Education US Politics

Intelligent Design and Bush

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Must fight the urge…to make cheap shot at Bush….intelligent design…

So, now that the insurgency in Iraq is in its last throes, President Bush can focus his attention on the things that really matter–like promoting crackpot, non-scientific theories in American schools. Bush, it turns out, thinks that we should teach intelligent design in schools because we should expose people to many ideas.

President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss “intelligent design” alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

“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.”

It’s just so disengenuous. Bush and his cronies on the Religious Right are not about multiple points of view or choice at all. If they were, perhaps they wouldn’t be running around trying to ban books like Harry Potter and Catch-22, or even burn them. This isn’t about tolerance of diverse ideas at all. It is a campaign to undermine secular science and replace it with religious thinking. The Bush Administration’s attacks on the science of global warming are another symptom of this refusal to accept the scientific guidelines and approach that have led to all those fancy weapons Bush likes dropping on people. Maybe Karl can explain that to him.

But if you are tempted to write this off as no big deal, intelligent design is spreading all over this country. The Kansas Board of Education is considering encouraging its teaching, and many schools across the country are doing so. The New York Times reports that one form of Intelligent Design curriculum, National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, has grown to 175,000 students in 312 school districts in 37 states…all in public schools!

The NCOB curriculum would be one of the most amusing things I have read in recent months, if it wasn’t being taught to children–in schools that should legally not be promoting religion. The program is laughable, as the Texas Freedom Network demonstrates:

  • The curriculum cites a “respected scholar” who claims that archaeological evidence “always confirms the facts of the Biblical record” [page 170]. Yet that “respected scholar” claimed elsewhere to have seen Jesus’ school records in India, records from the lost continent of Atlantis and evidence that Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza was used to transmit radio messages to the Grand Canyon thousands of years ago.
  • The curriculum uses a discredited urban legend that NASA has evidence that two days are missing in time, thus “confirming” a biblical passage about the sun standing still [pages 116-17].
  • a considerable amount of the curriculum’s content – Dr. Chancey estimates one-third or more of its pages – is reproduced word for word from its sources (both cited and uncited), often for pages at a time, though the curriculum does not note this or indicate that permission has been granted to reproduce these passages.
  • The right to be free from government religious indoctrination is a foundational right–and one that is under assault from the Christian right wing. Promoting non-scientific, ahistorical, biased material as equal to scientific knowledege is perhaps even more insidious than forcing a religious view, because students might not make distictions that adults can make. The battle to make America a Christian nation is still being fought–and we must all resist endruns around the Constitution in our schools.

    About the author

    Don Pogreba

    Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

    His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

    In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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