Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin and McCain: Does it work? Part I

Preliminary Note: Permission is given to copy this piece, but ONLY in its entirety. Please link, also, if you like.

Since this is Sunday (well, was Sunday), I decided to begin with " creationism" and its sometimes partner " intelligent design" (ID); something of interest to every parent of school children, scientists, courts, constitutionalists and supporters of theocracy in the United States.

ID is not a science. Unlike scientific theory--and like creationism-- ID cannot be tested against accepted theory. It cannot be tested against anything since the basis for it is untestable. Please note that creationism and ID are NOT the same thing, though they do often point the same direction. Creationism is a "belief" perhps stretchable to a philosophy. ID is a philosophy that leads back to creationism.

Much on the net has been directed at McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, Alaska's "hockey mom"-turned Governor. No one really knows, at this point, exactly why the former runner up for Ms. Alaska was chosen by McCain, if, in fact, she was chosen by McCain.

There are a few really interesting things about Palin that make me personally believe she was NOT his choice, but perhaps the choice of Karl Rove--a man far more conservative than 72 year-old McCain who he is advising these days in order to get his sagging campaign back on track.

Here I will look at, and document to source, their positions on Creationism and Intelligent Design (ID).

Teaching Creationism/ID
John McCain
John McCain has been all over the map on this topic, hardly a first for a man who New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson addressed at the convention in saying:

"John McCain may pay hundreds for his shoes, but we're the ones that will pay for his flip-flops."

For instance, in February of 2007, ABC News reported on a Seattle luncheon co-sponsored by the right-wing associated Discovery Institute. The Institute--whose board members and funders include Howard Ahmanson whose wife sits on the TEC-Bashing Board of the Institute for Religion and Democracy (scroll down to read about IRD and Howard Ahmanson, specifically) along side other political and religious right wingers--is a major proponent for ID. ID has tremendous support by those who believe that America was created to be a Christian nation and/or others who support a theocratic government in the U.S.


"My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives."
--Howard Ahmanson to Orange County Register

The wealthy Ahmansons, Howard Ahmanson being the eccentric and often rather bizarre supporter of dominionism and who is the wealthy heir of the Home Savings and Loan fortune, and his wife, Roberta, obviously support a theocratic American government, thus criticism from alleged "liberals" at McCains luncheon involvment with those that do support The Discovery Center and who make no secret of their penchance to a religion-based government. Politically speaking, support of creationism and ID are not just religious topics, but a pathway for many to American theocracy.

It appears to remain, however, that no one knows exactly where McCain stands. Please note that creationism and ID are not equivalent by definition, and one is not the other, though one can be used to support the other and it is clear that these are easily confused or can be combined. In reading below, please note that McCain has said (elsewhere) that decisions to include either ID or creationism should occur at the local level (school boards). Please note that I did not use quotes which could not be found but which were referred to in articles.

Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools? McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they've got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don't think is - or one belief on how people and the world was created - I think there's nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.

Daily Star: Does it belong in science? McCain: There's enough scientists that believe it does. I'm not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented. (on ID)

--John McCain, Arizona Daily Star, 8/28/2005 Ed. Board Meeting (transcript in whole)


Question: [What's your stance on teaching creationism in schools?]

McCain: I think that students should be exposed to every theory and every thought that we can...I don't like communism, but I think students should be exposed to communism.... There are people that believe this is the the way the earth was created. I'm not saying it should be forced on them, but I don't get this dispute....

Question: But in science class?

McCain: I'm not on the school board. I'd let them decide that. One of our fundamental beliefs is local control. --John McCain, July 6, 2006, CNN


John McCain: “'I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view,' he said. 'I happen to believe in evolution. ... I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.'" (question is not quoted, but reported to be on creationism/evolution being taught in schools)
--John McCain, Aspen Times, July 2, 2006

"On the issue of whether the teaching of evolution in public schools should also include "intelligent design" - the idea that life is too complex to have happened by accident - McCain said he agrees that "young people have a right to be told" about intelligent design. "It's a theory, just like evolution is a theory ... (even though) it may not be as plausible," given there's little scientific evidence to support it, he said. The "hand of God played a role," he said." (on ID)
--John McCain, Louisville Courier Journal, 2006 [unable to locate original article to substantiate. Mentioned here as second source.


"Senator McCain believes evolution is supported by science, but that we shouldn’t be afraid to expose students to other theories." (creationism and ID)
--McCain Staff, The Hotline, May 9, 2007


(This is a debate video, extremely short, where McCain says that he believes in evolution but sees the hand of God when he hikes the Grand Canyon)

--Republican Primary Debate, May 3, 2007 Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, CA

In McCain's book, Character Is Destiny, co-authored with Mark Salter a long time staffer, it is reported (but we have not verified) that he wrote:

"Darwin helped explain nature's laws," McCain and Salter wrote. "He did not speculate, in his published theories at least, on the origin of life. The only undeniable challenge the theory of evolution poses to Christian beliefs is its obvious contradiction of the idea that God created the world as it is in less than a week.

"But our faith is certainly not so weak that it can be shaken to learn that a biblical metaphor is not literal history," they added. "Nature does not threaten our faith. On the contrary, when we contemplate its beauty and mysteries we cannot quiet in our heart the insistent impulse of belief that for all its variations and inevitable change, before its creation, in a time before time, God let it be so, and, thus, its many splendors and purposes abide in His purpose."

So, here is my view:

Is McCain a creationist? No.

Does McCain believe in evolution? Yes.

Does McCain believe in God? Yes.

Does McCain believe ID should be taught in science classes? Probably not/Yes (note the yes is a little wiggly as he did not specifically SAY in science classes, nor did he deny it should be taught in science classes, but his answer, to me, clearly implies he does because of his use of the word "theory" in both cases. Since ID is NOT a science, I can only conclude he either really doesn't understand science (as he freely admits--which is troubling on its face), but that he cannot discern the difference between creationism, ID and evolution and whether each is a belief, philosophy, or a scientific theory. Most all articles on this, except found on science pages for the most part, don't seem to understand these differences, either, which is probably cause of much of this so-called confusion.

Does McCain believe creationism should be taught in school? Yes.

Does McCain believe ID has a place to be taught in schools? Yes.

Regligion? Is an Episcopalian attending a Baptist Church, identifies as a Southern Baptist.

Has McCain flip-flopped on teaching of ID in science classes? Yes.

Has McCain flip-flopped on teaching of creationism in science classes? Unclear.


Teaching Creationism/ID
Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin's father was a science teacher and also a Christian. What seems marginally clear, in Palin's case, is that she does not separate the two concepts of ID and creationism. Like many, she lumps them together. Because until recently there WAS no history, really, on Palin because she remained an obscure Governor in a state with 670K people, there have not been many opportunities for Palin to get on the record on this matter.

Here is what I am able to find, however:

Q: The education section of the Republican Party of Alaska’s platform states “We support giving Creation Science equal representation with other theories of the origin of life. If evolution is taught, it should be presented as only a theory.” Do you support this position? Why?

A: I support this plank in the Republican Party’s platform. I believe society can have healthy debates on scientific theories, so equal representation of creation and evolution shouldn’t be an offense.

--Sarah Palin, published written answer, August 24, 2002, Daily News-Miner (ID and creationism* see note below under "Does Palin believe ID should be taught in science classes?")


Is Palin a creationist? Unknown.

Does Palin believe in evolution? Unknown.

Does Palin believe in God? Yes.

Does Palin believe ID should be taught in science classes? Yes. In the first Palin quote, she says she agrees with Alaska GOP's party plank. ([see section III(e)]. In this document, ID is specifically called out: We support teaching various models and theories for the origins of life and our universe, including Creation Science or Intelligent Design. If evolution outside a species (macro-evolution) is taught, evidence disputing the theory should also be presented.

Does Palin believe creationism should be taught in school? Yes, appears so. She does not state science classes specifically, rather concedes it should be taught along with "other theories" which would include evolution which IS taught in science classes.

Does Palin believe ID has a place to be taught in schools? Yes.

Religion: Baptized as a Roman Catholic, she was rebaptized into the pentecostal Assembly of God church as the age of 12 currently attending Wasilla Bible Church and an independent Christian church.

As of this writing, Palin has not flip-flopped.