Bachmann on Science

This is from a post on another blog.  See it here for the full story.

Alex Seitz-Wald writes:

At an education forum at the University of Northern Iowa this afternoon, GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she favored the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in schools, saying that just teaching the science of evolution would be “censorship by government.” Asked by a Catholic student why it’s not a violation of the separation of church and state for a public school to teach the religiously-tinged theories, Bachmann said evolution is just a “theory” that even “evolutionists” are not sure of:

BACHMANN: I think what you’re advocating for is censorship on the part of government. So the government would prohibit intelligent design from even the possibility of being taught in questioning the issue of evolution. And if you look at scientists there is not a unanimity of agreement on the origins of life. … Why would we forstall any particular theory? Becuase I don’t think that even evolutionists, by and large, would say that this is proven fact. They say that this is a theory, as well as intelligent design. So I think the best thing to do is to let all scientific facts on the table, and let students decide.

What is significant is the phrase “…let all scientific facts on the table, and let students decide.” Bachmann seems to think that including all the scientific facts will pick up Intelligent Design. In this regard she is seriously misinformed.

As one who has followed the Intelligent Design movement since its birth over twenty years ago, I am aware of no body of scientific fact that supports Intelligent Design. So, for Bachmann’s sake, let’s examine two possible scenarios:

1. We go to the vast body of scientific work and pull out all the real research that supports Intelligent Design, and we present that to students. By students in all of this post we mean to say students in the public schools. Students in private/religious schools are exempt, because public policy does not affect them. And what we present to these students as evidence for Intelligent Design is nothing. That is because there is no body of real science that supports Intelligent Design. This does not count as government censorship, because the government does not get involved. Nobody says “No, you can’t do that because it’s against the law.”

2. We give the creationists a break, and we present arguments, not real science, supporting  Intelligent Design. In a public forum we stack the arguments for Intelligent Design against what is known from real scientific research, and we notice that the arguments for Intelligent Design are superfluous. Real science explains biological evolution (and cosmology and the modern science of geology) without invoking any kind of supernatural cause. At this point a curious point becomes apparent. The arguments for Intelligent Design reflect the 3000-year-old story from a popular religious belief. This is the belief that the universe, the Earth and all living creatures had their origins in the mind of a mysterious and supreme being known by various names, but generally referred to as God. This is not the god Thor, and it’s not Vishnu. It’s the god of Abraham chronicled by the ancient scribes of King Solomon and passed down through Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition. Other gods need not apply.

And this last thing is something we said over 200 years ago that we would not do. On the occasion of the first amendment to the United States Constitution we said we would make no law respecting (supporting) the establishment of religion.

And that is exactly what Intelligent Design is, and that is what Bachmann wants. She wants her religious tradition promoted on your nickel. The most popular religious belief in this country, with a following of hundreds of millions and a bank account rivaling that of Bill Gates needs your tax money to remind students of its power and authority.

And while they are being reminded of these religious traditions students are somewhere along the line missing out on some possibly very significant aspects of real science. This is not a trade we need to be making.

And finally, there is the word censorship. Are we to get from this there are no topics that should be prohibited by law, whether to avoid waste of taxpayer funds or to avoid the oppression of a religious doctrine? If Bachmann would care to give the matter a moment’s thought she could (I have been wrong before) come up with any number of topics that should not be presented to students in public schools. Intelligent Design compares uncomfortably with these others.


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