Thursday, August 04, 2005

President Jumps Into The Intelligent Design Debate

On Tuesday, President Bush jumped into the debate over whether evolution should be taught exclusively in schools. It should be moted off the bat that his entire presidency has been marked by a distinct hostility toward science and he actually did utter the words "the jury is still out on evolution." Not to mention that it's always hard to pin down what Bush really thinks about an issue like this because he tries to be vague enough to placate religious conservatives while not scaring off moderates.

His comments on Tuesday were no exception.

Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Mr. Bush was pressed as to whether he accepted the view that intelligent design was an alternative to evolution, but he did not directly answer. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," he said, adding that "you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."
The way he puts it is quite deft. How can you really argue with "people should be exposed to all ideas." It sounds downright liberal. But the upshot is clear: he would support the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools next to evolution.

The Washington Post editorial page redeems itself today with a blistering critique of this view.
Of course the president is right that, in the context of a philosophical debate, it would be appropriate to discuss both sides of an issue before arriving at a conclusion. In the context of a religious discussion, it would also be very interesting to ponder whether the human race exists on Earth for a purpose or merely by accident. But the proponents of intelligent design are not content with participating in a philosophical or religious debate. They want their theory to be accepted as science and to be taught in ninth-grade biology classes, alongside the theory of evolution. For that, there is no basis whatsoever: The nature of the "evidence" for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming, and so powerful, that it informs all of modern biology. To pretend that the existence of evolution is somehow still an open question, or that it is one of several equally valid theories, is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century.

To give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt, he may have been catering to his Texas constituents, a group of whom, in the city of Odessa, were recently found to have turned an allegedly secular public high school Bible studies course into a hodgepodge of myth and religious teaching. But politics are no excuse for indulging quackery, not from a president -- especially not from a president -- who claims, at least some of the time, that he cares about education.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

James Madison, the "Father" of the US Constitution, said it best: de minimis non curat.

12:20 PM  

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