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US scientists release new evolution offensive, could stir creationists


The US scientific community has begun 2008 with a strong offensive on evolution in the educational system, which often evokes the ire of advocates of creationism, a belief that humanity, life and the universe were created in their original form by a deity.

The National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine released Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a book that gives a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the current scientific understanding of evolution and its importance in the science classroom.

At the same time, the USA’s most prestigious scientific organisations, including the academy, have urged the scientific community to become more involved in the promotion of science education, especially evolution.

"Science, Evolution, and Creationism provides the public with coherent explanations and concrete examples of the science of evolution," said the academy’s president, Ralph Cicerone, in a 4 January press release. "The study of evolution remains one of the most active, robust, and useful fields in science."

The book also addresses creationism, including "intelligent design" and concludes, "No scientific evidence supports these viewpoints." Observing that creationism is different than belief in God, the book states, "Many believers as well as many mainstream religious groups accept the findings of science, including evolution."

The text also quotes both leading scientists of faith and religious leaders and groups, who see no conflict between their faith and science.

The book insists that teaching evolution is necessary in science education, stating, "Many teachers are under considerable pressure from policy makers, school administrators, parents, and students to downplay or eliminate the teaching of evolution. As a result, many US students lack access to information and ideas that are both integral to modern science and essential for making informed, evidence-based decisions about their own lives and our collective future."

Separately, in an article in the January issue of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and endorsed by 17 different scientific organisations, says the introduction of "non-science, such as creationism and intelligent design, into science education will undermine the fundamentals of science education".

The article is based on a national survey in which respondents said they were more interested in hearing about evolution from scientists, science teachers and clergy than Supreme Court justices, celebrities, or school board members. The survey also showed a relationship between people’s understanding of science and their support for teaching evolution.

Ecumenical News International