Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jan/11

30

Monkey Business

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The self-righteousness oozing out of Bill Maher on the clip from his show linked to here by the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen was neither a new phenomenon nor pleasant to watch. On the other hand, the comments from Republican congressman Jack Kingston were low comedy:

“I believe I came from God, not from a monkey….If it happened over millions and millions of years, there should be lots of fossil evidence.”

Good lord (so to speak).

Possibly more revealing than Kingston’s difficulties with science are the difficulties that he has in expressing them, particularly his insistence that he believes in “adaptation”. There was also his (faulty) assumption that the National Review writer on the panel would bail him out.

The former might suggest (yes, I’m being an optimist) that the congressman does sort-of-believe in evolution after all, the latter that he believes anti-evolutionism has now become part of the standard right-wing package. That could explain why he might defend creationism in terms traditionalist enough (the monkey business) to satisfy any litmus test, while preserving enough intellectual honesty to seem a little hesitant about doing so.

Then again maybe he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That wouldn’t be a first for the political class – and it won’t be the last.

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2 comments

  • Tom Meyer · January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    The former might suggest (yes, I’m being an optimist) that the congressman does sort-of-believe in evolution after all, the latter that he believes anti-evolutionism has now become part of the standard right-wing package. That could explain why he might defend creationism in terms traditionalist enough (the monkey business) to satisfy any litmus test, while preserving enough intellectual honesty to seem a little hesitant about doing so.

    I think it’s just a particularly inane attempt to make the false micro-v-macro evolution distinction; essentially, that a little variation within a species (size, coloration, etc.) is can happen, but that it’s impossible for one species to change into another. Put another way it’s an assertion that there evolution, but doesn’t really count.

    Then Senator — now Governor! — Sam Brownback published an op-ed in 2007 spelling out the position:

    If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

    And, oh, go Will Caine!

  • Tom Meyer · January 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    One other example of this micro-v-macro stuff, this time from Rep. Duncan Hunter, again in 2007:

    When Chris Matthews asked one of my fellow candidates if he believed in evolution, the question was designed to embarrass my fellow Republicans. Whether or not, at some level, created beings adapt to their surroundings, or change to some degree over generations is not the right understanding of that question. The real question is this: Does God exist and did he create us? The liberties of every American citizen, including those of Chris Matthews, hang in the balance if we get the answer to that question wrong.

    The most interesting bit there is the end: See!? Without creationism, all the lefty-commie-pinko-atheists would be right!. It’s about as clear an illustration of the philosophical appeal of American-style Creationism as you’ll find.

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