The Rick Perry evolution question was all the rage two days ago, and raises at least three disturbing questions of its own.
What was the Rick Perry evolution question?
Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) traveled to New Hampshire on Thursday (August 18) and did what candidates do: mingle with the people. A small boy and his mother formed a “tag team” to ask him how old the earth is. He said that he didn’t know, and wasn’t prepared to say. Then the boy asked him whether he believes in evolution. Here is what Rick Perry actually said:
It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution, because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one’s right.
Somehow the Associated Press preferred to quote him as saying only that “evolution is a theory that’s out there,” as if he were saying, “evolution is a crazy theory.” More on that below.
Then the boy’s mother chimed in:
Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.
She asked that, not once, but twice. Perry turned away, to face a gang of hecklers who harangued him about another issue.
The Rick Perry evolution question in context
The real context of the Rick Perry evolution question is not the state of education in Texas. (Recently the evolutionists gained the upper hand.) As Kevin D. Williamson writes in National Review, it is Rick Perry’s religious beliefs. Those beliefs inevitably clash with the “managerial progressivism” of the man now holding office as President, Barack H. Obama, and his supporters. And for them, the real question is whether the candidate agrees with them or not, not his “qualifications.” Again as Williamson pointed out, rival candidate Jon Huntsman shot back (on Twitter.com),
To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.
Predictably, the mainstream press finds that acceptable and Rick Perry’s answer unacceptable. In fact neither man is more, or less, qualified to speak on scientific matters than the other.
A child playing team tag in politics
The embedded video shows the Rick Perry evolution question, and the tag-team players who asked it: a schoolboy and his mother. Notice also that the mother asked,
Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.
Two things are wrong with this scenario. First, a child asking an honest question is one thing. An adult pushing a child into playing “team tag” with another adult is another. This is only the latest example of adults using children as props to embarrass candidates with whom they disagree. In this YouTube Age, this sort of spectacle will happen again and again. But one question that the Associated Press, who shot the video, did not ask was:
- Was that boy’s mother really so obsessed and compelled about anyone who disagrees with evolution to pull such a stunt on her own? Or:
- Did someone put her up to it, or even pay her to do it?
The second problem is more basic: Rick Perry never said that he didn’t believe in science. He said that he was not sure that the theory of evolution is correct. He said that the theory of evolution cannot explain everything. And that much, even some evolutionists (the honest ones) will admit. The phrase missing link, to describe a “transitional form” that no one has yet found, is a classic example.
This shows another thing wrong with the reporting on the Rick Perry evolution question. The Associated Press willfully distorted its report. The choice of title in their own upload of their own footage condemns them:
Perry: Evolution a ‘Theory That’s Out There’
Again, Rick Perry did not say, “evolution is a theory that’s crazy.” He meant to say, “evolution is a theory that everyone is talking about.” But how many people will ask what the phrase out there means? (They might be able to figure it out, if they listen carefully to Perry’s actual words.)
The right answer
The last problem with the Rick Perry evolution question is the answer he gave. He said only that evolution is questionable. He should have said that evolution is flat wrong. That’s not a matter of “not believing in science.” It might be a matter of not believing those who pretend to offer a scientific explanation. What they’re actually offering are a lot of “just so” stories. And, like the populace in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” people are afraid to check them out. Afraid because the evolutionists have convinced everyone that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid or unfit for his post.
Evolutionism isn’t the only premise that people are afraid to check. Keynesianism, or the idea that a society can tax and spend its way to prosperity, is another. That the same people (with rare exception) propound both, is no coincidence. Rich Perry is one candidate willing to challenge both.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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