Tuesday, August 02, 2005

President Bush on Intelligent Design

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; 2:15 PM

Ron Hutcheson writes for Knight Ridder Newspapers: "President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and 'intelligent design' Monday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life. . .

"Scientists concede that evolution doesn't answer every question about the creation of life, but most consider intelligent design an attempt to inject religion into science courses.

"Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over 'creationism,' a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution.

"On Monday the president said he favors the same approach for intelligent design 'so people can understand what the debate is about.' "

Hutcheson writes that Bush "didn't seem eager to talk about the topic."

Here, in fact, is the entire exchange, prompted by Hutcheson's question:

"Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

"THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor . . . Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

"Q Both sides should be properly taught?

"THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

"Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

"THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

This from a President who has largely ignored the advice of numerous panels of expert scientists trying to advise him on many problems.

Notice how the President's final reply completely sidesteps the question posed. Why does President Bush think that "intelligent design" should be treated on a par with the deep insights of evolutionary biology??

Isn't Yale University embarassed by their former student??

Clifford Johnson comments:

"I agree with the President that people should be exposed to different ideas. That does not include teaching them religious ideas under the guise of teaching them science. That does not include teaching science as if it was as much of a “he said, she said” enterprise as polititcs (or, currently, journalism). That this topic has taken up so much of the energy about science education in our country recently can’t help but affect the scientific literacy of the next generation of Americans and does a huge disservice to the goal of educating the next generation of scientists. I’m not surprised by the President’s comments, but I’m extremely dissappointed.

Update: Chris Mooney makes the excellent point that Bush is directly contradicting his (physicist) science advisor, John Marberger, who told a told a group of reporters earlier in the year that 'Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.' ”