Feature Article - March 2015
by Do-While Jones

Punting on Evolution

Scott Walker tried to dodge a question about evolution.

A few days before the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday, Scott Walker, a possible 2016 Republican candidate for President of the United States, was in Darwin’s home country, and was asked this question:

BRITTISH REPORTER: Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it, do you accept it?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, Republican - Wisconsin: For me I'm going to punt on that one as well.


WALKER: That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other. So I'm going to leave that up to you.

BRITTISH REPORTER: Any British politician, right or left wing, they would laugh and say yes, of course, evolution is true.

WALKER: To me I said it's just one of those where I'm here to talk about trade, not to pontificate on other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin. It's going well. 1

That portion of Walker’s interview was widely broadcast on the American news media. Charles Krauthammer’s political commentary was typical of the reaction on the American news networks.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, that was an impudent and condescending question. This is a British twit testing out how crude and peasant-like are Americans. It's a pity that Walker didn't say that. Of course, he can't say it. The answer, which I'm sure he now knows, has to be, “Like thousands of scientists, I see no contradiction between a belief in evolution and a belief in God. End of story.” 1

To say that there is no contradiction between evolution and religion really does punt the question. Unlike Krauthammer, Scott Walker was at least honest enough to admit that he was punting. Later, Walker did obediently give the “politically correct” answer on Twitter.

Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand. 1

“Politically correct” answers aren’t really correct. They are simply the lies one has to tell when one doesn’t want to offend others by telling the truth. Walker should have said:

I have carefully examined the scientific evidence for and against the theory of evolution, and have found that the evidence against evolution far outweighs the questionable evidence for it. If you can present a scientific defense for the theory of evolution, I would be glad to hear it. In my experience, whenever I ask people why they believe in evolution I find that they either (A) haven’t studied the theory and assume it is true because they have been told, “All the scientists say it is true,” or (B) they are looking for an excuse not to believe in God, or (C) they don’t really believe in evolution but are afraid to admit it.

But my belief about evolution is not relevant because it is not the proper role of a politician to legislate religious doctrine; so I would never do that. On the other hand, it is the role of politicians to provide the optimal economic environment for prosperity and reach mutually beneficial trade agreements. I came here to better understand the British position on various economic issues, and share with you some recent economic success stories from Wisconsin.

Why Bring Politics Into It?

Science Against Evolution has always argued against the theory of evolution from a purely scientific standpoint—and always will. Readers sometimes ask, “If the scientific evidence is so strongly against evolution, why is there still a controversy about it?” The answer is, “Because it often isn’t about science—it’s about religion and politics.”

Although we don’t argue the religious or political merits, in this case we do need to recognize the British reporter’s political agenda, and explain how it affected the discussion.

The British reporter didn’t ask Governor Walker about evolution because of his scientific expertise. The reporter asked the question to find out how politically conservative Walker is. Conservatives, by definition, want the government to have as little control as possible because that protects individual freedom. Liberals, by definition, want the government to have as much control as possible because that protects individual welfare.

Are You Liberal or Conservative?

Here’s a self-test you can use to decide if you are liberal or conservative. Simply answer these two questions:

  1. Should the government require children to be vaccinated for measles?
  2. Should the government prohibit children from being vaccinated for measles?

A true conservative will answer, “No,” to both questions because (to him) the issue isn’t whether or not measles vaccines are good or bad—the question is whether the government or the parents should make healthcare decisions. That’s why many conservative parents vaccinate their own children but oppose mandatory vaccinations. They aren’t being hypocritical. To them, the issue isn’t about the merit of vaccinations—it’s about freedom.

A true liberal obviously can’t answer, “Yes,” to both questions because they are contradictory. The liberal will say, “Yes,” to the question that best protects children. Since, to them, there is no question that the government knows better than parents what’s best for children, the government should make the decision. The current scientific consensus is that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, so the vaccinations should be mandatory. But, if a new study proves conclusively that there are extremely serious negative consequences directly traceable to vaccinations, then the liberal position would be that the government should prohibit vaccinations.

Here’s the point: An argument about the risk and rewards of vaccination matters to liberals because it’s all about welfare. To liberals, the question is, “What should the government decide?” The merits of vaccination don’t matter at all to conservatives because it is all about freedom. To conservatives, the question is, “Who should make the decision?” If conservatives and liberals don’t understand that they are arguing about entirely different things, the argument is pointless.

Here’s how this applies to evolution in particular, and education in general: Conservatives believe that individuals should be presented with both sides of the issue and allowed to decide which is correct. Liberals believe that the government should decide what is correct, and individuals should be told to believe it. That’s why liberals go to court to prevent any evidence against the theory of evolution from being presented in public schools—they think it might confuse the students, and the students might make the wrong decision. That’s why liberals are against home schooling and school choice. Students might come to the “wrong” conclusion if “incorrectly” instructed.

Walker tried to make the conservative point that the government should be concerned with international trade—not what is taught in the classroom. Unfortunately, he was caught off-guard and didn’t make the point very well.

That’s the long answer to the question, “If science is against evolution, why is it still being taught?” It’s not just about science—it’s about politics, too. But political and religious arguments are irrelevant to scientific truth. That’s why we always argue against the theory of evolution on scientific, not religious or political grounds.

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1 When Walker used an American football analogy for a British audience, it was like a British politician using a cricket analogy for an American audience. Here is an explanation for our readers who live outside the United States, and may not be familiar with American football rules: A team has four opportunities to move the ball at least 10 yards down the field. If they fail to do that, they have to turn the ball over to the other team. When a team has not gained 10 yards after three plays, and it appears that they will not gain enough yardage on the next play to keep possession of the ball, they “punt” (that is, kick) the ball as far down the field as possible so that the other team will take possession of the ball farther from the goal line. So, “to punt” means “to recognize impending failure and attempt to minimize the consequences of that failure.”
2 http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/special-report-bret-baier/2015/02/13/all-star-panel-media-knives-come-out-gov-walker
3 ibid.
4 Scott Walker @ScottWalker · Feb 11, https://twitter.com/ScottWalker