During the recent Republican presidential debate, the moderator asked nine candidates to raise their hands if they "didn't believe in evolution." Senator Sam Brownback, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Tom Tancredo raised their hands. Last week, Brownback wrote a New York Times op-ed attempting to explain his reasoning. You can read it here. The op-ed reveals nothing more than Brownback's complete misunderstanding of evolutionary biology and, worse, a total rejection of science. In the new edition of John Brockman's EDGE, University of Chicago professor of ecology and evolution Jerry Coyne, author of Speciation, lays out the idiocy Brownback's comments. From Coyne's essay:
Whether he knows it or not, Brownback's forthright declarations, denying any possibility that empirical matters of fact might differ from those assumed by his creed, amount to nothing less than a rejection of the whole institution of science. Who is "we", and where did "our" conviction and certainty come from? Would Brownback believe these "spiritual truths" if he hadn't been taught them as a child, or brought up in the United States instead of China?Link
According to Brownback, we should reject scientific findings if they conflict with our faith, but accept them if they're compatible. But the scientific evidence says that humans are big-brained, highly conscious apes that began evolving on the African savannah four million years ago. Are we supposed to reject this as "atheistic theology" (an oxymoron if there ever was one)?
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.