My experiences with religion were a valuable tool for personal growth. Though it is through abundant and disgusting experience with the Church and
the Bible from whence my discontent foments. From the time I was a very "churched" boy to when I served as a deacon at a First Presbyterian Church,
I could get no answers to the many "mysteries" of that faith (or those so replete in all the others). Not only that, I experienced the veiled and
even blatant derision of the so-called upstanding members of those communities. As a result, my faith was flattened like a bug on a windshield. So
my beliefs have become much more simplified, not like the raging cabal of religionists intent on "taking back" America.
President Bush is merely pandering to an electoral base of religionists. Yet the Presidential Science Advisor, Dr. John Marburger III, is engaging in
damage control. On Aug. 2, The New York Times quoted a telephone interview with Marburger in which he said, "evolution is the cornerstone of modern
biology" and "intelligent design is not a scientific concept."
An article today from Space.com clarifies the "apologetics" that were necessitated
by advisors to Bush and advisory boards with excellent credentials:
Marburger also spoke with Dr. Marvin Cohen, President of the American Physical Society, and recipient of the National Medal of Science from President
Bush in 2002. In an Aug. 4 release, Cohen explains that the APS is "…happy that the President’s recent comments on the theory of intelligent
design have been clarified. As Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger has explained, President Bush does not regard intelligent design as
science. If such things are to be taught in the public schools, they belong in a course on comparative religion, which is a particularly
appropriate subject for our children given the present state of the world."
Furthermore, "President Bush, in advocating that the concept of ‘intelligent design’ be taught alongside the theory of evolution, puts
America’s schoolchildren at risk," says Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director of the American Geophysical Union. "Americans will need basic
understanding of science in order to participate effectively in the 21st century world. It is essential that students on every level learn what
science is and how scientific knowledge progresses." (AGU, Aug. 2, 2005) AGU is a scientific society comprising 43,000 Earth and space scientists.
Likewise, the American Institute of Biological Sciences criticized the President: "Intelligent design is not a scientific theory and must not be
taught in science classes," said AIBS president Dr. Marvalee Wake. "If we want our students to be able to compete in the global economy, if we want
to attract the next generation into the sciences, we must make sure that we are teaching them science. We simply cannot begin to introduce
non-scientific concepts into the science curriculum." (AIBS, Aug. 5, 2005) The American Institute of Biological Sciences was established as a
national umbrella organization for the biological sciences in 1947 by 11 scientific societies as part of the National Academy of Sciences. An
independent non-profit organization since 1954, it has grown to represent more than 80 professional societies and organizations with a combined
membership exceeding 240,000 scientists and educators.
Science educators are equally dismayed. "The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the world’s largest organization of science educators,
is stunned and disappointed that President Bush is endorsing the teaching of intelligent design – effectively opening the door for nonscientific
ideas to be taught in the nation’s K-12 science classrooms. We stand with the nation’s leading scientific organizations and scientists, including
Dr. John Marburger, the president’s top science advisor, in stating that intelligent design is not science. Intelligent design has no place in the
science classroom, said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA Executive Director." (NSTA, Aug. 3, 2005) NSTA has 55,000 members who teach science in elementary, middle
and high schools as well as college and universities.
The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th grade teachers, was even harsher. "President Bush’s
misinformed comments on ‘intelligent design’ signal a huge step backward for science education in the United States. The president’s endorsement
of such a discredited, nonscientific view is akin to suggesting that students be taught the ‘alternative theory’ that the earth is flat or that
the sun revolves around the earth. Intelligent design does not belong in the science classroom because it is not science." (AFT, Aug. 4, 2005)
There’s significant legal precedent from US Supreme Court that creationism - in any clothing - does not belong in the American classrooms. Teaching
creationism is in violation of the separation of church and state, and has been ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court in several cases. It’s
unfortunate that the President apparently does not understand that science is not equivalent to a belief system but is description of how the natural
world works. Creationism, including intelligent design, is a religious point of view, not science.
At a time when industrial, academic, and business leaders are calling for more American students to train in engineering, mathematics, science and
technology, we need to teach science in science classrooms. Let’s teach the scientific ideas that are supported by overwhelming evidence such as
gravitation, relativity, quantum mechanics, and evolution. Creationist ideas/beliefs, such as intelligent design, don’t belong in science
classrooms. In our haste to leave no child behind, let’s not leave science behind either.