The President speaks on Intelligent Design

By Risa Wechsler | August 2, 2005 9:32 am

From the Chicago Tribune, lots more here:

President Bush said Monday that he thinks schools should discuss “intelligent design” alongside evolution when teaching students about creation.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to detail his views on the origin of the universe. But he said students should learn about both theories.

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

The theory of intelligent design says life on Earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

Christian conservatives have pushed for the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Scientists generally have rejected the theory as an attempt to force religion into education.

That’s the whole article. One whole sentence on the scientific opinion of this scientific topic. Pharyngula has lots more say about this and the press corps’ dismal record on the subject.

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.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science and Politics
  • Steinn Sigurdsson

    Of course we should – how else are the Youth of America to learn about Auðhumla, the Great Cosmic Cow, and how she brought the universe into being.
    First the ice giants, one of whose skull makes the fundament held up by the cardinal dwarfs; then the fathers of the gods, who killed the giants and made Men.

    You doubt, heathen, then look at the sky and observe the Milky Way!
    Even the greeks knew that one. Now think about the kinda cow who’d leak milk like that.

  • jfaber

    Sorry Steinn, but it was the great Spaghetti monster, or so my friends have managed to convince me. Besides, those ice giants are clearly a myth, although the cold temperatures may have resulted from an overpopulation of Norse pirates. It is time for the children of America to be taught the truth… See the link for more

  • DarkSyde

    Why, oh, why, does biology hate America?

  • Steinn Sigurdsson

    We can smite the Noodly Appendages too, you know.

    Spaghetti – Battleaxe, you choose.

  • Dave Bacon

    At least now I can understand why he got a “D” in astronomy at Yale. It was certainly because he was advocating that different point of view that stars are actually angels, and not burning balls of hot plasma. What a rebel he must have been!

  • Katey Alatalo

    Why is it that “science” seems to be able to bend its meaning on a whim? It’s almost as if the scientists are supposed to be some anti-American atheistic force for telling people that a magic book speaking the “truth” has no evidenciary support. I am all for religion, just not for this refusal to question anything that happens to appear in the Nth translation of an OLD and somewhat mysterious (in origin) transcript…

  • Richard

    How nice that Bush wants kids to hear “both sides of the debate” on Intelligent Deisgn.

    But imagine his reaction if the same kids got to hear both sides of the debate on, say, whether one should abstain from having sex before being legally married? Or whether homosexuality was a “valid alternative lifestyle”?

  • Penny Penniston

    Maybe we need to start talking about the practical consequences of undermining evolution. This isn’t just a philosophical debate. If Bush wants to give up evolution, he’s got to give up some other things as well.

    The first to go would be any sort of medical testing on animals. After all, if evolution’s wrong then there’s no scientific basis for animal testing. Genetic similarities between animals and humans are purely coincidence (or the work of divine will) and should not be used as a reliable basis for making decisions on whether or not a new drug or new medical procedure is safe for human beings.

    After Bush bans animal testing, he’s going to have to ban the teaching Economics and get rid of Capitalism. After all, capitalism is based on the very Darwinian notions that 1) Enterprise will expand to areas of opportunity and 2) Good products will get adopted in the marketplace while bad products will not. Capitalism posits that this cycle will lead to the creation of better and better products for every niche in society (in exactly the same way that evolution posits that a cycle of positive adaptations leads to the creation of more and more well-adapted life in every possible niche of the world).

    In our new economic model, religious leaders will decide what products and services will enter the marketplace. They will use their connection to God to discern “bad” products from “good” products. Market research and product testing will be outlawed as heresy.

  • John Landon

    The current confusion over evolution is due to the flaws in Darwin’s theory.

    New Website on Evolution:

    At a time when theories of evolution are under renewed controversy, discussion is hampered by the remoteness of the phenomenon of evolution, and the use of indirect inference to speculate about deep time. Adherents of Darwinism often defend dogmatic versions of the theory that have been questioned since the first reviewers of Origin of Species.
    Now Darwinism is under siege from the Intelligent Design movement, threatening the school system. The attempt to hijack the debate using long discredited arguments by design tends to make Darwinists close ranks around their flawed science. The debate is deadlocked by the rigidity of both parties, evidence of fixed agendas, and metaphysical presumptions. A new approach is needed. The study of history itself holds the clue if we can find it.
    We live in the first generations with enough historical data to detect a pattern of Universal History. The discovery of this pattern, the Eonic Effect, uncovers the evidence for a deep structure resembling punctuated equilibrium in world history itself. The study of history and evolution together shows us something missing from current theories and allows us to infer the existence of non-random evolution in the emergence of man. Darwinian theory suffers from low evidence density. The Eonic Effect is the only data we have at high evidence density of evolution as a process in real time, and this transforms our views completely.
    Combining the methods of complex systems and the philosophy of history, we can create a novel type of historical model, using nothing more than periodization to clock a macroevolutionary dynamic of transitions, in the process throwing new light on the descent of man.
    This elegant and simple model operating on two levels can help to sort out the endemic confusion of biological and cultural evolution, along with the contradictions of historicism and historical inevitability. This account of the ‘evolution of freedom’ without metaphysics gives us the key to the evolution of consciousness. We see the real evolution of man as the Great Transition, the human passage from evolution to history, in the chronicle of the once and future Origin of the Species, Man.
    World History
    And The Eonic Effect
    Civilization, Darwinism,
    And Theories of Evolution
    Second Edition
    John C. Landon

    John Landon

  • Alejandro Rivero

    I agree partly with Penny comment #8 above. I was wondering how it is possible to believe “struggle for life selection” and “inteligent design” at the same time, depending of the moment. I raised the question in USENET and I was kindly (no so kindly, really) informed that USA culture does not consider capitalism way as a way of Social Darwinism. Actually the trick is very fine, USA inhabitants learn that Social Darwinism is a leftist (did you notice the “Social”?) politics about racist selection, killing inmates and all that. So nobody relates it to individualist struggle.

    Of course, that individualist struggle is unrelated to natural selection was already pointed time ago by a serious leftist, Kropotkin.


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