Most Republicans are Creationists and Climate Change Deniers…Why?

A recent article on MSNBC drew attention to a long-recognized issue these days: conservatives are conservatives in faith and political issues alike, and it is rather odd.  This phenomena is pretty obvious to anyone watching the news over the past five years.

First, let me be clear that I have no quarrels at all with one’s faith.  You are welcome to your religion and your values and your moral compass, so long as you recognize that I am also welcome to mine (see here).  But if you are running for a public office, your decisions–assuming you win–have the potential to effect me.  That means that, especially if you can’t tell the difference between a quark and ablation, you should probably not try to act as if you know more in those areas than someone who, in fact, holds several degrees in the subject.  I think of it like this; you go see a doctor because you trust that they know what they are doing.  You recognize that they went to school for a long time, paid a lot of money, and had a rough internship in order to be able to figure out your problems.  It just so happens that scientists, like doctors, also go to school for a very long time, pay loads of money, and have hands-on experience for years gather and collecting and sorting data using all sorts of expensive gadgets and equipment and instruments to figure out problems too.

When it comes to climate change, the data collected and sorted so incredibly proves that the world is heating up, and may be the results of human hands, that its incredulous to claim otherwise.   And yet people do.  Now if you’re reading this, and your decisions don’t have the potential to change millions of lives, then you can go on believing whatever it is you want.  No skin off my back.  But if you are a politician, or a policy maker, please listen up.  This is just unacceptable:

Absolutely unacceptable.  And so is this:

Yes, 40% of Americans–most Republicans–reject evolution.  You might as well also reject gravity.  The evidence for evolution is pretty concrete; only those who have never been to a museum of natural science would say something like this.  In what might as well be likened to a child failing a test and stomping away frustrated saying ‘who needs this crap anyway?’, Bachmann, Perry, and Paul have all made extremely ignorant and dangerous statements about evolution.  As the article noted above highlights:

Perry says he is a “firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.” Intelligent design is the view that the complexity seen in nature is best explained as resulting from the efforts of an intelligent designer — for example, God, or an alien civilization. But in Perry’s case, certainly God.

Bachmann says “evolution has never been proven” and believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside the evolutionary view of biological change. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide,” Bachmann told reporters at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in June.

Paul says “nobody has concrete proof” for evolutionary theory, although he acknowledges that “it’s a pretty logical theory.” In his view, the intelligent-design concept has more to do with personal beliefs rather than science. “In a libertarian society these beliefs aren’t nearly as critical. When you have government schools, it becomes important,” he said. “‘Are you fair in teaching that the earth could have been created by a creator or it came out of a pop, out of nowhere?’ In a personal world, we don’t have government dictating and ruling all these things; it’s not very important.”

There may very well be a reason, though, why certain people reject both evolution and climate change–it’s because of an ignorance of both science and the value of a good education, and also a clear disrespect for the scientific method.  It is a fact that these sorts of rejections are connected. After all, evolution means that we are all, in a lot of ways, equal, and it is easy to understand why that would scare some conservatives (who probably do not want to be associated with ‘socialists’ or Muslims, or minorities, for example).  And that would mean that gays are equal to conservative Christians, which means they require the same sorts of rights.  And for some that is a scary thought, especially when they read the Bible in a manner that seems to prohibit equality in this case, and even commands them to not just shun homosexuality but potentially put homosexuals to death.  Science also informs us that our fossil fuels are millions of years old, not 6,000 years old, so our resources do not seem as replenishable.   So of course some republicans will claim that climate change is all a hoax, that carbon dioxide is a “harmless gas“(!!!).  Facts are pesky things that get in the way of certain types of faith; it is just unfortunate that the sorts of people who follow this sort of faith are also deciding policy in our government.

And it may be, as well, that many feel that science is a secular-person’s game and not for the religious.  If you believe that, fine.  But do us all a favor and don’t run for office.  What politicians like Rick Perry and talking heads like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin don’t seem to understand is that one can be religious without it interfering with public policy.   My issues with Perry, et al, are that they seem to think one has to do with the other.  It does not.  The more Perry talks, for example, the more interested in Mitt Romney I become.  And I’m not Republican (frankly, I think all politicians are liars regardless of party), but if I ever felt the urge to elect one, Romney is at least taking a step in the right direction (talking the talk) to earn my vote.  I can see past his religious convictions because he recognizes that science and faith ask and answer different questions.  On evolution, Romney states:

“I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe,” Mr. Romney said in an interview this week. “And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.”

“In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed,” he said. “If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies
class.”

On climate change and global warming, Romney said:

“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” Romney said. “I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.

“No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that,” he continued. “I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there’s been periods of greater heat and warmth than in the past, but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”

What this boils down to is his recognition of the differences between church and state, the good of the many vs. the wants of the few.  He said, and I agree:

“I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith … I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.  …If I am fortunate enough to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest … A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.”

Republicans can learn a thing or two from Romney.  Hopefully Romney maintains his convictions.  Either way, I hope he continues on and gets the ticket.  I think it would make for a great presidential race.  And frankly, the Republicans deserve a better candidate like him.

Note: Joel Watts has an apt perspective on the recent anti-Gay stance that some Republicans have taken.

About these ads

9 Responses

  1. [...] See too Tom Verenna’s post on creationism and climate change denial. And finally, Jesus Needs New PR shared this church sign – can anyone find out if it is real? [...]

  2. Well said. I didn’t know Romney had said those things regarding climate change and evolution. I am thankful he has, because here I was thinking all the Republican candidates were taking the fundamentalist stance on science (which is to reject it). At least there is one of them that has his head screwed on properly.

  3. [...] Duane Smith and Thomas Verenna) Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  4. Tom, great article. I’m pulling for Romney myself. I think too much has been made of his Mormon background and not enough on his actual deeds related to sectarian interest. It is possible that some of the other candidates might have agreed with Romney had they not needed to satisfy voter expectations (as you say politicians are liars).

    When you look at the figures, http://www.gallup.com/poll/21811/american-beliefs-evolution-vs-bibles-explanation-human-origins.aspx
    It seems that some form of creationism is the dominant theory for the existence of human life. Both sides contain significant amounts of people who reject a non-intelligent design. The republicans only have 10-20% edge on democrats in that area, and I think these are the zealots, swept into the Republican Party first with the anti-black vote in the south then later with the pop evangelical movement catching on with middle class families. I think you will see clear co-evolutions of positions of republicans and the religious right.

    // After all, evolution means that we are all, in a lot of ways, equal, and it is easy to understand why that would scare some conservatives//

    I haven’t heard a conservative argue that, and I read a lot of conservative literature and formally attended a fairly conservative church. I think the religious opponents of evolution dis-like it because it links humanity and animals, lowering some intrinsic human value, and at the same time allows for the possibility of in-equality between people. For instance does belief that modern humans were more intelligent than erectus imply that there may yet be sub-humans among us? And of course a lot of liberals dis-believe evolution according to the polls.

    The linkage I think in the religious conservative unity on global warming being fraud is mostly the result of the co-evolution of evangelical and republican aims, and not specifically evangelical. It is helpful though that evangelicalism instills mistrust of science in its anti-evolution stance. I think there is a bit of the notion that god gave man the earth so it is our limitless resource to dispose as we wish. For the Republican elite however, opposing Global warming research isn’t a religious duty but a business one. The fear in the right is that if the public agrees global warming is threat, then industry will incur higher cost and lower profits. I think the case could be made that nothing can be done to correct global warming, it is too late, or that correcting it would be more costly to humanity than letting it continue. Perry’s take, however, takes the lazy route of simply telling rubes that the scientists are involved in a conspiracy and the representatives of industry are right.

  5. “And of course a lot of liberals dis-believe evolution according to the polls.”

    Actually, the poll doesn’t break down the respondents according to liberal/conservative. It just states Republican/Democrat.

    Many democrats in the Bible Belt states are quite conservative in their political and religious beliefs, compared to their counterparts in the East/West coasts. And I would imagine that there are pockets of Republicans that are quite liberal in some social areas, such as gay marriage, evolution, etc.

    I think it’s probably pretty rare for an actual “liberal” Democratic politician to openly question the accuracy of evolution and global warming. I can’t think of an example, off hand.

  6. And Jon Hunstman has recently voiced his support for evolution and man-made global warming.
    Two Republicans during the same year! Pretty rare.

    Although neither supports gay rights regarding marriage or adoption, which is still the typical Stone Age mentality of most conservative Republicans.

  7. Thank you kiloxray, I confused Democrats with their political alter egos, Liberals, but yeah those categories are not rigid.

    On the issue of gay rights regarding marriage and adoption, see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/us/politics/19marriage.html?pagewanted=all

    While I also suspect Obama is cool with gay marriage, politics still has kept him from making a statement of support (he did make a statement of support in 96′ but later claimed he was speaking about civil unions.) I agree with Barney Frank on Obama’s position, “as a candidate for president in 2008 that would have been an unwise thing to say”

  8. Keep in mind that opposition to gay marriage is also the stone age mentality of 30+ % of liberals and Democrats as well, not an insignificant number. As shown below (and support for legalizing pot is low to, decades after the 60′s. man, squares abound) http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/19/rel6h.pdf

  9. “Keep in mind that opposition to gay marriage is also the stone age mentality of 30+% of liberals and Democrats as well”

    That’s unfortunately true, Mike.

    But it only seems to be Republican politicians who feel the need to propose constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage and also voice support for reinstating the ban on gays serving in the military. And also the support of DOMA is primarily, if not entirely, driven by Republicans.(DOMA was signed by Clinton who has since spoken out against it)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 729 other followers

%d bloggers like this: