New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Creationist?

Ever since the US Presidential election cycle in 2008, we’ve been keeping track of who is and who isn’t a creationist. See Which 2012 Presidential Challengers Are Creationists?, and before that McCain’s Possible VP Choices — Creationists?

Why do we bother? Perhaps it’s already too late, but we think it still matters whether the President of the United States is an idiot or a scoundrel, and we use creationism as our litmus test for evaluating them.

Of all the issues out there, why creationism? We’re aware of the importance of defense and economic issues, and we don’t have any problem sorting out the candidates with respect to those topics. Republicans are generally preferable. But not all of them.

Some Republicans seem to have merely memorized their speeches on those topics without having any genuine understanding. We need to know more. Are they honorable and intelligent, or are there merely glib? Single-issue voters don’t care, but we do. And it’s in a candidate’s answers to the less commonly asked issues where problems may be revealed.

We use creationism as a defining issue because, although no one cares if a President understands biology or geology or physics, we need a President with enough sense to consult scientists whenever necessary. If a President is a creationist, he thinks he knows as much as all the scientists out there; and in today’s world that’s exceedingly dangerous. The problem goes far beyond science — if a President truly is a creationist, his mental deficiencies will inevitably become manifest in other areas. Crazy people can’t be trusted.

If a candidate isn’t a creationist, then he should say so! We don’t like it when candidates play games with us. If a candidate conceals his position and babbles all kinds of focus-group tested slogans because he’s pandering for creationist votes, then he has a flawed character. Such people are unfit for high office (or any office).

That’s why we think it’s important to sniff out a candidate’s thinking on the creationism question. See our Open Letter to Republican Presidential Hopefuls.

In the Star-Ledger, one of the newspapers hosted at NJ.com, “the online home of Jersey’s 12 largest and most prominent newspapers,” we read Gov. Chris Christie unsure about teaching creationism in schools. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

While charming a town hall audience in Manalapan Wednesday, Gov. Chris Christie called on a woman who had an unusual question for him. She asked what he thought about creationism being taught in schools along with evolution.

We’ve been assuming that Christie is too competent and rational to be a creationist, and too honorable to lie about it to pick up a few votes from his party’s idiot faction. So although he’s probably not running for President this year, we’re delighted that the question was put to him. Let’s read on:

The governor paused and took a sip of water, quipping, “That’s a new one.”

Come on, Christie. Quit stalling! Let’s have a straight answer!

“I probably have little business getting myself involved in these kinds of questions,” Christie said, adding that local school boards “should be making those decisions about what curriculum is being taught in your schools.”

BEEP! Wrong answer. Christie would leave it up to local clown shows like the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania — the one that gave us Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Yeah, that’s how to handle it.

Good lord — the man’s an idiot! We thought Cristie was far better than the typical witch-hunting social values GOP candidate these days, but now it’s dawning on us that we were wrong. The article goes on about what other officials say in New Jersey, so if you care about that state, then click over there and read it all. But from our point of view, unless there’s some kind of absolutely clear statement that removes our suspicions, Christie is not acceptable as a presidential candidate.

A Cristie (or any creationist) candidacy would present your Curmudgeon with a ghastly choice. We think almost anything would be preferable to what we’ve got now, but could we survive an administration obsessed with the social-values agenda? Perhaps the more important question is: With its two political parties as they are now, can America survive at all?

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Creationist?

  1. I too refuse to vote for any candidate who does not give a clear, strong pro-science answer to such questions. So the stalling and “punting” to local boards is enough to lose my vote. But if anything that only makes me more curious about what and how they think. So I’d like to see more detailed questions. E.g.: “Do you want students to learn creationism/ID to see how weak it is compared to evolution”? (my position briefly in the ’90s) Or “Do you they you think creationism/ID is better explanation than evolution?” And “If the latter, which of the mutually-contractitory creationist ‘theories’ in their your opinion is the strongest one?” If that doesn’t make them recant or reduce to incoherent babble, how about: “Do you think that 99.9% of PhD biologists – the ones who have the most to gain by falsifying evolution – are wrong about evolution, and if so, why?”

  2. Oops, I did a “cdesign proponentsists.” Note the incomplete change from”they” questions to “you” questions.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    Local school boards SHOULD be making curriculum decisions; I’m with Christie on that. It sounds to me like he gave a boilerplate answer, though, not that he was secretly signaling a creationist sympathy.

  4. In my opinion, if a Republican candidate acknowledges that he or she accepts evolution, they will be unlikely to survive the party primary contest – due to the fact that the party primaries are still dominated by the fundamentalist christian “values voters” constituency. There might be a few rational and courageous Republicans around, but I don’t expect them to be front runners in the party primary process. The person you describe is more likely to be a fiscally conservative independent.

    I believe Obama is much less liberal than most people expected him to be when he was elected, and he will probably become even more so as he attempts to win the independent vote. 2012 will definitely be an interesting year. (the best part of which will be the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory in August, of course)

  5. Ed says:

    In my opinion, if a Republican candidate acknowledges that he or she accepts evolution, they will be unlikely to survive the party primary contest – due to the fact that the party primaries are still dominated by the fundamentalist christian “values voters” constituency.

    Probably true. I’d reluctantly accept an answer like this: “That’s not an issue in my campaign because education is a state matter. I’m content to leave it to them, and to the scientists and the science teachers. It’s not something the federal government has any business meddling in. Next question?”

    Christie, however, is the governor of a state. He can’t duck the issue, although he tried. His non-response leaves us free to assume the worst.

  6. longshadow

    I think Christie deserves more credit than Our Curmedgeon™ is giving him.

    Christie, a former federal prosecutor, surely is aware of the Kitzmiller v Dover decision, and thus knows that even if the decision is left up to local school boards, the courts will shove any attempt to incorporate creationism, or any of its tarted up cousins, straight into the dustbin of public school curricula.

    Seen in this light, his response is, I believe, nothing more than a savvy politician being savvy — he knows Creationism isn’t going anywhere in the public schools because the courts will stop it, so he sidesteps the issue rather than getting into a contentious ocnfrontation with nitwits.

    Lastly, I suspect the reason Christie is avoiding the issue is because he, unlike some pols at the national level, is focused on the fiscal problems that are confronting his state, and is avoiding the distraction that go with so many social issues.

    In conclusion, I think Christie is being clever and wise in refusing to take the bait and get led into a distraction that he doesn’t need to get involved with. Absent other data suggesting he’s a closet creationist, I’ll give the guy a pass on this and chalk it up to smart politics.

  7. Christie’s not an idiot. He’s a politician. He knows that if he gives a straight answer on this one, all of the idiots who believe that the universe in 6,000 years old will abandon him like a bunch of petulant children. Sadly, there are far too many Americans who haven’t been made aware of the truth of science. The politicians can’t change that. We need to change that in private life.

  8. I thought McCain finessed it pretty well at the Republican primary debate at the Reagan library (May 3, 2007) when the evolution question came up. He said: “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.” Pert’ near poetry, I thought. (Yeah, yeah. You can parse it. Is “believe” really the right word? The Grand Canyon is spectacular as an example of natural forces at work for millions of years without divine intervention. But still, McCain had a nice turn of phrase there.)

    Romney had some similar thoughts, though not as poetically embellished, which turned up in a New York Times piece at the time:

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/romney-elaborates-on-evolution

    Given the nature of much of the Republican base, the idea that evolution is God’s way of doing things might be as far as a candidate can go.

  9. comradebillyboy

    Curmudgeon writes…’We’ve been assuming that Christie is too competent and rational to be a creationist, and too honorable to lie about it to pick up a few votes from his party’s idiot faction.’ …No professional pol that I can think of is too honorable to lie to pick up a few votes.

    As long as local school boards have control you get things like: 1. out-right evangelizing in Tennessee and other ultra Christian areas 2. teaching of religious dogma in science classes 3. calling the civil war the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ 4. neglecting to mention slavery in history class and other such nonsense. What we actually need is not more local control but actual national standards for math, science, and history. More local control means more provincialism.

  10. comradebillyboy says:

    What we actually need is not more local control but actual national standards for math, science, and history.

    Two problems: (1) the Constitution doesn’t provide for that kind of national authority; and (2) it all depends on who controls the national government. If it’s the wrong people, then the whole country is messed up, not just a few states. The only real answer is private, competitive schools.

  11. comradebillyboy

    ‘The only real answer is private, competitive schools.’
    And that means instead of a secular public education vast numbers of kids will go to private Christian academies, many will be in financial scam charter schools (of which my home state of New Mexico has too many) and a small minority with adequate financial resources can go to outstanding prep schools. Here in Albuquerque the best quality private schools have about a $14,000 per year tuition and are quite selective. The next tier down in private schools are Catholic schools and Christian academies. Our charter schools are a joke. When the libertarian Gary Johnson was our governor, he tried to privatize public education, proposing to simply give vouchers to parents who could then find schools on their own. These voucher schools would have been totally unregulated with no over riding state control of curriculum, because Gov. Johnson would have done away with the state department of education as well. IMHO abandoning public education, without a demonstrably viable alternative is an exceptionally bad idea.

  12. comradebillyboy says:

    IMHO abandoning public education, without a demonstrably viable alternative is an exceptionally bad idea.

    Private, voluntary schools were the norm in the US. State-run schools didn’t get started until the 1840s. I don’t know how privatized education would work today, but it’s not without precedent. We can say that the present system, although it works for a minority of students, is riddled with flaws and fails for far too many. It might be worth a try.

  13. comradebillyboy

    Our education system is definitely flawed and like most difficult complex problems, a good solution will be difficult to find.

  14. longshadow

    I don’t know how privatized education would work today, but it’s not without precedent.

    One example worth considering is how successful the GI Bill was for returning WWII veterans who availed themselves of the educational opportunities it provided. In addition to the existing private and public schools, a myriad of private technical schools sprang up to meet the increased educational demand from war veterans — all manner of vocational schools sprang up to satisfy the various educational needs of a diverse population of ex-soldiers.

    I don’t recall reading any reports suggesting that the experiment was a dismal failure; quite on the contrary, it appears to have been a substantial if not overwhelming success, both for the veterans as well as the entrepreneurs who set up private schools to fill the void.

    There is no a priori reason to think the same wouldn’t happen if regular education was privatized ….

  15. I keep hearing that Republican candidates who admit accepting the science of evolution and object to the teaching of anti-evolution strategies will lose the fundamentalist vote. Does anyone have any evidence that this has ever happened? The reason I ask is that I suspect that most hard-line fundamentalists are far more interested in other issues (abortion, etc.) and home school their kids anyway. And they that they would rather vote for a “Darwinist” Republican than a “Darwinist” Democrat. So I can’t imagine them losing that many votes. My suspicion is that most Republican candidates are more afraid that they might lose votes than they need to be, so to be on the safe side they resort to politically correct answers such as Christie’s. In fact, so do many Democrat candidates.

    Also, I suspect that the politicians who do know more than usual about the anti-evoution movement choose the politically correct language not so much for the hard line fundamentalist votes, but for the much larger segment of voters, mostly non-Biblical literalist – that has fallen for the “fairness” nonsense.

  16. Longie says:

    One example worth considering is how successful the GI Bill was for returning WWII veterans

    That’s good. A more recent example is the sudden popularity of personal computers. In the early years, before junior colleges got around to teaching “computer science,” people learned to use them — and to program them — without government assistance. There were classes offered by computer stores, user groups, and loads of books and magazines. No government involvement at all.

  17. Frank J says:

    And they that they [hard-line fundamentalists] would rather vote for a “Darwinist” Republican than a “Darwinist” Democrat.

    Yes, if those were the choices. But it’s not like that in the primaries, and that’s where the issues tend to shape up. For example, the Texas GOP regards Thomas Ratliff, the guy who beat McLeroy, as a RINO. That thinking is likely to result in a creationist candidate emerging from the primary process.

  18. Mentioning a working private system of education within a public system is misleading, as is pointing out historical systems.

    The countries that are increasing their science and economic output the fastest are those with a goal of 100% literacy, such as China. By doing away with the public system, or by severely limiting it, literacy levels would drop precipitously and the research/economic strength of the US would be affected.

  19. Gabriel Hanna

    By doing away with the public system, or by severely limiting it, literacy levels would drop precipitously and the research/economic strength of the US would be affected.

    Horse puckey. We don’t have a public system of supermarkets, but we all eat. We don’t have a public system of television production, but almost all of us (even the poorest) have televisions. Etc, etc.

    Despite the doubling of education funding in the past 15 years literacy rates have not budged.

    Just because the government does a thing, why is it assumed that ONLY the government can do that thing? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Second, no one is advocating severely limiting public education! NO ONE. What we would like is for public education to be effective and competitive–and removing the government monopoly would go a long way to doing that.

    Imagine if supermarkets worked the way schools did: you are assigned to a supermarket in your area. You get a weekly ration of grcoeries and your taxes support the local supermarket. You can buy your own food elsewhere if you want, but you don’t get to reduce your contribution to the local supermarket as a result. What kind of supermarkets do you think would result from that kind of system?

    Okay, well maybe education is too important to let the market work–more important than EATING?

  20. Second, no one is advocating severely limiting public education! NO ONE.

    Really? I’d advocate that. I wouldn’t speak for SC, but I suspect he would as well.

    And that means instead of a secular public education vast numbers of kids will go to private Christian academies, many will be in financial scam charter schools (of which my home state of New Mexico has too many) and a small minority with adequate financial resources can go to outstanding prep schools.

    Can you explain to me how this is worse than the current public system, where union corruption, top-heavy management, so-called zero-tolerance policies, social indoctrination, inability to fire/replace incompetents, and whole school systems unable to teach students basic literacy and math (bye-bye, Michelle Rhee, you were too good!), are the commonplace?

    Yes, some parents will make bad choices. More parents won’t. And with competition, excellent education will not be limited to people with the resources of the Obamas.

  21. Gabriel Hanna

    Really? I’d advocate that. I wouldn’t speak for SC, but I suspect he would as well.

    Well, that’s because you too hate children, as do I and everyone else who wants to change public education in anyway whatsoever except by increasing the money spent.

    I understand that there is a social interest in providing every child with a decent education–like cops and courts and the military we don’t necessarily want to privatize everything. But the government does not need to be in the business of education any more than it needs to be running supermarkets or liquor stores or car dealerships. If people can’t afford food we give them money for that, do we not? We don’t direct them to government-run supermarkets that everyone has to go to by default.

    Fund every child’s education, certainly. But let the money follow the child, to be used at whatever private school meets minimum educational standards. That harms no honest educator.

  22. Well, of course I hate children. I used to be a teacher.

  23. what is the national budget for education? how does that compare to the funding for the nuclear arsenal? what has greater potential benefits for us all?

    I’m hardly a bleeding heart liberal, nor am I against having nukes, but is there really anything wrong with a little funding for education? is there a nation in the world with both completely privatized education and high levels of literacy and science? if there is, I’d be all for using their system as a model.