ASKING CANDIDATES WHETHER THEY BELIEVE IN OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC REALITY
Apparently, according to Kathleen Parker, it's a horrible thing to do this:
...In the "gotcha" question of the first GOP debate, journalist Jim VandeHei, relaying a citizen's question, asked John McCain: "Do you believe in evolution?"
A natural response might have been, "Well, that depends on how you define evolution." It would seem that Clintonian nuance is off the boards for now. Instead, McCain gambled and said -- no doubt with fear and trembling in his political heart -- "Yes." ...
On its surface, the question seems simple enough -- if oddly out of century. Darwin's theory of evolution isn't exactly hot off the presses. But it remains controversial among some people of faith -- including some respected scientists -- for whom evolutionary theory reduces man's world to a godless accident bereft of moral meaning or structure.
To the faithful, in other words, it is not such a simple question. It also was not a fair question under the circumstances. Yes or no doesn't quite cover the complex issues implicit in any mention of Darwin these days.
Oh, boo hoo. Yes, the candidates were asked for a yes or no answer, but no one was going to yell "Shut up!" in the manner of Bill O'Reilly if an evolution-believing candidate wanted to add that he also believes in God.
McCain actually did this, which sent Parker into paroxysms of ecstasy:
... McCain asked permission to elaborate. McCain then added: "I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also."
Note to George Tenet: This is what you call a slam dunk. McCain was able to acknowledge both science and religion -- evolutionary theory and creationism -- and make them mutually exclusive. Some may call that "fence-straddling" or "having it both ways," but political observers call it "Bingo!'
Whoa, take a breath, Kathleen -- you're hyperventilating. Oh, and I don't think "mutually exclusive" means what you think it means.
VandeHei asked whether anyone on the stage didn't believe in evolution; Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and Mike Huckabee raised their hands. Merely asking them this was, to Parker, a horrific ritual debasement:
Like little boys called to the front of the class for public humiliation, Huckabee, Tancredo and Brownback immediately became targets of ridicule by the educated elite who, though Darwinists all, were presented with a contradiction: If Darwin was right, how did these knuckle-draggers make it to the presidential campaign podium?
(Er, they made it because this is the Republican Party?)
Ah, but they're not anti-science knuckle-draggers -- they are the truly brave:
The truth is, each man took a calculated risk -- or a courageous stand, depending on one's view. To say "yes" would have been to betray evangelical Christian voters, 73 percent of whom believe that human beings were created in their present form in the last 10,000 years or so.
To these folks, "no" didn't mean anti-science; it meant pro-God and conveyed a transcendent, non-materialistic view of the world. To secular Darwinists, "no" meant either ignorance or pandering to the ignorant -- most likely both.
No, I think to these folks "no" meant anti-science -- or, rather, opposition to science as you and I know it, in favor of "creation science."
Er, except for Huckabee, apparently:
In a conversation after the debate, Huckabee said, "I wish life were so simple. If it were, we'd be in a game show and not running a presidential campaign ... If I'd had time, I would have asked whether he meant macro or micro evolution?"
That's a different sort of answer than what is inferred from a simple "no" forced by the manic pace of a 90-minute "debate" among 10 candidates, none of whom is qualified to seriously debate scientific theory. Nor, as president, should they try. In fact, Huckabee says he does believe in evolution (with qualifications) and thinks Darwin's theory should be taught in schools.
"I do know that species do, in fact, adapt and there are many instances of adaptation and mutation," he said, "but I still believe that the design has a designer and the creation has a creator. I wouldn't pretend to fill in the blanks between what God created and what is today."
So he believes in science but he raised his hand when asked if he didn't, because he didn't want to alienate fundies. And he really would have liked to explain the fine points of his position, but apparently he didn't want to be rude.
Yeah, that's the kind of backbone we want in the Oval Office. And if he were president, we certainly wouldn't want big meanie journalists trying to pin a fine man like him down on awkward questions. That would be unfair.