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

From: Peter Smagorinsky (smago@uga.edu)
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 03:11:25 PDT

>>>40a9d7.jpgThe 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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