IT'S NOT SURPRISING that, when given the opportunity, President Bush would send sympathetic signals to his Christian conservative followers to show his support for their causes. That may have been what he was doing this week when he endorsed the teaching of "intelligent design" along with the theory of evolution in a wide-ranging interview with a small group of reporters from Texas. Mr. Bush said that both theories should be taught "so people can understand what the debate is about."
Well, thanks, Mr. Bush, but there really should be no debate. Intelligent design -- a belief that aspects of the natural world are so complex that they must have been the result of some higher, intentional design or intelligence -- belongs more to the world of religion than science. It's creationism by another name, and if it makes its way into schools at all, it should definitely not be part of science classes.
Whether or not Mr. Bush's remarks were motivated by politics, his embrace of intelligent design could undercut his educational program. The rigorous testing required under the federal No Child Left Behind law has caused many school districts to strengthen the science curriculum, including more emphasis on evolution. That has energized anti-evolution activists who have tried to stop the teaching of evolution or dilute its impact by pushing equal treatment for intelligent design. By aligning himself with that approach, Mr. Bush undermines his efforts to elevate educational standards.
This is no time for America to turn its back on real science.