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{Colorado Springs Gazette, 2005}

To the management of the Colorado Springs IMAX theater:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to beg you, in the strongest possible terms, to show the best science films that you can find.  Especially if they mention evolution.  The best films will.

I don’t normally write theaters telling them what films they should show.  But just last week, a few IMAXes in the South refused to show some great science movies.  Why?  Because the films mention evolution.  Theater managers are worried about controversy.

I’m not crying censorship here.  If you think a film won’t make money it’s your right to say no.  That’s not censorship, that’s business.  I do hope, though, that you won’t do anything hasty based on some misconceptions about our town.

Good science films use good science.  That means evolution.  Sure, you’ll get some letters, and maybe a protester or two.  They’ll say “Evolution is a theory, not a fact!”, “Evolution isn’t science!”, and  “Evolution is godless and immoral!”.  All sincerely felt.  All passionately believed.  All completely wrong.

The “theory not fact” argument comes from how scientists use the word ‘theory’.  In ordinary speech, a theory is a guess about something.  When used that way, it makes complete sense to say that something is a theory but not a fact.

Scientific theories, however, are testable.  That’s what makes them important.  When a scientific theory passes test after test after test, it becomes a Theory, a ‘big idea’ that ties a bunch of smaller facts together and is a fact itself.   After a hundred years or so of really tough testing, that’s what the Theory of Evolution has become:  A theory and a fact.  It’s one of humanity’s finest achievements. 

How come no one objects to planetarium shows because the Theory of Relativity is “only a theory”?  In fact, it’s better, more powerful, and more accurate than the so-called Law of Gravity.  In fact.

You might be told that evolution isn’t good science, and doesn’t belong in a science film.  Whoever tells you that doesn’t do science for a living.

Some people say evolution isn’t science because it can’t be tested in the laboratory.  Nonsense.  Science isn’t just something geeks do sitting around in white coats fiddling with test tubes. 

Science is a process for finding things out.  It’s an imperfect, achingly human activity, but it’s the best way we’ve found so far to understand the world, inside and outside the laboratory.  After all, the Theory of Continental Drift can’t be demonstrated in the lab.  Does that mean that geology isn’t science? 

If we drift down that path, no large-scale natural process can ever be studied.  In fact, there’s no point in wondering if such processes exist.  Bye-bye geology, cosmology, paleontology, archaeology, and even factual history.  Sorry, but I don’t think so.

Worst of all, you might hear that evolution denies God and morality. Not so.  The vast majority of thoughtful religious people in Colorado Springs are not afraid of Darwinian evolution.  I know that my faith can handle anything science can dish out.  It may bend, but it won’t break. 

When someone says that evolution is immoral, they’re telling you how scared they are.  They just can’t see how to live an ethical, satisfying life if evolution is correct.  I understand that’s a tough problem for some.  But it’s a personal problem, not a scientific one.

I want my children to learn about the wonder and excitement of science.  I want them to learn about the awesome power and mystery of the world we live in.  I want them to learn what the unanswered questions are, because science always gives us plenty of those.  Such things can only inform an authentic religious faith, not weaken it.

The amazing technology in the IMAX theater gives eloquent testimony to the power of science, and provides the perfect venue for what I’m looking for.  Please give my family, and every family in Colorado Springs, a chance to have that experience.  Thank you.