American President George W. Bush raised the stakes in the debate over teaching evolution in schools in August when he said that children should be taught about "intelligent design," the idea that an unseen power or intelligence has guided the origin and development of life.
Asked by a reporter whether intelligent design should be taught in schools, he responded, "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about." He continued: "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."
His remarks heartened many parents, educators and religious leaders who have repeatedly asked legislatures and school boards to point out the many problems with Darwinian evolution and the extreme improbability that the complexity of life and the universe around us came about by blind chance.
John West of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, a think tank supporting intelligent design, welcomed the president's remarks. "President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution, and supporting the right of students to hear about different scientific views about evolution," he said.
President Bush's statements brought harsh criticism from evolutionists, liberal politicians and other opponents of intelligent design, who argue it is without scientific support and should remain out of the classroom.
However, a recent poll showed that only 38 percent of medi-cal doctors surveyed believed that "humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement" and 65 percent thought intelligent design should be allowed or required to be taught in schools alongside the teaching of evolution.
Further, a July nationwide Harris poll found that almost two thirds (64 percent) of U.S. adults believe that "human beings were created directly by God" and 55 percent believe that creation, intelligent design and evolution should all be taught in public schools. Only 12 percent agree that the most widespread current practice, that of teaching only evolution in public schools, is appropriate.
For additional information regarding evolution, read our free booklet Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? and the "God, Science and the Bible" column in our sister publication, The Good News (www.gnmagazine.org).