Rev. Fred G. Zaspel's statement that evolution rests first and foremost on "the total denial of supernaturalism" is simply not the case {"What Does George Will Know About Creation?" Free for All, July 4}. Evolution rests securely on an enormous body of data drawn from a great many disciplines, a set of observations that do not support a hypothesis of instantaneous creation by a supernatural spirit -- God -- nor do the data support the creationist view that all life as we know it has come from the eight humans and the animals in the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark. These data do, however, support an evolutionary history for the universe and for life on this planet. In fact, they support it to the extent that most scientists accept the fact of evolution.

What seems to be so difficult for creationists to understand (or, if the creationist leaders do understand, they would never express it to their congregations) is that it is okay that scientists are not in total agreement on all the pathways and processes. Not only are there holes in the data, but the interpretations of some of the existing data vary in the scientific community.

But this is no reason for dismay, nor a basis for creationist claims that such disagreement throws evolution out the window. It is, in fact, the substance, the richness of science that we continue to probe, to hunt for evidence, to argue (at times heatedly) about where and how the pieces fit, to investigate various evolutionary theories.

Creationists, on the other hand, start out with a conclusion, based on their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, and they need go no further. To give credibility to the Creation story, they introduce science into it by selecting from the scientific disciplines those bits and pieces of data that can be applied in some way to "substantiate" special creation; they conveniently ignore data that don't seem to fit or cannot be made to fit.

This is the pseudoscience that creationists want in the science classrooms. There are, they say, only two choices: evolution or the Bible's version, but they bring no science with them. In fact, creationists with science/engineering backgrounds apparently are not conducting and reporting scientific studies leading to empirical evidence for creationism. A 1985 survey showed that of 135,000 manuscripts submitted to 68 scientific, technical and educational journals over a three-year period, only 18 dealt with scientific creationism. Of the 18, 15 were rejected with reasons that suggested to the reviewing scientists that "laymen rather than professional scientists are submitting the few articles that have surfaced in the last three years." It is difficult to judge creationism on its "scientific" merits when there are no studies published in the open scientific literature on which to base a judgment.

In his closing paragraph, Zaspel states that if man is not in the image of God, then "all of religion crumbles." I would point out that there are many millions of people on this planet -- very religious people -- who do not believe in the God of Zaspel's religion. What of them and their religion? -- Brooke Farquhar

Rev. Fred G. Zaspel makes two sweeping claims regarding science, faith, evolution and man. He avers that evolutionary theory is unscientific and that the acceptance of such theory requires rejection of faith in God.

Zaspel's characterization of evolution as established "on a series of propositions, beginning with the total denial of supernaturalism," applies comprehensively to science. The inclusion of supernaturalism in their thought by so-called creation scientists precludes teaching their ideas in science class. Evolutionary theorists are scientists of life's history. They survey the fossil record and attempt to explain it without reliance on supernatural safety nets.

Science is by definition an atheistic endeavor. That definition does not require, however, that scientists disbelieve in God. Science rejects theism as methodology, not as an answer to final ontological questions.

Although evolution might shake the faith of small-minded men, faith will survive -- as it survived heliocentricity. The belief that God's spirit permeates all nature increases my respect for life and my awe of God. -- Henry G. Hultquist