Recent political debate over evolution and creationism among Republican candidates has prompted questions about whether the Grand Old Party is anti-science—and whether that’s dangerous.

In August, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman wrote on Twitter: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” The comment followed comments from Texas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who called evolution “a theory that’s out there” that has “got some gaps.” He told a young boy at New Hampshire campaign event: “In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution…I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”

Huntsman and Perry’s Twitter statement and comment went viral and stirred discussion as to whether the Republican Party has a hostile view of science—specifically on climate change and Darwinian evolution, two hotly debated topics.

“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist, told The Washington Post.

Weaver said voters would elect someone who realizes more focus should be placed on the environment.

“The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way the significant problems this country faces can be solved,” he said. “It appears that the only science that Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.

Adam Lee from Alternet.org called opposition to climate science “fairly new” as in the past both Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 2008 Republican candidate John McCain supported cap-and-trade laws, which place a mandatory cap on emissions. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also appeared in a pro-environment ad with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lee wrote.

“The party’s rejection of climate science is fairly new, and probably comes from its increasing dependence on campaign cash from dirty-energy barons like the Koch brothers,” Lee said.

The Sierra Club agreed.

“The sad fact is that the GOP has been subjected to a hostile takeover by the oil-and-gas industry—and particularly Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by ultra-right-wing brothers Charles and David Koch,” the organization wrote in an article called, Taking the Initiative. “The virus that has undermined the GOP and is weakening U.S. democracy is corruption.”

Lee said that an anti-science ideal is dangerous.

“To those who hold the creationist worldview, everything has been going downhill since the Enlightenment,” he said. “They seek nothing less than to turn back the clock of progress by several centuries, abolish the rational, reality-based view of the world, and return to the superstitious mindset in which blind faith is the answer to every problem.”

 

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer