In an interview of President Bush by a small group of Texas print reporters on August 1, the following exchange took place between one of them, Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder Newspapers (Q:) and the President (A:):
"Q:[In] ... what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?"Note that Hutcheson was digging for President Bush's "personal views" on the "debate over evolution versus intelligent design" and "the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution." Note also that the part of President Bush's answer, where he pointed out that his position now was the same as when he was "[Texas] ... governor" and "that decision should be made to local school districts", was just ignored by Hutcheson.
A: "... harking back to my days as [Texas] ... governor ... I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught."
Q:"Both sides should be properly taught?"
A: "Yes ... so people can understand what the debate is about."
Q: So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?"
A:"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought ... you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."
The reaction to what President Bush said
The first `cab of the rank' was Hutcheson himself, who wrote (my emphasis):
"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."I would have no problem (to put it mildly!) if President Bush did endorse the teaching of ID, but quite frankly I find it difficult not to regard this as dishonesty by Hutcheson. The transcript above makes it clear that the President was just answering Hutcheson's questions and if anything was trying to avoid endorsing ID, by just restating his long-standing position. That this is President Bush's long-standing position is evident in this excerpt from this 2000 Phil Johnson interview about then Governor Bush's position in the 1999 presidential campaign when the Kansas Board of Education issue first erupted:
"The media and the scientific commentators cooperated in making the Kansas action a national issue that found its way into the presidential campaign, and the candidates were all asked to take a stand. Of course the Republicans said, Local control good; national regulation bad. George W. Bush, for example, said that it's fine if local authorities want to teach both creation and evolution; that would be better for education, in his opinion." (Johnson P.E., "Evolution and the Curriculum: A Conversation with Phillip Johnson and Gregg Easterbrook," Ethics and Public Policy Center, February 2000, No. 4. My emphasis)and as a one who "covered George W. Bush's presidential campaign ... and covered Texas and presidential politics for more than two decades" Hutcheson must have known that.
Hutcheson's article set the tone for the rest of the media, with headlines reflecting a mounting `feeding frenzy'. Compare these August 2 headlines: "Bush: Intelligent Design Should Be Taught" (San Francisco Chronicle); "Bush Backs ... 'Intelligent Design'"(Washington Post); "Bush backs teaching of intelligent design along with evolution" (Chicago Tribune); "'Intelligent Design' Gets Bush's Nod" (Los Angeles Times); "Bush: Teach 'Intelligent Design'" (CBS), with the New York Time's August 3 headline, "Bush Remarks Roil Debate on Teaching of Evolution," which was also repeated in the San Francisco Chronicle under the headline, "Furor erupts over Bush's remarks on intelligent design"!
However, the Discovery Institute pointed out that:
"President Bush's most recent comments are consistent with what he told Science magazine in the fall of 2004. When asked whether "'intelligent design' or other scientific critiques of evolutionary theory [should] be taught in public schools?," Bush responded that "it is not the federal government's role to tell states and local boards of education what they should teach in the classroom" but "[o]f course, scientific critiques of any theory should be a normal part of the science curriculum." (Science, October 1, 2004)."To be fair, there were some like MSNBC's Alan Boyle who actually read the transcript and realised that "Bush said he thought "both sides ought to be properly taught" and "that's about as close as the president came to endorsing intelligent design ... he said education should `expose people to different schools of thought'- without ever mentioning Darwin or his detractors."
Finally, the scientific materialists weighed in with their "science" vs "belief" false dichotomy: "Science Leader Says President Bush Confuses Science and Belief" (LiveScience). As if "science" has no "belief" (what about "belief" in materialism-naturalism for starters?) and as if "belief" (i.e. Christianity), has no "science" (i.e. facts) it is based on! Indeed, as Daniel's 70 `weeks' shows, it is "belief" in materialism-naturalism that is false and "belief" in Christianity that is true!
I don't know what Hutcheson's agenda was, pro-ID, anti-ID, or just trying to sell newspapers by stirring up a latent controversy, but the `genie is now out of the bottle' (or Pandora's Box has been opened), and there is no doubt this is going to be a very interesting development. President Bush's "both sides ought to be properly taught ... so people can understand what the debate is about. ... part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought ... people ought to be exposed to different ideas" will resonate with most Americans and the scientific materialsists will have difficulty countering that, without sounding like arrogant, close-minded dogmatists - the very antithesis of what science is supposed to be. Watch this space!
"Bush and Kerry Offer Their Views on Science," Science, Vol 306, 1 October 2004, pp.46-52.
Bush backs teaching of intelligent design along with evolution," Chicago Tribune, August 2, 2005.
"Bush: Intelligent Design Should Be Taught," San Francisco Chronicle, August 2, 2005.
"Bush: Teach 'Intelligent Design'," CBS, August 2, 2005.
"'Intelligent Design' Gets Bush's Nod," Los Angeles Times/Associated Press, August 2, 2005.
"President Bush's Support for Free Speech on Evolution and Intelligent Design Draws Praise from Discovery Institute," Discovery Institute August 2, 2005.
"Science Leader Says President Bush Confuses Science and Belief,"
LiveScience Staff/Associated Press, 02 August 2005.
"Transcript of Roundtable Interview," Washington Post, August 2, 2005.
Baker P. & Slevin P., "Bush Remarks On 'Intelligent Design' Theory Fuel Debate," Washington Post, August 3, 2005; p.A01.
Boyle A., "President Bush’s comments add to controversy," August 2, 2005.
Bumiller E., "Bush Remarks Roil Debate on Teaching of Evolution," The New York Times,August 3, 2005.
Bumiller, E., "Furor erupts over Bush's remarks on intelligent design," San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2005.
Froomkin D., "Bush Backs Rove, Palmeiro, 'Intelligent Design'," Washington Post, August 2, 2005.
Hutcheson R., "Bush endorses teaching `intelligent design' theory in schools'," Knight Ridder Newspapers, August, 1, 2005.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol)
"Problems of Evolution"