Democracy is not perfect. Our governments can only be as wise as the politicians who run for office. And there are a lot of ways of corrupting the system. Large campaign donors buy votes and influence. Redistricting guarantees that incumbents will stay in power. And well-organized special interest groups can wield power far beyond their size. To the extent that a minority can decide who is worthy of seeking office.
And so it seems that the current Republican presidential candidates, like their predecessor, George Bush, are doing everything they can to court conservative evangelical Christians. In last month’s Republican candidates debate, three of the nine candidates said they do not believe in evolution. (Senator Sam Brownback, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Tom Tancredo).
Senator John McCain tried to play both sides, saying while he believes in evolution, “I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also”.
The theory of natural selection is the basis of all our modern understanding of biology, medicine and the environment. It has passed every test for the past 150 years and is accepted as fact by virtually all scientists in the world today. And yet neither the current President, nor these Republican candidates choose to believe it.
The cynic in me would say that a third of the Republican candidates are just playing to the religious right wing. But more likely is that these intelligent men really do not believe in evolution. The Republican party is dominated by religious conservatives, who promote these like-minded candidates.
Of course, evolution is real, no matter how many polititians deny it. But when they refuse to accept an idea that runs counter to their religious beliefs, regardless of overwhelming evidence, how can we expect them to make good policy decisions? How will they make rational choices about major issues in science, medicine or the environment?
To his credit, Gov. Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, also accepts evolution. He apparently has been able to reconcile his religious beliefs with scientific evidence.
â€œI believe that God designed the universe and created the universe,â€ Mr. Romney said in an interview this week. â€œAnd I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.â€
He was asked: Is that intelligent design?
â€œIâ€™m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design,â€ he said. â€œBut I believe God is intelligent and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body.â€
While governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney opposed the teaching of intelligent design in science classes.
â€œIn my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed,â€ he said. â€œIf weâ€™re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, thatâ€™s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.â€