Is Scott Walker a Creationist?

This is the time when we need to take a look at the potential candidates for US President, to see which ones are creationists and which ones are — shall we say — reasonably sane in that regard. We’ve already written about a few of them during the last Presidential election cycle. We’ll get around to them again if they become credible candidates this time.

The first of the serious Republican contenders to pop up in the news regarding this question is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. According to this article from CBS News, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dodges question on evolution, he’d rather not talk about it. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Walker, a Republican who’s mulling a presidential bid in 2016 and has seen his stock rise in recent weeks, was traveling in London as part of a trade mission to promote business ties between his state and the United Kingdom. The sole public event during his foreign foray was a speech at the Chatham House in London. During a question-and-answer session after his speech, Walker was asked whether he’s comfortable with the idea of evolution by natural selection and whether he believes in it personally.

Okay, what did he say? Here it comes:

“I’m going to punt on that one as well,” Walker replied. “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.”

In a sense, that’s true. We don’t want politicians interfering in scientific matters. On the other hand, with so much government-financed research, much of it defense related, the attitude of a President about science will inevitably come up. Consider what history might have been if Roosevelt had refused to support the Manhattan Project because he thought science was a bunch of godless nonsense. Obviously, how a President thinks about science is important. Let’s read on:

Because education policymaking is done primarily at the state level, a number of governors have weighed in on the issue, and several state legislatures have debated bills that would permit public schools to teach alternative theories like intelligent design, which holds that life was created by some kind of higher power.

Yes, but since we started blogging in 2008, there hasn’t been any state-wide creationism issue in Wisconsin, so Walker has been able to stay out of the controversy. The CBS News story continues:

Walker signaled Wednesday that he’s not exactly leaping to opine on the issue, perhaps mindful that a definitive answer could put him at odds with either swing voters or a segment of conservative voters.

That may be the smart way to play it, in terms of party primary politics, but still, we need to know how he thinks. Is he pro-science, or is he a science-denier? More broadly, does he decide issues based on evidence, or in some non-rational way? It’s fine if a candidate has strong principles, but they have to be based in reality, not ideology. One last excerpt:

Walker later added on Twitter, “Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand.”

Science indicates that we’re created by God? We’ll be generous and consider that to be an empty platitude. For the moment, Walker is an enigma. But he can’t keep dodging the issue. We’ll be watching.

Update: Scott Walker Is a Creationist.

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21 responses to “Is Scott Walker a Creationist?

  1. Scott Walker — standing up for his right to waffle and waver.

  2. Of course he can keep dodging the issue. H’s a politician, isn’t he?

    And a conservative Republican one at that, which these days means coming out openly in support of evolution would destroy his rumored run for the White House before it starts.

  3. Scott Walker won’t declare his belief about creationism, but he has clearly come out as an anti-intellectual. His administration’s draft of the state budget deleted the “Wisconsin Idea”–that the University system should serve all citizens of the state.

    As Alia Wong, writing for the Atlantic, put it,

    “Walker proposed to rewrite the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement. He apparently wanted to strip out its frills (stuff like ‘extended training,’ ‘public service,’ improving ‘the human condition,’ and ‘the search for truth’) and inject it with a more practical goal: meeting ‘the state’s workforce needs.'”

    He tried to claim the deletions were “a drafting error” that nobody important had noticed, until someone caught him in the lie: a University representative had objected vigorously to the deletions. From the perspective of this blog, it looks especially bad that his administration wanted to take away “the search for truth” from the University mission.

    In a letter to our local paper, I propose bestowing on Walker the nickname “The Wisconsin Goliath.” He’s the biggest philistine in the state.

  4. Damn, SC. Autocorrect must have intervened in one of my typos. “Administrated” should be “administration.”

    [*Voice from above*] As it should be, so it is.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    His tweet clarification puts him in the mushy-middle of americans … basically people afraid to say the bible is wrong. I accept that. And it is a no-win question, so I accept his answer. But I don’t like him or trust him based on his record of bad behavior, Retired Prof is only giving one recent example.

  6. From an AP story:
    Walker, an evangelical Christian and the 47-year-old son of a Baptist preacher, also declined to answer a series of questions about foreign policy, including how the West should combat the Islamic State group, whether the U.S. should arm forces in Ukraine and whether it’s wise for Great Britain to remain in the European Union.

    Yes, Scott Walker does not ‘believe’ in evolution. He’s in a category with Bobby Jindal.

  7. ” I believe faith and science are compatible, and go hand in hand”
    There is your sign!

  8. Republican primaries — admit that you accept evolution, you can’t get nominated.

    Win the Republican nomination by supporting creationism, you can’t get elected in November.

    Looks like Hillary is a shoo-in.

  9. Scott Walker has NO beliefs other than “Governor Scott Walker” or “President Scott Walker.”

    As a Republican politician he will say anything, do anything, lie to any degree and pander to any extent for a vote.

    Scott Walker is simply an unprincipled politician of our times. Not worth a bucket of spit, unless he gives you a $100,000 contract for providing buckets of spit.

  10. I think retiredsciguy has just described exactly how it will go down…

  11. “still, we need to know how he thinks. Is he pro-science, or is he a science-denier?”
    Why? Last time I asked you’d rather vote for a creationist than for a Democrat.

  12. All other things being equal, that’s right, mnb0. If presented with such a nightmare choice, the creationist would be the lesser of two evils. I upset everyone when I explained my thinking in detail here: Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber?

  13. Hillary is closer to the center than Obama, and her campaign would have no problem positioning her closer to the center than any potential Republican candidate other than Jeb Bush. You can bet her people are out there now doing all they can to paint Jeb to look like his brother. He’s the one Republican that the Democrats don’t want to see running, but he’s the one Republican that would have the toughest time getting through the primaries.

    It’s going to be interesting.

  14. Oh — and Happy Darwin Day, everyone! And Happy Lincoln’s Birthday, as well.

  15. Tripp in Georgia

    The best part was the response of the interviewer who said something to the effect: “What? Any British politician would laugh-off the question and say ‘Of course evolution is a fact!’!” …wish we had more of that candor and appreciation of science (i.e., reality) in U.S. politics.

  16. The Fox news show just finished with a roundtable discussion of the Walker-evolution story. Among the panelists were Charles Krauthammer and George Will — two Fox regulars who have no patience for creationism. It seemed to me that they thought Walker should have said “yes” to the evolution question. None of them think it’s an issue.

  17. SC: “It seemed to me that they thought Walker should have said ‘yes’ to the evolution question.”

    All they need to say is “I have no reason to question those who know the science much better than I do, and who have the most to lose by being wrong. As I understand it, 99+% of scientists in relevant fields agree that evolution is true and that creationism and intelligent design are nonsense.”

    Of course, if, like most politicians of both parties, they’re “salesmen first,” and don’t want to risk losing votes of the clueless and/or compartmentalized, they can just skip the part about creationism and intelligent design. And if they need to drag in the God question, even though it’s 100% irrelevant to evolution, they can just acknowledge that ~half of those evolution-accepting scientists believe in God too. They can also note that most major religions accept evolution. Committed Biblical literalists may not like it, but many will still vote for them, if reluctantly. Radical fundamentalist candidates (pres if not VP) were weeded out early in the 08 and 12 primaries. I bet that would be earlier still if the candidates are asked plenty of hard questions about evolution.

  18. Walker has been groomed for a Presidential run since his days as Milwaukee County Executive, possibly before. Someone who knew about such things tipped me Walker would be one to watch because of the very serious money that was backing him (they were right).
    The only thing that (politically) bothers me more than the possibility of a President Walker completely owned by his wealthy patron, is the likelihood that all the other candidates owe similar allegiance.

  19. @FrankJ: Nice answer for a politician to give about evolution.