Sunday, March 30, 2008


A Candidate for Evolution

Senator Obama in the York Daily Record:

Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What's your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

A: "I'm a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science.

It just means they're two different things. And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry."

Reassuring. Good find.
I hope he sticks to it. But I've lived through too much American politics to take any politician's words at face value. In a year, this guy could be another Elliot Spitzer or, more likely, another Jimmy Carter.

Good for him. A straightforward statement that he believes in evolution and that ID isn't science. No pandering to the Paleyists.

Like you,though, I believe only time will tell if he has the courage to stand by these words.

Lots of wiggle room here. He seems to equate wordly knowledge and science. That seems reasonable to me if he is talking about matters of fact and existence about how the world is (as best as we can determine) that we can make claims about.

However, he seems to think there is some other religious "theory" out there that is "important" in some sense which he has not spelled out, but if it makes claims about the world that is more than navel gazing... he will at some point have to make a stand on it and *it* will be like Jimmy Carter.
What impressed me was his choice of language - it suggests that someone in his campaign actually bothered to figure out what the whole issue was actually about.

I am not so sure. His language is consistent with a certain (Gouldian - is that a new word :) view of the issue, but I really don't think that will hold up when we examine what most people (including esp. US voters) actually believe about religious claims. I always thought that this:

was a definitive indictment of that view.
I more recent quote, from Obama:

"It's not surprising, then, they [average Americans] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I'm sure the heat will be extreme on this, but it may be a more honest view of what he means by "religion" as it is usually understood in this country. The irony, of course, is it will push him towards a more "traditional" view of religion to contain the damage.
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