Is Barack Obama a Creationist?

One of the typical creationist arguments against Darwin’s theory of evolution is to raise the specter of what they call “social Darwinism,” a term that is as unconnected to biology as “social plate tectonics” is to geology or “social quantum mechanics” to physics.

For some of our earlier posts about that peculiar insult, see: Banquet at Delmonico’s — Spencer and Social Darwinism, about the term’s beginnings, and also Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, and also WorldNetDaily: Diabolical Darwin, and also Discovery Institute: Breivik a “Social Darwinist”.

At this point you clearly understand that although “social Darwinism” has nothing to do with Darwin, it’s nevertheless a sneering term that’s frequently employed by creationists in their never-ending crusade to blame Darwin for all the world’s problems. The slur of “social Darwinism” is both nonsensical and squalid — which is why it’s such a favorite of creationists.

Speaking of creationists, that brings us to a recent statement by President Obama. The news was everywhere, but we’ll use this article in the Calgary Herald in Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta. Their headline is Barack Obama attacks Republican ‘social Darwinism’. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

U.S. President Barack Obama steps up his re-election campaign Tuesday by accusing Republicans of pursuing an economic policy akin to ruthless “social Darwinism” that is a prescription for decline.

In our experience, only creationists use insults like that. Here’s more:

On the day Mitt Romney, his likely rival in November, is expected to march closer to the Republican nomination, Obama was set to unleash a searing critique of what he sees as the “radical” fiscal philosophy of congressional conservatives.

What this tells us is that Obama sees fiscal conservatives as “Darwinists,” and he sees his own policies of ever-expanding government as the opposite — which we all know is creationism. This isn’t the first time your Curmudgeon has commented on the apparent relationship of free-enterprise and evolution (see Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama), but it’s the first time the President has confirmed our thinking.

The news story continues:

“Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism,” according to Obama’s prepared remarks for a luncheon sponsored by the Associated Press.

Quite an insult! Let’s read on:

The budget, framed by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, an Obama rival and intellectual engine of the Republican Party, effectively sketched the fiscal battleground ahead of the November 6 election.


Republicans say the approach will spur growth, create jobs, cut the deficit, secure health care for future generations of retired Americans and put the U.S. economy on a sustainable fiscal course.

But Obama argues that the plan will punish the middle class and further enrich the wealthy, a message around which he is building his campaign for a second White House term.

There’s much more in the article, but that’s enough to make our point. In case you somehow missed that point, it’s this: Obama is using the same terminology that creationists use. He’s accusing Republicans of being — gasp! — Darwinists.

We can’t help but conclude that Obama sees himself more than a community organizer — whatever that really is. Now he thinks he’s the intelligent designer of America’s economy.

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

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

22 responses to “Is Barack Obama a Creationist?

  1. To paraphrase Milton Friedman, we’re all “creationists” now. IMHO, the word has been used so many ways as to be at best useless, and at worst counterproductive. Case in point, a fellow Talk.Origins regular, whom any anti-evolution activist would call a “flaming Darwinist” called himself a “creationist” because he happens to think God is the ultimate cause. Since I do too (though possibly with greater uncertainty) then technically, so am I. People on the street who haven’t given 5 minutes’ thought to evolution, and who might be “Darwinists” if they did, get called “creationists.” Career anti-evolution activists who accept 4 billion years of common descent, get called “creationists,” as do young-earth Biblical literalists who want no part of the ID scam. ID peddlers especially love it when we call them “creationists,” because it allows them more opportunity to bait-and-switch definitions, and fool fence-sitters who lack the time and interest to see the games they’re playing.

  2. As to whether Obama would endorse the “academic freedom” scam, I fairly sure that would if he thought it would not cost him votes.

  3. Yeah, its pretty clear Obama is intentionally using a rhetorically charged term to paint conservative policies in a bad light. Social darwinism sounds so much more evil than terms like privatization and deregulation.

    And its really annoying to see him use the public’s antipathy towards evolution to try and score points. It would be like seeing Mitt make an off-hand pro-birther comment. You know he doesn’t mean it, but it disgusts you nevertheless.

    But…I don’t think this makes him a creationist. It makes him a politician. When it comes to manipulation of people’s emotions, he’s no better than the rest – but on this point he’s not really any worse, either.

  4. aturingtest

    SC: “Obama is using the same terminology that creationists use. He’s accusing Republicans of being — gasp! — Darwinists.”
    He’s using the same words – he’s not using the same terminology in the sense of “the same context.” I certainly don’t see how a fair reading of his remarks can lead to the conclusion that he’s “accusing Republicans of being Darwinists.”
    This is real quick on my part- I’ve got to go pick up my wife from work now- but, just on a quick reading, I think you’re reaching here. There’s certainly nothing I can see to justify a question- or an implication- that Obama is a creationist. I know you disagree with him on political/economic grounds, some of which disagreement I get- but I think you need something more to lean on than this thin reed.

  5. aturingtest says: “I think you need something more to lean on than this thin reed.”

    I’ll take what I can get. He talks like a Discoveroid. That’s good enough.

  6. retiredsciguy


    “Now he [Obama} thinks he’s the intelligent designer of America’s economy.”

    Hey! That’s good! Also, since he has such disdain for “Social Darwinists”, one could say he’s a “Social Creationist”. Or, since he’s so much into “community”, being a “community organizer” and all, would it be fair to say he’s a “communist”?

    Obama, ya gotta be careful when you start throwing loaded words around.

  7. I would like to point out that Social Darwinism was and is a perversion of Darwinian thought. Darwin himself did not support the twisted ideas of Herbert Spencer who was one of the founders of Social Darwinism. Nineteenth century Europe was extremely racist, but the Darwin family had been for many years abolitionists. Rather than Obama being critical of Darwin or being a creationist, he is in fact referring to the perversion of Darwin’s ideas as applied to social or psychological situations. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” and it is used in numerous situations, some social Darwinist, and some biological. The strict biological use of the phrase refers to fittest as those who leave more offspring, period. There is no value judgment attached. The social Darwinist use gave 19th century Europeans the justification to go around the world and subjugate peoples of color and exploit them.

  8. My guess is that the occasional Discoveroid that reads this blog is feeling insulted just about now…

    Obama’s social darwinism comment is a bit inscrutable, but I think he meant that in his view the Republican vision for the country is akin to survival of the fittest. That’s only partly accurate, but perhaps his speechwriter chose the words for dramatic effect. He was speaking in the context of criticizing the “trickle-down” economics in the budget, and I think the survival of the fittest related to the fact that the Republicans direct all of the budget advantages (lower taxes, primarily) to the economically fittest, while the costs (reduced support for education, infrastructure, etc) are borne by the less economically fit. That “vision”, at least in Obama’s mind, is a dystopian future.

    On the other hand, Republicans believe Obama is trying to create a welfare state, or some sort of European socialism, which is even crazier.

    If the two sides would listen to each other instead of throwing around wild labels, perhaps a workable, centrist path could be developed to promote economic growth AND improve Americans’ quality of life. What a novel idea.

  9. Bob Carroll

    Very funny, SC. As I’m sure you know, the Social Darwinists that Obama referred to were the “robber barons” in America during the 1890s and after, such as Astor, Carnegie, Fisk and Gould. They took the idea of survival of the fittest to apply to themselves. Their self-justification for the rapacity with which they accumulated vast wealth was that nature demanded such behavior, and indeed, society benefited from it.
    Mitt Romney, as the leader of the Bain corporate raiders, acquired vast wealth in a similar manner. Obama is thoughtfully tagging him with the same label, Social Darwinist, which the erstwhile robber barons accepted. The Republican party seems bent on following in the path of these 19th century moguls, with the Ryan budget as their main weapon.

  10. @Rubble: Methinks you’re missing an “href” tag for your hyperlink.

  11. Rubble says: “methinks you are conveniently inconsistent.”

    I thought I was diabolically opportunistic.

  12. Social Darwinists of the “robber baron” type seemed to believe that the struggle for life and the “survival of the fittest” were divine or transcendental law. John Rockefeller ascribed his success to the grace of God. Few accepted evolution by natural selection, but all valued struggle and competition. Darwinian materialism and “man from ape” discourse was similarly rejected by early to mid 20th century academic liberals. These often preferred metaphysical progressivism. Socialist historian Richard Hofstadter in his 1944 classic “Social Darwinism in American Thought” popularized the term “Social Darwinism” while deceptively linking the name of Darwin to the self-serving Spencerian viewpoint of gilded-age mega-capitalists, seemingly with the purpose of vilifying both.

  13. It’s simpler than that. It was a way to indirectly, with (semi-)plausible deniability, associate Ryan with Nazism and racism.

  14. Gabriel Hanna

    Yeah, the Ryan budget that increases spending every year from what it is now, is so horrifically social Darwinist. Don’t we all remember the “red in tooth and claw” conditions that prevailed in the Clinton administration, when the Federal budget was half of what it is today?

    I think that, in decency, supporters of the President need to tone down this criticism a bit. The shrill insistence that any sort of slowing in the gorwoth of federal expenditures is equivalent to throwing old people in the snow and “social Darwinism” and Gilded Age robber barons isn’t going to convince anyone who can add.

  15. At some point, we will choose to cut the growth in spending, or it will be cut for us when we are no longer able to meet additional interest payments with tax revenues. Calling people who recognize this–people who know what “exponential growth” means, people who can add–“social Darwinists” and accusing them of wanting to bring back robber barons is not adult behavior. Raising taxes isn’t going to do it. Spending grows faster than the economy. If you can add, you know that. If you can’t you waste time with “millionaire taxes” that will only raise a few day’s spending.

    The President has not even had a budget passed by the Senate–controlled by his own party–in three years. His last one garned not one vote in the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader, one Harry Reid (D-Nevada), has vowed that it will not pass a budget. This is not even the pretence of fiscal responsibility.

    “But Bush—” Yeah, we all heard it. Obama and the Democratic Senate blown Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility record right out of the water–the same Democratic Senate Bush had now that I think of it–and Bush isn’t running for President. You care about fiscal responsibility, you don;t like Ryan’s budget? Then get behind a Democrat’s adult plan to cut spending–if such a plan is ever proposed.

  16. “only creationists use insults like [‘social Darwinism’]”

    Not true. As others have pointed out, the term goes back decades, and it has nothing to do with actual evolutionary theory.

    Educated people understand what “social Darwinism” refers to. I’m not surprised to learn the Disco Toot folks use the term and conflate it with actual ET; they’re dishonest buffoons and the rubes they aim their propaganda at aren’t very smart. But I don’t agree that Obama using the phrase signals anything beyond the fact that he’s calling out brutal Rethug fiscal policies.

  17. Gabriel Hanna: “Calling people who recognize this–people who know what “exponential growth”…”

    I often think that one of the reasons that anti-evolution and anti-free-market arguments sell is because people tend to think of growth as linear – “not enough time for “RM + NS” to do that”, or “a little more govt. spending won’t hurt.”

  18. There are many quotes attributable to Jefferson that cannot be found in his writings, [e.g. democracy will cease to exist….] but I believe this one is accurate:

    “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

    Neither Darwinist nor creationist – just some common sense.

  19. SC: “I thought I was diabolically opportunistic.”

  20. … (snickers) …

  21. techreseller

    Not an OBama fan. I think you are off base here.