Recently Senate Majority Leader and prospective Republican Presidential candidate Bill Frist enraged some of his most ardent supporters with his change of stance on stem cell research (I discussed this in the post, Frist Flop on July 29). So he has to mend fences, and it seems he is off to work early on it, telling reporters after speaking to a rotary club meeting that he agrees with President Bush and supports the teaching of 'intelligent design' in schools so that students can better understand the 'controversy.' Of course, I said what I thought about Sen. Frist in the earlier post, but one highlight of the news this week is that even Trent Lott called Frist a backstabber.
Maybe in a civics class, if need be, but as I detailed on August 2 and then again on August 8, intelligent design (and I say this as a person of faith) is not science. It is a belief. It is my belief. But even if it were everyone in the world's belief, science deals with experimentation and the results of testing hypotheses. Just having a hypothesis (which is what 'intelligent design' is, scientifically) is NOT having a theory (which needs some solid evidence to support it) and therefore is not something which should be taught in a science classroom.
We have already gone from the unquestioned scientific and research leader on the planet to rough parity with the Europeans, the Japanese and lately the Koreans. This is due to a combination of budget cuts to universities (see my post In defense of public funding for basic research on July 30), as well as the policy of the Bush administration of considering science as something which can be bent to fit ideology on everything from global warming (see The scientific method unfortunately works to Terri Schiavo, and simply ignored if it doesn't fit that ideology.
Of course, the drift of the country towards a dogma based conservatism is accelerating. I also found this article interesting:creationists set to open museum. Now, they have every right to open their museum, which is dedicated to the use of 'science' to support the idea that the universe is no more than 10,000 years old. Of course, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of science understands their complete poppycock (just think about what kind of intelligence would have taken the time and effort to set unbelieveable numbers of photons heading towards earth in a steady stream just to fool us into thinking there were stars and galaxies farther away than 10,000 light years). The danger is not, however, from kooks like these, but from policymakers who probably know better, but in order to appease the kooks and win their votes, are willing to hamstring science and scientific research in America while the rest of the world hurtles past us. In time, we may lose our position in the world, not because anyone beats us out technologically, but because we shackle ourselves and watch the rest of the world evolve around us (oooh, there's that word that creationists hate again).