"First of all, that decision should be made [by] local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught," Mr Bush said in an interview with five Texas newspapers.
"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."
Intelligent design, advanced by a group of academics and some biblical creationists, disputes the idea that natural selection fully explains the complexity of life. Intelligent design proponents say life is so intricate that only a powerful guiding force, or intelligent designer, could have created it.
The President's conservative Christian supporters and the leading institute advancing intelligent design embraced Mr Bush's comments. But his comments drew sharp criticism yesterday from opponents of the theory, who said there is no scientific evidence to support it and no educational basis for teaching it.
At the White House, where intelligent design has been discussed in a weekly Bible study group, Mr Bush's science adviser, John Marburger, sought to play down the President's remarks. Mr Marburger said evolution was the cornerstone of modern biology and intelligent design was not a scientific concept.
Mr Bush's remarks should be interpreted to mean that the President believed intelligent design should be discussed as part of the "social context" in science classes, he said.
The theory has won support in school districts in 20 states.Reuse content