|Tuesday, Aug 02, 2005
Bush endorses teaching `intelligent design' theory in schools
By Ron Hutcheson
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and
"intelligent design" Monday, saying schools should teach both theories
on the creation and complexity of life.
In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of
reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian
conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the
theory of evolution in the nation's schools...
Bush declined to state his personal views on "intelligent design," the
belief that life forms are so complex that their creation can't be
explained by Darwinian evolutionary theory alone, but rather points to
intentional creation, presumably divine.
The theory of evolution, first articulated by British naturalist
Charles Darwin in 1859, is based on the idea that life organisms
developed over time through random mutations and factors in nature
that favored certain traits that helped species survive.
Scientists concede that evolution doesn't answer every question about
the creation of life, but most consider intelligent design an attempt
to inject religion into science courses.
Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over
"creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical
explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be
exposed to both creationism and evolution.
On Monday the president said he favors the same approach for
intelligent design "so people can understand what the debate is
The Kansas Board of Education is considering changes to encourage the
teaching of intelligent design in Kansas schools, and Christian
conservatives are pushing for similar changes in other school
districts across the country.
"I think that part of education is to expose people to different
schools of thought," Bush said. " You're asking me whether or not
people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."
The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the
Advancement of Science have both concluded that there's no scientific
basis for intelligent design and oppose its inclusion in school
"The claim that equity demands balanced treatment of evolutionary
theory and special creation in science classrooms reflects a
misunderstanding of what science is and how it is conducted," the
academy said in a 1999 assessment. "Creationism, intelligent design,
and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or
of species are not science because they are not testable by the
methods of science."
Some scientists have declined to join the debate, fearing that
amplifying the discussion only gives intelligent design more
But advocates of intelligent design also claim support from
scientists. The Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank in
Seattle that's the leading proponent for intelligent design, said it
has compiled a list of more than 400 scientists, including 70
biologists, who are skeptical about evolution.
"The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely
skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,"
John West, associate director of the organization's Center for Science
and Culture, said in a prepared statement.
Bush didn't seem eager to talk about the topic.