The following letter was sent to Creation/Evolution by John N. Clayton, instructor of science at Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana.
I would like to respond to the letter by Garvin Chastain, printed in your Summer 1981 issue. Dr. Chastain made the very good observation that there is a need for people who can travel about presenting what he referred to as the "evolutionist perspective." There are those of us who have been attempting to get people to see that religion and science are not archenemies and that, in fact, if one assumes that they compliment one another, most of the difficulties between them dissolve.
Unfortunately, Dr. Chastain demonstrated in his letter one of the great problems that exist in this whole matter: the willingness of scientists, as well as religionists, to pigeonhole individuals into certain categories without even investigating the charges they are making. In his letter he referred to a series of lectures that I gave at Boise State University and classified me in such terms that lead me to believe that not only did he not attend the lectures but did not investigate the substance of them as well. May I point out that: (1) I am not a biology teacher; I am an earth science and physics teacher; (2) I am not a member of the creationist movement; (3) the lectures were not on the evolutionist-creationist question; and (4) the substance of the lectures dealt with the theme that, if there is a conflict between science and religion, we either have bad science or bad religion—and that there has been a great deal of both. One of the questions that we did deal with pointed out the errors involved in the creationist positions he discussed later in his letter. It is tragic that this kind of problem exists because it clouds the real issues and prevents the possibility of rational communication occurring between individuals who differ in opinions.
The frustration that Dr. Chastain mentioned, I think all of us are feeling; but the way to resolve the issues is to work with openness and a willingness to examine the different perspectives involved, rather than to lump people into various camps.