Back To The Dark Ages

by digby

Can you believe we are actually reading stuff like this?

Although many scientists accept evolution as the best theoretical explanation for diversity in forms of life on Earth, the issue of its validity has risen again as an important issue in the current 2008 presidential campaign.

It's enough to make you hang your head in despair. But that doesn't really tell the story. From Steve Benen:

Gallup followed up today with some pertinent details — including the partisan breakdown.

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.

In fact, the problem isn’t just that Americans in general are confused, but rather that the GOP is throwing off the curve.

Here’s the breakdown on belief in evolutionary biology by partisan affiliations:

* Dems — 57% believe in evolution, 40% do not

* Independents — 61% believe in evolution, 37% do not

* Republicans — 30% believe in evolution, 68% do not

Granted, the numbers for Dems and Independents aren’t great, but a strong majority of each accept modern science. That’s at least somewhat comforting.

But by more than a 2-to-1 margin, Republicans are on another page of the science textbook altogether.

Hey, a quarter of the population say they believe in both evolution and creationism so it's safe to say that there is something very bizarre about this debate. But we can also safely say that this is a GOP culture war rallying cry and not a true national obsession.

But it's obvious that the candidates are nervous about this because only three of them said they didn't believe in evolution in the South Carolina debate even though almost 70% of Republicans say they don't. Not one of the super-pandering, smarmy flip-floppers, "Rudy McRomney," who desperately need to establish bona fides with the fundies, were willing to raise their tiny hands along with Brownback, Tancredo and Huckabee. It seems to me that it would have been a freebie.

I think it's obvious that the evolution debate is manufactured by a bunch of evil Straussian elites to keep the primitives in line, but why wouldn't they play along when they could have sent a strong dog-whistle to the base? It doesn't make sense to me. What do you think?