Thursday, March 23, 2006

President's "Intelligent Design" on Evolution

Once Again Proving Himself Incompetent By Openning His Mouth....the President's Support of Creationism Helps it Sneak Back Into Schools.....

Creationism sneaks back into Public Schools

Eighty years after the infamous John Scopes “monkey trial,” George Bush has decided to revisit the topic of teaching evolution, by voicing his support for so-called “intelligent design theory.”

Speaking with Texas reporters on August 1, Bush insisted that “both sides ought to be properly taught” so that “people can understand what the debate is about.” However, for the vast majority of scientists, there is no “debate” over the centrality of evolution. John Marburger, Bush’s top science advisor, told The New York Times that “evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology.” He added that “intelligent design is not a scientific concept,” a fact echoed by the National Science Teachers Association, the National Center for Science Education, and the American Geophysical Union, among many others.

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that teaching creationism as science in public schools was an unconstitutional establishment of religion, the anti-evolution movement has countered by developing what the National Academy of Science calls “creationism in disguise.” As Chris Mooney details in The American Prospect magazine, rather than arguments grounded explicitly in religion, the anti-evolution movement has focused on “teaching the controversy” by exaggerating a supposed “debate” over what is in fact fundamental and accepted in the scientific community. But the central idea of “intelligent design theory” – that the world is so complex that there must be a “designer” – is based on faith, and is not a scientific theory.

The religious right has eagerly embraced Bush’s remarks. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told The New York Times that “It’s what I’ve been pushing; it’s what a lot of us have been pushing.” He capitalizes on the confusion between scientific theories and other kinds of theories by continuing, “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.” Similarly, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, accuses those who favor science education being based in scientific knowledge of “censoring alternatives to the theory of evolution.” And Mark Hartwig of Focus on the Family follows this “teaching the controversy” line by stating that “students deserve the chance to hear both sides of the debate and then draw their own conclusions.”

It is too early to tell exactly what effect Bush’s remarks will have on public education, but some states are already moving towards teaching phony “alternatives” to scientific theory. On August 9, the Kansas Board of Education signed off on a new draft of science standards that includes language from backers of “intelligent design.” The regrowth of the anti-evolution movement may take many schools back to the Scopes era, and by joining cause with “intelligent design” advocates, the president has, in the words of American Geophysical Union’s Fred Spilhaus, “put America's schoolchildren at risk.”

President Bush should spend less time getting science advice from the religious right, and more time listening to his own science advisor.

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