04 January 2008

Science, Evolution, and Creationism (Free Book Download)

Use this link to download the free book.

From the National Academy of Sciences web site:

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.


Robin Edgar said...

I certainly agree that "the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith" but the flip side of that coin is that any and all credible evidence for Intelligent Design can be and should be fully compatible with science and responsibly investigated by scientists. . .

Steve Caldwell said...

Robin -- to the best of my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence supporting intelligent design.

Furthermore, intelligent design has a methodological scientific problems as well. Here's a brief snippet from Wikipedia about these methodological problems:

For a theory to qualify as scientific, it is expected to be:

* Consistent

* Parsimonious (sparing in its proposed entities or explanations, see Occam's Razor)

* Useful (describes and explains observed phenomena, and can be used predictively)

* Empirically testable and falsifiable (see Falsifiability)

* Based on multiple observations, often in the form of controlled, repeated experiments

* Correctable and dynamic (modified in the light of observations that do not support it)

* Progressive (refines previous theories)

* Provisional or tentative (is open to experimental checking, and does not assert certainty)

For any theory, hypothesis or conjecture to be considered scientific, it must meet most, but ideally all, of these criteria. The fewer criteria are met, the less scientific it is; and if it meets only a few or none at all, then it cannot be treated as scientific in any meaningful sense of the word. Typical objections to defining intelligent design as science are that it lacks consistency, violates the principle of parsimony, is not scientifically useful, is not falsifiable, is not empirically testable, and is not correctable, dynamic, tentative or progressive.

In light of the apparent failure of intelligent design to adhere to scientific standards, in September 2005, 38 Nobel laureates issued a statement saying "Intelligent design is fundamentally unscientific; it cannot be tested as scientific theory because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent." In October 2005, a coalition representing more than 70,000 Australian scientists and science teachers issued a statement saying "intelligent design is not science" and called on "all schools not to teach Intelligent Design (ID) as science, because it fails to qualify on every count as a scientific theory."


Perhaps intelligent design is a suitable topic for philosophy or theology but it appears to fall outside the boundaries of science.