Evolution Politics: The Debate Over Intelligent Design

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 2, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, as we told you in the "Talking Points Memo", President Bush favors informing public school students that evolution is not an absolute, that there are people who believe God had a major hand in overseeing creation.

The Kansas Board of Education is also debating the issue, but some are adamantly opposed, introducing the so-called intelligent design theory to American kids.

Joining us now from Boston, Dr. Paul Gross, author of the book "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design." Where am I going wrong here? And I don't want to get into a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I mean, you're much smarter than I am, OK? But where am I going wrong here? I used to be a teacher. I wouldn't have any problem saying look, some people believe God created the universe, the accepted wisdom is evolution. Here it is. What's wrong?

PAUL GROSS, PHD, FELLOW AT AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES: Can I tell you now where you're going wrong?

O'REILLY: Yes, sure.

GROSS: Yes, sir, well, Bill, this is the No Spin Zone, but what you've just done in your "Talking Points" is the most remarkable example of good spin I've heard in three or four days.

O'REILLY: Well, as long as it's good...

GROSS: What you said — yes, it was good. You said that intelligent design is nothing more than informing the kids that some people don't believe in evolution.

Well, that would be innocuous and actually excellent if that's all it were, but it's not that at all. Intelligent design is a complex, highly proliferated body of action, literature, mostly PR. The purpose of which is to teach, or at least suggest, that there's a big body of scientific evidence showing that standard evolutionary biology is wrong, that so-called Darwinism has collapsed or is collapsing. That is all false.

O'REILLY: All right, well, look, I mean, 400 scientists have come forth about skepticism of Darwinism as it was — as it has been defined.


O'REILLY: But I don't care about that. I mean, I think the school board has an obligation to define what materials are going to be in the science class.


O'REILLY: And then, you know, OK, if you get some kooky material, I agree with you. But what the argument is, is that nothing about intelligent design should be introduced. And I think that's fascism. I think that's just awful.

GROSS: Wait a minute, no, no. Well, you're using, again, a spinning name, fascism. There's nothing fascistic about saying that in science classes, you should talk about science. And in civics class, you should talk about civics.

Intelligence design theory, so-called, ain't theory. It's a body of claims, almost all of which are that Darwinism, so-called, is wrong, not evidence for intelligent design.

O'REILLY: I agree with you, I agree with you that it shouldn't be a debate, OK, over evolution in the science class. I agree with that.


O'REILLY: All right?

GROSS: Good.

O'REILLY: But there should be a portion of the class set aside to deal with students who may not believe this, whose parents may not believe it, and answering their questions in an honest way.

Now if you're in a biology class, which is a science, biology, and you're teaching about abortion and how fetuses can be aborted, all right, and you're telling me that you don't have an obligation to tell those students some people feel this is morally wrong, of course you do. And then you have the obligation to explain how that belief is derived, don't you?

GROSS: Well, I'm not sure.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on!

GROSS: If I were teaching a science class about abortion, I don't — science class about abortion would have to be a course in obstetrics in first year medical school.

O'REILLY: No, it could be a high school biology class.

GROSS: OK, Bill.

O'REILLY: Abortion is discussed. And you're telling me you're going to sit there, doctor — you're going to lose the audience if you have this opinion I'll tell you right now.


O'REILLY: ...that you don't think there's any obligation on the part of the science instructor to bring out the moral implications of an abortion? Come on!

GROSS: I didn't say that at all. I said that I don't know of a school class in which — a science class — in which abortion is discussed. If it were, you would want to talk about all the scientific evidence about abortion. And there's a great deal of it — some of it on both sides.

O'REILLY: Correct.

GROSS: But...

O'REILLY: But you would have to introduce — you would have to introduce, by way of saying that most American doctors will not perform the procedure, and state the moral reason why. And that's the argument Bush is making.

GROSS: Yes, yes.

O'REILLY: The argument Bush's making, which was you've got to tell the students enough about intelligent design so they understand the debate, doctor. That's what American education and freedom is all about. I will give you the last word.

GROSS: That's not what I heard the president say.

O'REILLY: I reported accurately.

GROSS: I admire the president. The president, at least what I saw reported in the news, was he said there are two theories. There are more than one theory. All theories should be discussed. That makes perfectly good sense, but it's relativism. It's the assumption that every statement about anything is equally worthy.

O'REILLY: No, I don't think he made that assumption.

GROSS: And the president.

O'REILLY: And I'm positive he did not. He just wants the other side to be introduced so the students know...

GROSS: Well, the other side should be introduced.

O'REILLY: They — hey, we're on common ground here, doc. I appreciate you coming on the program.

GROSS: Of course.

O'REILLY: Thanks very much.

GROSS: My pleasure.

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