Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mr. Bush, you missed an excellent opportunity to shut up.

From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — 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 ideas, 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."

The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

Fortunately, Bush has no power to decide what is taught in the public schools; that's the job of local school boards. But, quite simply, "intelligent design" is not science, it's religion. And it's not a theory, it's an assertion. It's based on the logical fallacy of the "argument from ignorance"; that is, it says "Intelligent design must be true because there's no other way that life could have developed." That's deduction. Science is inductive. You start with the evidence and then develop your theory, rather than starting with your assertion and then looking for evidence to fit it.

And exposing public school students to different schools of thought is only a good idea when each of the different schools of thought has solid support among experts in the field. For example, there are about fourteen different theories on the causes of the First World War, all of which have some support from some historians.

But no legitimate scientist believes in "intelligent design."

I'm not an idealist about pre-university education. I believe its purpose is to prepare people to go to college or vocational school and get a job. Well, if you go to college and study biology, and you give the prof your "intelligent design" catechism on the final exam, you will receive a large F. If you try to get into med school with "intelligent design," they'll have a good laugh over your application before circular-filing it. No laboratory or hospital or university or corporation will hire biologists who believe in "intelligent design".

If you believe God made the world and created life, that's just fine. You can believe that all you want, and I won't complain in the least. But don't dress your faith up as science, and don't insist that other people's kids study your faith. You wouldn't want your kids studying someone else's faith, would you? So let's keep everybody's faith out of the schools.

I would suggest that Mr. Bush quietly drop this subject and say no more about it.

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