Frist Advocates Teaching “Intelligent Design”
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon by profession and a presumptive candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for president, announced yesterday that the religious myth of “intelligent design” should be taught along with the scientific theory of evolution in the public schools.
Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said “intelligent design” should be taught in public schools alongside evolution. Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design. “I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith,” Frist said.
Frist, a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School, said exposing children to both evolution and intelligent design “doesn’t force any particular theory on anyone. I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future.”
The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation. Nearly all scientists dismiss it as a scientific theory, and critics say it’s nothing more than religion masquerading as science.
Quite right. While there are gaps in our understanding of evolution that might well be explained by an intelligent designer, there is zero scientific evidence that such a designer exists. The lack of evidence, of course, is not the same thing as being untrue. But matters of faith should not be taught alongside empirical evidence as equally viable science.
I find this quite disappointing. Frist is, after all, a trained scientist. If he personally believes in a Creator, as do many physicians and scientists, that’s certainly fine. I don’t even mind if he wants to give speeches explaining why he believes Intelligent Design is a better explanation than evolution alone. But to advocate teaching it in public schools is outrageous pandering.
The Blogosphere, both Right and Left, are hammering Frist.
John Cole has a great line: “[S]cience is hard work and fraught with peril.Why, all those years of medical training and Frist still misdiagnosed Terri Schiavo.” Commenter Boronx chimes in with, “So with President Frist, weÃ¢€™ll have funding for stem cell research, but weÃ¢€™ll raise a generation of kids incapable of understanding it.”
Attaturk: “Sad really, that all those cats died in vain.”
Joe in DC: “Hey, fear not that half of American students are unprepared for college and only 26% of high school graduates meet the standard for science.”
Jan Haugland: “It’s not as if excluding religious mythology from the science classroom means nobody will have access to it.”
Betsy Newmark: “Can’t we leave these decisions to local and state officials? Does everything have to be a federal issue?”