A Case of Mistaken Identity
I find the cover of the February issue of DISCOVER highly offensive.In fact, I was embarrassed to find it in my mailbox. While I know itmay be someone’s art, it is my pornography. If I want a fat, naked manin my mailbox, I will order him.
Ruth P. Watkins
I haven’t stopped laughing yet. Here’s my new issue of DISCOVER witha very large naked man on the cover and what’s the first thing I read?“The Big Bang Machine.”
Batavia, New York
The cover kinda scared me when I first saw it. I was like, whoa,there’s a naked dude on the front. I showed it to my mom, and she said,“Is that your father?” The guy really does look like my father. Theglare he is giving looks exactly like the one my father gives me whenhe is disappointed. Kudos for the man on the cover.
Editor’s note: Our February cover model is sculptor Ron Mueck’s BigMan (2000) on display at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.
Science and (Non)Belief
The Discover Interview with Francis Collins was fascinating[February]. As an atheist, I have great respect for him. Collins’sgreat contribution to science is rivaled by his forthright criticism ofcreationism and intelligent design. In his book The Language of God, hedebunks the fundamentalist creation story almost as well as RichardDawkins in The God Delusion. Nevertheless, several of Collins’sstatements were puzzling. His question “What has atheism done to helppeople?” deserves an answer. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in adeity and does not exclude nonbelieving scientists, such as Darwin,Einstein, Crick, Watson, and Sagan, from contributing to humankind. Ialso take issue with Collins for accusing nonreligious scientists ofhaving dogmatic beliefs in atheism. The vast majority of nonreligiousscientists readily admit they would believe in a deity if scientificproof were presented and verified by peer review. They are stillwaiting, as am I.
The fact is that there are many highly intelligent, articulatebelievers like Francis Collins who do not see any inherent conflictbetween science and faith, but they are usually drowned out by the dinof the conflict between militant atheists and young-Earth creationists.It was refreshing to see his interview in your magazine, where thistopic has been heavily dominated by Dawkins and his ilk.
Francis Collins’s distorted thinking belies his claims to moderationand balance. He denies credit to atheism for the good done by atheistsbut holds atheism responsible for the horrors of Stalin and Mao. Hethen reverses his logic and compounds his biases by crediting religionfor “altruistic, gentle, and loving” principles while dismissing theinhumanity done by its followers as occurring only “when someone takesthose principles and twists them to suit their own purposes.” Atheistsdo not kill in the name of faith. Nor do I do good in the name offaith; I do good because it’s the right thing to do. Give me RichardDawkins’s clear and honest thinking over Collins’s muddledjustification for his beliefs and his dismissal of nonbelievers.
Francis Collins asks, “Is there any dogma more unsupported by factsthan from the scientist who stands up and says, ‘I know there is noGod’?” Unfortunately, there is. It is the scientist who stands up andsays, “I know there is a God.” This embracer of both science and faithis on a slippery slope indeed, a prime example of braincompartmentalization—logical geneticist and illogicalreligionist.
William R. Lamppa
I am a retired physician. Several years ago, my patient’s life wassaved because I had read one of Anthony Dajer’s articles in VitalSigns. Dajer wrote about a patient with a dissecting aneurysm whoselife was saved because of the same diagnosis on another patient. Theevening after I read the article, surgeons at my hospital saved mypatient by repairing her dissecting aneurysm. I am sure that readingDajer’s article aided my diagnosis.