All nations are increasingly confronted with important policy choices that are informed by science: Should we mandate vaccines for all school children? Should we take costly steps to reduce carbon emissions? How can we most effectively reduce the incidence of chronic diseases? For ordinary citizens to play a meaningful role in democracies tackling these issues, they need to be excellent critical thinkers concerning science.
They should not blindly accept scientific findings, whether they come from academia, government or industry. But neither should they believe that scientific debates are simply clashes of opinion and values. A healthy appreciation of the nature of science, the persuasiveness of replication, and respect for the necessary expertise is also essential. When teachers tell their students that they can have their own opinions about the validity of evolutionary biology, they are sending a dangerous message to our future citizens.
Plutzer wants to encourage people of faith to study evolution and to find "a spiritual connection in their study of nature." He quotes Darwin himself:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
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