To Republicans, Reality Is A Matter Open To Debate

In the short run, including the 2006 elections, views on national security and Iraq best defined the differences between liberals and conservatives. Long term the differences will be seen in broader terms, such as an acceptance of reality versus adherence to a flat-earth philosophy. Placing ideology over reality has gotten us into the quagmire in Iraq, seriously impairing our national security, and is also seen in the Repubilcan debate over evolution.

The mere fact that this is being debated by conservatives shows how their world view is divorced from reality. Science is the means by which we search for objective evidence to describe the universe independent of ideology. To conservatives, ideology and religion come first, and fundamental principles of science such as evolution are subject to debate.

Mike Huckabee probably thought he was safe in raising his hand when asked who doesn’t believe in evolution considering the support for teaching creationism among other candidates. Typically conservative thought leaders dance around the issue rather than giving a firm answer. John McCain has even spoken at the Discovery Institute. Huckabee tried to back step, but did himself more harm than good:

Huckabee said if given a chance to elaborate on the question from MSNBC moderator Chris Matthews, he would have responded: “If you want to believe that you and your family came from apes, I’ll accept that….I believe there was a creative process.”

Huckabee hardly helps himself when he shows he is ignorant of evolution in repeating a common myth about evolution, that man evolved from apes, as opposed to both men and apes having a common ancestor. Huckabee failed to see the importance of this as he said, “I’m not sure what in the world that has to do with being president of the United States.” It is important that a President in the 21st century have understanding of the basic principles of science, as this has impact on many issues considered by government. It is also important to have a President who respects the findings of science as opposed to making decisions based upon religious dogma.

It is also important that we deal not just the word “evolution” but increase understanding of evolutionary biology in the general population. On the one hand we have people like Huckabee who speak on the subject without understanding what it means. Pharyngula warns about another trend among some conservatives to take the word “evolution” but to redefine it to mean something entirely different, allowing them to circumvent state laws mandating the teaching of evolution.

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12 Comments

  1. 1
    Jeff Keady says:

    Ron Chusid wrote that Huckabee was confused about us coming from apes or maybe that us and apes share a common ancestor… further investigation into the varied evolutionary theories renders the point quite mute, especially when considering the various pictorial charts attmepting to help us visualize the evolutionary process! HOWEVER, is was Chusid who was not listening carefully to what Huckabee said. He said that whether God created all that is in six literal days, or in six periods of time, (allowing for Theistic Evolution), he is just saying “God did it.” To say that the evolutionary theory is true apart from God, whether or not he exists, takes much more faith than to believe in the biblical record.

    I live in Iowa, and every time I pass a recently planted cornfield, with the crop about a foot high, I instictively, and rationally know that a farmer has done it. How, can I ask, do some of us look at our world, in all its order and wonder, and say, “No Creator, it just happened that way all by itself.” Hmmmmm.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jeff,

    If you read what I actually wrote about Huckabee rather that mischaracterize what is said you’ll see that there is no basis for your claim that I “was not listening carefully to what Huckabee said.”

    You cloearly do not understand evloution from this portion of your response, as well as to your comparison to a cornfield and mischaracterization of evolution as saying “it just happened that way by itself.” That is not what evolution says at all. Evolution provides an explanation for how complex life fords developed.

    Before you reject modern scientific explanations you might first try to understand them. You present the same mentality as primitive men who didn’t understand why there was rain, earth quates or eruptions of volcanos and therefore attributed them to the gods.

  3. 3
    Jeff Keady says:

    Ron, I assume that you are coming at this from a position that there is no God? If that is true, then it explains your perspective. I admittedly am approaching the subject with a distinct philosophical presupposition that “there is a God.”

    The challenge is for people with presuppositions that are 180 degrees apart – to still work together to solve the challenges present in our country. Does the belief, or not, in evolution present a serious obstacle to people working together to make “a more perfect union”?

    As a conservative, I thank you for writing so clearly your opinions, which forces me to think more deeply upon my own.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jeff,

    Accepting scientific explanations doesn’t require that one not believe in a God. Many scientists believe that a God set it all in motion, and see science as explaining God’s work. Such people believe in evolution, as opposed to the fundamentalists who claim that the entire science of evolution is incorrect.

  5. 5
    Melissa says:

    Ron,
    In response to your following statement: Such people believe in evolution, as opposed to the fundamentalists who claim that the entire science of evolution is incorrect.
    Have you considered why ‘fundamentalists’ take this view on evolution? If so, I’d like to hear your opinion please.

  6. 6
    Melissa says:

    Ron,
    Interested to know why you state it is important to increase understanding of evolutionary biology in the general population.
    Thank you,
    Melissa

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Melissa,

    Fundamentalists who take the bible literally often find that evolution contradicts the bible and therefore reject the science in favor of their religious beliefs. There are others who manage to reconcile both views but to do so means not taking the bible 100% literally which some fundamentalists are unwilling to do.

    Evolution provides the framework to modern biology. It is not possible to understand biology without evolution. Advances in our understanding of biology and genetics will continue to lead to developments such as stem cells which impact public policy. People cannot make informed decisions without at least some basic understanding. If people accept the fundamentalist view of creationism and reject evolution, including preventing the teaching of evolution in schools, we will have an uninformed populace which is not equipped to deal with such issues. We will also be at an increasing disadvantage compared to other countries which do not have religion interfering with education

  8. 8
    Jeff Keady says:

    Ron,

    You wrote: “Evolution provides the framework to modern biology. It is not possible to understand biology without evolution.”

    When did evolution move from THEORY to LAW? Has it? Isn’t it still the Theory of Evolution?

    It is my understanding that as we discover life in its infinitesimally small forms, we realize that there is a design and designer. Wasn’t and introduction and acceptance of evolution 150 years ago to supplant God?

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jeff,

    You misunderstand the meaning of “theory” in science as opposed to common use. Just like the theory of gravity, the theory of evolution is accepted as fact by science. The more we study life and understand it, the more we find that attributing the development of complex life forms to a designer is unnecessary.

    Attributing natural phenomenon to a god is what is done by primitive people who do not understand the science. Just as it is no longer for us to attribute earth quakes and the eruptions of volcano to the gods, it is no longer necessary to attribute the development of complex life forms to a god.

  10. 10
    Jeff Keady says:

    Ron,

    I have never heard of the “Theory of Gravity”. Honestly, I have only heard of the Law of Gravity. Just like I have never heard of the “Law of Evolution”, only the “Evolutionary Theory”.

    Of course there are different meanings to the word “theory”, but could I suggest this one: “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.”

    Your earthquake and volcano explanation to show that God is not necessary in the explanation of what is – is mind boggling to me. The more I study a painting or sculpture, the more I appreciate the work of the artist, not the other way around. Sounds like you are clinging to your atheistic presupposition no matter what the evidence shows.

    Anyway – Merry Christmas!? 🙂 I do hope you have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and friends – really!

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jeff,

    Your definition of theory is not how it is used in science such as in referring to the theories of evolution (or gravitation). Evolution is as established as anything else is in science, and is the basis of modern biology.

    The evidence has overwhelmingly supported evolution despite all the attempts of creationists to come up with bogus arguments.

    Have a good holiday too.

  12. 12
    Jeff Keady says:

    Thanks Ron!

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