GOP prez candidates: We proudly don't know 8th grade science

From last night's debate:

FAHEY: (inaudible) do not believe in evolution. You're an ordained minister. What do you believe? Is it the story of creation, as it is reported in the Bible or described in the Bible?

[Governor] HUCKABEE [of Arkansas]: 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 8th-grade science book. I'm asking for the opportunity to be president of the United States.

Stop. Pastor Huckabee (to borrow McCain's phrase) thinks you need to be less knowledgeable to be president than to write an 8th grade science book? That's already pretty disturbing.

It's even more disturbing that he thinks the only people who need to have an informed opinion on the Biblical creation account are people who would be writing books for elementary school science classes. Most disturbingly, he seems to think that the Biblical creation account plays some role an elementary school science book.

If you want real horror, click through to see the rest of his answer, as well as Sam Brownback and John McCain's take.

Huckabee continues:

But you've raised the question, so let me answer it.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. To me, it's pretty simple. A person either believes that God created this process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own.

And the basic question was an unfair question, because it simply asked us in a simplistic manner whether or not we believed, in my view, whether there is a God or not.

Huckabee just declared that anyone who reads the Bible differently than he does is an atheist. I'm looking at you, Mitt Romney. Also all the Catholics out there. The actual atheists won't mind being called atheists, but I'd think that the theists might object.

Well, let me be very clear: I believe there is a God. I believe there's a God who was active in the creation process.

Now, how did he do it and when did he do it and how long did he take, I don't honestly know. And I don't think knowing that would make me a better or a worse president.

Let's presume that we are not focussing only on narrow theology here, but on questions like: how old is the earth?, how did the Grand Canyon form?, and other interesting topics. Only a few days ago, the Army included a major fossil bed in a map of areas they plan to use for bombing practice. If Huckabee thinks those fossils are just tricks the devil is playing on scientists, his response to decisions like that will be quite different than if he understands that those fossils and dinosaur tracks are millions of years old, and are irreplaceable parts of our heritage. His understanding of everything from endangered species policy to climate change and energy policy could well hinge on his take on these questions.

But I'll tell you what I can tell this country: If they 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.

What choices would America have?

And as the words of Martin Luther, here I stand. I can do no other. And I will not take that back.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Governor, but I think the specific question is, do you believe literally it was done in six days and it occurred 6,000 years ago?

HUCKABEE: No, I did answer that, Wolf. I said, I don't know.

My point is, I don't know. I wasn't there.

(LAUGHTER) But I believe, 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.

Let's put that in starker terms. Huckabee's response when asked about the details of his understanding of the situation is to throw up his hands in incurious confusion. I can't help but remember the debates over Iraq in 2002, where it seemed like whatever actual evidence anyone wanted to present about WMD in Iraq was countered with claims that Saddam Hussein was a bad man, and that's what was important. I'm not convinced it actually was that important. Details matter, and so does actual evidence.

I don't want a president who is so incurious that he would not care to consider the evidence and make up his own mind about whether the earth is 6,000 years old, or 4.5 billion years old. After all, if oil could form in 6,000 years, we ought to be able to just make some more. If it took millions of years, not so much.

But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don't know how far they will march that back.

I don't know what that means. March what back?

But I believe that all of us in this room are the unique creations of a god who knows us and loves us, and who created us for his own purpose.

This is the equivalent of kissing babies. It fails to actually tell us anything about what Huckabee thinks.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator Brownback, you recently elaborated on your position on this, and I wonder if you'd want to spend 30 seconds and tell our audience out there where you stand on the issue of evolution.

BROWNBACK: I'd be happy to.

And it's interesting that we're doing this here at St. Anselm's, who this -- that saint had a philosophy of faith seeking reason.

And that's the issue that's missing here, if I could highlight that point, is that I believe that we are created in the image of God for a particular purpose. And I believe that with all my heart.

And I'm somebody, I've had cancer in the past, I've had a season to really look at this and study it and think about the end of life. And I am fully convinced there's a god of the universe that loves us very much and was involved in the process.

How he did it, I don't know.

One of the problems we have with our society today is that we've put faith and science at odds with each other. They aren't at odds with each other. If they are, check your faith or check your science, and we should have a discussion.

As Brownback's op-ed revealed, his solution to any apparent conflict is to ignore the science. Other than that, his incurious stance on this issue says all that must be said.

BLITZER: Thank you.

BROWNBACK: And we should engage faith and reason like St. Anselm did.

BLITZER: Thank you.

BROWNBACK: That's something we should do.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator Brownback.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator McCain, do you believe creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools?

MCCAIN: No, I believe that that's up to the school districts. But I think that every American should be exposed to all theories.

So wouldn't that be a "yes"? Or is he saying we should have creationism as a mandatory component of other courses?

But I can't say it more eloquently than Pastor Huckabee -- Governor Huckabee just did. And I admire his description because I hold that view.

Which is to say, he agrees that people shouldn't bug him about the details.

The point is that the time before time, there's no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was in what we are today. And I do believe that we are unique, and I believe that God loves us. But I also believe that all of our children in school can be taught different views on different issues.

I don't know what this rhetoric about "uniqueness" is supposed to imply. Uniqueness is an important aspect of biology, one doesn't need to invoke creationism to explain it.

But I leave the curricula up to the school boards.

How should they judge? What views should they teach, and what issues should be addressed? McCain could have said that creationism isn't science, so it shouldn't be in science class. But all of these discussions implicitly act as if creationism and evolution really are part of some meaningful dialectic that ought to be presented in school. As if questions about whether "God loves us" enters into school curriculum decisions, or ought to.

Any of these candidates could have simply said that science is what we teach in science class, and what science can't tell us about doesn't belong in science class. Instead, they mixed their personal views with matters of education policy and demonstrated a disturbing disdain for seeking or evaluating evidence.

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Stop. Pastor Huckabee (to borrow McCain's phrase) thinks you need to be less knowledgeable to be president than to write an 8th grade science book?

It got Bush elected twice. Since that's all the constitution allows, why shoot higher?
Anyway, eggheads like Kerry, Gore, McGovern, and Carter are always politics' biggest losers.

I love to see all of the rehearsed monologues find their way out.

"And as the words of Martin Luther, here I stand. I can do no other. And I will not take that back."

"But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don't know how far they will march that back."

"And it's interesting that we're doing this here at St. Anselm's, who this -- that saint had a philosophy of faith seeking reason."

"The point is that the time before time, there's no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was in what we are today. And I do believe that we are unique, and I believe that God loves us."

Personally, I found Monday's Democratic "round table" on faith and politics more distasteful. It's sickening that presidential candidates are now trying to "out-God" each other to win votes from evangelicals. Bleh.

"But, you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don't know how far they will march that back."

Last I checked, humans were primates.

Whet, if you check with Huckabee, I bet he'd try to tell you otherwise.