Updated on Jan. 24 to respond to a comment.
In a republican debate held in Manchester, NH on May 6, 2007, candidate Mike Huckabee was asked about an earlier debate in which he raised his hand to indicate that he did not believe in evolution. “You’re an ordained minister. What do you believe? Is it the story of creation, as it is reported in the Bible or described in the Bible?” The question and his response are in the video clip above. If you cannot see it, the transcript is available from Project Vote Smart.
In his response, I think former Gov. Huckabee made four major logical or linguistic errors.
- He presents a false dichotomy between believing in God and accepting evolution. As he puts it, “A person either believes that God created this process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own.” He also said, “the basic question was an unfair question, because it simply asked us in a simplistic manner whether or not we believed, in my view, whether there is a God or not.” The question at the debate to which he referes was not about God; it was about science. He seemed to twist the question based on the assumtion that belief in evolution and belief in God are mutually exclusive. My comments here are not about faith or God, they are about the candidates knowledge and use of the field I know best.
- I “wasn’t there” for the American Revolution, but I have no doubts about who won. One does not need to be an eyewitness to an event in order to make a convincing reconstruction of that event from available evidence.
- According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, a primate is a “mammal of the order Primates, which includes humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians” (emphasis mine). All humans, Huckabee’s parents included, are primates. He is the descendant of a primate; he is a primate, and so am I.
- He would not be writing a science textbook as President, but science is very important in many decisions the President makes. This point has been made by a group calling for a debate on science among the presidential candidates and an editorial in the Jan. 4, 2008 issue of Science magazine. If Gov. Huckabee can dismiss and so profoundly misunderstand this scientific theory, I have doubts about his ability to make a scientifically well informed decision on global warming, nuclear power, alternative energy sources, basic research funding, human embryonic stem cell research, education, and a host of other important political issues. If I know a candidate is wrong or ill-informed in science, which is the are of human endeavor that I know best, how can I trust him or her in any other area?