Evolution in schools

Sir, – I was gratified to read that the Ministry of Education has finally taken the decision to teach evolution at the middle-school level (“Middle-school pupils to learn evolutionary theory,” June 2).

To those who doubt the basis of evolution I would point out that evolution is not a theory. It is a fact. In other words, species have evolved and changed over long periods of time. What is theory is how the process occurred.

Some might think God was responsible, a theory called “creationism.” But Charles Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” and “adaptation by means of natural selection,” which he published in On the Origin of Species in 1859, is as far as we know correct (except that Darwin could not know how the process occurred fundamentally because he did not know about genetics).

The work of Gregor Mendel, which established genetics, was not presented until 1865, and the work of Friederich Miescher, who discovered what was to later to be known as DNA, did not occur until 1869. Now, much later, the subsequent findings of genetics and molecular biology fully support what we know about evolution.

It is only ignorance that leads people to still deny evolution. We must ensure that in this modern world our children are not brought up ignorant of one of the most important issues of our time, namely, how man and animals have evolved.

JACK COHEN
Netanya

The writer is a retired professor of pharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biology

Pick and choose

Sir, – With regard to “Peres, Abbas accept invitation to pray at Vatican” (May 26), why did President Shimon Peres acquiesce to the pope’s invitation? The proposed prayer meeting for peace at the Vatican is a sham! Vatican City holds no sanctity according to Judaism.

Our sacred places are in Israel, centering on Jerusalem.

Islam has Mecca.

There are neither synagogues nor mosques in Vatican City. Jewish prayer from this location demises the centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism, and Peres’s attendance would debase our nation and religion.

If he goes, Peres would also be acting against a government protocol that extends to any formal public contact with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and PLO. When the government unwisely decided to release terrorist murderers to encourage the PA to talk about talks, the president acquiesced, issuing a formal pardon. So now he picks and chooses which government decisions are to his liking! Etiquette dictates that a public figure has no private capacity. As Sarah Honig pointed out in “Where fools have been before” (Another Tack, May 23), even private citizens have no right to negotiate on our behalf. How much more so the ceremonial president!

COLIN L. LECI
Jerusalem

Where is Moses?


Sir, – Your Shavuot supplement listed 50 people who are supposed to be the world’s most influential Jews (“The 50 most influential Jews of 2014”). However, the most influential Jew with the most long-lasting and ongoing influence, who should have topped the list, is Moses, who received the two tablets containing the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai.

It is very unlikely that any of those listed this year will have any influence on anybody even just three generations from now.

SHMUEL SHIMSHONI
Hadera
 
The Editor responds: The list covers the 50 most influential living Jews
 

CORRECTION In regard to “Savyon pool deaths stymie investigators” (June 5), the two 10-year-old girls drowned on Tuesday, and not as reported.


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