Evolution and Religious Creation Myths : How Scientists Respond: How Scientists Respond

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Oxford University Press, Jun 8, 2007 - Education - 256 pages
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Polls show that 45% of the American public believes that humans were created about 10,000 years ago and that evolution is non existent. Another 25% believes that changes in the natural world are directed by a supernatural being with a particular goal in mind. This thinking clashes frontally with scientific findings obtained in the past 150 years. A large portion of the general public espouses the views of creationists and their descendants, and ignores or is unaware of scientific advances. Critical thinking about the natural world within a scientific framework is lacking in the USA and many parts of the world. This manuscript provides a multidisciplinary explanation and defense for the science of evolution (not just Darwinism) as it is being challenged by arguments for "intelligent design" and other creation myths. It draws in the life, physical, and social sciences, and recent studies of human evolution that rely much on the idea of change over time, which is evolution writ large. It puts the evolution/ID issue into international perspective by including opinions held in world religions other than Christianity. It is clearly written and also can easily be used as a guide for those with some science background. The authors make a convincing case that other books do not achieve this as much as they do in this work. The book is written for a whole spectrum of educated people including teachers and teachers in training who are interested in the broad issues of the origins of the universe, life, and humans, and who may not quite grasp the potential magnitude of the negative influence on all of science education of people embracing creationist and ID thinking. This includes high school teachers and people on boards of education and in municipal governments--anyone involved in education. It could be used also in college courses such as "contemporary social issues" and "Science and Society" -- sometimes team taught by sociologists and scientists. The authors show that when they are teleological, dogmatic, or politically inspired, religious and creation myths threaten scientific efforts. The book does not require any extensive knowledge of science. The principle of change over time pervades all of science, from cosmology, to the search for the origin for life, to human physical and cultural evolution. The book educates readers on scientific matters that overwhelmingly support the idea of evolution, not only in the living world, but also in physical and social science. It explains too how evolution -- physical and biological -- is a random, unguided process whose roots can be already found in quantum physics.
  

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Contents

The Evolution of an Idea
3
2 What Is Evolutionary Biology and Where Is It Coming From?
31
3 Creationist Purpose and Irreducible Complexity Rebutted
55
4 The Origins and Evolution of Homo sapiens
85
5 The Origins of Life and the Cosmos as Evolutionary Themes
109
More about Complexity
145
7 The Dangers of Creationism
179
Appendix 1 The Brusselator
195
Appendix 2 Experiments for Educators
199
Glossary
203
Further Reading
207
Index
211
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