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'Scientific Challenge': A Letter to the Editor

Attacking the National Geographic/IBM 'Genographic Project' (NI 385), the defender of Native Americans' rights, Debra Harry, takes the unreasonable position that her people's religious views should not be challenged by science, especially over the question of how long they've lived in America.

This is a foolish stand against the real knowledge that science offers. In the struggle that she characterizes as "pitting one knowledge system against another", we should recall Christianity's perverse insistence on an Earth-centered universe long after its impossibility was obvious to anyone in possession of a telescope. Using the same logic as Harry, extreme Christians now hold out against the scientific facts of evolution.

The oppression of Native Americans is wrong even if their religion is mistaken and they came to America 'only' a few thousand years ago. By her defence of religious certainties in the face of disinterested scientific enquiry, Harry does harm to her people's political struggle.

Dr Gabriel Egan, Stratford-on-Avon, UK