- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

As students head back to biology classrooms in the next few weeks, debate over whether

they should be taught “intelligent design” concepts alongside evolution is getting hotter, with the president, other politicians and a high-profile Roman Catholic cardinal all weighing in.

Quizzed on the topic, President Bush recently told reporters: “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas and the answer is ‘Yes.’ ”

That remark prompted sharp criticism. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Aug. 14 on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Mr. Bush is “anti-science” and that “there’s no factual evidence for intelligent design.”

They aren’t the only ones entering the fray. Last month, Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that “the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world.”

The National Center for Science Education tallied evolution disputes in 18 states this year. The Kansas Board of Education gave preliminary approval to science standards that allow intelligent design-style alternatives to be discussed alongside Darwinism. In Pennsylvania, a federal trial will test the legality of disputed intelligent design instruction in Dover’s schools.

Intelligent design says natural selection cannot address how life originated and argues that Darwinism fails to fully explain how extremely varied and complex life forms emerged. Therefore, guidance and information from some external intelligence must be involved.

Critics say intelligent design is religion masquerading as science. Although scientists accuse religious advocates of stepping outside their field, religious thinkers accuse scientists of reaching beyond science into the realm of theology.

For example, a National Association of Biology Teachers statement once defined evolution as “an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process.”

Two distinguished religion scholars, philosopher Alvin Plantinga and Huston Smith, a historian of world religions, persuaded the association to drop the first two adjectives in 1997, because these were theological assertions, not scientific ones.

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