Heckle: Unintelligent design: Part 4: Dangers of creationism


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Among other GOP presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson shares a creationist outlook on the theory of evolution.

Michael Heckle

The unsubstantiated and baseless pseudoscience that is creationism is not an out-dated scientific fallacy, but one that continues to affect policies and schools.

Top political candidates in the GOP continuously promote creationism as scientific fact, even those who have a background in the sciences. While religious freedom must be upheld, separation of church and state protects the integrity of public science education.

I hope that, at the very least, I have been able to show the unscientific nature of intelligent design and creationism in these past few columns. I hope I have been able to frame the topic to show that the ideology basis itself in anything other than the scientific method should not be given the honor of the title science.

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has not been shy about his surprisingly unscientific views on evolution. Carson has stated his views at multiple public events, including at an Emory University commencement speech in 2012 and, more recently, at a Tennessee church in November. Considering Carson has a degree in medicine from the University of Michigan and is considered one of the top pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, it’s hard to believe he would possess a creationist perspective on such a critical biological matter.

To me, this raises serious concerns about integrity. Carson cannot be trusted to put discredited and archaic theories behind him simply because of faith, even when they are at direct odds with universally accepted theories.

Yet Carson is not alone. Multiple GOP candidates have expressed similar unscientific views. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal are the worst offenders. It’s ironic that the most common argument made by these men is that of keeping an open mind and teaching multiple viewpoints. What Carson, Cruz, Paul and the rest of the GOP don’t seem to understand is that there are no multiple viewpoints.

Evolution is true whether or not a person’s faith allows it to be. All of the Bible verses and pseudoscientific fallacies used to spread this disingenuous notion of creationism cannot hold a candle to the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Furthermore, it is ridiculous that individuals being considered for the most powerful position in the world hold such discredited beliefs.

The issue of creationism seems to be an exclusively American phenomenon. Almost 42 percent of Americans believe in creationism, and that number has stayed constant since 1982. However, over 20 years, the percentage of adults who were unsure about evolution has risen from 7 percent to 21 percent. Thankfully, the percentage of adults who outright reject evolution has dropped from 48 percent to 39 percent. Yet, despite the fact that creationism has risen in Europe since the 1970s, it has received nowhere near the support as it has in the United State.

The United States lags behind the rest of the world in scientific understanding of genetics and evolution, ranking 32nd in a survey of 34 and narrowly beating Turkey. As one of the largest, and most developed countries in the world, we should be embarrassed by these findings.

What is even more disturbing than the presence of creationism is its effect on schools in the United States. Creationism is taught in schools in 14 different states nationwide, with two using public funding to do so. Schools in Louisiana and Tennessee can use state-provided funds to teach anti-scientific views and continue the lie that creationism is science. No matter what career path students choose to follow, science has an impact. If we cannot accurately teach our children the principles of science, we will raise a generation of scientifically illiterate adults.

Creationism misrepresents science, makes disingenuous arguments and blatantly lies when it meets criticism. Furthermore, we have a field of political candidates that follows this unscientific principle, including one who has based his career in science. The United State is left falling behind the rest of the world because we cannot shake this archaic, untrue and illogical excuse for a theory.