An answer to one of the questions in my post, Questions theists ask atheists, comes from a letter to the editor of Long Island’s Newsday news paper. The letter provides the best response to the question of a deliberate designer of the world is from Dr. Richard Schloss of East Northport, New York who blogs as the Skeptical Shrink (@skeptishrink) and, as the Newsday editor notes, is president of Long Island Atheists, an organization that advocates for separation of church and state. Dr. Schloss responded to a letter in Newsday from a physician who defended the notion of a “creator” responsible for the order in nature. Dr. Shloss’ letter in response is reposted here with permission.
A physician writes in a letter that studying the various natural sciences provided an opportunity to marvel at “the order, the mechanism, the purpose, and the beauty in nature,” and to be connected “with the creator/superpower!” [“Nature reveals the creator’s handiwork,” Dec. 21].
“Even diseases have patterns,” the writer tells us. “Nothing is haywire in creation!”
I also am a physician. While I share the writer’s sense of wonder and marvel at the complexity of the natural world, I question the inclusion of the word “purpose.” What, I wonder, was the purpose of smallpox or of polio? Both were creations of the natural world that were scourges for centuries, until science conquered them.
As for nothing in creation being haywire, ever have an impacted wisdom tooth? Or a herniated disc? These are accidents of evolution, leaving humans with less-than-optimum body structures that cause problems more often than not.
Science does allow us to both marvel at the complexities of nature and understand the natural laws that govern it. What it does not provide is a shred of evidence for a master plan or a designing intelligence in the universe.
Dr. Richard Schloss, East Northport
[Newsday] Editor’s note: The writer is president of Long Island Atheists, an organization that advocates for separation of church and state.