In the blogosphere recently, there have been a few articles dedicated to Ron Paul’s belief or rather, suspension of belief regarding the theory of evolution [sic]. Some are up in arms about Dr. Paul’s refusal to accept the theory of evolution as fact. Personally, I think that this controversy is overblown and many of those who are making a mountain out of this are misrepresenting what he said.
The controversy arose when Dr. Paul answered a question from an attendee at a campaign event, who wanted to know how Dr. Paul felt about evolution in the context of questions asked during a Presidential debate. A number of bloggers, even those sympathetic to Dr. Paul’s candidacy, are a bit flummoxed because he stated that he didn’t “accept the theory of evolution.” Those are his words but when you view the clip and listen to the entire answer, it’s clear that this is not what he meant.
Here’s what was actually said:
Questioner: All of the candidates were asked if the theory of evolution could be true…and similar things but I didn’t see [garbled] … would it be true or false?
Dr. Paul: Well, first I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the Presidency to be decided on a scientific matter and umm I uh… I think it’s a theory, the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it, you know, as a theory. I think the Creator that I know, you know, created us and created the universe and the precise time and manner — I just don’t think we’re at a point where anybody has absolute truth on either side.
Dr. Paul (a scientist) has never been one to back down from a question. His response here is perfectly reasonable and I think if he had to clarify or change anything it would be the phrase “I don’t accept it as theory." Based on his closing statement I think he meant to say, “I don’t accept it as fact.” Be that as it may, the most important part of this exchange is Dr. Paul’s insistence that the question is irrelevant in a Presidential forum. Science has no place in politics. Politics is the exercise of power.
“Government is force! Like fire, a dangerous servant and a terrible master.” ~ George Washington
Government is to science as rape is to making love. Over the last two hundred years, the injection of science in politics has been an unmitigated disaster just as the injection of religion has been over the last two thousand years. The theory of evolution is a response to religious dogma which suggested that the universe is static and unchanging. Both are probably inaccurate representations of the universe if taken at face value. Furthermore, the theory of evolution is not monolithic though some of its subscribers would have you believe this is the case.
But more importantly, both religion and science are corrupted when wielded by the hands of government officials who are generally not scientists or good representatives of their religions. Just as there should be a separation of religious beliefs from the use of government authority and power, so should science. I personally believe that the theory of evolution is probably in a class of religions so I don’t mean to be redundant here. Laying that aside, while science itself is not supposed to be akin to religion, it should nonetheless be removed from government policy as it has no place in dictating how anyone should live their life. People have the right to believe and live in whatever manner they wish (as long as they are not harming others) regardless of any scientific proclamations to the contrary. People who believe in a flat earth may be scientifically wrong, but it isn’t the government’s place to force them to teach their children that the earth is round just as it isn’t the government’s place to force people to teach only creationism in schools.
Whether or not a Presidential candidate believes a particular scientific theory, the U.S. constitution gives no authority for government to defer to science on any subject (not even weights and measures — that was reserved to Congress!) and there are no jurisdictional issues that require scientists to stand up as a collective and inject opinion. In the context of governmental authority, science and religion are essentially irrelevant other than as a guide for a particular person’s moral and intellectual character. Since evolution theory is more of a belief system than scientific fact, its place in Presidential politics is highly suspect. But maybe part of the problem is that we have elevated politics to science itself.
The term political science — there are accredited schools which will give you a degree in this field of study — seems inappropriate. Polling and global governance, hot topics in the field, are only scientific by association. If there was such a thing as political “science” somebody would be working on the scientific proof of rights. Our various constitutions here in the U.S. indicate that all political power is inherent in the individual and that each individual possesses rights for which the government is given the responsibility to protect. These are decidedly unscientific ideas. Political science is an oxymoron in the same sense that the sport of Boxing is “the sweet science." Boxing is two people standing in a ring and beating the crap out of one another within the rules of the sport. Government is 535 people authorizing federal police to beat the crap out of you if you don’t obey their rules. Hmmmm … maybe this really is science. Anyway….
Where is the scientific evidence that rights exist? Even Ayn Rand’s attempt at proving the existence of rights fails miserably since it relies upon a contradiction which she claimed would invalidate any theory. Rand suggested that objective reality couldn’t be a construct of the mind, by definition. Yet, rights were, according to her theories, a construct of the mind. Therefore, they cannot be “real” or objective.
Attempting to define truths within a scientific framework and then using that as a basis for government authority could be very dangerous indeed. Failure to prove that rights exist by scientific methods could render our entire system of governance in this country (or the foundations upon which it was built) completely moot. If rights don’t exist in the eyes of science, and science is a valid basis for determining proper governance, then our government is unscientific and needs to be changed to something which is properly scientific.
Dr. Paul believes that our rights are given to us by a Creator, just as our forefathers believed. Most of our Nation’s founding fathers were also creationists. If that disqualifies a person from becoming President, then maybe we should compare the accomplishments and beliefs of Creationists vs. Evolutionists who were Presidents in the past and keep score. And let’s not stop there, let’s go ahead and broaden that to political office holders everywhere.
Science can’t prove that God exists either. Perhaps we should discard the first amendment to the constitution. After all, if God doesn’t exist according to scientific consensus, religion has no place in anyone’s life. It would be for everyone’s own good if we were to force them to conform to scientific thought in this regard. We should ask Chinese citizens how they feel about this since their government doesn’t protect their right to practice religion or speak freely; arguably a position the government has defended by scientific means.
This scientific approach could also be used to justify the elimination of those pesky people who object to medical treatments based on religious beliefs. How dare they reject certain scientific theories regarding vaccine efficacy! They haven’t got the right and the scientific evidence we allow into the political debate states that vaccines are never dangerous and always eradicate diseases.
Look, I don’t reject science. I engage in a bit of hyperbole here to make a point about the relevance of science when applying the use of force. Science may be a valid means to describe the force and effect of the bullet that entered the political dissenter’s brain, but it is a lousy tool for justifying when said force should be applied.
Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has three children and resides in Austin, TX.