August 02, 2005

President Bush Says, "Teach the Controversy"

By now, almost everyone has commented on the President's interview with a group of reporters. I will give a representative, but certainly not exhaustive, set of links at the end of this post. The Knight Ridder News has one of the earliest reports.

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. "

[snip]

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.

[snip]

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 about."

[snip]

"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."

I don't see any real surprises here. A Slate piece, "George W. Bush, The Last Relativist," published in 2002 explained his position and quotes an AP article from Nov. 14 of that year.

I'd make it a goal to make sure that local folks got to make the decision as to whether or not they said creationism has been a part of our history and whether or not people ought to be exposed to different theories as to how the world was formed.

While his position may not be a surprise, it sure is irresponsible; unless, of course, he wants the controversy taught in social studies courses or, in the case of Intelligent Design creationism, in courses on public relations. There is a potential debate of some consequence that could come from the studying of Intelligent Design creationism. To what extent is it OK to lie and dissemble to promote one's position? Of course, one could also use the Bush administration as a launching point for this discussion. One should also notice that he does not commit on this himself. It's a nice trick to placate his fundamentalist base but still keep his own record confused. He remains the idea guy well above the details. It would sure be good if his ideas made at least a modicum of sense.

If there is any good news in this, it is that President Bush correctly sees Intelligent Design as a type of creationism. At least he got that right.

It's hard to believe that anyone would want the curriculum of any course, mush less a science course, determined by "local folks." If we do this we might as well stop teaching anything and let parents pass on their ignorance or knowledge without modification. Repeat after me, "Knowledge is not determined by popular vote or local preference."

Here are a few sites that have discussed Bush's position:

Update Note: PZ Myers is making an extensive list of Blogs that have commented on President Bush's irresponsible comments and the article they appear in.

News Sources:

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Fox News

Los Angeles Times (AP)

Blogs (sometimes news sources also):

Pharyngula

afarensis

Strange Fruit

Cosmic Variance

Pandagon

Unscrewing the Inscrutable

America Blog

The Panda's Thumb

Posted by DuaneSmith at August 2, 2005 02:08 PM | Read more on Evolution |

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Comments

Duane, a federal government that dictates everything from local speed limits to local biology texts is not what the founders wanted nor what the constitution describes. Be careful what you wish for when you talk of giving up control of your life to people thousands of miles away that don't know you or care about you.

Posted by: DaveScot at August 3, 2005 06:11 AM

Dave, I'm not exactly sure of your point. I don't want any politicians determining the content of courses. I want the best minds in the various fields of study to determine the content of courses.

Posted by: Duane at August 3, 2005 06:59 AM

Here are some of the best minds of two centuries, everyone an evolutionist and not a Darwinian in the lot. Mivart, Osborn, Bateson, Berg, Broom, Goldschmidt, Grasse and Schindewolf. If we had listened to them in the past there would be no conflict today as Darwinism would have long ago become but a footnote right next to the Phlogiston of Chemistry and the Ether of Physics. Who can be compared with them today, Mayr, Gould, Dawkins, Ayala, Provine? Not in my book, thank you very much.

Posted by: John A. Davison at August 3, 2005 07:29 AM

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