Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Speak

If there's one thing Bush is very, very good at it is saying something that seems at first listen to be unqualified support, but, when taken out of context, loses nearly all its meaning. Of course, most things lose their meaning when taken out of context. With many of Bush's soundbites, however, the intent of the words undergo an almost complete transformation. Consider the following statement:

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."
If Bush had said this in response to a question about a philosophy syllabus, I'm sure most would agree that is a reasonable statement. But Bush wasn't talking about how studying Hegel and Locke and Kant was a good idea. He said this about the prospect of teaching "intelligent design" in public schools.

It took me a few moments to realize how utterly dependent on context the above quote is, and it wasn't until I had literally cut and pasted the words into this post that it fully hit me. Seeing the words all by themselves, it was surprising, as the meaning sort of drained away from them, how much of this meaning I myself had originally supplied. I wanted to become outraged that Bush was giving the official White House OK for ID, and I'm sure that's how he intended an evangelical to perceive his statement. But there is simply nothing in his statement that betrays the actual content of Bush's belief system with respect to evolution and ID.

Now Intelligent Design is one of those How Many Angels On The Head Of A Pin type questions. It's essentially an unresolvable situation. Of course evolution by random chance were the manner by which life and eventually human life appeared on the earth, but did God have a "hand" in it? The fact that God doesn't have hands notwithstanding, there's just no way to answer that question in substantive, non-faith terms. The notion of God's "involvement" in any scientifically discovered physical process, including everyday chemical reactions, is completely unprovable and thus never transcends the realm of theology. Hence the well founded complaints of ID injecting religion into science. ID isn't about a different perspective on scientific inquiry, it is an inherently non-scientific approach.

So is Bush "for" ID? Does he not "believe" in evolution? Who's to say? His statement sure doesn't say. What it leaves no doubt about, though, is that those who would teach religion masquerading as science have an ally in Bush. Perhaps this is too obvious even to mention, but it seems that Bush is willing to sacrifice the education of our children in exchange for the votes of his most reliable constituency. One is left to wonder, who else will Bush sell out to please the evangelical fundamentalists?

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