Richard Sternberg has done science a favor too subtle for the Smithsonian Institution to grasp ["Editor Explains Reasons for 'Intelligent Design' Article," news story, Aug. 19]. He has moved the debate away from the lecture hall, where scientist is confronted by intelligent-designing lawyer, to the grinding millstones of the scientific journal, where all the facts, theories and suppositions can be weighed and some found worthy.
The way to scientifically discuss the issue is to have competent scientists present the case as well as possible. Intelligent design may or may not survive, but the honorable game is to address the argument, not dogmatically attack the man.
HUGO G. BLASDEL
The Smithsonian Institution has forsaken the marketplace of ideas for censorship and thought control. When presented with a debate about the theories of evolution and intelligent design in its affiliate journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, the Smithsonian treated the journal's editor as a heretic for daring to publish such discussion.
Never mind that the editor, Richard Sternberg, has two doctorates in evolutionary biology and does not necessarily believe in intelligent design. That did not stop his colleagues from accusing him of being a closet creationist.
Even Charles Darwin would be hard-pressed to explain how a society founded on the principles of John Stuart Mill has evolved into one against which George Orwell warned.
Aren't scientists justified in criticizing the publication of an unsci- entific paper in a scholarly science journal?
Although the article's author, Stephen C. Meyer, had undergraduate training in physics and geology and subsequently worked as a geophysicist, his postgraduate work was in philosophy and the history of science. He is on the faculty of Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian university, where he teaches a course in Christian apologetics in the School of Ministry.
Mr. Meyer also is director and senior fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, the think tank at the center of the intelligent design creationism movement. As revealed in a fundraising document, the Discovery Institute has a plan that culminates in three 20-year goals:
* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
* To see the application of design theory in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, and psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; and to see its influence in the fine arts.
* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.
When scientists see words such as "dominant perspective" used in connection with intelligent design, they have every right to be alarmed.