National Academies Press: OpenBook

Science, Evolution, and Creationism (2008)

Chapter: 4 Conclusion

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Suggested Citation:"4 Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences and . 2008. Science, Evolution, and Creationism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11876.
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Page 47
Suggested Citation:"4 Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences and . 2008. Science, Evolution, and Creationism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11876.
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Page 48

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C h a p t e r f o u r conclusion Science and science-based technologies have transformed modern life. They have led to major improvements in living standards, public welfare, health, and security. They have changed how we view the universe and how we think about ourselves in relation to the world around us. Biological evolution is one of the most important ideas of modern science. Evolution is supported by abundant evidence from many different fields of sci- entific investigation. It underlies the modern biological sciences, including the biomedical sciences, and has applications in many other scientific and engineer- ing disciplines. As individuals and societies, we are now making decisions that will have profound consequences for future generations. How should we balance the need to preserve the Earth’s plants, animals, and natural environment against other pressing concerns? Should we alter our use of fossil fuels and other natu- ral resources to enhance the well-being of our descendants? To what extent should we use our new understanding of biology on a molecular level to alter the characteristics of living things? None of these decisions can be made wisely without considering biological evolution. People need to understand evolution, its role within the broader sci- entific enterprise, and its vital implications for some of the most pressing social, cultural, and political issues of our time. Science and technology are so pervasive in modern society that students increasingly need a sound education in the core concepts, applications, and implications of science. Because evolution has and will continue to serve as a critical foundation of the biomedical and life sciences, helping students learn about and understand the scientific evidence, mechanisms, and implications of evolution are fundamental to a high-quality science education. Science and religion are different ways of understanding. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of both to contribute to a better future. ■ Science, Evolution, and Creationism 47

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How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.

In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.

Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.

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