Paul Ryan and Creationism

Four years ago, when John McCain had just named Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate, we rushed to be among the first to post about her views of interest to this blog. Within an hour or two of McCain’s announcement we posted Sarah Palin: Creationist? Because of the speed of that post, a Google search for “Sarah Palin” and “creationist” — which generates more than 130,000 hits — still ranks us high on the second page.

Naturally, we’ve been interested in Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his Vice President. Of all the names that had been mentioned which Romney might have chosen, the most prominent (Jindal, Pawlenty, and Rubio) have severe problems with science and with church-state relationships — but not Ryan. Unlike some of the others, Ryan has never (at least that we can find) uttered a single word favorable to creationism. And he’s not one of those theocrats attempting to blur the separation of church and state.

We’ve done a lot of searching on Ryan. He’s Catholic — staunchly so. He’s opposed to abortion and he favors only the traditional family. Personally, we could support someone less doctrinaire on those issues, but they shouldn’t be matters of federal concern. Besides, there are other issues of far greater importance — national security and the economy. So although Ryan isn’t our intellectual and political ideal (no one ever is) we can overlook those other issues — at least for now. These are precarious times, and one must have his priorities in order.

What’s more interesting to us is that Ryan has often expressed his admiration for the writings of Ayn Rand. See What did Ayn Rand teach Paul Ryan about monetary policy?, which says:

In 2005, Paul Ryan explained that he often looks to Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” as inspiration for his views on monetary policy. “I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech, at Bill Taggart’s wedding, on money when I think about monetary policy,” he said in a speech to the Atlas Society.

He’s walked back some of his enthusiasm for Rand lately, but politics can account for that. Deep down, we think Ryan is okay, and that means Romney probably is too.

We know that many of you — perhaps most of you — don’t agree with your Curmudgeon’s political views. Nevertheless, we mention them from time to time, and in our amazingly magnanimous benevolence we tolerate your opposition.

You’ve probably been wanting to discuss politics lately, and this is your chance. Go ahead, say what you will. But keep it civil.

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

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45 responses to “Paul Ryan and Creationism

  1. Jeffrey Shallit

    Sure he’s ok – if you disregard little things like getting hecklers arrested at his ralles, and lying about whether he wrote a letter to try to get Obama stimulus money for his district.

  2. But is he a Young Earth Creationist???

  3. Paul Bruggink

    Bill Clinton got hecklers arrested (in Chicago, on two separate occasions), and you’d probably be hard-pressed to find a Congressperson who didn’t try to get some stimulus money for their district. I’m with the commentator who pointed out that Romney has a long history of picking the best possible people to work for/with him.

  4. Ryan doesn’t take global warming very seriously – he buys into the bogus e-mail scandal of a few years ago, for example, and seems to think it’s still a debate. In that sense he either doesn’t understand the science or just doesn’t believe the scientists themselves, and I think it is the latter.

    He’s a better communicator than most, though. This is his op-ed in which he discusses his views on climate related regulation:

  5. Paul Bruggink , the issue isn’t that he requested the funds, it’s that he’s made a point of publically claiming that he did not request the funds, and claiming that the stimulus did not create jobs. I understand there’s some room for nuance there (it can be argued that the stimulus didn’t create long-term, permanent work), but it’s still decently disingenuous.

  6. Lewis Thomasonn

    We your humble minions thank you for your “amazingly magnanimous benevolence”. Personally I think the guy is a jerk which is what makes him a politician.

  7. Paul Bruggink

    Jim, I’m glad to hear that Paul Ryan didn’t request stimulus funds. I like him even more now. I have always believed that the stimulus bill had very little to do with creating permanent jobs, and a lot to do with protecting the existing jobs and pensions of people likely to vote for Obama in 2012 plus endearing Obama with the alternative energy crowd..

  8. Lewis Thomasonn says: “We your humble minions thank you”

    It’s unseemly to grovel.

  9. Secretly I was rooting for Romney to chose Bobby Jindal- think of the fun you could have had with him and his flaming creationism

  10. @ Erik. Good point. Jindal still has a chance as Education Secretary under Romney. Can you imagine that? From the State with the worst education record? My irony meter is beginning to twitch.

  11. Erik John Bertel says: “Secretly I was rooting for Romney to chose Bobby Jindal- think of the fun you could have had”

    I suspect you were really rooting for Romney to drop a piano on my head from the top of a tall building.

  12. Paul, he did request (and got) stimulus funds from the Obama administration for his district. Those letters he wrote said the money would help create jobs in his district. But he also argued in public that he was against stimulus funding.

    Now, either one of those positions would be fine. Whether a politician believes the stimulus funding was a net good or a net bad is probably not going to be anyone’s key, vote-deciding issue. But objecting to the stimulus in public while you funnel stimulus funds to your district does not reflect well on a candidate, no matter which position is his ‘real’ one.

    Putting all that aside as pretty typical politician hypocrsy, SC I very much appreciate you looking into his attitudes towards science. That’s what keeps me coming back. 🙂

  13. Just wish there could be more specifics. If you want to repeal “Obamacare” or balance the budget or get tough on China that’s all fine. Just tell us how you plan to do that.

  14. eric – and, more to the point, he recently said that he didn’t request the funds, so either he misspoke, which is bad, he forgot, which is worse, or he’s just plain lying which is . . . well, expected from a politician but still bad.

  15. I like him. Perhaps he can inspire the GOP to drop some of the doomsday BS.

  16. Somewhat related, I found this on his positions on education (if the page doesn’t take you right to it, “Education” is about 20% down the list; just after Drugs).

    It doesn’t mention evolution per se, but does say he has voted in support of school prayer in 2001, and voted against allowing courts to decide whether ‘under God’ could appear in the pledge. So he seems to be on the wrong side of the issues when it come to keeping public education secular. Again, this has little to do with evolution per se, but its related to SC’s banner – one does not conserve enlightenment values by making schoolkids say pledges to a specific religion’s God.

  17. It doesn’t mention evolution per se, but does say he has voted in support of school prayer in 2001, and voted against allowing courts to decide whether ‘under God’ could appear in the pledge…

    So he thinks judges don’t get to interpret the Constitution?

    How is this different from abolishing checks and balances between the three branches of government?

    If we’re going to defend the plain meaning of the Constitution, we’ll have to elect a good liberal.

    one does not conserve enlightenment values by making schoolkids say pledges to a specific religion’s God.

    You radical militant atheist, out to destroy Christianity! Remember– everyone who doesn’t want taxpayers to fund Christianity, wants to destroy Christianity.

  18. eric says: “he has voted in support of school prayer in 2001, and voted against allowing courts to decide whether ‘under God’ could appear in the pledge.”

    He’s far from perfect, but don’t forget Henny Youngman’s response when asked “How’s your wife?” He always came back with: “Compared to what?”

  19. This information inspired the best quote I’ve heard in a while.

    “The 2012 GOP ticket, Gordan Gecko and John Galt,”

  20. AlpsStranger

    The Republicans can’t be trusted with science. I understand your economic and political gripes, Curmudgeon, but I think you let these guys off far too lightly and seriously underestimate the damage they intend to do.

  21. AlpsStranger says: “The Republicans can’t be trusted with science.”

    Right. Science is safe with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Ried, Joe Biden, and of course Obama.

  22. Ceteris Paribus

    The outcome of this presidential election will have surprisingly little impact on the course of events.

    The US middle class will continue to be hollowed out as the next generation encounters career paths that are much less upwardly mobile than the career paths of their parent’s generation.

    The US military budget will continue to be larger than the next 17 or so nations combined, meaning the freeloaders under the US security umbrella can continue to invest a larger part of their budgets in infrastructure that enhances their productivity.

    What does matter in this presidential election is who gets to appoint the next openings on the US Supreme court. There is now already a defacto theocracy that prevents any but plausibly religious candidates running for office. We should all know by now that a change of just one justice would open the gate to fully legally recognized theocracy.

  23. Ceteris Paribus for the win.

  24. WebMonk: “But is he a Young Earth Creationist???”

    Almost certainly not. Think about this: Among the general public, which rarely gives 5 minutes thought to natural history, only ~20% say that they think the Earth is only 1000’s of years old when asked that specific question. Thus ~1/2 of those who think humans are only that old are OECs. You may remember that Sarah Palin said that she thought humans and dinosaurs coexisted – which consistent with several forms of OEC as well as YEC – but backpedaled from that. Unfortunately the backpedaling had more of an ID spin than a theistic evolution one. Translation: she probably learned that YEC and OEC have absolutely no evidence to back them up, but is politically sympathetic to anti-evolution movement in whatever form will sell. Like Santorum and Jindal, if not as activist.

    As for Ryan, considering that he’s Catholic and more an economic conservative than a “social authoritarian” (like Santorum), most likely he’s a theistic evolutionist. Sadly, I don’t expect much active support for science against the scam artists by politicians of either party.

  25. AlpsStranger

    @The Curmudgeon: I respect your opinion but remain concerned.

    I don’t want you to take anything I said as disrespect for you. I really enjoy this blog and check it regularly. Keep up the good work!

  26. AlpsStranger says: “I don’t want you to take anything I said as disrespect for you.”

    No problem. My only point is that both parties have an abundance of idiots. It’s always a matter of the lesser of two evils.

  27. I am very pleased to not find politics on this blog. Today is a disappointment.

  28. I agree there are idiots in both parties. But the fact is, if SCOTUS gets one more Antonin Scalia, you can expect taxpayer-funded creationism, prayers, the Bible and the 10 commandments in public schools and courthouses in 30 of the 50 states.

  29. Intelligent opinions, well expressed, are worth reading. I may not agree with our host politically, but I appreciate an honest conservative opinion.

    RWO: “I am very pleased to not find politics on this blog.”

    A quibble: This blog is nearly 100% politics; Intelligent Design is a political movement. We come here as science advocates to keep up with the latest machinations of the Discovery Institute and those who would have their religion taught in publicly funded schools. We are Conservatives and Liberals with a common cause in defending science, because science is under political attack. So bring on the politics, that’s what we’re here for.

    Oh yeah – Paul Ryan – I’m a Wisconsin Democrat and I don’t care for him. Like some others here, I don’t trust the Republican party as a guardian of science, or as an opponent of Theocracy.

  30. Why would you vote for a pair of cult members that are homophobic misogynistic, theocratic, plutocratic, war mongering “out for themselves” morons. Oh and they are so stupidly unscientific that they don’t understand global warming and want to drill baby drill.

  31. retiredsciguy

    Very interesting.
    All that fracking has an upside. Turns out we reached the Kyoto Protocol goal without really trying, all be market forces alone.

    The bad news is it’s just the US that has reduced carbon emissions to 1992 levels, and not China.

  32. Why would you vote for a pair of cult members that are homophobic misogynistic, theocratic, plutocratic, war mongering “out for themselves” morons. Oh and they are so stupidly unscientific that they don’t understand global warming and want to drill baby drill.

    If that described anyone who was actually running, perhaps it would be worthy of a response. I have a better question, though. Why would you bother to take seriously someone who can’t even punctuate a question properly?

  33. Very informative link, Tomato Addict. Although definitely not a big spender, it appears that Ryan isn’t anti-science (other than stem-cell research, where his Catholicism is in the way).

  34. Paul Ryan is a sponsor of the Let The Women Die bill, therefore, I do not want him a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

  35. What mind-boggles me about politicians of either party is that they almost never say the only reasonable thing when it comes to science (including that very inexact science of economics). Which is “Scientists (& economists) have the most to gain by having their results independently validated, and the most to lose by having them falsified. I do not pretend to know nearly as much as they do in their fields, so I defer to them, especially when there’s an overwhelming majority that is apparently forced by the data, not personal agenda, to a consensus conclustion, such as with evolution.”

    Granted, it’s much easier to cherry pick what economists say to pretend that it supports your agenda on the type and extent of Govt meddling. It’s much less so with “climate science,” and downright impossible with evolution. Besides, confusing “what scientists conclude” and “what Govt ought to do about it” is a basic fallacy. One that politicians commit constantly. Why do we vote for people who don’t – or pretend not to – understand such a basic concept?

    Embryonic stem cells is a special case. I don’t recall GWB’s exact words, but he seemed to admit that his objection was purely emotional, and that he did not question the science (later he also admitted that he had no reason to second-guess science on evolution either). So I respected that despite disagreeing. The science is pretty clear – it’s your DNA at conception, not birth. But it could be used to save lives if you make a “little” sacrifice. Of course the ethical aspect is as complicated as the science is clear-cut. When a politician confuses the science “debate” with the ethical debate, deliberately or innocently, he needs to be given one chance, and only one, to correct it.

  36. But an equally important question is: who’s going to support funding for science?

    In the life sciences now– those with the most relevance to human health and medicine– the rate of grant approval is 8%. Now think about that. That means that every scientist, to get any research funding, must write a 25 page grant proposal, and in the “Preliminary Results” section he or she must describe how he or she has done 2/3 of the research already necessary to achieve the research goal. After doing all that, the probability of getting a grant is 8%. So the average scientist must write such 12 grant applications on average before getting grant money. (And no, they can’t all be for the same project– for a given project, you’re only allowed to revise it twice.)

    Under an Obama presidency, would that 8% increase?

    Under a Paul Ryan presidency, would that 8% increase?

    (The above is not a typo.)

  37. @Diogenes:

    Both parties would nanomange the research to an effective 0% given the chance (scroll down to “Lionel Trillium”).

  38. @Frank J-
    I read the Lionel Trillium part, but it doesn’t give details on either party’s plans.

    Ryan is an Ayn Rand libertarian. Libertarians are against all government support for science research, or else they’re not libertarians. According to them, all science research should be privately funded.

    So in a Ryan vice presidency, the only scientific research in America will be studies on how there’s no AGW, how high-sulfur coal smog improves the environment, and how oil spills are good for tourism and the shrimp fishery.

    Plus, Ryan tried to outlaw in vitro fertilization. Which by the way, produced two of Romney’s grandsons. Romney’s two grandsons wouldn’t exists if Ryan’s values were imposed. He also supported the “Let Women Die” bill.

    So, I have to conclude Curmy is wrong: Ryan is not OK.

    But Curmy said that since Ryan is OK, that means Romney is OK. But if Ryan isn’t “OK”, doesn’t it follow that Romney is not OK, either?

    On top of that, Romney has clearly indicated that he will take America to war in exchange for Adelson’s money, perhaps $100 million. Another war will cost the taxpayers one, two, ~three trillion dollars and Romney will go to war in exchange for just $100 million?

    I don’t blame Romney for selling the blood of our fighting men and women. After all, he and Ryan believe in the free market– so everything’s for sale, including the blood of our fighting men and women. And your highest moral imperative, per Ayn Rand, is to do what’s in your own self-interest. So you can’t blame him for selling the blood of our fighting men and women– that’s just another commodity to them.

    You can’t blame people like Romney and Ryan for selling the American people, any more than you can blame epileptics for having a seizure. It’s what they hard-wired to do.

    But I do blame him for being a bad bargainer. If he and Ryan are going to sell the blood of our fighting men and women, and perhaps 1-3 trillion of our taxpayer dollars, he could sure as hell charge Adelson more than a piddling $100 million. That’s chicken feed. Romney and Ryan don’t know how to drive a bargain, they’ve been out-negotiated, and for people who have only their business acumen to boast of, that’s bad.

  39. Diogenes, I sense that you aren’t an enthusiastic supporter of Ryan.

  40. Ryan is a Republican and, therefore, forbidden to think for himself. Look at what happened to McCain who was ideologically castrated to become John McPander. How sad was that to watch. Ryan will espouse Pink Unicornism if told to.

  41. SC:

    He’s far from perfect, but don’t forget Henny Youngman’s response when asked “How’s your wife?” He always came back with: “Compared to what?”

    The current administration, of course. On the science issue (and this one alone, I’m not trying to drag in other politics), the Obama administration looks better to me than a potential Romney administration. I agree that both parties have idiots. However, as Tomato Addict’s article points out, the current administration plans for greater research support (compared to Ryan) in the future in multiple areas but most especially energy research. It does not blackball specific research subjects due to Obama’s (or Biden’s) religion (compared to Ryan), and it does not buy into the conspiracy theory opposition to global warming (compared to Ryan). In contrast, the GOP budgets have supported greater health research (compared to Obama) in for things like heart disease, (unspecified types of) cancer, and alzheimers. I.e. the leading health threats to older, middle+ class Americans. Its very good that they want to spend money fixing these problems, but its not exactly ethical health policy to oppose government funding of basic preventative medicine for all while spending lots on cures/mitigations of the health problems that affect you personally (and that’s taken directly from Tomato’s article).

  42. The Catholic church doesn’t take a stand on creationism. They accept the Old Testament as a historical document, not the literal truth.

  43. @Ed-

    Do you have a link about Ryan buying into the “climategate” e-mail non-scandal? Anyone who would call that a scandal will absolutely believe or say anything, anything, that makes scientists look bad. We should have a zero tolerance policy for those who buy into “climategate.”

  44. Something else in Ryan’s favor – he is not a Birther:

    Yes, this is an old thread, but I was passing by and just happened to have an appropriate link.