The Chicago Tribune asked seven Republican and two Democratic candidates the following question:
This question is of course guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any candidate. They don’t want to look stupid and deny the established fact of evolution, but they also need to pander to their benighted religious constituents. So the question produces more waffles than IHOP. This would be funny if it weren’t so scary.
Their answers, and the take of one Illinois evolutionary biologist:
First the Republicans:
— Adam Andrzejewski: “Yes. As a practicing Catholic, I believe that God created Darwin. Let others debate the details.”
A complete cop-out, trying to gain a smidgen of credibility by mentioning Darwin but avoiding the whole issue.
— Bill Brady: “I accept the theory of creation, as I was taught, and believe the world has continued to evolve since.”
Another stupid cop-out. He abnegates any responsibility for thinking simply because he “was taught” something. And the “theory of creation” says nothing about subsequent evolution. Did humans evolve after the first “creation,” or were they part of it?
— Kirk Dillard: “Science seems to support evolution but there is no doubt that I have seen the hand of God at work in my travels and everyday life.”
A bit better, but uses the weasel-word “seems” and quickly rushes to assure people that he’s seen God. What does God have to do with the question?
— Andy McKenna: “Yes, but I also believe that the process of evolution has been guided by the creative power of God.”
Well, at least a “yes,” though he’s buying theistic evolution. It would be nice to know exactly how he thinks God guided evolution.
— Dan Proft: “The current political class in Springfield make me question the veracity of natural selection. That aside, I do not believe there needs to be a divide between religious belief and the scientific method. … The evidence seems to me fairly clear that, as Pope John Paul II wrote, human beings have a ‘common ancestry of life’ from which we have evolved.”
You can see, from the tendency of these candidates to drag God into a question that’s purely scientific, that Americans really do feel that evolution impinges on faith. Proft has to drag the Pope in here to support his answer, but at least he admits that humans have evolved from other creatures. But Pope John Paul also believed that at some point between Australopithecus afarensis and Homo sapiens, the good Lord injected hominins with a heritable soul.
— Jim Ryan: “Evolution is a reasonable theory. Regardless of the extent of its truth, I believe that God was ultimately responsible for our creation and infused human beings with a soul.”
Damn, this answer is dreadful. “Reasonable”? “Regardless of the extent of its truth”? A complete cop-out, topped up with pandering to the faithful.
— Bob Schillerstrom: “I accept the theory of evolution. There is compelling scientific evidence to show that evolution does occur. I also believe science and religion answer life’s questions in complementary ways.”
The first two sentences are GREAT — unusual sentiments for a Republican. But then he takes the NOMA stance. Well, I guess you can’t expect more than this from the GOP.
And now the Democrats:
— Dan Hynes: “I accept the theory of evolution.”
What a good answer! Why can’t more of our candidates give a simple answer like this?
— Pat Quinn: “I believe that the scientific theory of evolution is the best explanation we have for the origin and diversity of species on Earth. As a Catholic, I do not see any discrepancy between my acceptance of widely held scientific principles and my faith in God as the prime mover of the universe.”
A bit NOMA-ish in the end, but at least he buys evolution.
Scores: Republicans 1/7, Democrats 2/2. No surprise here. Republicans are a miserable God-fearing and Darwin-denying lot.
h/t: Alan Grohe