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.
On other topics, Bush said he has no idea how Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts would vote in a case challenging the legality of abortion because he never asked him about it. He also defended Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who was suspended Monday for using performance-enhancing steroids.
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 about.”
Here’s what the debate is about, Mr. President. It’s about taking this country backwards scientifically, technologically, socially, and economically.
We ought to teach science and history in conjunction, so we can say, “Well, people used to believe this, and many people still do, but now science has shown us that….” There are so many subjects that need to be taught in this way. People don’t understand the history of ideas, where they come from, how they have changed. And they don’t know how to separate something they have heard or read from scientific proof and evidence.
The things we need to teach in school are Critical Thinking Skills and How to Do Research. The facts taught and the subjects matter even less than those things. My son was 5 when he asked a cashier how a cash register works. When the cashier tried to tell him there were little fairies inside, he stomped his foot and declared, “That is a machine, it is not magical, and I want to know how it *works*!
Our real problems in this society are not who is in power or what people believe, but that there are so few people who really have the ability to think clearly and reason things out for themselves. And yes, this does go back to parenting and even to the nature of the individual, but everyone can be taught to clarify their thinking. Even 5 year olds.
Religion is emotional, and stems from the amygdala. It makes us feel good, eases our fears, and gives a sense of order to what can be a chaotic-seeming world. Those are all good things. But to take religion beyond that and try to make it into something it is not, and force it into fields where it has no business being, is as ridiculous as teaching a science class in church and expecting it to make everyone feel spiritual. It simply dumbs down our society.
We won’t survive economically if we can’t forge ahead in scientific fields. Our technology will fall behind, and that is what makes the crucial differences in power. All these attempts to hold us back scientifically and technically for the sake of religion, to make people into sheep following an ancient belief trussed up as some new theory, will backfire on us as we are bypassed by China and other countries who are busy training their scientists and engineers.
Sorry, the argument here is not about your personal belief about the universe, as one commenter seems to think. It is about what is taught as science – testable, provable ideas. Look at all the great science that has come from the idea of evolution, look around you for goodness sake at how we can change the very DNA of life itself, the medicines, the knowledge, and tell me honestly that you haven’t benefitted from science. If you still want to pursue this logic, give me the name of your church so I can come give a lecture on the Tao on alternate Sundays. After all, don’t people deserve to hear all sides of the spiritual story and choose for themselves? Now, if you can’t honestly agree that science is science and religion is religion, then GET LOST and don’t comment here, at least not without leaving a proper email address – spam pisses me off as much as idiotic people who don’t know what science is, K?