Republican candidates vying for U.S. presidency are increasingly being asked about their views on creation vs. evolution. Although their responses to such questions will not directly reveal how they might conduct foreign policy or appoint judges (the media’s queries are “gotcha” attempts as much as anything), the candidates’ answers can nevertheless shed some light on their worldview. Their beliefs about where humans came from and to whom they might be accountable help shape their policy views.
While the origins views of two of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination have become newsworthy recently, it’s been the negative reaction to their beliefs—one critique is by a self-described evangelical scientist and another is by an award-winning conservative national columnist—that have been even more instructive in the whole exercise (and maybe surprisingly so for Bible-believing Christians).
The media queries this summer started with Congresswoman Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, who won last month’s Republican straw poll in Iowa. The left-leaning, well-trafficked website The Huffington Post (which often features commentaries critical of biblical creationists) had a columnist take a shot at Congresswoman Bachmann.1 Her offense? She had defended a Louisiana law that permits public school teachers to question the validity of some science models, including evolution. The surprising thing is that HuffPost used a professing evangelical—Dr. Karl Giberson—to attack the evolution-doubting Bachmann.2
Since Louisiana passed a law allowing teachers to use supplemental textbooks to help students critique and review scientific theories, secular elitists who fear academic freedom and any challenge to their evolutionary beliefs have threatened lawsuits against the state in their effort to deem the law unconstitutional. Their public attack against Louisiana’s law shifted into high gear this summer in response to Congresswoman Bachmann’s position. Nazarene author and theistic evolutionist Dr. Karl Giberson wrote a HuffPost commentary that essentially declared that a priesthood of scientists must be the authority over the teaching of the Bible regarding biological origins. In his mind, a politician or scientist who holds to a different interpretation of the evidence is a science heretic.
Giberson assures readers that Christians need to stop thinking critically about issues like evolution because the “scientific community” has already decided the matter for us. He cautions “our fellow Christians against holding out hope that there is a real alternative to accepting the consensus of the scientific community, especially as we see no need for Christians to be uneasy about evolution in the first place.”3 In addition, Giberson says it is “disastrous” to allow high school students in Louisiana or elsewhere to critically analyze evolution. High priests of evolution like Giberson do not want their compromising beliefs challenged by “heretics.”
Giberson’s elitism (essentially: “you just need to accept what we tell you is true”) was further revealed when he declared:
It is correct that a small percentage of credentialed scholars reject evolution. But this is true in every field. A small percentage of climatologists reject global warming; a few historians think America’s founding fathers were all evangelicals or the Holocaust never happened; a few economists still think supply-side economics actually works.
By linking the scientists who reject evolution with people who deny the Holocaust, Giberson committed a logical fallacy known as “poisoning the well.” He attempted to lump the scientists who disagree with him with a highly unfavorable group (Holocaust-deniers). In doing so, Giberson chose to rely on rhetoric and ridicule rather than deal with the actual claims made by those who disagree.
Truth, however, is found in the Word of God, not in the opinions of fallible people who practice fallible science. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 commands us to “
test all things; hold fast what is good,” and this verse trumps the position of compromising Christians.
Last month, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, currently seen as the Republican frontrunner, was captured on video expressing his doubts about evolution to a boy and his mother. Though he is supportive of an old earth (the idea upon which evolution is built) and thus not a biblical creationist, Perry says he believes in a Creator. It was not surprising, then, that atheist Richard Dawkins called Gov. Perry an “uneducated fool.”4
In addition, media pundits enjoyed a field day over his evolution-questioning comments. Even a “conservative” Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist, Kathleen Parker, expressed her deep concern about his legitimacy as a presidential contender after hearing Perry’s comments. Parker argued that Perry and those who agree with him about origins “should be a signal that we are slip-sliding toward governance by emotion rather than reason.”5
Another Republican running for president, Jon Huntsman (former Utah governor), informed his Twitter followers last month (in the wake of the Perry comments): “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”6
Although former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has not announced whether she will run for president under the Republican banner, many political observers believe she will. When she ran for vice president in 2008, Governor Palin indicated she believed in a Creator and had some doubts about the truth of Darwinian evolution, but her specific views on creation (e.g., the age of the earth) are largely unknown (see our 2008 article, Is She Really a Creationist?).
The recent news accounts of the Republican candidates’ comments on creation/evolution will probably not be a passing news blip. Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, is now pressing all Republican candidates to answer questions about evolution. In his August 25 editorial in the Times, with the headline “Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith,” he is calling on all candidates to answer the question: “What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution, and do you believe it should be taught in public schools?”7
Answers in Genesis will not be surprised if over the next fourteen months that lead up to the 2012 presidential election, more probing questions will be asked by the media (maybe even in major televised debates) about candidates’ views on creation/evolution.
Note: An abbreviated version of this article will appear in the October issue of Answers magazine.