The Minister and evolution

Thu, Sep 16, 2010, 01:00

Madam, – As the main organisers of the 2012 world conference of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, we would like formally to invite Minister of State for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources Conor Lenihan, or his successor, to come to the opening of the conference in June of that year. This scientific conference will bring more than 1,300 delegates to Ireland and is worth more than €3 million to the Irish economy.

It will host scientists from almost every country in the world and will showcase Irish government-funded scientists as well as private companies.

We will be discussing the medical, environmental, genomic and societal impacts of the scientific fact of evolution. – Yours, etc,

Dr JAMES McINERNEY,

National University of Ireland,

Maynooth;

Prof KEN WOLFE,

Vice-president, Society

for Molecular Biology and

Evolution,

Trinity College Dublin;

Dr MARY O’CONNELL,

Dublin City University;

Dr Emma Teeling,

University College Dublin.

Madam, – The objections in your letters page to Minister for Science Conor Lenihan’s attendance at John J May’s book launch slightly miss the core of the issue.

There’s no doubt that any book claiming to discredit the theory of evolution would be sensationalist; however, Mr Lenihan would have been correct to attend if the author of the book had respected the scientific method and provided an evidence-based foundation for his claims.

Any book that makes such a claim would have deserved some kind of cursory reading before agreeing to support it; and a cursory reading of the sample chapter on the book’s website demonstrates very quickly that the argument is no more sophisticated than “sure look how complex life is, that can’t have just happened”.

The anti-scientific nature of the book is the major issue here, not the anti-evolutionary nature, and if Mr Lenihan couldn’t, or didn’t notice, then he needs to ask himself why he’s anywhere near the science portfolio. – Yours, etc,

COLIN McGOVERN.

Utrecht,

The Netherlands.

Madam, – Does Mr Lenihan think he is a member of the DUP or is this part of a master plan for Fianna Fáil to launch in the North and mop up the creationist vote? – Yours, etc,

GAVIN TOBIN,

Celbridge,

Co Kildare.