Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Need evidence that the United States is in dire straits? How about the following words coming from a presidential candidate: "want a president who doesn't believe in God, there's probably plenty of choices. But if I'm selected as president of this country, they'll have one who believes in those words that God did create." "If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it." When asked whether he believed that the world was created in six days, the candidate in question (Mike Huckabee) said "I don't know ... Whether God did it in six days or whether he did it in six days that represented periods of time, he did it. And that's what's important." Huckabee thought the questions about evolution were unfair: "It's interesting that that question would even be asked of somebody running for president. I'm not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth-grade science book. I'm asking for the opportunity to be president of the United States." So what is he saying? Do we require more of those who write textbooks than our presidents? Given the last few presidents, it might be a good idea to have more qualified people writing textbooks. It would also be nice, however, to have a president who recognizes a few of the scientific accomplishments of the last two centuries. Why is denying evolution any different than denying the existence of the holocaust? Whatever its guise, the willful denial of historical fact is dangerous. Huckabee is unlikely to come close to winning the Republican nomination, but he was elected Governor (albeit of Arkansas). Any candidate who espouses such positions on evolution is either stupid beyond belief, or cynically capitalizing on the stupidity, narrow mindedness, and ignorance of others. Those who allow the impression that they don't disagree to circulate aren't any better, and regardless of how much time they spent as a prisoner of war, they aren't demonstrating courage.
Much in life falls into the grey zone, but not everything. The mechanics of evolution aren't completely clear, and neither is its ultimate starting point. Its existence, however, is beyond question. It is also beyond question that the world was not created in six days. There is much in this world to be unsure about, but this isn't an example. Anyone who denies it simply isn't looking at scientific fact, and they aren't applying reason, which brings us to the fundamental problem here and for America. The denial of reason has become frighteningly popular. On a whole group of issues Americans are saying something to the effect of: "This is what I believe, I don't give a damn about evidence or other arguments, I know I'm right." This is what our President and/or his advisers have done for the better (or worse) part of two terms. This is a position that it is impossible to argue with and yet impossible to ignore. Anyone who doesn't agree with this approach that doesn't value evidence, debate, or analysis should be very afraid for themselves and for their country.

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