Denial of The Theory of Evolution Brings Huckabee’s Qualification For Presidency Into Question

Someone said, “Huckabee has a right to believe whatever he wants to believe about evolution.” Interesting thought. But it seems to me, however, Huckabee, himself, generally would reject this notion. Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, would disagree with the assertion that a person has a right to define his or her own truth. Huckabee believes in revealed truth and firmly rejects the notion that a person has license to determine, on his or her own, what is right and what is wrong.

Our constitution gives us the right to think as we want and to believe as we want. We are free to think in error. But every rational person wants to think in ways that are based on truth. The thought provoking question to consider is: How do we know the truth? Huckabee’s answer is that truth is revealed in the Bible and his reason for rejecting the theory of evolution is because he feels it is a theory that disagrees with truth revealed in the Bible.

Recently, Huckabee was asked about evolution, and he replied, “I’m not sure what in the world that has to do with being president of the United States.” But Huckabee, by denying the validity of evolutionary theory, is expressing a view of truth that is very much out of the mainstream. Any idea a presidential candidate advances, particularly those out of the mainstream, should be justified by the candidate. His view of evolution raises important questions that should be asked of every presidential candidate: In general, what is the basis for your thinking? What is your basis for knowing the truth?

Huckabee’s reasoning that the truth of evolution is determined by the Bible raises a legitimate question as to what other ideas Huckabee would advance based on the Bible. The Bible, for example, says a lot about Israel. Does Huckabee, I’m wondering, have an understanding of Bible truth that, if elected president, would drive his middle east policies and would drive the formation of U.S. policy toward the contemporary state of Israel?

Huckabee, in talking to Chris Matthews said, “If you want to believe that you and your family came from apes, I’ll accept that.” His religion teaches that a person has a choice whether to believe in God or not, whether to believe in miracles or not, whether to believe the Bible or not. Huckabee projects the idea that just as a person has a choice whether to believe in the truth that God exists or not, a person has a choice whether to believe in the truth of the theory of evolution or not.

To develop this idea of choice, Huckabee wants to advance what is advertised as a competing theory to evolution — The Theory of Intelligent Design. But what is clear is that what Huckabee advances as a competing scientific theory is not a competing scientific theory at all. Huckabee is not advancing the theory because he understands the science involved. He is recommending that Intelligent Design curriculum be added to the public school’s science curriculum, not to improve science education, but, so that students studying science will be influenced by creationists’ views.

What is missing in Huckabee’s view of evolution is an appreciation for how strong evolutionary theory is, how well it has held up, and how useful it has been in guiding scientific advance. Evolution is not simply a whimsical idea; it is not “just a theory.” It is a powerful and useful guide that continues to help increase a scientific understand of our natural world. Since the time it was articulated in 1859, there have been zillions of scientific discoveries. Certainly Darwin knew nothing about DNA, cell chemistry, microbiology. New scientific discoveries have only strengthened the conviction of scientists that the basic theory of evolution is true. How many scientific ideas that were supported by the scientists of 1859 are still supported by scientists of today? It is wrong to advance the idea that a mainstream scientist can simply choose a theory to guide his or her scientific work — like choosing an automobile. Evolutionary theory through almost 150 years of scientific investigation is still the established theory of science and there are no reasonable alternatives on the horizon that dispute it.

Huckabee does a great disservice by saying that he thinks the theory of evolution is not true. He does a disservice to his faith, because his evolutionary views are a discouragement to truth seekers. As a Baptist preacher, he should be lifting up the spiritual truths of the Bible that inspire individuals to service, to problem solving, to goodwill, to brotherhood, and that show the way to peace. Instead, by denying evolutionary theory and making cracks about humans not coming from monkeys, he is contributing to a negative and wrong stereotype of what it means to be a person of faith.

Huckabee’s denial of evolutionary theory also is a great disservice because it champions a wrong notion about scriptural authority. Islam also has scripture. And Islamic radicals tell their children that the literal words of their scripture should guide their thinking and their behavior. Shouldn’t a president champion the idea that the authority for knowing truth is judgment and reason, not scripture?  Yes, our authority to discern authentic inspiration goes beyond what is rational.  I know that Mozart is inspired through a higher reasoning that transcends the reason that evaluates a tax plan., but a president must champion the rational.  A rational approach is the only hope we have to move toward a positive future.

Huckabee and all presidential candidates should be emphasizing the words in the Bible that say, “Come now and let us reason together.” Reasoning together means that together there is an honest commitment to finding the truth and to solving problems. Isn’t the thinking that finds truth and solves problems, the thinking that can be quantified, scientific thinking? We need a commitment to scientific and objective thought — and to a process that emphasizes reasoning together.

Huckabee seems a well meaning person, but it is not helpful for a person of stature to advance the notion that truth is divorced from reason. We can’t expect to have much of a future if, as a nation, we simply believe to be true whatever we want to believe to be true. In addition to wanting to think that the theory of evolution is not true, that our ancestors were not apes, etc., people want to believe all sorts of things: smoking cigarettes is not harmful to one’s health, the holocaust didn’t happen, tax cuts actually increase tax revenue, increased military spending is the way toward world peace. Wasn’t the whole Nazi movement based on crazy ideas — ideas that would never have withstood any legitimate process of thinking — that, for whatever reason, millions of people wanted to believe were true? If the authority for what we think is true boils down to what amounts to wishful thinking, we are in big trouble.

Our whole country and our whole world needs to commit itself to finding and living according to truth. The discussion about evolution will disappear, again, but it will have been a useful discussion if it encourages the important questions about truth: How do we know truth? What is the authority for truth?

We need a president who can lead us into a better future. For Huckabee to show he is the one to help us get to a better future, he needs to show that he is a man of reason, not that he is a person of narrow religious views. Presidential candidates must show that they are bound to the authority of reason. But Huckabee’s evolutionary views do not appear to be based on the authority of his own thinking and analysis, but rather, it seems to be based on the authority of scripture and his religion’s traditional understanding of truth.

By taking a stand on the nation’s stage that he denies the truth of a theory for which there is universal scientific consensus, Huckabee is showing us a little bit about how he thinks, how he knows the truth. At the very least, it seems clear that Huckabee’s thinking is greatly influenced by his religion. What influences the way a president thinks is an important matter. His stand against evolutionary theory makes me wonder if, to determine what is true, Huckabee as president would rely on what might be called religious thinking, rather than relying on scientific thinking. His denial of evolutionary theory, to me, puts his qualification for the presidency into question.

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17 comments to Denial of The Theory of Evolution Brings Huckabee’s Qualification For Presidency Into Question

  • It’s easier to just cross your arms, turn up your nose, and go along with whatever you’re told is “the truth” without really investigating the issue yourself- you can coast through life much easier this way.

    Anyone wishing to engage in truly rational discourse about the theory of evolution needs to be able to see and understand both sides. Simply saying “GOD MADE IT THIS WAY!” is lunacy.

    Another important distinction that has to be made is that the theory of evolution – the origins of life – and biological evolution are not the same thing. Unfortunately not everyone is capable of making this distinction…

  • Greg Hunter

    Huckabee said he has no problem with teaching evolution as a theory in the public schools and he doesn’t expect schools to teach creationism.

    “We shouldn’t indoctrinate kids in school,” he said. “I wouldn’t want them teaching creationism as if it’s the only thing that they should teach.”

    Also, students should be given credit for having the intelligence to think through various theories for themselves and come to their own conclusions, he said.

    He said it was his responsibility to teach his children his beliefs though he could accept that others believe in evolution.

    “I believe that there is a God and that he put the process in motion,” Huckabee said.

    Mike I have read some of your analysis about education and his statements do not seem far from yours. I see Huckabee’s stance as one that can coexist with rational thought while still not out right excluding the Bible. If the Religious factions are acknowledging that God put in place the processes that lead to human life then they have agreed that God is at least a Genetic Engineer, which is a far cry from his former occupation as a Wizard, when I was indoctrinated in the Church.

    I wish secular people would just accept the change as a positive step and believe me I would love to teach Intelligent Design in the public school. I am certain I would bring a scientific approach to the Creation Story and one that the Church would not like.

  • “Huckabee believes in revealed truth and firmly rejects the notion that a person has license to determine, on his or her own, what is right and what is wrong.”

    One of the fundamental tenets of Christianity, as I understand it, is the belief God gave humans volition, meaning the ability to know and right from wrong. The basis for being in God’s good graces, then, is a person’s record of choosing to do what is right and avoid what is wrong, albeit everyone gets it wrong at times.

  • Mike, I agree the significance of Huckabee’s belief in creationism, to the exclusion of evolution, is what that could mean for his policy decision making if he were to be elected president.

    But then, as Greg cites above, Huckabee says he believes God “puts the process in motion.”

    BTW, anyone who doesn’t believe man is descended from apes obviously never served in the military, sharing a small dorm room with three other guys (grin).

  • Mike Bock

    Hi, S.W., Greg, and Seth. Thanks for your comments.
    It is difficult to understand what Huckabee really thinks about evolution. Greg Hunter, in his comment, cites a quote from Huckabee that shows, I think, that Huckabee’s guiding motive in his evolution comments is simply to advance his political strategy.

    I’ve heard Huckabee on several occasions says that he does not believe that the theory of evolution is true. My post, above, takes him at his word and concludes that any person who denies the established science of evolution is engaged in the same type of thinking that Islamic radicals engage in.

    I wrote, “his evolutionary views do not appear to be based on the authority of his own thinking and analysis, but rather, it seems to be based on the authority of scripture and his religion’s traditional understanding of truth.” This is how Islamic radicals also determine their truth — the authority of their scripture and the authority of their traditional ways of evaluating that scripture — of politics, women, and the contemporary state of Israel. Of course their scriptures and their tradition are different from Huckabee’s, but, for Huckabee to simply say he doesn’t think that evolutionary theory is true, he is engaged in a way of thinking that most everyone considers dangerous and faulty. Views are radical when they are divorced from reason, and when their basis for ascertaining truth is tradition.

    Of course Huckabee, like most politicians, wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to say, “No.” when asked, “Do you think the theory of evolution is true?” But he wants to sound reasonable also, and when he says he believes in a creative process and that God “put the process in motion,” it sounds like he probably does believe in evolution. What other “process” could he possibly have in mind?

    The truth of the idea that God used a process of evolution to make his creation is a truth that is not threatened by evolutionary theory. There is no contradiction. Huckabee, I’m sure, has already thought this whole matter through. He is simply being political (as in dishonest).

    It is dishonest to project the notion that there is an alternative theory to evolutionary theory — that a scientist has a choice between claiming evolutionary theory or some other theory is true. There is no competing scientific theory to the theory of evolution. Yes, there are competing views of God. But science can never refute the truth of God. You can choose to believe in the truth of God or you can choose to not believe in God. Your views of evolutionary theory are irrelevant.

    Of course Huckabee knows he can believe in God and believe in evolution at the same time. His emphasis on “process,” says just that. But Huckabee wants to get the Republican presidential nomination. And to help him get the nomination, he wants to come across as the biggest Christian in the room. He is using the topic of evolution to emphasize that he believes in God. He knows that there is a group of voters for which evolution is a wedge issue, and that these voters feel that if you believe in God, you probably won’t believe in evolution.

    My post is trying to make the case that a claim that the theory of evolution is not true has dangerous implications. It is not unusual for a primary candidate to appeal to a narrow base during the primary season in such a way that a record of statements is created that harms his general election chances. It seems to me that Huckabee’s inconsistencies and radical pandering about evolution to a religious base may eventually come back to bite him.

  • Eric

    Question: would a presidential candidate who thinks Robert Pennock, Barbara Forrest, and Brian Alters (Dover Plaintiffs’ experts) support quality science education be qualified for office? Qualifed to serve as a science education specialist in a state’s education agency? Or should we expect employees and presidents to support the applicable K-12 quality policy?

    Just to be clear: I’m asking about support for the rule of law. The preceeding discussion is whether Huckabee’s belief in a creation miracle disqualifies him from office. (I would concede that belief solely in miraculous intervention to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare should remove a candidate from serious consideration.)

  • T. Ruddick

    Well, let’s take a moment and look at the hard evidence.

    The Bible contains two accounts of creation. The one in Genesis 1 says that God created animals, and finally humans. The other one, in Genesis 2, says that God created man, and then decided to create animals and woman to keep him company.

    These two contradictory accounts cannot be literally true, and therefore the creation accounts in the Bible are, as the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations recognize, figurative. They’re poetry, or fable, or myth, or inspiration.

    Since Mike Huckabee and his Southern Baptist ministerial colleagues insist that the Bible is the literal, perfect, received word of God, it’s clear that his ability to weigh evidence and reach valid conclusions is inadequate. His is precisely the kind of thinking that led George W. Bush to ignore and even suppress information that contradicted his beliefs about foreign affairs.

    So he doubts evolution? A bit of healthy skepticism about any scientific theory is welcome. It’s his leaps of faith that fly in the face of evidence, his utter lack of healthy skepticism where his religion is concerned, that makes him dangerous and unhealthy for America.

  • Greg Hunter

    Well said Mr. Ruddick, but there are many of the faithful out in the world and we must bring them along in spite of the obvious flaws of the “revealed word”. I love the Bible with all of its warts because you can find something for everyone. It is the perfect book to use when justifying actions. I can certainly use it to prove that White People are the offspring of Cain, who was sired by the Devil.

    Just wait until I get the contract to teach Intelligent Design in the Public Schools.

    With God, all things are Possible; without him, Earth could be Paradise.

  • T. Ruddick’s last two paragraphs say it well. Bible literalism is not only wrongheaded, it can be dangerous.

    Not wanting to kick a hornet’s nest, I will repeat that Huckabee, in one of the recent candidate so-called debates acknowledged that many passages in the Bible are allegorical, fables, etc. Don’t get me wrong, no way am I among his supporters. I do think it’s important to keep the record straight and clearly understand who and what Dems/liberals are up against.

  • T. Ruddick

    Well, Mr. Anderson, I’m always amazed that people profess to believe in an authoritarian faith, yet feel free to deny the authority of that faith.

    Huckabee is a Baptist minister, yet he disputes much of the doctrine of his denomination? Sounds like a hypocrite to me, either way.

    Worse and worse and worse, eh? C’mon, either the Bible is the literal received word of God, or it’s not.

    Now, I’ll accept that it’s possible to consider Jesus’ parables as allegorical, yet the Bible as a literal account. If Huck goes any further than that in his allegory, then he’s violating his faith and should be defrocked. Can’t have any doubters in the pulpit, can they?

  • People that believe in socialism are buying into an even larger, more deceitful fairytale, so I’m not sure which is worse. That said, Huckabee is a used car salesman, as far as politicians go.

    And that’s saying a lot.

  • T. Ruddick

    Greene, that’s an interesting observation. My perspective is that ALL ‘isms’ are flawed in some way. It’s hard for me to tell which is worse–those who believe totally in creationism, socialism, free-market capitalism, postmodernism, monothesism, existentialism…

    As a student of the arts, I’ve often noted that the surest way to spoil any work is to let a theory control every aspect of it. When a theorist gets involved, you’re stuck to one potential set of solutions–when you’re free to choose from conflicting models, it’s possible to find the answer that works. Consider that George Lucas’ scriptwriting went south after he hired Joseph Campbell as a consultant, Heart’s rock-and-roll got vapid when they took on their MA-in-Germanic-philology friend as a lyricist, Peri and Caccini are never performed except as an academic exercise, and Artaud is an unknown–whereas Peter Weiss, Monteverdi, the vast expanse of undereducated rock bands, and Spielberg have become immortal while not kow-towing to any restrictive set of principles.

    I think the same is applicable to society at large. As Bill Moyers said, I do not think the free market will solve all of our problems. There is a place for communitarianism, even for outright socialism–and also a place for free-market capitalism and the alphabet soup of theory-Z management styles.

    It’s common sense that there must be a simple set of principles that will lead us to the proper management and development of a prosperous and free society. Unfortunately, as is often the case, those principles are neither “common” nor “wise”. As The Who sagely noted in Quadrophenia, “You were under the impression that when you were moving foreward, you’d end up further onward–but things ain’t quite that simple.”

  • T. Ruddick: I will submit that I agree with many of your points, and quoting the Who sort of ends the discussion, no? ; )

  • Chris Von

    Well, that asks the question is there such a thing as absolute truth?

  • Well, that asks the question is there such a thing as absolute truth?

    I used to think that was an important question, but I am more interested in the following: is there an ethical system of laws we can all agree upon?

  • Excellent comment, T. Ruddick. Moyers is exactly right, as is your observation that all the isms are flawed.

    Setting down principles that would make it possible for people to live in relative freedom and harmony, pursuing prosperity with good prospects for success and leaving things better than they found them for their descendants isn’t all that hard.

    What’s hard is getting people to really adhere to those worthwhile principles over the long haul, through good times and bad. It’s especially hard when political and economic competition come into play.

    Right now our country is limping forward with its Constitution trampled, its government and legal system seriously damaged, its political system compromised, its economy and society out of whack, and its leadership held in contempt for doing those things by most Americans and foreigners alike. Bad ideology and a cynical, unprincipled and mostly underhanded drive for power and control brought us to this. That abuse of power threatens to make matters worse at every opportunity, with a year yet to get through.

    The good principles still exist, albeit in the mind and intention of people who lack power or lack enough power to make them our GPS for confronting our many problems and moving beyond.

    The flaw, weakness if you will, of democracy is that people are free to choose as their leader a poorly qualified, ill-suited jerk if they decide he’s likable and his opponent — however qualified, principled and well-intentioned — is less likable.

    Such folly is not exclusive to the American electorate. Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany.

    As stated, the various systems, the isms, are all imperfect, even democracy.

  • T. Ruddick

    You all have incited me to another quote:

    “What is this Absolute Truth thing…?”
    “It’s a Five to Four decision in the Supreme Court.”
    –Dan O’Neill

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