The South Carolina Primary and Creationism

Let’s look on the bright side. Whatever you may think of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (your Curmudgeon isn’t thrilled with either), there is some good news for readers of this humble blog.

What good news? Haven’t you heard? Despite some unfortunate pandering in their speeches, neither Romney nor Gingrich is a creationist. We’ve posted about this before. See Newt Gingrich: Probably Not a Creationist; and although Mitt Romney Panders to Theocrats, he has said in the past that he supports evolution, and not creationism, in science classes.

Why is creationism an important issue in a presidential election? As we said in that post on Gingrich:

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.

There’s much more information in a recent article in Reason magazine: Where Do the Republican Candidates Stand on Science? It not only discusses creationism, but also the candidates’ opinions on global warming, nuclear power, space exploration, and a few other issues. We’ll give you a two excerpts, omitting Reason‘s links to their sources:

[On Romney:] In 2007, he stated, “I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe.” Romney added, “And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.” While governor of Massachusetts, he opposed the teaching of intelligent design in science classes.

[On Gingrich:] Asked in 2006 by Discover magazine if he regarded evolution as “just a theory,” Gingrich replied, “Evolution certainly seems to express the closest understanding we can now have.” With regard to teaching intelligent design in public schools, Gingrich added, “I believe evolution should be taught as science, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy.”

What about the other issues in the campaign? Theocracy and the rest of the social conservative issues can destroy us in the long run, but our immediate concerns are the economy and national defense; they are always the most important issues. Regarding economics (including taxation, the national debt, and business regulations), foreign policy, and at least some respect for the Constitution, either Gingrich or Romney would be infinitely superior to what we have now.

As we’ve noted, both Gingrich and Romney are willing to pander to the social conservatives, which is certainly a character flaw, but we still think the election of either of them would be an improvement — a big one.

What about Rick Santorum and Ron Paul? The former is hopelessly theocratic and probably insane (see Rick Santorum: Dumbest Man in the Room), and the latter has such off-the-wall ideas that a Ron Paul presidency is unthinkable. Besides, it doesn’t appear that either will be nominated, which is why we’re ignoring them.

So there you are. Oh, let’s not forget the other good news: the craziest candidates, Bachmann and Perry, are already out of the race. So even if you’re not delighted with how things are shaping up, keep in mind that they could have been much worse.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “The South Carolina Primary and Creationism

  1. the craziest candidates, Bachmann and Perry, are already out of the race.

    Oh, don’t worry, both Romney and Gingrich will be depicted as loonies, racists, and theocrats, as soon as one of them gets the nomination; just as happened to McCain and every other Republican nominee in my lifetime.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    If Mitt and Newt are the (relatively) sane, if lame, winners out of the initial field of candidates, then the question turns to the choice of VP candidate. The problem is that both have really no choice other than to pander to the fundagelicals by putting in someone as truly abhorrent to rational governance as Palin was.

    So, given the fact that the VP is going be of the flaming creationist and/or snake handler persuasion, Mitt would be the safer choice for Pres. Newt is getting a little far down the long tail of the longevity curve to bet on his health the next four years.

    And given Newt’s past history, there are probably Las Vegas odds that he will succumb to Evel Knievel’s death wish of living to an appropriately old age, and finally being shot in bed by somebody’s outraged husband, or a current wife.

    Four years from now the economy could still be in as bad shape as it is today, and even a Republican incumbent could lose. So a significant but under reported aspect of this election cycle is that the theocrats have apparently been quite content to just let the current class of imbeciles have their day in the sun. It’s almost as if this election is just part of their wedge strategy, and serves them well just by making it acceptable for a candidate to hold irrational views about science and proclaim their religious viewpoints as openly as Tebow.

    The strategy of the theocrats seems to be just waiting and patiently grooming their preferred heavy weight candidates for the 2016 election. Former Senator and now Governor Brownback comes immediately to mind as having been building the correct resume for many years. There must be others also biding their time.

  3. Sorry for the delay, Ceteris Paribus, but your post included the word “Vegas,” and a newspaper from that town likes to sue bloggers, so I screen for that.

  4. It’s almost as if this election is just part of their wedge strategy, and serves them well just by making it acceptable for a candidate to hold irrational views…

    OR it could be that “theocrats” are much fewer in number than you think and don’t have anything like the power you think they have. I think that makes a lot more sense than a sekrit plan to elect rational people now to legitimize craziness, in some mysteriously unstated way, later.

  5. @ceteris parabis: I don’t think you’ve spent much time listening to what conservatives have to say for themselves and to each other. Romney is what they call “the Establishment candidate”, the candidate chosen by longtime party insiders, people like Bob Dole or John McCain who are not conservative expect in the fanatasies of leftists. The conservative base wants a conservative, not a moderate. Hence they go for anybody who this week seems the least like Romney. Gingrich is a long term Washington insider, but he fell afoul of the Establishment long ago, and neither he nor the Establishment have much love for each other. And he pushes back against contentious moderator questions, so he’s the flavor of non-Romney they like this week.

    So, no I don’t think the theocrats have a sekrit plan to sneak into power on the coattails of a moderate Mormon.

  6. In an earlier interview for Discover Magazine ( ), Newt said that if he had another choice of a career , it would have been as a naturalist in the mode of E. O. Wilson. He had somewhat acceptable comments on evolution, etc., but questioned the Dover decision as being from an unelected judge, etc.

    BUT, recent statements ( ) made during this campaign, shows he can play his statements for the crowd that do not always agree with his earlier statements – as is the case with all these candidates.

  7. vhutchison says: “he can play his statements for the crowd that do not always agree with his earlier statements”

    I assume the earlier statements represent Newt’s true thinking, so I discount what is said during the campaign — unless it’s in the form of a serious pledge. But we really won’t know what to expect with any of these guys.

  8. The key to beating Obama in the general election will be to win the independent voters. The more Newt and Mitt pander to the far right during the nomination process, the more they will alienate those independents (and provide sound-bites for the Obama campaign in the process).

    The part of this campaign that I find the strangest so far is the brouhaha over Mitt’s wealth. Mitt broke no laws or regulations, as far as I know, made his fortune himself, but is being painted in a negative way by his opponents. Furthermore, Mitt himself seems embarrassed by the fact that he pays only 15% taxes on his investment income, (the long term capital gains rate), yet lower capital gains rates are a centerpiece of republican tax policy and Newt himself was instrumental in lowering the capital gains rates while he was Speaker in 1997. I’m a registered independent, well to the left of the average South Carolina primary voter, yet even I do not see anything wrong with Mitt’s wealth or how he earned it. It’s very strange that republican’s would find that to be an issue.

    Also, does anyone else think it’s strange that a politician who was forced to pay a $300,000 fine for ethics violations (based on an almost unanimous vote in the house), who resigned his seat one day after being elected to his next term (turning his back on his party and all those who voted for him), and has loads and loads of other baggage can potentially win the GOP nomination? He obviously thinks he’s electable, but I have to believe that the Democrats will be dancing in the streets if Newt is nominated.

  9. Ed says:

    Furthermore, Mitt himself seems embarrassed by the fact that he pays only 15% taxes on his investment income, (the long term capital gains rate), yet lower capital gains rates are a centerpiece of republican tax policy …

    I think that’s also the tax rate for dividends, which is probably what Romney is talking about. I doubt that he’s had much in the way of capital gains lately.

  10. Neither is a complete lock like Huntsman would’ve been, but for sure these two are better than the other alternatives.

    My own take on them: Romney, being a windsock, would only support creationist legislation if there were a majority or legislatively important minority of creationists in Congress. There aren’t. And there’s not likely to be. So he’s relatively safe on the issue. Gingrich is a political insider who’s going throw just enough of a bone to the religious right to get their vote, then completely ignore this issue – sort of like Bush did. There’s an outside change he might ‘get religion’ since he has done so on abortion (due to his wife maybe?), but I think if that was going to happen with creationism, we’d have seen signs of it already.

    Hard to say which is ‘safer’ on pro-science. They’re close. I guess I give the edge to Mitt because he’s more likely to value government funding institutions such as NSF and NIH. I could easly see Gingrich making much deeper cuts (than Romney), not out of any animosity towards science but because he is likely to make more severe spending cuts in general.

  11. Curmudgeon: “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.”

    That is why this issue is to me far from the “minor issue” that most people think it is, and that I did too in the past. If anything you give anti-evolution candidates too much credit by calling them “crazy.” Santorum and Perry are in fact in on the scam. They know that scientists ought not to be second-guessed on the explanations that their careers depend on. They know that the science community has more checks-and-balances than the govt., and that misleading results can cost careers, while “dethroning Darwin” is every evolutionary biologists dream, and that only the evidence prevents them from achieving it. But instead those candidates chose to reinforce public perception that there’s a scientific “conspiracy.” Oh, they won’t dare admit it in those words, but their actions leave no doubt. As you note, deliberately undermining science like that has much more immediate and ominous consequences than producing a theocracy.

  12. Ceteris Paribus

    @Gabriel Hanna: My frame of reference wasn’t defined in that post. But in simple terms, I wouldn’t waste my time on political conspiracy gossipers such as ‘truthers’ or ‘birthers’, while there is little doubt in my mind that fundamentalist Christians do seek to establish a theocratic form of government in the US.

    Their path of least resistance is the current Republican Party which, rather tragically, is now more accurately described as a marketing label for the short term purpose of wining an election than as a venue for interested citizens to contribute to the maintenance of a free society.

    Evidence of this change is not hard to find, and it is a puzzle to me that otherwise rational conservatives have taken so little notice of the evolution of the Republican party from one of philosophy to one of dogma. A notable example of one who did notice and speak out is writer Christopher Buckley, formerly with the conservative magazine National Review founded by his father William F Buckley, Jr. Others include David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and former fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

    My mention of the ‘wedge strategy’ in the post about the presidential election was in the context that fundamentalists see much more at stake than who or which party wins a single election, and the theocrats are willing to make merely incremental advances that change never the less change our culture.

    So what the Republican party does by giving a safe platform to the theocrats, is to damage rational political discourse just as surely as ‘teach the controversy’ provides a safe platform for creationists to damage rational science education in our schools.

  13. comradebillyboy

    Both Mitt and Newt seem committed to starting a new war in the middle east that would severely damage the US and world economy, so that may be a more important factor to me than their views on creationism or the economy.

  14. Ceteris Paribus

    @ cormadebillyboy:

    Not to worry. Just replace Mitt’s and Newt’s uses of the word “Israel” with “Holy Land”, as it would be understood by their intended target audiences. Then it is easy to see that Newt and Mitt aren’t really trying to pick up the votes of a couple million Jewish voters.

    Many of those voters would be sufficiently secular and/or liberal to recognize and despise the intransigence of Israeli government toward peace; or don’t normally vote Republican regardless of candidate; and in any case are not a large enough block to significantly swing electoral votes, except perhaps in Florida.

    What the candidates want is the votes of the many million more true believer fundies, all of which, with differing eschatological details, connect the Holy Land with the return of Jesus and the end times they all so dearly desire.

    You can safely go back to just worrying about Newt’s and Mitt’s statements, or lack of them, on creationism and the economy.

  15. comradebillyboy

    Ceteris Paribus, I am still disturbed by the saber rattling. I agree with you on who the audience for this war mongering is, and you identified them perfectly. They are, however, an important party constituency. I hope the folks who will suffer massive financial losses as a result of a misguided (IMHO) mid-east war will have more influence with President Newt or President Mitt.

  16. “Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (your Curmudgeon isn’t thrilled with either)”

    I’m thrilled about Gingrich. Like you said he’s not a science denier. He is more conservative than Romney. And unlike Romney, Gingrich is not boring.

    Virtually all Republican politicians suck up to Christian theocrats. That’s unfortunate but I’m willing to live with this problem if the politician is intelligent, has good ideas, and is not too crazy. For me Gingrich passes the test. I already voted for him (with an absentee ballot) for the Florida primary.