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The Scientist and Society: Coming to Grips with Science and Religion - Essay Example

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This paper aims to critique a monograph by Ayala et al, titled Science, Evolution, and Creationism (National Academy of Sciences, 2008). The book may be retrieved from the official website of National academy of Sciences…
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The Scientist and Society: Coming to Grips with Science and Religion
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Download file to see previous pages The thesis statement of the book is as follows: evolutionary evidence is wholly compatible with religion postulates and religious faith. The authors’ purpose is to formulate arguments and present credible evidence that evolution is a scientific approach whereas creationism – not. Specifically, the authors aim to prove that evolution is the sole convincing scientific explanation of life diversity on our planet. Aimed at laymen rather than scientists, the book provides information to teachers and youngsters about the theory of evolution and arguments which are may be used as evidence of this theory’s credibility. Briefly, the book starts with discussion of the essence of science within the evolutionary context. It goes on with presentation of the evidence in favour of biological evolution. Then, the analysis of creationism is provided, which is followed by a short conclusion and additional materials. First, let us discuss the authors’ credentials and assess the relevance of their areas of expertise. The work on this monograph was coordinated among scientists and educators by Francisco Ayala from University of California, Irvine; a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American biologist well-known for his studies of evolutionary genetics and support of embryonic stem cell research. His field of scientific interest also includes criticism of the theories of intelligent design and creationism which he believes are neither real science nor theologically valid. Ayala’s main belief is that science aligns with belief in God (Lawton, 2010) Out of 15 authors listed as members of the committee on composing the book, 7 are members of the National Academy of Sciences. Hence, the scientific credentials of the head and other authors appear to be relevant. Now let us discuss the strong points of the book. One of the strong points of Science, Evolution, and Creationism is its reliance on recent research, which is used as a background for the authors’ claims. For instance, the picture of evolution is complemented by the account of Tiktaalik 2004 discovery in Canada2. That was a discovery of a 380-million-year-old creature, which is contemplated to be a sample of some intermediate form of a living being – between a fish and a land animal with four legs. Besides, the book contains the statements of the clergy who support the idea that evolution and religion are compatible3. Another point is the book’s logical flow and language that is easy to follow. This makes it accessible for non-scientific readers and keeps the overall discussion simple. However, critical review of the book exposes serious flaws that undermine its credibility. The most ambiguous thing is the use of the very term “evolution”. Judging by how Ayala et al apply the term evolution and by general explanations they provide, the meaning of “evolution” is that of a change in living organisms with time which leads to diversity4. Ayala et al do not provide a clear scientifically developed definition of evolution on the level which would definitely fit their discussion. Instead, it seems they prefer to leave it somewhat blurred. Indeed, if to perceive evolution as merely a change in living organisms with time, almost anyone would agree that evolution does take place since people today are almost all aware of pigmentation changes in certain races, as well as development of immunity to infections, etc. Therefore, instead of the term “evolution” so widely used by the book’s authors, it would be wiser to apply the term “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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