A critical review of the new booklet titled "Science, Evolution, and Creationism," published by the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine.
by Patrick H. Young, Ph.D.

Since reading the National Academy of Science's new booklet, "Science, Evolution, and Creationism," I am reminded of the word "postiche:" which means a fake book used to fill bookcases of people who wish to appear scholarly. I say this because the booklet really does not present anything new to the evolution debate nor would it do anything to convince a well educated evolution skeptic who practices good critical thinking skills. It only regurgitates the same old discredited ideas with some different twists included with a great deal of eye catching graphics. It also seems that the booklet was written as a lesson for high school science class because it states: "Interested readers may include school board members, science teachers and other education leaders, policy makers, legal scholars, and others in the community who are committed to providing students with quality science education."

The booklet begins with "The scientific evidence supporting biological evolution continues to grow at a rapid pace." Presenting a title such as this would lead one to expect some new discovery that would finally convince the masses that common ancestry is a fact. However, their best new evidence is the fossil called Tiktaalik discovered in Canada in 2004. The preeminent feature presented is its fins. The booklet states,

"Most important, its fins contained bones that formed a limb-like appendage that the animal could use to move and prop itself up."

The words in this quote are expertly chosen because they suggest to the uniformed that they are presenting something significant while actually revealing very little substantial to someone trained in science. First, when the authors say move, they don't define their meaning. Second, when they say prop up, they suggest that this is a rare event. Realistically, several species of fish have been known to prop themselves up on their fins and aren't considered transitional. The booklet says Tiktaalik's "fins had a single upper bone followed by two intermediate bones, giving the creature an elbow and a wrist." However, there is no evidence this fish used its fins for anything other than swimming and to conclude the bones were an elbow and wrist (per terrestrial organisms) is quite a stretch. Furthermore the picture they have created of Tiktaalik is nothing more than a mirage (typical evolutionist tactic). They have it propped up on its fins with its head half out of the water. There is no evidence this fish would sit with its head out of water.

The booklet then goes into an old repeat of the advances in medicine and agriculture due to science's knowledge of microevolution. This tactic suggests the advocates of intelligent design and creationism do not embrace these basic concepts. The fact is, basic adaptation and variation within and at the species level is a well known experimentally reproducible phenomenon.

Page 29 of the booklet begins a section that is absolutely stunning. The authors actually have the gall to enter into a discussion on whether evolution is compatible with religious faith. It should be noted that for logic's sake, the judgements on religion of a group whose members are 93% atheist or agnostic is unimportant because the debate is similar to discussing the merits of truthfulness with a pathological liar. However, I find it shocking that an organization of people who defiantly believe that teaching religion in science class is unconstitutional would publish a document which attempts to accomplish exactly that. Their booklet even cites the 1987 ruling stating that teaching creation science in public schools "would impose a particular religious perspective on all students." Is not telling students that evolution is compatible with religion (as this booklet does) also imposing a particular religious perspective?

In conclusion, the contents of this booklet is nothing but a overwhelmingly biased treatment of the theory of evolution. It is obvious to the thinking person that the NAS has no new evidence to support common ancestry and now they have taken on the modified role of teaching us how religion and evolution are compatible concepts. If the U.S. court system has ruled that teaching religion in science class is unconstitutional then presenting information from this booklet to high school students should fall under the same ruling.

Patrick H. Young was formerly a resident of Central Ohio. He now lives in Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and has been employed in industry as a research chemist and materials scientist for over 17 years. He has a website at creationists.org/patrickyoung.html and his email address is patrickyoung@creationists.org.

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