Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What Sarah Palin the VP candidate says about evolution

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Like many other websites, we've linked to various stories pertaining to Sarah Palin's fundamentalist Christian beliefs and her views on evolution and the age of the Earth. We've had anti-witchcraft blessings, Matt Damon, rumours that she thinks dinosaurs were around 4,000 years ago ... you name it, Sarah's got it.

Interviews with Palin have been carefully managed by the Republican campaign, so as to avoid her saying anything embarrassing, and for weeks nothing official has come out as regards her views on evolution. But now the campaign seems to have got the official line sorted, as Palin gave the following answer during her largely embarrassing and now infamous interview with Katie Couric of CBS news. She was asked the following question: "Do you believe evolution should be taught as an accepted scientific principle or as one of several theories?"

And she gave this answer:
"Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, as you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won’t deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth. But that is not part of the state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught it science class."
Given other contradictions (some would say "lies") by Palin since she became the VP candidate (see Bridge to Nowhere), we're not willing to take this as definitive proof that she doesn't oppose the teaching of evolution, but it certainly shows that if she is a creationist, she realises it would be damaging to go public with it. And let's remember that McCain hasn't been consistent on these issues either, as Nature pointed out last week:
"He said last year, in a Republican primary debate: 'I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.' In 2005, he told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought 'all points of view' should be available to students studying the origins of humanity. But the next year a Colorado paper reported him saying that such viewpoints should not be taught in science class."
If this post has been more sympathetic to Palin than usual, allow me to balance it out by linking to Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky's piece on Palin from yesterday. It turns out she knows nothing about the Supreme Court. It seems she can only name one court decision, and unsurprisingly that's Roe v Wade, which protects the legal right to abortion.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I described her interview with Katie Couric as "infamous" and "embarrassing", watch this clip. She genuinely tries to argue that living near Russia gives her foreign policy credibility:


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