The National Academy of Sciences has issued the third version of its book “Science, Evolution and Creationism,” in which it makes an effort to reconcile belief in god with acceptance of evolution.

The book, available to purchace from the National Academies Press, in very short form in this brochure from the NAS, or free in its entirety as a PDF file (if you sign in to the web site), makes the following points:

  • The Theory of Evolution Has Been Repeatedly Tested and Confirmed
  • Creationism Does Not Belong in the Science Classroom
  • Science and Religion Offer Different Ways of Understanding the World
  • From a NAS press release:

    Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, opponents have repeatedly tried to introduce nonscientific views into public school science classes through the teaching of various forms of creationism or intelligent design. In 2005, a federal judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, concluded that the teaching of intelligent design is unconstitutional because it is based on religious conviction, not science (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District). NAS and IOM strongly maintain that only scientifically based explanations and evidence for the diversity of life should be included in public school science courses. “Teaching creationist ideas in science class confuses students about what constitutes science and what does not,” the committee stated.

    “As SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM makes clear, the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of each to contribute to a better future,” the book says.

    SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM is the third edition of a publication first issued in 1984 and updated in 1999. The current book was published jointly by the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, and written by a committee chaired by Francisco Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, department of ecology and evolutionary biology, University of California, Irvine, and author of several books on science and religion. A committee roster follows.

    [source]

    There is coverage of the book here at the NYT.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    January 4, 2008

    “As SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM makes clear, the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of each to contribute to a better future,” the book says.

    Gee, someone important said what I have been saying for years! I think I am going to faint! LOL!
    I have some scientist friends who believe the same thing! I just think that evolution started with the tiny creatures and continued up until the point where God told Adam to name the creatures. It kept going after that. Darwin’s finches are proof the process is still going on.
    I see so many hurt feelings and time wasted with this. I think I am going to start a third party, like the politicians do. The, “we promise to respect you, and play nice party!”
    Science has so much wonderful stuff to share with the world. It is a crying shame to see time taken up when people aren’t agreeing to disagree agreeably. I am not pointing any fingers at anyone, but it does make me want to cry when I see some brilliant scientist who could help humanity so much, having their time eaten up in arguments.
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 CRM-114
    January 4, 2008

    Science and Religion Offer Different Ways of Understanding the World?

    Yeah, one right and the other wrong. So say otherwise is utterly dishonest.

    Religious people offer no religious explanations for mathematics, chemistry, or geology, or for carpentry, masonry, or veterinary medicine. What they do offer are pretenses of explanations, ones which they know factually to be false.

    Lying is not a way of explaining, and lies are not a way of understanding. Lying misrepresents, and lies cause misunderstandings.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    January 4, 2008

    “Different ways of understanding the world”?

    That’s pretty impressive, for a vague phrase which can’t be backed up.

  4. #4 bigTom
    January 4, 2008

    While I am in agreement with CRM, I also know that more Americans believe in angels, then in evolution. Given that we are living in a democracy, with a not very enlightened populace it is only good tactics to put the issue to the test. If we do that, we could end up with religion, and no science. So I think we gotta keep a relatively low profile for at least another generation. This is the compromise “teaching for our time *”.

    * Not needed in most of the EU.

  5. #5 Eamon Knight
    January 4, 2008

    Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world.

    But the second one isn’t a way of understanding the world, at least in any cognitive sense. Religious myths belong with the rest of literature (and the other arts) which at their best “speak” to us on an emotional level — which is important, though I’m not sure it constitutes “understanding”.

  6. #6 greg laden
    January 4, 2008

    Fortunately, we (Americans … this is an international blog) do not live in a democracy. We live in a Constitutional Democracy with separation of powers. No individual is really allowed to do exactly what they want at any given time (that would include a revenge system which violates Due Process) and no individual, group, or institution can repress certain freedoms. A subset of those restrictions (but certainly not the only form of these restrictions, as is often mistaken by those with a more libertarian bent) is that the government cannot infringe the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution even if everybody wants that to happen.

    So you get freedom from religious coercion in schools (imperfectly) and you get the right to bear arms all rolled up into one.

    (Its funny how no on ever mentions the Third Amendment, but we get that protection as well.)

  7. #7 Tex
    January 4, 2008

    The only way science and religion can be compatible is if the definitions of them are greatly distorted. Science uses empirical evidence to build a world view, whereas religion and the ‘faith’ associated with it gives one a license to ignore or distort emprical evidence. That is about as incompatible as you can get. As Dennett and many others have pointed out, faith is just an excuse to believe any kind of crazy crap you want.

  8. #8 Marcus Ranum
    January 5, 2008

    Science is compatible with faith the same way a rifle bullet is compatible with a melon.

  9. #9 salient
    January 5, 2008

    I’m not defending any claims that religion might make for being anything beyond an emotionally comforting mythology.

    However, people such as Ken Miller are able to reconcile science with elements of religion. This suggests that there are many more people who will never quit religion but who might learn to accept science.

  10. #10 Barbara Kline Pope
    January 11, 2008

    Some people who are commenting on this blog may be doing so without having had the opportunity to read our book, “Science, Evolution, and Creationism.” This conversation might be enhanced and clarified by reading the book online or downloading it in pdf for free at http://www.nap.edu/sec.