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

From: Peter Smagorinsky (smago@uga.edu)
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 03:12:32 PDT

>>>>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 orthodoxy."
>>>>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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