NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/03/26
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A Templeton Prize for NCSE Supporter Francisco J. Ayala. Plus a new resource on NCSE's website provides information about polls and surveys relevant to the creationism/evolution controversy, while congratulations are in order for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent).
AYALA WINS THE TEMPLETON PRIZE NCSE congratulates Francisco J. Ayala on winning the Templeton Prize. The prize, worth about $1.5 million, is awarded annually by the John Templeton Foundation to "a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension." A March 25, 2010, press release from the Foundation highlighted Ayala's vigorous opposition to "the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for mutual respect between the two," saying, "Even as he has warned against religion’s intrusion into science, Ayala, a former Dominican priest, also champions faith as a unique and important window to understanding matters of purpose, values and the meaning of life." Ayala told the Los Angeles Times (March 25, 2010) that he regarded the award as honoring his scientific work and its "very important consequence of making people accept science, and making people accept evolution in particular." In his essay "Science and religion: Conflict or dialogue?" posted on the Washington Post's On Faith blog (March 25, 2010), Ayala sketched his views on science and religion, writing, "Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction, because science and religion concern different matters. ... The proper relationship between science and religion can be, for people of faith, mutually motivating and inspiring. ... As I see it, scientific knowledge is consistent with a religious belief in God. More so than the 'creationists[']' assertion that everything in the world has been precisely designed by the Creator. Because, then, how to account for human crimes and sins (including the Biblical Fall) and for all the catastrophes that pervade the natural world?" His Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (Joseph Henry Press, 2009) presents his views in greater detail. A Supporter of NCSE since its founding, Ayala is University Professor, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine; he received the National Medal for Science, the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in scientific research, in 2002. Among his contributions to the defense of the integrity of science education was his testimony for the plaintiffs in McLean v. Arkansas and his coordination of support for evolution education at the National Academy of Sciences, including his lead authorship of the publication Science, Evolution, and Creationism (National Academies Press, 2008). NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott commented, "Ayala's contributions to NCSE and its goal of defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools are comparable to his contributions to biology in general: immense." For the Templeton Foundation's press release, visit: http://www.templetonprize.org/currentwinner.html For the story in the Los Angeles Times, visit: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-templeton-prize26-2010mar26,0,1500604.story For Ayala's essay in the Washington Post's On Faith blog, visit: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/03/science_and_religion_conflict_or_dialogue.html For information about Darwin's Gift, visit: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11732 For information about Science, Creationism, and Evolution, visit: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11876 POLLING THE CREATIONISM/EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY NCSE is pleased to announce a new section of its website that provides information on polls and surveys relevant to the creationism/evolution controversy. You've seen the alarming statistics: * Evolution is accepted by 97% of scientists in the United States, but by only 61% of the public. * Among thirty-two countries surveyed, the United States was next-to-last for its public acceptance of evolution. * One out of eight high school biology teachers in the United States presents creationism as scientifically credible. Now you can find it all in a single spot -- NCSE's coverage and links to external resources -- organized in the categories of general polls, international polls, polls on creationism, polls on evolution, polls on religion, and scientist, student, and teacher polls. For the polls and surveys section of NCSE's website, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/polls-surveys For reports on the cited statistics, visit: http://ncse.com/news/2009/07/views-evolution-among-public-scientists-004904 http://ncse.com/news/2006/08/public-acceptance-evolution-science-00991 http://ncse.com/news/2008/05/evolution-creationism-americas-classrooms-002271 CONGRATULATIONS TO NESCENT NCSE is happy to congratulate the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) on the renewal of its grant from the National Science Foundation. According to a March 2, 2010, press release, NESCent was awarded a five-year grant renewal in the amount of $25 million, to continue its core programs in evolution research, informatics, and education through 2014. NESCent plans to expand its most successful programs and add a number of new initiatives, including graduate fellowships, international research partnerships, and targeted calls for proposals on specific themes. A collaborative effort of Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, NESCent seeks to facilitate broadly synthetic research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. NESCent's Education and Outreach group communicates the results of evolutionary biology research to the general public and scientific community, provides outreach to groups who are underrepresented in evolutionary biology, and works to improve evolution education. For the press release, visit: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/nesc-esc030210.php For information about NESCent, visit: http://www.nescent.org/index.php Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership