The level of distortion of science is becoming quite high. The game of pushing a Christian agenda through public institutions is both terribly disingenuous and yet front and center. President Bush is seemingly sincere that his religious conversion and perspective is the right one. His born-again experience is public knowledge, as is his policy of breaking the barriers to religious influence in governmental programs. In Bush, the evangelical political movement got just the partner it wanted in the Oval Office.
Recently, speaking to his Texas constituency from the heart of the White House, Bush stepped over the line by announcing his support of ''intelligent design'' in the teaching of natural history. Said the president: ''Both sides ought to be properly taught ... so people can understand what the debate is about.'' He added, ''You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.''
The ''intelligent design'' Bush is talking about begins with the biblical story of Genesis; it follows the particular story of the Christian biblical creation, with its inherent and particular logic. The hop from the parent concept of ''creationism'' to the concept-child named ''intelligent design'' is short indeed. The president's public testimony as a born-again Christian, following a long struggle with alcohol, is his foundational and inspirational driver for deepening the fundamentalist message from the bully pulpit.
The battle is an old one: religious conservatives, certain of their beliefs, argue that the opposite of their certainty is simply secular ''relativism,'' which they portray as believing that all philosophies are equally valid. The hard-edged pundits on the right blast this charge constantly at the ''wishy-washy'' liberals. Since the established science of evolution challenges directly the suppositions and timeframes of the biblical story, it becomes the object of attack - no matter how irrational, anti-scientific and utterly foolish the argument.