The nation’s most prestigious scientific organization has issued a new booklet reminding teachers, parents and students of the importance of learning about evolution, stating forthrightly that creationism is a religious view that should not be taught in public schools.
The National Academy of Sciences and its medical arm, the Institute of Medicine, issued what Reuters news service called a “spirited defense of evolution as the bedrock principle of modern biology, arguing that it, not creationism, must be taught in public school science classes.”
The 70-page book, “Science, Evolution, and Creationism,” is designed to give lay people the most comprehensive and current understanding of evolution and its significance.
A summary of the book says “attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.” It notes that the book includes statements from prominent scientists and clergy who assert that belief in God and evolution can co-exist.
“Biological evolution is one of the most important ideas of modern science,” the summary states. “It is supported by abundant evidence from many different fields of scientific investigation. It underlies the modern biological sciences, including the biomedical sciences, and has applications in many other scientific and engineering disciplines.”
The book argues that science and religion are two different ways of understanding the world, and that they need not clash.
“Many scientists have written eloquently about how their scientific studies of biological evolution have enhanced rather than lessened their religious faith,” asserts the summary. “And many religious people and denominations accept the scientific evidence for evolution.”
Chapter Three of the book, “Creationist Perspectives,” debunks common creationist claims.
It notes, “Creationists reject such scientific facts in part because they do not accept evidence drawn from natural processes that they consider to be at odds with the Bible. But science cannot test supernatural possibilities. To young-Earth creationists, no amount of empirical evidence that the Earth is billions of years old is likely to refute their claims that the world is actually young but that God simply made it appear to be old. Because such appeals to the supernatural are not testable using the rules and processes of scientific inquiry, they cannot be a part of science.”
The National Academy of Sciences is a society of distinguished scholars that was created in 1863. Its mission is to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art” whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.
The new booklet on evolution may be read at the National Academy’s Web site: www.nasonline.org.