Huckabee on Creationism

Mike Huckabee has been trying to sound like a reasonable, non-scary guy to get the votes of people who do not normally vote for candidates from the religious right. Huckabee and Ron Paul are the two remaining candidates in the race who believe in creationism as opposed to evolution. Huckabee was asked about creationism on Good Morning America and tried to avoid being controversial, but still missed the point:

ABC’s “Good Morning America” grilled Huckabee about his evangelical ties, making Creationism the issue.ABC’s Robin Roberts mentioned a new book from the National Academy of Sciences that says Creationism has no place in the classroom — given the overwhelming evidence in favor of evolution.

“Do you agree with that — that Creationism should be kept out of our classrooms,” Roberts asked.

“In ten-and-a-half years as a governor, I never touched it,” Huckabee said. “It’s not an issue for a president. It wasn’t even an issue for me as a governor, and governors do deal with education – but not the curriculum.” Huckabee said his focus as governor was on music and arts in education.

“Should creationism be banned from the classroom, yes or no?” Roberts persisted.

“Banned? Well, banning sounds like sort of a censorship,” Huckabee said. “I don’t think most people agree with censorship. Should we teach it as a doctrine? Of course not. Should we teach that some people believe it, some don’t? I think that’s academic freedom.”

So Huckabee wouldn’t teach evolution as a doctrine. Considering that evolution is established science and the basis of modern biology, this is like asking, “Should we teach anatomy, calculus, or spelling as a doctrine?” Does academic freedom also mean we must teach that some people believe the world is flat?

While the president himself might not get personally involved in school curriculum, people appointed by the president do. This includes judges in cases where there are court battles to defend the teaching of evolution in science classes as well hear other cases involving separation of church and state. The views of the president could also matter should the Republicans take back control of Congress and pass a measure to please the religious right which deserves a presidential veto. House Resolution 888 shows that even a Democratic majority is not enough to stop all the mischief of the religious right. The White House also serves as a bully pulpit, and should such issues remain controversial I’d rather have a president who would speak out on the side of science and reason.

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30 Comments

  1. 1
    Brad says:

    A politician full of shit? No!

    But wouldn’t decisions about curriculum be best left to the school district and the community? If a given population wants to teach their children the earth is flat, as long as there is a fair and democratic system in place, how is it the federal government’s business?

    -Brad
    http://www.clashofculture.com

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    If we really had a situation where a majority voted for such a thing it sounds like a good example where the minority (who expect to receive actual education from their schools) might be protected from the tyranny of the majority.

    In the case of a school teaching that the world is flat, I’m not sure of the mechanism by which this would be done. I suspect that the states would have some mechanism for this.

    In the case of teaching creationism fortunately there is a clear mechanism. Problems of a group wanting to teach something which is counter to reality would most likely arise from religious groups. The founding fathers wisely realized the need to establish a secular goverment characterized by separation of church and state. The Supreme Court has agreed that using the schools to promote religion is unconstitutional, leaving legal solutions when a school district tries to teach creationism.

    Fortunately in many places where this has been an issue, including Kansas, school boards which have promoted creationism have been voted out.

  3. 3
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    From my understanding, I don’t think Ron Paul denies that human beings evolved from lower organisms, I think he denies the “organic soup” portion of creation. I think he has said very little on the subject and some comments have been edited that seem to imply that he is referring to the latter portion. I think more interviews and questions would be needed to ascertain for sure what he believes on the subject.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Paul’s views didn’t sound any more coherent even after the full video was posted. He still said absurd things such as dismissing evolution as a theory, confusing the scientific and popular uses of the word theory. To criticize evolution based upon ideas of the creation of life also shows lack of understanding of what evolution means.

    Hopefully Paul is asked more about this to clarify his views, but at very least the manner in which he dismissed evolution shows a poor understanding of both the science and the current controversy.

  5. 5
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    I think his answers were certainly not his best and either he miscommunicated what he said or he has a poor understanding of the science so I agree with the general gist of your comments.

    Regarding policy, he made it clear it wouldn’t be factor in private schools as parents can pick which schools they feel to be best in providing an education. This is the problem with public schools as there needs to be one government (whether state or federal) mandated curriculum which creates controversy.

    In public schools, creationism, natural design and any other “pseudo-theories” should not be taught as they are about as scientific as thinking that world was created in the fashion of Lord of the Rings.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    The fact is that we have public schools. The argument that Paul’s beliefs don’t matter because in a libertarian world government wouldn’t be doing anything doesn’t fly.

  7. 7
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Yes, but Ron Paul would remove the Federal government from Education so it would be up to the states to make these decisions for the public schools and the states should bar creationism and other pseudo-theories from being taught.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Saying that it doesn’t matter because this is a state issue doesn’t fly either. This matter currently is handled by state and local school boards, not the federal government, so Paul’s desire to remove the federal government from education doesn’t change anything there.

    The president’s beliefs on this are important for a number of reasons. It is the president who chooses the judges who hear the cases regarding such violations of separation of church and state. I do not want a president who opposes separation of church and state choosing judges. The government will continue to be involved in a number of areas where understanding science is important in the 21st century, and this shows Paul is not up to the job. The president has an important bully pulpit and a president who is on the wrong side of the culture wars could do considerable harm.

  9. 9
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    To what extent is he for integration of church and state?

    His platform has been on the Constitution and he has a better understanding of it than anyone else does. I am not saying he is perfect, but he is by far the best of the bunch, even with his flaws. The other candidates either ignore the Constitution or blatanly believe in its violation. There isn’t even a comparison, so we can nitpick Ron Paul but then we also would need to make encyclopedia lists of the flaws of the other candidates.

    I couldn’t vote for any of the other candidates because they are a greater threat to liberty by far. Look at yesterday’s debate. They don’t even understand monetary policy, pay lip service to the Constitution (Republicans) or don’t mention it at all (the democrats).

    Yes, I concede Ron Paul is not perfect, has some issues he needs to explain himself on, is too socially conservative, etc. but it is a fruitless exercise trying to find every instance of a disagreement with him when we don’t even have a viable candidate to compare him to. If we did, then we could compare them in depth and see who would be best.

  10. 10
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    PS: Although the President does have an important bully pulpit, Ron Paul made it clear that the issues of science you speak of are not the President’s domain so he is sticking by that.

    Regarding supreme court justices, his number one criteria would be strict constitutionalists, if he can find them.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    It isn’t that he advocates integration of church and state but that this would be the result if Paul was elected due to his opposition to separation of church and state.

    Paul has supported school prayer. We now see he repeats the memes of those who want to teach evolution in the schools. He also sides with social conservatives on abortion rights and gay marriage. I wonder what he would say about conservative efforts to restrict sales of contraception. If the religious right wins on these issues, they will push for more and Paul is clearly on their side.

    Paul does not have a better understanding of the Constitution. He has a view of the Constitution which is based upon his own conservative views and which differs from what the framers intended. He just falls back on falsely claiming his views are based upon the Constitution as a means to avoid defending his actual views.

    Democrats don’t mention the Constitution at all? You obviously haven’t been paying any attention to what they have been saying. It is the Democrats who have been arguing for reversing the violations of the Constitution under the Republicans. Unlike Paul, this includes respecting separation of church and state.

    Once again, saying this is “not the President’s domain” does not fly. The fact of the matter is the President does have involvement in such issues. Under Paul, the religious right would win by default.

    Appointing strict constitutionalists only means he would appoint justices who share his view of the Constitution, which would further the harm. This applies not only to the Supreme Court but judges on all levels.

  12. 12
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Paul is against public schools in the first place. He is for individual rights regarding gay marriage. He is opposed to the government being involved with marriage and opposed to any constitutional ammendment on marriage.

    His view on abortion is that we are dealing with life and we need to protect life. He is at least consistent with this position since he opposed the death penalty and the war in Iraq. He is against the issue of abortion being decided at the federal level because the more complex the issue, the more locally it needs to be decided.

    I disagree that he doesn’t have a better understanding of the Constitution. He has a much better understanding of the Constitution than other candidates do. Does he make mistakes, yes, but the other candidates make more mistakes:

    What specifically have the democrats have been saying in terms of the Constitution? They didn’t even mention it once in yesterday’s debate (that was my claim in the previous post, not that they never mention it). They believe it is ok to steal from one person and give to another person. They believe it is ok to have agencies which are not provided for in the Constitution. They believe it is ok to have executive power beyond what the Constitution provides. They are less consistent about this illegal war than he is.

    No, I don’t believe the religious right would win by default as he has deliberately made religion not the issue of his campaign.

    From what I have seen him say and from what he writes on his website, he is the closest to the spirit of the founding fathers. His core values are individual rights which cannot be said of the other candidates.

  13. 13
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    In addition, the president can’t do everything. He is only one branch of the federal government even though the current situation is that he is 2/3 branches of the known world.

    It is important that we elect people at the local level who believe in individual rights, not only the president.

  14. 14
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Every president has a bias in terms of who they will appoint to the Supreme Court based on their beliefs. There is no way to avoid it and legitimate debate can be had on the nature of the Constitution and its proper interpretation.

    I think however, that we have moved so far away from the Constitution, that we need someone who will bring it closer to the intent of the founding fathers.

    Sure, would I prefer that Ron Paul would say the following:

    * I am against prayer in public schools.
    * I believe in the theory of evolution.

    As for separation of Church and State, he believes in the first amendment. What exactly is he supposed to do to keep this separation of church and state on every level of government? He is not King nor does he believe it is the President’s job to be king. He wants to curtail the power of the president. This is a very important step in the restoration of our liberties.

  15. 15
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Let’s also talk about what he is emphasizing. This is what he considers to be important:

    * Elimination of the war. He was the most consistent advocate for doing this.

    * Reducing the power of the federal government over our lives. One case he brings up is the case of states that would allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes, yet the federal government overrules the state laws.

    * He is actually against the federal government being involved in education, economics or religion.

    * He believes rights are individual, not collective. He therefore makes no distinction between white and black, gay or non-gay etc.

    One of the main problems the founders saw was the power of the federal government. He is the only candidate that significantly wants to reduce the power of the federal government. He is not running as governor, so his focus is on federal powers.

    Anyway, I agree with you on many of the specifics, I just consider certain positions to be more immediately relevant than others and also believe in Ron Paul’s belief in individual rights and unfortunately, he is the only one who I believe has a respect for individual rights.

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    The fact of the matter is that government is involved in schools and marriage so we need to look at the results in the real world of Paul’s views.

    Saying that the Democrats didn’t mention the Constitution in one debate is rather meaningless, especially considering how often the Democratic candidates have spoken of restoring the Constitution as one of the top priorities to be addressed immediately upon taking office.

    It doesn’t matter that Paul didn’t make religion the issue of his campaign. What matters is what would happen if he was elected, which would be greater restrictions on freedom.

    “It is important that we elect people at the local level who believe in individual rights, not only the president.”

    The problem is that this doesn’t always happen. This is why the Bill of Rights is important, and why it is important that Constitutional liberties are extended to the states.

    “One of the main problems the founders saw was the power of the federal government.”

    That is only partially true. The founders did see the need for checks and balances to restrict the powers of the president. However, people like Paul also forget that the Constitution was written to replace the Articles of Confederation after finding a need for a stronger central government. The founding fathers never intended that the federal government be limited to agencies which were mentioned in the Constitution. They recognized that the government must adapt over time.

    What matters is not the specific agencies we have but respect for fundamental rights, including separation of church and state. When Paul dismisses these rights, or when he denies that they apply to the states, the result of Paul being elected would be a decrease in freedom in this country, regardless of what he personally desires.

  17. 17
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Well we can’t blame Paul for having the government involved in school and marriage. He wants to eliminate their involvement in these areas and this increases our rights.

    I have not heard the democrats mention the Constitution much and when they did, they only mention pieces they like whereas Ron Paul employs a holistic approach to the Constitution.

    I don’t agree there would be greater restrictions on freedom if Ron Paul were elected. I believe the Federal government would be drastically reduced increasing our liberties significantly.

    From what I understand, only the fourteenth amendment, in parts is applicable to the states as per precedent in 1925, “Gitlow vs. New York”. Otherwise, Madison’s proposals to make the Constitution applicable to the states was rejected. It is the Constitution itself that needs to be amended and Madison’s original proposal incorporated to have the Constitution’s protections of liberties apply to the states. I believe Ron Paul would be the first to support this.

    “The founding fathers never intended that the federal government be limited to agencies which were mentioned in the Constitution. They recognized that the government must adapt over time.”

    The tenth amendment indicates that those powers that are not enumerated by the Constitution are delegates to the states and to the people. Federal agencies are unconstitutional, not state agencies. As for change over time, of course this was provided for with constitutional amendments. It was not the intent that changes happen by ignoring the Constitution.

    Fundamental rights include the respect of the individual. There is no greater proponent of this than Ron Paul. Separation of church and state is covered undered the first amendment and therefore as President, he wouldn’t violate this law.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Well we can’t blame Paul for having the government involved in school and marriage.”

    That doesn’t matter. The fact is that the government is involved, and most likely always will be involved.

    “The tenth amendment indicates that those powers that are not enumerated by the Constitution are delegates to the states and to the people. Federal agencies are unconstitutional, not state agencies.”

    There is no basis for this restrictive a view of the Constitution. It is not supported in the writings of the framers, the views of most historians, or court rulings. Paul has an unrealistic view of the Constitution, and one which would lead to decreased liberty if we consider all levels of government.

    “Fundamental rights include the respect of the individual.”

    Unfortunately from a legal point of view, Paul’s views do not support this. While rights reside in the individual, Paul would allow state and local governments to infringe upon them.

  19. 19
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    it’s not a matter of a view, here is the amendment itself:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    It means that all powers not specifically delegated to the United States reside in the states and in the people.

    James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” said “The powers delegated.to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.” Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not “subordinate” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole..The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.”

    It is clear that the intent here was to limit the power of the federal government which is consistent with my and Ron Paul’s reading of the tenth amendment.

  20. 20
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is a matter of interpretation. Thomas Jefferson also was responsible for the Louisiana purchase. You can cherry pick quotes, but the founders never intended a federal government as limited as Paul advocates.

  21. 21
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Well, we can agree to disagree on this one. I think the restriction of the federal government was fundamental to what Madison and Jefferson were all about, and if anything, the Louisiana purchase was the exception, not the rule, but I respect your differing opinion on this though.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    Neither Jefferson or Madison governed as Paul claims the Constitution says. The Louisiana purchase was perhaps the biggest, but is just one example.

  23. 23
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    No one is completely consistent with what they believe, but what their intent for the Constitution was is what we were discussing. Who knows why they did what they did in office, but the Constitution represents a set of principles which were clearly elaborated by Jefferson and Madison.

  24. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, and these principles include separation of church and state. It is also consistent with their views to extend the civil liberties they defended to the states. These are the important principles, not which federal agencies we have. You are missing the big picture of their work and dwelling on irrelevant points which were not really representative of their work and careers in office.

  25. 25
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Separation of Church and State is an important principle but not under any kind of substantive attack by Ron Paul. This is not the platform he is running under.

    The other principles are those of individual rights and those rights are violated by various federal agencies. This is a fundamental point because the idea that the federal government has broad powers outside the enumerated powers in the Constitution is the most dangerous attack on libery, not whether the separation of Church and State applies to states.

    Individual rights need to be fought for at every level and the domain of the President is the federal level and this is where Ron Paul is focusing his campaign on.

  26. 26
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    PS: I pretty much agree with everything you say. We just disagree which individual rights protections are most important and most relevant to the Presidential campaign.

  27. 27
    Ron Chusid says:

    “This is not the platform he is running under.”

    This is getting circular. The point remains that what matters is what Paul believes, not the few issues he is running on. His writings make his opposition to separation of church and state clear. He certainly admits his opposition to abortion rights.

  28. 28
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    I agree with you, but I agree with 90% of what he believes and oppose 10%. With the other candidates, I agree with maybe 40% of what they believe and oppose 60%. What choice do I have? In my lifetime, he is by far the best choice with any chance whatsoever of getting anywhere. Before that, I voted libertarian consistently.

    I disagree with his position on abortion rights in his definition of life as beginning at conception. Maybe life begins at conception, but not distinctly human life. But I also don’t believe that a baby becomes human in the third trimester and is not human and deserving of right to life protections before that.

    Ron Paul even admitted himself that the issue is complex and therefore should be relegated to the states. How else would we resolve this issue? Some of the other Republican candidates would want a federal law banning abortion. Ron Paul opposes this.

    He also points out a contradiction in the system in that if something happens to the fetus, he would be charged with murder so our system is contradictory in how it applies the right to life.

    With a complex issue like this, if we bring it down to the state level, at the very least you don’t have a federal ban on abortion which would leave you with no recourse.

  29. 29
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rights including abortion rights should not depend upon which state you live in. The fact that other Republicans are worse on this doesn’t make Paul’s views acceptable.

    Paul has even violated his views on federalism here in supporting a federal law against so-called partial birth abortions. He also backed federal legislation to override state laws which differentiate between a zygote and a fully developed human.

    There is no contradiction between treating harm to a fetus different by a third party as opposed to an abortion requested by the mother. A third party harming a fetus is quite different from a mother exercising her rights to control her own body. (Obviously I’m excluding doctors performing a requested abortion from third parties harming the fetus.)

  30. 30
    Timur Rozenfeld says:

    Rights shouldn’t depend on which state you live in but when you have an issue where people can’t decide whether the being is human or not, I would rather the issue be decided locally than federally and the wrong way.

    Well he is wrong in this then if he violates his own views on federalism, though I can’t comment further because I don’t know the details.

    As for harming a fetus, I believe he was referring to doctors who harm a fetus even if the mother requests an abortion. Since I don’t know the context of his positions or what he was referring to, I won’t argue this point further.

    I didn’t say I agree with everything he says, just that the issues of most vital concern, in my opinion, are not the ones we have been discussing.

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