Just thought I’d add a thumbnail for conversation here.
Two common complaints with Perry were not addressed by the articles my co-author contributed earlier today.
1) Perry doesn’t believe in evolution.
This came back to the front of the line just today when an activist mother in New Hampshire prodded her son (8) to ask Perry questions about evolution vs. creationism in Texas schools. The answer he gave was a little disconcerting.
How old is the world? I don’t know, son. It goes back a very long time, but I don’t think scientists know exactly how long.
I know your mother is asking about evolution. That’s a theory that’s out there and that has some problems with it. We in Texas teach both evolution and creationism because we assume you’re smart enough to decide for yourself what is the right answer.
I’ll tell you what my moderate liberal friends see when they read this: they see a guy who secretly believes in creationism but knows he cannot say so. They could be right…he is a deeply evangelical protestant from the south and it’s hard to escape the anti-evolution wingnuts in that atmosphere. The first answer is troubling to me as a scientist, because I know we do in fact have a very clear idea of how old the Earth is…well supported by the scientific literature. However, taken at face value, my reading on that would be that he believes people have the right to believe in either theory and that both theories should be explained in school, with the objective of allowed parents to choose which direction a student’s education proceeds. Normally, I’m all for this kind of freedom of religion.
HOWEVER – I think it does a grave disservice to a child to inculcate them into believing the literal protestant belief in creationism. The Catholics resolved their Bible vs. science conflict long ago…Protestants need to catch up. I think the place for creationism is not the science class, but the philosophy, history or theology classes that Texans have access to in high school. There is no SCIENTIFIC underpinning to creationism. Evolution is am imperfect theory, but it’s a scientific theory based on a collection of hard evidence. The gaps in that theory will be plugged scientifically…not with a sermon.
The odd thing is…the Texas teachers angrily replied to Perry’s comments, saying that creationism was mentioned as an alternative theory only in Biblical History and literature classes…not in any of the science classes in Texas. So…it’s not like Perry pushed a hard creationist-favoring agenda. I must, however, agree with my friends in the sciences that it’s troubling to me when a presidential candidate does not know some of the very fundamental things we’ve learned scientifically.
2) Perry is Anti-Science (especially anti-climate science)
Going along with his controversial stance on creationism, Perry is known to a great opponent of green energy stimulus, of the EPA regulation of CO2 as a pollutant, and of the entire premise that CO2 is causing global warming bad enough to merit mitigation and economic concern. He recently said, in fact, that anthropogenic global warming was “just a theory that hadn’t been proven,” and that “the agenda of government sponsored global warming science was clear,” implying that he didn’t buy global warming as a threat at all and that he suspected scientists and politicians of colluding to push new controls on the American people.
Moderates will read this as alarming. I do not. Everyone reading this blog regularly should know why. I think that although we are likely to be warming the planet somewhat, the actual magnitude is badly overestimated by current climate models and theory and that governments saw climate science as an opportunity to push for further control on the energy market. The scientists themselves probably aren’t as nefarious as Perry implied (with a few publicly important figureheads as possible exceptions) – though I do think they’re guilty of getting tunnel vision and not listening enough to opposing viewpoints.
That said…environmental policy has gone too far, IMHO, toward controlling free markets and ti needs to stop. I don’t care that Perry evidently believes that the climate scientists were guilty of malfeasance…I just want to see over-regulation rolled back. BUT!…it is kind of bad combination to win an election on…a combination that strikes me as somewhat anti-scientific and very likely to lose moderates. The anti-climate science stuff is fine on its’ own…but when mixed with some hint that he may believe in creationism is worrisome to me.
Right now, I cannot support Mr. Perry. That leaves me still without a candidate.