Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A creationist Candidate wins the first US presidential primary

Transcript of today's show:

In a stunning victory for creationists, Mike Huckabee easily wins the Iowa Republican Caucus. Running on a platform of faith, family and freedom, the evangelical preacher turned presidential candidate confronts secular voters with the question, "is the US ready for a president who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old?"

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Sound Off: What is being said about this story from around the blogging and opinion world.

from comments made by University of Michigan professor Gilbert Omenn:
The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming. I would worry that a president who didn't believe in the evolution arguments wouldn't believe in those other arguments either. This is a way of leading our country to ruin.... Scientific inquiry is not about accepting on faith a statement or scriptural passage. It's about exploring nature, so there really is not any place in the science classroom for creationism or intelligent design creationism. Holding deep religious beliefs is not incompatible with believing in evolution. But that's different to saying the two can be taught together in science class, because religion and science are two different ways of knowing about the world. They might not be incompatible but they don't overlap each other's spheres. Science class should not contain religious attitudes. [read more]

from Pride of America blog:
Since when has a President’s beliefs about the process of creation affected the world’s climate or oil supply? Maybe you can explain the parallels of that to me. It just seems random and off the wall. It seems to me that now that Governor Huckabee is in the media and news more often, attacks on him are becoming more frequent and quite frankly, more bizarre.

Why don’t we stop attacking someone’s beliefs or personal life and focus on their character or policies? I think George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few, were some of our finest Presidents and they believed in creationism. I don’t remember hearing how their beliefs negatively affected our planet or the sea life. If anything, they helped build America up and make her what she is today. [read full blog post]

from the blog Stumbling and Mumbling:

Mike Huckabee's victory in the Iowa caucus raises the possibility that the next US President won't believe in the theory of evolution. Is this worrying? I'm not sure. There are two possible reasons why it might be, and neither are convincing.

First, what worries liberals is not so much creationism itself, which has no obvious policy implications, but rather that belief in creationism is correlated with views they find unpleasant. People who believe the bible is the word of God are disproportionately likely to oppose homosexuality and inter-racial marriage and favor tougher penalties for criminals; data are here. But insofar as Huckabee shares these attitudes - and on crime he seems not to - he can be judged on them separately.

The second problem is stated by Danny:

Who wants a President of the United States who doesn't accept the basic principles of science, taking refuge instead in a load of mumbo jumbo?

But this raises a false dichotomy. An acceptance of the theory of evolution is no evidence that one is rational. And there's no reason to suppose that a Darwinist president would make policy according to perfectly rational Bayesian principles. We are all prone to cognitive biases that make it impossible for us to hold scientific political beliefs; even Richard Dawkins falls way short of following the "basic principles of science" when he thinks about politics. Why pick on creationism when it's just one of countless irrationalities?

Indeed, there might even be a case for favoring a creationist candidate. A man who enters the White House with a reputation for being unreasonably irrational might make more effort to dispel this reputation, and so be unusually reasonable in office - in a similar way that Richard Nixon's reputation as a fierce anti-communist enabled him to pursue a policy of detente.

There may be good reasons not to want Huckabee in the White House. But his creationism isn't obviously one of them. [read full blog post]