Creationism Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders
Posted in the Denver Forum
“Invisible Pink Unicorn”
Since: May 08
#1 Nov 20, 2012
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) raised eyebrows Monday when he told GQ he couldn't answer a question about the age of the earth because "I'm not a scientist, man."
Having a top prospect for the 2016 presidential nomination say the age of the planet is "one of the great mysteries" comes at an awkward time for a party attempting to rebuild from its Nov. 6 drubbing at the hands of voters turned off by the GOP's embrace of social conservatives. But Rubio is hardly alone among potential Republican presidential contenders. Other big names for 2016 have weighed in publicly at various times over the years to position themselves as supportive of creationism proponents.
To science education advocates, these public statements fall into two categories: craven political panders to the conservative base and expressions of actual doubt in basic scientific principles. Both are disconcerting, the advocates say, and whether or not a president stands up for science has a broader impact than the education battles where creationism most often comes up.
"It's important beyond whether somebody has a direct impact on evolution [education] because it's an indicator of the way they look at the world and who they accept as reliable guides and authorities on subjects," said Dr. Eric Meikle, an anthropologist and director of education at the National Center for Science Education. "It's very important in terms of that."
For the record, Mitt Romney actually accepted the science of evolution and opposed the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" theory in science classrooms when he was governor of Massachusetts. That puts him to the left of some of the men potentially vying to be his replacement on the ticket in four years.
A look at some big names in 2016 Republican presidential speculation and what they've said about evolution or creationism:
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ)
The oft-mentioned 2016 contender -- and self-described straight shooter -- has declined open up about his thoughts on evolution. "That's none of your business," Christie said in May 2011 when asked where he comes down on evolution versus creationism.
At a town hall a week earlier, Christie said that he believed the decision to teach creationism alongside evolution should be made at the local level. A week later, Christie clarified that this position was not an endorsement of teaching creationism. "That is not to say, as it was interpreted by some that I was advocating for the teaching of creationism," Christie said. "Folks never really have a hard time figuring out when I'm advocating for something."
The Wall Street Journal story at the time pointed out that Christie's non-answer on creationism is a departure from the governor's promise not to use an "escape hatch" on the issues:
For a politician who has built a national reputation for straight talk and not shying from a fight, Christie's demurral on creationism stands out. In the past, he has said people need not wonder where he stands on an issue.
"When you guys ask me questions, I'm going to answer them directly, straightly, bluntly, and nobody in New Jersey is going to have to wonder where I am on an issue," he said a year ago, adding: "I think they've had enough of politicians who make them wonder ... They make them wonder so they got an escape hatch. So they have an escape hatch. And I'm not interested in an escape hatch."
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