks through which the Colorado River has gouged the Grand Canyon were laid down over many geological ages, some of the lower strata having been turned at an angle and eroded flat before later strata were laid down over them. The idea that the formation of the Grand Canyon can be attributed to Noah's Flood (as creationists claim) is just laughable. / George Jelliss, Leicester.

DIVINE DESIGN (18 November 2006) S J Payne (Mercury Mailbox, November 13) asserts that "evolution is a fact, with a wealth of evidence in its support". / As a scientist with both industrial and teaching experience, I am amazed at such unscientific dogmatism. By its very nature, the evolutionary hypothesis is difficult, if not impossible, to test by scientific method. / This includes investigation by experiment. Where this has been attempted, no evidence has been provided in support of evolution, quite the contrary. / The evidence for creation includes that of irreducible complexity and intelligent design in addition to proofs of the divine inspiration of the Bible. / John C. Breslford, Queniborough.

WHAT FERVOUR! (21 November 2006) S J Payne (Mailbox, November 13) suggests that we "go and read a book" to learn more about "current evolutionary theory". Evolution as a Religion, by the philosopher Mary Midgley, would be a good book to choose. Some people follow science with such religious fervour, and show such blind faith in it, that followers of other religions simply have to blush. / Peter Holdridge, Countesthorpe.

THE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTION (23 November 2006) Contrary to the claims of John C Brelsford (Mailbox, November 18), the possibility of the evolution of life forms with "irreducible complexity" (where removing any component would result in the system not working properly) was predicted by Nobel-prize-winning geneticist Hermann Muller as long ago as 1918. Muller referred to it as "interlocking complexity". It can come about in several ways, for instance, by a more complex system losing some parts that served as scaffolding to build it. As Judge Jones ruled in the recent court case in Dover, in the US, the term "intelligent design" is just another name for "creationism", not evidence for it. / As for experiments to prove evolution, I suppose Mr Brelsford is asking to see one life form evolve into another under laboratory conditions. This is like asking a historian to conduct experiments to prove that William the Conqueror really did defeat King Harold in 1066. Having said that, speciation has been observed by biologists who have studied fruit flies over many years, and the evolution of bacteria resistant to antibiotics is well known. / George Jelliss, Leicester.

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