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Majority of Republicans now reject theory of evolution

capuchinCreative Commons/kansasphoto

Writing last week for the Monkey Cage blog off a 2013 Pew poll, NYU political scientist Joshua Tucker notes that the percentage of Republicans who say they believe in the theory of evolution is going down and is below 50 percent.

Given the cultural/religious politics of recent decades, it’s not very surprising that evolution denial is more common among Repubs than Dems. It would be surprising if it wasn’t. But it’s a little more surprising that the Republican disbelief is actually growing and how far it has moved since the last time Pew asked the question.

In 2009, Pew found that, by 54-39, a solid majority Republicans said that humans evolved from other forms of life over the millennia (the other 39 percent said that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time). But in the 2013 poll on the same question, evolution disbelievers among Republicans had surged to 48 percent while evolution believers had dropped to 43, a 9-percentage-point swing.

It’s no surprise that a solid majority of Democrats (67-27 percent) subscribe to the theory of evolution. That breakdown has barely budged since 2009, when it was 64-30. A little more surprising is that self-described independents have lined up almost exactly with Dems on this question. We normally expect the independent number to be fall between the Dem and Repub numbers.

Thinking aloud about the change in the Repub number, Tucker writes:

Now there is more than one possible explanations for this final observation. It may be the case that the underlying belief in evolution among Republicans has not really changed sine 2009, but Republican’s willingness to admit to believing (or not believing) in evolution to an interviewer may have changed in the intervening period.

Comments (83)

  1. Submitted by Maggie Belle on 01/06/2014 - 11:47 am.

    Majority … reject theory of evolution

    Does this topic even matter in the course of our lives as we know them to be? What scholar decided to throw this into the mix of political subjects all supposedly relevant to that which defines a Democrat or Republican?
    More to rile the ire of citizenry and deceptively beguile the masses.
    Fools, all of you, who bring such nonsense forth!

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/06/2014 - 01:16 pm.

      When one rejects the “theory of evolution” and the idea of change-and-response, it naturally goes hand in hand with the idea that the always human-friendly earth is a God-guaranteed condition (until the 2nd coming), and that there is a never-ending pool of resources to draw upon.

      And so it is a very good proxy for how one proposes to deal with (or ignore) the biggest challenges that we are facing.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 01/07/2014 - 08:39 pm.

      It matters because o the broader lesson

      The lesson people take from creationism being just as acceptable as evolution is that science is just a matter of opinion. One person’s holy book, another person’s gut, and overwhelming scientific evidence, are equally likely to be true. So take from that the lesson that you should just believe whatever feels right, and then apply it to other scientific matters, like food safety, or environmental issues. That’s what happens when scientific research is no more valid than the opinion of any random blowhard.

    • Submitted by Tom Karas on 01/09/2014 - 07:16 am.

      Dear Maggie, this is important

      Even though the comments below happily delve into the evolution/creation debate itself, what is important here is that the story shines good light on how segments of our society make decisions. Everyone can have an opinion, the question to society and voters is to determine how well their opinions are backed by ‘facts’, sometimes referred to as science.
      The story does good service to the most important segment of voters – Independents. Thankfully we have a small chunk of voters who really weigh candidates on their positions and research the basis of their platforms, positions, opinions, and decisions.
      For example we have a potential candidate for Governor by the name of Zellers who explained to a T-party gathering in St. Cloud that he was unconvinced of the ‘science’ or climate change. That is an opinion that he holds, and a wee bit of research would show him to have a loose grasp of what science is. Or that he has little value for science being a firm basis for his positions. This should tell the independent voters out there that he is less inclined to use science as a basis for his decisions. The fact that the majority of Republicans can not accept the science of evolution is just another fact that the independent voter should be aware of if they have not grasped that reality already.
      We all do better when our leaders have a firm basis for their opinions and decisions. We independents are watching and learning. That is why this article was important to me. Thank you.

  2. Submitted by Bill O'Reilly on 01/06/2014 - 12:20 pm.


    So, which way was it? Did Noah travel to the poles to collect two polar bears and two penguins, or did the animals migrate to the Middle East to meet him?

  3. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 01/06/2014 - 01:19 pm.

    Question easily anwered.

    “Did Noah travel to the poles to collect two polar bears and two penguins?”

    Yes. He took two flying unicorns and brought back two penguins. Then he took them and got the polar bears. The polar bears ate the unicorns after arrival (afraid, hungry, hot in the Middle Eastern desert)–so no unicorns today.

    • Submitted by Theo Tsourdalakis on 01/06/2014 - 02:33 pm.

      scoffing is not science

      Scoffing and sarcasm is a poor substitute for scientific evidence.
      What evidence is there, which proves (beyond reasonable doubt) that our great.….….…. Great grandfather was as self replicating molecule?

      Go to attached link for a 10 min audio interview with Dr Ben Carson.
      He is a world famous neuro surgeon and created much controversy recently when he expressed his rejection of Darwinian evolution.
      I commend the link to you;

      • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/06/2014 - 03:00 pm.

        I would also recommend Stephen C. Meyer’s new book, Darwin’s Doubt.

        • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/06/2014 - 10:46 pm.


          That “scoffing” comment wasn’t any less scientific than what Carson or Meyer have to say on the matter. The fact that people buy this stuff as science does not bode well for this country.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2014 - 08:36 pm.

        To begin with

        there’s no such thing as ‘Darwinian Evolution’, unless you are referring to Charles Darwins’ grandfather Erasmus. By Charles Darwin’s time, evolution was generally accepted (we’ve devolved since then).
        His contribution was a specific mechanism accounting for evolution: Natural Selection.
        You could read the book, but it would take a lot more than 10 minutes.

        Carson’s political activities (he’s talking about running for President) have no connection to his success as a surgeon. Another example of how an expert in one field can be ignorant in others.

      • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 01/08/2014 - 10:10 am.

        Carson is a moron

        You might want to thnk twice about using Carson as a source for any sort of intelligent insight. Based on his statements on Marijuana I would seriously doubt his abilities as an MD

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 01/06/2014 - 02:57 pm.

      You owe me a new monitor!

      (just spewed all over this one . . . . . . )

  4. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 01/06/2014 - 02:15 pm.


    Goes to show the intellectual gap between the two parties in Congress. Not believing in evolution is like thinking the Sun and all the planets revolve around the Earth. It’s too bad that voters elect such ignorant politicians.

    • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/06/2014 - 02:56 pm.

      Mac-Due to advances in


      Due to advances in science, there have been recent scientific findings that question some of the origins of animal life (e.g. darwanism, evolution) and suggests some form of intelligent design.

      These types of open and respectful discussions are what fuels the advancement of science and the way we understand life as we know it. To so flippantly disregard anothers opinion without a little homework is a terrible thing and more to the point, puts into question the validity of your opening comment.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2014 - 08:38 pm.

        Got a citation

        to a refereed, peer reviewed scientific journal publishing such a finding?
        There has been much scientific discussion of the precise mechanisms underlying natural selection, but no question of the existence of the phenomenon itself.

      • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/06/2014 - 10:33 pm.


        There hasn’t been anything of the sort. Intelligent Design isn’t science. Its religion wrapped in pseudo scientific language for people who lack the intelligence to tell the difference. You can’t tell lies and ask for reasonable discourse. Scorn is the appropriate response.

        • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/07/2014 - 07:06 pm.

          Liar? That’s harsh. Not very respectable of you Hintz.

          Are you familiar with the Cambrian Explosion Mr. Hintz? If not, I highly recommend brushing up on it. Darwin himself knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory could not explain. Scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal creating a compelling case for intelligent design. I think you incorrectly presume that intelligent design = religion. Proponents of intelligent design argue that the universe and living things are best explained by intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection and thus the best explanation for the cambrian explosion.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/08/2014 - 09:42 am.

            So you espouse

            the Little Green Men theory of creationism?
            God is the only agent I’ve seen proposed.

            And you’re still misreading Darwin (not to mention contemporary evolutionary biologists).
            Evolution by Natural Selection was never intended to be the ONLY mechanism involved in the development of species. Unique events were always a possibility.
            How do you think that Darwin accounted for the evolution of different varieties of finches on different islands? You really ought to read him!

            Evolution might be described as the nonrandom response to random events.

            • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/08/2014 - 07:42 pm.

              To your comment of little green men – in my opinion, intelligent design is an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution.

              To your second point regarding Darwin’s accounting for the evolution of different varieties of finches on different islands – I assume you are referring to “evolution as limited common descent”, which designates the scientifically uncontroversial idea that many different varieties of similar organisms within different species, genera, or even families are related by common ancestry. Here is where I disagree with you, in that; virtually all scientists would agree that the famed Galapagos Island finch species are probably descended from a single Continental South American finch species.

              • Submitted by Susanne Wissink on 01/09/2014 - 09:28 am.

                Since when is your opinion science? Science is based on facts and verifiable observations. Blindly declaring that the Cambrian Explosion is the result of intelligent design does not meet that criteria.

              • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/09/2014 - 09:43 am.


                If you can identify a single shred of evidence that any supreme being or other sort of deity exists, I’ll eat Dennis Tester’s hat.

          • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 01/08/2014 - 10:23 am.

            Proponents of ID claim it isn’t religious but that flat out lie was exposed in a court of law.

            • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/08/2014 - 07:43 pm.

              I assume you are referring to the 1987 United States Supreme Court prohibition against teaching creationism in the U.S. public schools. The formal theory of intelligent design is clearly different than creationism in both its method and content. The theory of intelligent design, unlike creationism, is not based upon the Bible. Instead, it is based on observations of nature which the theory attempts to explain based on what we know about the cause and affect structure of the world and the patterns that generally indicate intelligent causes. Intelligent design is an inference from empirical evidence, not a deduction from religious authority.

              • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 01/09/2014 - 07:03 am.

                No, you assume incorrectly. Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District before Judge John E. Jones III, a conservative appointed by George W. Bush.

                ” The ruling concluded that intelligent design is not science, and permanently barred the board from “maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.”


                “Jones decried the “breathtaking inanity” of the Dover policy and accused several board members of lying to conceal their true motive, which he said was to promote religion.
                A six-week trial over the issue yielded “overwhelming evidence” establishing that intelligent design “is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,” said Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago.”

                “We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to a pretext for the board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom.”
                The disclaimer, he said, “singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource and instructs students to forgo scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.”


          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/08/2014 - 10:26 am.

            What about the Cambrian Explosion?

            The Cambrian “Explosion” took place over 20 million years, and there is some basis for concluding a geological reason for it. It looks like a sudden “explosion” because the fossil record is incomplete. It does not pose a serious challenge to evolution.

            Charles Darwin was born over 200 years ago. There have been many advances in scientific knowledge since then, most notably in the field of genetics. Saying that Darwin or his theory “could not explain” something no more discredits evolution than the modern rejection of circular heliocentric planetary motion invalidates Copernican astronomy.

            • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/08/2014 - 07:46 pm.

              Mr. Holbrook, as you know the Cambrian Explosion is an event where nearly all of the major animal body plans appear abruptly in the fossil record without any apparent evolutionary precursors.

              What this means is that virtually all of the major animal groups appear in a geological “blink of an eye,” without any direct ancestors in the fossil record. Even Richard Dawkins has observed that the Cambrian animals looked as if they were just planted there without any evolutionary history.

              Most leading evolutionary paleontologists who are top authorities on the Cambrian period—people like Douglas Erwin, James Valentine, and Simon Conway Morris—agree that the evidence shows the Cambrian explosion was a real event, and is not merely an artifact of the fossil record. Fossil discoveries since Darwin’s time have only made the Cambrian explosion problem worse for his theory. See discovery of the Burgess Shale Cambrian deposit in the Canadian Rockies (1909) and the discovery of Cambrian fossils in Chengjiang, China (1984), both post Darwin.

              You are correct in saying that there have been many advances in scientific knowledge since the time of Darwin, most notably in the field of genetics. This is precisely my point, which I noted in my initial response to Mr. Riddel. Molecular biology has given us tools to experimentally test Darwinian claims. I am no means a scientist or mathematician, but based on dare I say cutting-edge molecular biology and mathematics molecular biologists are concluding that there is an engineering problem at the molecular level to support Darwin’s theory. Darwinian mechanisms cannot produce the genetic information and novel proteins—or systems for regulating their expression—that are required to build new animals. One such study came out of VIB, KU Leuven, UGent and Harvard where they succeeded in reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells and thus determining how genes developed and evolved into their current form over more than 100 million years.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/09/2014 - 09:33 am.

                Yes, I do know

                Nothing you have said points to the Cambrian Explosion as evidence that refutes evolutionary biology (and, for the record, the oft-repeated quote from Professor Dawkins was taken out of context).

                I don’t have the time to give a detailed response to your very thorough (and interesting) post. Suffice it to say that “rapid” is not the same as “impossible.” The rate of evolutionary change during the Cambrian Era was rapid, but a recent peer-reviewed study that uses statistical methodology (Bayesian inferences) to infer the actual rate of change shows that the “Explosion” was compatible with evolutionary theory:


                The cause of the Explosion is still not certain, but there is some discussion of geological factors playing a role:


          • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/08/2014 - 10:57 am.


            That simply isn’t true. Scientists have not recently come up with anything of the sort. That’s just pseudo-scientific babble. If you want to say its not religion, that’s fine, but don’t call it science.

            • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/08/2014 - 07:47 pm.

              Please post something constructive.

              Please read above posts. Although to your dismay Mr. Hintz it is true and it is science and not pseudo-scientific babble as you call it.

              • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/09/2014 - 01:32 am.

                Back at you

                I read the above posts. And they are pure nonsense. What you are going on about is an affront to actual science.

          • Submitted by Jeremy Lyons on 01/08/2014 - 07:52 pm.

            A closing thought…..

            Charles Darwin was a man ahead of his time and his findings were not widely accepted initially and highly controversial when The Origin of Species was published in 1859. The aftermath spawned a scientific revolution. However, with more recent scientific findings in the areas of genetics, a new scientific revolution is on the horizon. I only hope that people can put aside what they think they know and open up to new ideas.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/06/2014 - 02:19 pm.

    All this tells us

    is that a majority of republicans believe in God and a majority of democrats do not. But we always knew that.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 01/06/2014 - 02:55 pm.

      That might apply . . . . . .

      only if the ideas of God and of evolution were mutually exclusive. Which – of course – they do not have to be.

      • Submitted by Carol Larsen on 01/07/2014 - 09:26 pm.


        THe problem that fundamentalist Christians have with evolution is that if one does NOT believe in Adam and Eve, the talking snake, and original sin, it causes them to doubt many other things about the Bible. The truth about the stories of man’s origins is that they are stories, told down through the ages to explain how we got here, when there was no scientific truth on which to draw.
        There is much truth and beauty ( and not a little wickedness and violence) in the Old Testament. Christians should pay attention to the words of Jesus Himself, and stop believing fundamentalist preachers and insincere politicians who seek power and riches by taking biblical verses out of context and ignoring science altogether. This country is still immature in so many harmful ways. Yes, even here in the enlightened state of Minnesota. So long, Michele Bachmann, and good riddance.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/06/2014 - 02:58 pm.

      All this tells me

      Is that you don’t understand evolution.

      Back in the 50s, Pius XII wrote an encyclical saying that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and evolution. I was taught this in Episcopal Sunday school around 40 years ago (the Church fo England recently made a posthumous apology to Charles Darwin).

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 01/06/2014 - 02:59 pm.

      Are you saying that if you believe in god you cannot believe in evolution. I didn’t realize that Pope John Paul was an atheist

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/07/2014 - 09:27 am.

      You are perhaps correct Tester

      Only if you define God as material wealth.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2014 - 01:34 pm.

      Remember that

      a majority of Americans believe in God, and a majority of Americans are Democrats.
      The difference is that Democrats are less likely to accept some version of the old and new Testaments as the literal truth — that a God speaking the language of 1500 BCE Hebrews was the last word on science; the nature of the Universe.

      Or are you saying that the only people who believe in God are those who share your own personal conception of God?

      • Submitted by jason myron on 01/07/2014 - 03:02 pm.

        I think that’s exactly what he’s saying….

        Just like Democrats aren’t real Americans, don’t believe in freedom, won’t serve in the military, are anti business, all on the dole and any number of other observations that he’s extracted from his nether regions and attempted to put forth as fact.

  6. Submitted by Theo Tsourdalakis on 01/06/2014 - 02:30 pm.


    This article seems to make the ASSUMPTION that Darwinian/Macro evolution is a scientific “fact” – but is it really?

    First we need to get some clarity on defintions.
    “Evolution” is a vague word. The main definitions in the text books are:
    1) “change over time”, this is silly as it is stating the flaming obvious.
    2) Micro evolution is minor changes within a species, this is real and observable and uncontested.
    3) Darwinian/Macro evolution (where the conflict is) which asserts that:
    a) All living things had a common ancestor. This implies that your great….. great grandfather was a self replicating molecule.
    b) The observable world has come into existence by totally natural, unguided processes and specifically WITHOUT the involvement of an intelligent designer.
    Have a look at this link for details

    The evolution battle is often MISrepresented as science against religion – this is baloney!
    The real battle is between good science and Darwinism. When Darwinian/Macro evolution is scrutinised using the scientific method, it crumbles.
    The scientific method demands: observation, measurement, repeatability. Darwinian/Macro evolution has none of these, all it has is circumstantial evidence which is open to interpretation. Ask yourself: What evidence is there that our great …. Great grandfather was a self replicating molecule?

    Dr Ben Carson; Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at one of the world’s greatest hospitals (Johns Hopkins), a groundbreaking surgeon, best-selling author, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom said”
    “I think one of the most damning pieces of evidence against evolution is the human genome.
    You can see that you have very complex, sophisticated coding mechanisms for different amino acids, and various sequences that give you millions of different genetic instructions — very much like computer programming, which uses a series of zeros and ones in different sequences, but gives you very specific information about what that computer is to do.”

    I am pleased to see that more Republicans are waking up to the deception of Darwinian/Macro evolution – this myth has been peddled for over 100 years and its time to die a natural death is well and truely up.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/06/2014 - 05:12 pm.

      Just curious, when do you think the earth was created?

      And in that timeline, when do you believe were humans present?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2014 - 08:40 pm.

      Ben Carson

      has retired as a surgeon, and is now a professional politician.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/06/2014 - 10:44 pm.

      Oh dear

      That isn ‘t science. That ‘s just utter nonsense. And Ben Carson – who should know better – is lying about this just as he has lied about the basis for his bigoted beliefs about gays and about the ACA. The man is a liar and a fraud who is pandering to the ignorant wing of the Republican party. Its sad that a man so devoid of integrity is building such a following.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2014 - 03:29 pm.

      This is a nonsequitur

      Simply saying that the genome is complex does not prove the existence of a divine creator (or of any creator, for the matter).
      Or is he saying that God can’t be as smart as a computer programmer?
      Either way, it does not compute.

  7. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 01/06/2014 - 02:40 pm.

    Not incompatible

    Belief in God and an understanding of science are not incompatible. Rejection of demonstrable science is idiocy, not religion.

  8. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/06/2014 - 03:25 pm.

    Religion versus science

    As a number of above comments have shown, there is nothing which prevents one from accepting evolution as a scientific fact while maintaining a belief in God and the basic truths of the Bible. The problem only comes up by the Right which is perpetually looking for witches and books to burn and young minds to close by banning the teaching of evolution in schools or misrepresenting “intelligent design” or some other pseudoscience as real science.

    I’ll personally reserve judgment on the validity of Dr. Ben Carson’s view on Darwinism or evolution until I hear and read more from others who are more learned than I am on the subject. Scientific method is not a closed system; quite the opposite. On the other hand, as described above, Dr. Carson’s views sound to me a bit like the old philosophical arguments about “uncaused causation” and “first causes” for the existence of God. These arguments are not logical or scientific and do not posit any scientific truth. They are ways of expressing what we just simply don’t know to be scientifically true.

  9. Submitted by jody rooney on 01/06/2014 - 03:30 pm.

    Science has moved a bit further on than Darwinism

    and to pretend it hasn’t is setting up a straw man to knock down. Nice try but only an uneducated person would believe that Science hasn’t addressed this sincesince the time of Darwin.

    And sequencing genomes has proved pretty enlightening so I would suggest that you look at research for the last 50 years on this topic.

    Here are some places to start:

    You also might want to clear up your misconceptions about the terms that are thrown about so freely.

    Try to use sources that have people actually working the correct field. A neurosurgeon knows as much about genetics as a family practice doc. And frankly probably less since surgeons are only called in to cut what someone else has discovered.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/06/2014 - 04:01 pm.

      Dr. Carson

      Before you dismiss Dr. Carson’s understanding of genetics, you must understand how important he is to the Republican Party. Dr. Carson has said that the Affordable Care Act was the worst thing to happen in America since slavery. After that, you know that the Republican Party will accept anything he says as Holy Writ. It doesn’t matter how absurd or lacking in scientific foundation it may be: the man hates Obamacare! It’s all good!

      PS Mr. Tester, before you say anything here (and I know what you’re about to say), ask yourself if claiming criticism of Dr. Carson is necessarily racist is not its own form of racism. Surely, one can disagree with a person of color without being racist?

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/06/2014 - 06:14 pm.

        The link between obamacare and evolution

        Why did it take this many comments to get to this important relationship?

        Dr. Carson’s statements regarding obamacare are related to evolution in what way? If you want to refute a position of Dr. Carson’s you best attack his message, as your messenger attack is overwhelmingly ineffective.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2014 - 08:33 am.

          The link between Republicans and evolution

          Dr. Carson’s statements regarding the Affordable Care Act are related to evolution in that his ACA statements give him instant credibility with Republicans. He can spout any manner of nonsense about anything, and the GOP will eat it up like fried pork rinds. Hence, when he makes unscientific comments about evolution, those comments become part of what “real” Republicans believe.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2014 - 08:59 am.

            Failed again to make the link

            “spout any manner of nonsense about anything”

            I think that is what you have done here, with dazzling eloquence. I find the fried pork rinds comment just a bit racist.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2014 - 09:20 am.

              Failed again to follow

              Once again–since the article was about Republicans’ rejection of evolution, the reasons for that rejection are relevant. Dr. Carson has made statements rejecting much of evolutionary theory. His statements have been quoted as authoritative here. Why? It’s because he has scientific credibility for Republicans. What is the reason for that credibility? Is he a biologist? Geneticist? Anthropologist? No–he is a surgeon who has also made outlandish remarks about the Affordable Care Act. What else do Republicans need to know about him?

              The “nonsense” in this discussion is the Republican zeal for bad science that is accepted because it fits their world view. Evolution has been the accepted hypothesis of scientists for decades. It does not fit in with the beliefs of many conservative evangelicals. The pseudo-scientific nonsense of “intelligent design” is (to use an image from Genesis) just a fig leaf.

              It’s all of a piece with the general hostility American conservatives have towards science. There are voices within the Republican Party who oppose teaching relativity or set theory. Don’t tell me that’s not part of a broader pattern.

              Incidentally, friends from down south tell me that fried pork rinds are a favorite nosh of white folks. President Bush pere claimed them as his favorite snack.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2014 - 10:21 am.

                What ever became of attacking the argument on merits?

                Of course it is easier to attack the messenger out of hand, as you disagree with him on a wholly unrelated topic; evolution/obamacare. And, it is certainly easier because you just trot out the same old “I don’t like him” argument for every topic of discussion. Of course, it is not an argument that can sway someone with a different view. But, you can rest assured that everyone that agreed with you still agrees with you.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2014 - 11:04 am.

                  The merits

                  The “argument” has been attacked on the merits so many times that it scarcely merits the term “argument.” Ms. Rooney provided some very good links on the subject, if you have the inclination.

                  Dr. Carson is far from the only “messenger” on this subject. He is, however, one of the most prominent. As far as I know, he is also one of the few to generate presidential buzz. I’m not interested in attacking the messenger, but I do find it worth asking why he has become so prominent. If that is “attacking the messenger,” so be it.

            • Submitted by jody rooney on 01/07/2014 - 10:33 am.

              I was thinking they were all on

              the Aitkin’s diet.

            • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/07/2014 - 11:17 am.


              Being from the southern portion of the United States is considered a race? I guess that makes people from the Midwest a race because we tend to like ice fishing.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2014 - 01:58 pm.

                The South

                Good call Todd; RB too. Are you familiar with the history of the south?

                Soul Food: “The style of cooking originated during American slavery. African slaves were given only the “leftover” and “undesirable” cuts of meat from their masters (while the white slave owners got the meatiest cuts of ham, roasts, etc.”

                The African American Registry is a nonprofit educational organization.


                Check the list, which includes pork rinds (cracklins) and a variety of other low grade pork byproducts.

                • Submitted by Susanne Wissink on 01/07/2014 - 02:44 pm.

                  Pork rinds are a staple for many cultures including my French Canadian ancestors. Waste not, want not. In Quebec, they are often called oreilles de Christ (Christ ears – this always made me laugh as a child) and are eaten as part of traditional cabane à sucre meals.

                  Not really sure what that has to do with evolution though.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2014 - 02:55 pm.


                  Most southern cooking was originally African American. Fried pork rinds as a snack, however, probably originated in Mexico (chicarrones), and were adopted by oilmen in Texas. Cracklins were more commonly mixed as an ingredient in something else (e.g. corn bread).

                  Interesting how this discussion has evolved, isn’t it?

                • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/07/2014 - 03:44 pm.

                  Catch up with the times–it’s the new health food !!

                  Sunbathers looking to shed a few pounds before lounging poolside are seeking out better-for-you snacks. With loads of protein and low carbs, the pork rind segment is benefitting from consumers’ focus on their weight and on healthier eating.

                  The regional nature of pork rinds is looking like a thing of the past. Previously a staple in the southern states, this high-protein snack is becoming more sought after across the country due to its healthful profile as compared to its carb-loaded counterparts. In fact, a report from ABC News states that, beginning in 1997, sales of pork rinds have risen from around $300 million to $400 million, increasing 15% or more every year…..

                  The key to expanding the marketplace for pork rinds is educating consumers about them, including the different varieties available. “Many people aren’t familiar with pork skins, since they’re mainly a southern product,” says Reta Washington Johnson, managing partner at Julia’s Southern Foods, LLC, in Raleigh, N.C., which offers a variety of Southern foods, including microwavable pork rinds…..

                  …….Consumers’ continued focus on health and flavor trends are also impacting this segment. Those familiar with these products see pork rinds as a healthy snack and one that can be consumed while dieting. Consumers on high-protein/low-carb diets, in particular, have turned to pork rinds as a snacking solution…..

                  All from

                • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2014 - 04:25 pm.

                  He is an African American Man

                  “He can spout any manner of nonsense about anything, and the GOP will eat it up like fried pork rinds.”

                  He is spouting forth nonsense like fried pork rinds?

                  Is it amazing to you where else a google search can find this food? Even if it is, it does not change the context of the statement that was made.

                  As long as you are stepping in it, you might as well step with both feet!

                  • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2014 - 04:50 pm.

                    Give it a rest

                    No one said “spouting nonsense like fried pork rinds.” Read what you pasted.

                    If that’s the level of reading comprehension you’re working with, I can see how evolution might cause you problems.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2014 - 08:40 pm.

                      A Rest? No Thank You.

                      I will repeat for you what I pasted:

                      “He can spout any manner of nonsense about anything, and the GOP will eat it up like fried pork rinds.”

                      Your words; words not in quotations are my words; nothing that I wrote was pasted, only your words.

                      Does evolution cause me problems? Please cut and paste my statements regarding evolution. Thank You.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/27/2014 - 10:52 am.

                      Still searching?


                      When you find my statements regarding evolution, I will be happy to resume the conversation.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2014 - 09:10 am.

          Carson was presented as an expert

          source of information about medicine based on his (former) career as a surgeon (I believe that the term ‘world famous’ was used).
          This opens the door to questions about his current activities and how they affect his statements (his personal biases). If he is simply speaking as one more politician, then his former career becomes less relevant. Many politicians know better than they speak.

    • Submitted by Jeffrey Reed on 01/06/2014 - 06:22 pm.


      Critics point to “Origins” as if it appeared in last month’s issue of Science. Good grief, science has evolved (pun intentional) a wee bit since Charles left the Galapagos Islands.

  10. Submitted by John Bracken on 01/06/2014 - 05:02 pm.

    Survival of the Fittest

    I believe in Survival of the Fittest…the weak links get weeded out, the chain that is left is stronger. Democrats believe that the whole chain should become weaker and weaker until we are all doomed.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 01/06/2014 - 07:38 pm.

      Question for you:

      Is Survival of the Fittest the same thing as Natural Selection? If so, please describe how it works. If not, please describe how they are different. Thank you.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2014 - 08:43 pm.

        ‘Survival of the Fittest’

        was a term coined by the social evolutionist Herbert Spencer, not by Charles Darwin.
        ‘Fitness’ according to Darwin refers to the ability of a species to perpetuate its characteristics across generations, however that is achieved.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/06/2014 - 09:16 pm.

      Eugenics, much?Which weak

      Eugenics, much?

      Which weak links do you think need weeding out?

      I find it interesting that many of the people proposing this fail to realize that they are a smaller and smaller proportion of the population of this country and world.

      Who really are the weak links, then?

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 01/07/2014 - 10:41 am.

      Good for you sweet heart

      Do you want to define fittest.

      Because there can be a number of definitions. Are women more “fit” because they generally live longer than men? How about any one who can’s slam dunk a basket ball being defined as unfit? The physically challenged are clearly unfit?

      Sounds like another person who is attached to Ann Rand.

      There are many people who know your weaknesses, do they get to make the decision if you are weeded out?

  11. Submitted by David Rasmussen on 01/06/2014 - 06:12 pm.

    The ignorance runs both ways

    Per Pew, about one-third (32 percent) of overall Americans said they believe evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection.”

    So, many who say they believe in evolution don’t understand that natural selection is the mechanism.

    How can you believe in something if you don’t know what it is?

    32% (maximum) have a basic understanding of the most important finding of biology.

    Neither party seems to care about science, as far as I can tell. Maybe, the Democrats have a little more knowledge of science in their platform. Both parties prefer to scare with propaganda than to present scientific truth.

  12. Submitted by Janice Gepner on 01/06/2014 - 06:27 pm.

    Another possible explanation for the change in Republican numbers is that many of the Republicans who believed in evolution no longer identify themselves as Republicans. Given the shift to the right of the party, this is a real possibility.

  13. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/06/2014 - 10:13 pm.


    …I enjoyed the photo at the top of the article, especially when I suspected that at least some of the commentary related to it would take the form that it has, in fact, taken.

    My own 2¢ is that evolution and religion aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Evolution is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory – there’s no evidence – none – of a scientifically-credible alternative. Opposition to evolution springs almost exclusively from people who misunderstand both evolution and their own religion, and in most cases, what it boils down to is a rejection of reason in favor of mystical belief. If the majority of Republicans in the Pew poll reject evolution, it’s both sad and a little frightening to think of Republicans as people potentially making public policy, since they’re obviously in denial about science, and inclined to rely on magical thinking instead of reason.

    There’s no reason (no pun intended) to grant special credibility to the writings of a neurosurgeon about evolution, any more than there is to grant similar special credibility to the writings of an evolutionary biologist about how to perform neurosurgery.

    Fundamentalist religion – of whatever particular theology – relies upon “revealed truth,” which, in the case of many fundamentalists who call themselves “Christian,” means that the Bible is thought to be, literally, divine, and just as literally, to be the last word from God regarding every subject. That the Bible contradicts itself from time to time, or was written centuries before most of the modern world had even been imagined, just to name two of several areas of contention, is irrelevant to the fundamentalist. It’s characteristic of the “true believer” to be inflexible about his/her beliefs.

    Tucker may be right that it’s not so much a case of belief changing as it is a change in willingness to admit as much to an interviewer, and I also think Janice Gepner might be on-target with her comment. The Republican Party whose candidates I used to occasionally support 40 years ago has disappeared. So has the Democratic Party of 40 years ago.

    I, for one, do not want a political party whose candidates appear to believe that women are essentially chattel – and cattle – to be in a position to make public policy at any level – local, county, state or federal.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2014 - 09:13 am.

      To a scientist

      a theory is a general principle that ties together a set of observations.
      It is very different from a hypothesis.
      The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is not an hypothesis; the only question for the vast majority (>95%) of evolutionary biologists is the exact nature of the underlying mechanisms.

  14. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 01/07/2014 - 06:39 am.

    It must be the cold, but

    1…noting the image heading the article I do wonder if it is intended as a composite of the conservative Republican or a particular political figure, and then too

    2:…and from a poetic rather then recognizing the soul or science of this debate….I do believe if there is a god, the Dog walks in his shadow

    Happy New Year

  15. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 01/07/2014 - 10:52 am.

    What a difference 50 years makes

    I grew up in a very conservative small town in western Pennsylvania. I was in junior high in the mid-1960’s. We studied evolution in science class as the best way to explain the origin of species. It was totally noncontroversial. No parents protested, withdrew their children, or demanded that creationism be taught as an alternative. I was fascinated by evolution and did a term paper on it. At the time, I was also attending confirmation class at my Lutheran church. Part of the process was a deskside chat with the pastor in his office. He was a pretty conservative fellow. I brought up evolution and he and I agreed that it was not inconsistent with the Bible. We even talked about the parallels between the order of creation in Genesis and evolutionary theory–plants first, then sea creatures, then terrestrial animals, and finally human beings.

    I am unaware of any scientific findings that question the theory of evolution in the intervening fifty years. Yet we now have the majority of one political party disbelieving it. To me, this demonstrates how easy it is to undermine facts by endless repetition and (most significantly) by associating those facts with people the target audience disagrees with on other matters, a sort of political “you say potato and I say po-tah-to”. Thus: “Liberals believe in evolution. I think liberals are wrong about just about everything. Therefore, liberals must be wrong about evolution.” It’s also an example of what I call “faith-based politics” in which positions that should be the subject of debate become cast-in-stone dogma. Needless to say, there is very little room for discussion or compromise.

    We should all be worried about this. If millions of people can be unconvinced of evolution, what else could they be brought to believe (or disbelieve)? If we can’t agree on fundamental facts, our experiment in democracy has a very dim future.

  16. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/07/2014 - 12:14 pm.

    My father was a Lutheran pastor, and when people wanted

    him to preach against evolution, his response was that the Bible is not a science textbook and that it was written in accordance with what people were capable of understanding at the time.

    If you know anything about the history of science, you know that the theory of evolution was more or less forced into existence by the overwhelming evidence presented by geology and paleontology in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, information that was unavailable in Biblical times.

    Interestingly enough, when I was in high school in the late 1960s, we had a unit on evolution in biology class, a religiously diverse class that included Lutherans, Catholics, and a number of evangelical Christians. The only person who objected was a Jehovah’s Witness, who therefore did not take biology at all.

    The “controversy” over evolution was reborn in the 1980s, when suddenly there appeared a whole industry within the evangelical movement to deny two ideas: 1) Denying evolution, and 2) Official prayer in public schools. Recently, the same outfits have added a third principle, namely, denial of climate change. They also, to the annoyance of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and mainline Protestants, claim the label “Christian” exclusively for themselves.

    The aim? To present hot-button issues and false slogans (“Evolutionists deny God! Your children are being indoctrinated with atheism! Environmentalists want to destroy the American way of life!”) for political purposes and to discredit other Christians who accept science and respect other people’s belief systems.

    (Note: When I first saw bumperstickers in the 1980s saying “Kids need to pray” with illustrations that suggested a school environment, I asked my older relatives, the oldest born in 1899, whether they had ever had official school prayer. None of them, whether they came from the Twin Cities or small towns, had ever had prayer in public schools. I’ll admit to having had teacher-led prayer in kindergarten, but then I attended a Lutheran school that year.)

  17. Submitted by jody rooney on 01/07/2014 - 06:39 pm.

    Your oldest relatives probably didn

    say the pledge with “under God” in it either.

    A phrase that was added during the McCarthy era.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2014 - 08:42 pm.

      I didn’t

      and still don’t.
      Back in the ’60’s there was a classic poster showing Uncle Sam under God (I’ll leave the details to your imaginations).

  18. Submitted by John Wexler on 01/13/2014 - 12:57 pm.

    Creationism is not science.

    Creationism is not Science.

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