Fwd: [xmca] Bush on teaching Intelligent Design in public schools

From: Peter Smagorinsky (smago@uga.edu)
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 03:08:18 PDT

>>The New York Times
>>August 3, 2005
>>Bush Remarks Roil Debate on Teaching of Evolution
>>WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 - A sharp debate between scientists and religious
>>conservatives escalated Tuesday over comments by President Bush that the
>>theory of intelligent design should be taught with evolution in the
>>nation's public schools.
>>In an interview at the White House on Monday with a group of Texas
>>newspaper reporters, Mr. Bush appeared to endorse the push by many of his
>>conservative Christian supporters to give intelligent design equal
>>treatment with the theory of evolution.
>>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."
>>On Tuesday, the president's conservative Christian supporters and the
>>leading institute advancing intelligent design embraced Mr. Bush's
>>comments while scientists and advocates of the separation of church and
>>state disparaged them. At the White House, where intelligent design has
>>been discussed in a weekly Bible study group, Mr. Bush's science adviser,
>>John H. Marburger 3rd, sought to play down the president's remarks as
>>common sense and old news.
>>Mr. Marburger said in a telephone interview that "evolution is the
>>cornerstone of modern biology" and "intelligent design is not a
>>scientific concept." Mr. Marburger also said that Mr. Bush's remarks
>>should be interpreted to mean that the president believes that
>>intelligent design should be discussed as part of the "social context" in
>>science classes.
>>Intelligent design, advanced by a group of academics and intellectuals
>>and some biblical creationists, disputes the idea that natural selection
>>- the force Charles Darwin suggested drove evolution - fully explains the
>>complexity of life. Instead, intelligent design proponents say that life
>>is so intricate that only a powerful guiding force, or intelligent
>>designer, could have created it.
>>Intelligent design does not identify the designer, but critics say the
>>theory is a thinly disguised argument for God and the divine creation of
>>the universe. Invigorated by a recent push by conservatives, the theory
>>has been gaining support in school districts in 20 states, with Kansas in
>>the lead.
>>Mr. Marburger said it would be "over-interpreting" Mr. Bush's remarks to
>>say that the president believed that intelligent design and evolution
>>should be given equal treatment in schools.
>>But Mr. Bush's conservative supporters said the president had indicated
>>exactly that in his remarks.
>>"It's what I've been pushing, it's what a lot of us have been pushing,"
>>said Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religious liberties
>>commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land, who has close
>>ties to the White House, said that evolution "is too often taught as
>>fact," and that "if you're going to teach the Darwinian theory as
>>evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the
>>most support among scientists."
>>But critics saw Mr. Bush's comment that "both sides" should be taught as
>>the most troubling aspect of his remarks.
>>"It sounds like you're being fair, but creationism is a sectarian
>>religious viewpoint, and intelligent design is a sectarian religious
>>viewpoint," said Susan Spath, a spokeswoman for the National Center for
>>Science Education, a group that defends the teaching of evolution in
>>public schools. "It's not fair to privilege one religious viewpoint by
>>calling it the other side of evolution."
>>Ms. Spath added that intelligent design was viewed as more respectable
>>and sophisticated than biblical creationism, but "if you look at their
>>theological and scientific writings, you see that the movement is
>>fundamentally anti-evolution."
>>The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for
>>Separation of Church and State, called the president's comments
>>irresponsible, and said that "when it comes to evolution, there is only
>>one school of scientific thought, and that is evolution occurred and is
>>still occurring." Mr. Lynn added that "when it comes to matters of
>>religion and philosophy, they can be discussed objectively in public
>>schools, but not in biology class."
>>The Discovery Institute in Seattle, a leader in developing intelligent
>>design, applauded the president's words on Tuesday as a defense of
>>scientists who have been ostracized for advancing the theory.
>>"We interpret this as the president using his bully pulpit to support
>>freedom of inquiry and free speech about the issue of biological
>>origins," said Stephen Meyer, the director of the institute's Center for
>>Science and Culture. "It's extremely timely and welcome because so many
>>scientists are experiencing recriminations for breaking with Darwinist
>>At the White House, intelligent design was the subject of a weekly Bible
>>study class several years ago when Charles W. Colson, the founder and
>>chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries, spoke to the group. Mr. Colson
>>has also written a book, "The Good Life," in which a chapter on
>>intelligent design features Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who
>>is an assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning.
>>"It's part of the buzz of the city among Christians," Mr. Colson said in
>>a telephone interview on Tuesday about intelligent design. "It wouldn't
>>surprise me that it got to George Bush. He reads, he picks stuff up, he
>>talks to people. And he's pretty serious about his own Christian beliefs."


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