An open mind sets you free


Donald Casebolt’s recent letter attacking evolution, among other things, confirms the adage “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

Casebolt says he read Dr. Jerry Coyne’s new book “Why Evolution is True,” but all he seems to have come away with are some “perhaps” and “maybe” words. That old confirmation bias just won’t go away. Casebolt totally ignores the wealth of scientific information supporting evolution revealed by Coyne, and just searches for any area where science has yet to confirm an observation.

Jerry Coyne received his doctorate in biology from Harvard University, was a Guggenheim Fellow and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as a biology professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and has published extensively in the field of evolution. Unlike the evolution detractors, he is not on the fringe of this issue.

Casebolt relies on the religious fundamentalist’s reasoning approach known as “God of the Gaps,” wherein any yet to be discovered “link” in the fossil record is offered as proof that God created it all. No scientific evidence is ever offered to support this thesis nor will there be. Science deals in the natural world. Religion deals with the supernatural.

Casbolt’s “God of the Gaps” approach leads him to the dinosaur and, according to him, the lack of precursor fossils. This simply is not true. Precursor fossils of dinosaur have been known for some time but, none had yet been found in the same deposits as dinosaurs.

Just recently, however, as published in Science, Berkley scientists have uncovered evidence of their coexistence in late Triassic rocks in deposits in New Mexico.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as “a method or procedure consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulating, testing, and modification of hypothesis.”

Science does not indulge in supernatural wishful thinking. It searches, tests, modifies, falsifies, hypotheses and is hardly ever satisfied. Isn’t that beautiful?

An open mind is a thing to treasure and it sets you free.

Thomas H. Reed

Walla Walla


dogman12 10 months, 1 week ago

Thanks, Thomas. I was raised to be an empirical thinker. I believe that the current state of humanity's knowledge of the universe developed through scientific inquiry is mostly correct. By this I mean that our deductions about past events in the natural world are most likely accurate. That does not mean that some of our deductions aren't wrong and won't be revised in the future.

The more we reveal and apply names to, like subatomic particles and the quantum behaviors of matter and physical forces, there is still a mystery that defies analysis. If our inquiries into the nature of the universe and life do not lead to more compassionate humans who understand their interconnections, it seems likely we will create such an imbalance in the earth's processes that is will cease to sustain us.

This is not the country or the world I expected to get, and it is getting harder by the year to remain optimistic. But thanks again, brother, for your thoughts.


stvsngltn 10 months, 1 week ago

Interesting letter. I, too, believe an open mind is a treasure (as did one of my favorite Founders, Thomas Paine who wrote The Age of Reason). And the last comment (it sets you free) certainly reminds one of a biblical verse (and CIA motto) John 8:32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." There's a lot of truth in Coyne's book, which I have but an even better one to have been recommended to Mr. Casebolt might have been Evolution (What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, by Donald R. Prothero. But he wouldn't have liked it, either. Interesting discussion issue ... I hope it continues.


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