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Loss of respect for Dr. Paul

December 28, 2007

I’ve been having a difficult time deciding on a candidate that I like. One thing that is influencing my decision-making is the religion issue. Candidates who are pandering to the religious by “out-godding” each other to gain support as the next leader of a secular government already have marks against them. I simply don’t feel that faith is necessary to rule this nation, and even gets in the way of running the US as the founding fathers wanted it done. Let’s take a look at what the government does because of faith:

  1. Makes it possible for gay and lesbian Americans to be second-class citizens by denying the right to marry
  2. Gives citizens money to religious groups under the Faith-based Initiatives in a shameful thumbing of the nose at Separation
  3. Goes to war because god told the president to do so
  4. Puts bewildering roadblocks on government funding of vital stem cell research
  5. Allows the possibility of the teaching of the ridiculous doctrine of Intelligent Design to make it into our science classrooms

This last is a point that has shaken my feeling that Ron Paul might kinda sorta be the best candidate… maybe. I saw the following video on Phil Plait’s excellent Bad Astronomy blog. Ron Paul is asked if he believes in the theory of evolution. Check it:

Now, I have to say off the bat that I haven’t lost all respect for Dr. Paul, but I just can’t put my support behind a man that denies one of the most fact-supported theories in science. Another way to put this is I can’t put my support behind a man that believes, against all evidence, that the universe and its inhabitants were magicked into existence 6,000 years ago and can say that in a press conference with no hint of embarrassment.

On a personal note, it leaves me in the precarious position of having not a single candidate that I like. Is it too much to ask for a candidate to have a firm grasp of reality?

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. Ed T. permalink
    December 28, 2007 10:38 am

    I am all for Intelligent Design, as long as it’s His Holiness The Flying Spaghetti Monster…

  2. Tyler Nixon permalink
    December 28, 2007 2:06 pm

    I’m sorry did I miss Dr. Paul saying he believes in creationism?

    Saying he does not accept evolution as the basis of creation versus that he does not accept that evolution at all is a substantial distinction.

    Bear in mind he was taking it as a theological question, being mixed with science and said it was inappropriate in the first place.

    I think his short quick quote was misconstrued. I gather that what he was saying is that he does not accept that evolution exists outside of the work of a divine creator.

    See below : http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:R8wh7cKRNXUJ:www.shanktified.com/archives/ron-paul-campaign-on-evolution/+ron+paul+evolution&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

    On 5/4/07, Ron Shank wrote:

    Dear Ron Paul team:

    Does Ron Paul believe in evolution? I didn’t see his hand raised in the debate when asked “who does not believe in evolution.”

    Thanks for your quick reply.

    Thank you,

    Ron Shank

    They quickly replied.

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Re: Didn’t see his hand
    Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 16:15:06 -0400
    From: Ron Paul 2008 Presidential Campaign Committee
    To: Ron Shank

    Ron,

    Ron Paul did not raise his hand during that question, it was Tancredo, Huckabee & Brownback who raised their hands. Dr. Paul is physician and believes in evolution.

  3. Tyler Nixon permalink
    December 28, 2007 2:15 pm

    Also, all of those 5 points you raised are against Paul’s philosophy which is essentially libertarian, i.e. none of these areas are appropriate for government.

    From a recent debate (10/22/07), discussing gay marriage – generally he is libertarian, specifically he takes a federalist approach :

    “Well, if you believe in federalism, it’s better that we allow these things to be left to the state. My personal belief is that marriage is a religious ceremony. And it should be dealt with religiously. The state really shouldn’t be involved. The state, both federal and state-wise, got involved mostly for health reasons 100 years or so ago.

    But this should be a religious matter. All voluntary associations, whether they’re economic or social, should be protected by the law. But to amend the Constitution is totally unnecessary to define something that’s already in the dictionary.

    We do know what marriage is about. We don’t need a new definition or argue over a definition and have an amendment to the Constitution. To me, it just seems so unnecessary to do that. It’s very simply that the states should be out of that business, and the states — I mean, the states should be able to handle this. The federal government should be out of it.”

  4. December 28, 2007 2:27 pm

    That is good information, Tyler, and it definitely helps. However, with the direct quotes from the answer:

    “I um I think that its a theory , the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it”

    and:

    “I think the creator that I know y’now created every one of us and created the universe”

    put together, those show a direct opposition to the emails that you posted.

    Obviously, as a theory, evolution should be skeptically viewed, but not as a complete opposition. ALL of the data put together favors evolution as a basic fact, even if we don’t yet understand exactly how it happens. It’s the same with gravity. It’s a theory, and we know what gravity does, but we’re not quite sure how it does it yet. To say that you don’t accept evolution and to imply that you don’t because it’s a theory is the same as saying that you think it’s possible that a dropped screwdriver will land on Mars because gravity is a theory.

    As for your second comment, the first four of my bulletpoints were a leadup to the last, which was the issue I had with Ron Paul. I didn’t mean to imply that they had anything to do with his stances on those issues. If I did imply that, I apologize.

  5. December 28, 2007 2:59 pm

    Why does a belief in creationism and evolution have to be mutually exclusive. If one believes in a omnipotent being it is certainly possible that he is the Prime Mover as theorized by St. Thomas. He is the point of origin and that evolution is merely the means of execution of His plan, no?

  6. December 28, 2007 3:04 pm

    Because, Duffy, you can’t believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago, and believe that it evolved over millions of years at the same time.

    You can’t believe in a big bang that happened over 15 billion years ago and a “creation” that came into being 6,000 years ago.

    Believe it or not, that math does not add up.

  7. Jeff permalink
    December 28, 2007 3:53 pm

    As an Engineer and Ron Paul supporter, I watched the video and found myself wishing he had come down more firmly on the side of science then on on the fence leaning towards science.

    However, Dr. Paul’s personal religious beliefs do not concern me all that much.

    Why?

    He has a decades long record of voting along constitutional lines, and has never attempted to use religion as a weapon the way some candidates (Huckabee, brownback) have. His position has been a separation of church and state. He’s very predictable in the sense that he follows the constitution, and is clearly not a creationist.

    I think this video sums up very nicely what many Americans feel: Keep religion out of politics and in the church where it belongs.

  8. December 28, 2007 3:58 pm

    Jeff, I can definitely understand what you are saying, and I do agree with what Dr. Paul has said and done about strict adherence to the Constitution.

    However, this video does not at all sum up keeping religion out of politics. There’s nothing in this video that supports that. Unfortunately, what Dr. Paul said in this video has shaken my confidence in his ability to be the lead of a secular nation.

  9. Steve Bachman permalink
    December 28, 2007 4:21 pm

    That evolution is a natural phenomenon that occurs is a valid scientific observation. Horse-like creatures evolved into giraffes; many creatures evolve to adapt and thrive in different and changing envornments.
    But there is no solid scientific evidence directly linking homosapiens to primates. We may have evolved, we may still be evolving; but there is no proof that we came from apes.
    For someone to say that they accept human evolution as verified fact; they would be making a statement of faith.
    It doesn’t matter in this case, anyway; because Dr. Paul has clearly stated on countless occasions, that he doesn’t believe the state should be in the business of imposing religious doctrine, and vice versa.
    His stance on gay marriage demonstrates this well, I think. And he articulates his pro-life position as an ethical and moral one — that a fetus is a human life and deserves to be protected as such — not as a religious one; and his experience an Ob/Gyn has obviously informed that position.

  10. Jeff permalink
    December 28, 2007 4:21 pm

    Joe M: Here’s a good video clip about how Dr. Paul feels about mixing politics & religion


    2 minutes

  11. Joe O' permalink
    December 28, 2007 4:45 pm

    Joe M, you say you “can’t believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago, and believe that it evolved over millions of years at the same time.” I agree.

    Now disprove that creation took millions of years to evolve into what we now have. …If you can do that, you can take that form of creation out of schools.

    It could be that a big bang happened over 15 billion years ago through a Providential hand guiding an erstwhile ‘evolutionary’ process. There’s just a lack of proof either way. Until such hard evidence is found, it is biased to teach one side over another.

  12. John Cooper permalink
    December 28, 2007 5:07 pm

    Joe M: So Ron Paul does not believe in the theory that you believe in but he does believe in a small constitutional government, sound money, no income tax and a humble foreign policy. His consistent congressional record of support for the constitution speaks for itself. Joe, if you can find a better candidate to vote for then please go ahead and vote for her, but remember if you always do what you’ve always done, you‘ll always get what you’ve always got.

  13. December 28, 2007 5:07 pm

    Steve,

    Even the novice paleontologist knows that humans and great apes have a common ancestor in the hominids, who migrated to africa and asia 17 million years ago. Trusting this is no more faith than trusting that the stars are holes in the shroud of night.

    Dr. Paul’s stances on gay marriage and abortion have no bearing on his denial in this video that he does not support the theory of evolution, nor his view that he does support it in other quotes.

    Jeff,

    That is an excellent link, and my repsect for Dr. Paul has incremented a little. However, I

  14. December 28, 2007 5:12 pm

    Joe, thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Since the Evil Empire that is my workplace has blocked all videos, I couldn’t view the clip until now. As you might expect, I had a slightly different interpretation of his response, most of which has been addressed by earlier commentors.

    I think his most telling statement was in the very beginning, where he said that the question on the theory of evolution during a presidential debate was “inappropriate”. Indeed. Why would this even be a question? Is that the litmus test for the presidency? He concludes that, “if that were the issue of the day, I wouldn’t be running for the presidency”. I agree.

    I think that your observation that you “can’t put my support behind a man that denies one of the most fact-supported theories in science”. I don’t think he did that. He says that “the precise time and manner (of creation)…I don’t think anybody has absolute proof on either side….it is a theological discussion.”

    He says that the “precise time and manner” of creation will never be completely known. It may very well be just as Darwin describes. I have to think, however, that such an evolution had some guidance from a higher power. In Paul’s answer to the question, he does not discount that possibility. If that is what you call the “ridiculous doctrine of intelligent design”, then so be it. However, your concern is unwarranted, in that Dr. Paul would never force this on anyone at the federal level. Ron Paul is most uncomfortable in bringing religion into the political arena, and his personal views are, as he stated, “inappropriate” for a presidential debate.

    You also say that Paul made his statements “with no hint of embarrassment”. Another way to say that is that he made his statements without equivocation and back-pedaling. Oddly refreshing, isn’t it? I wonder how both sets of candidates would answer this very question. Ask Clinton, Obama, Guiliani and Romney. I imagine there would be extensive waffling in order not to offend a voting bloc.

    Like you, I find the offering of candidates to be very lean. It is difficult. One cannot agree with every point a candidate makes, otherwise you wouldn’t be human. I myself do not agree with everything Ron Paul says, or I may want to ask him more questions, but he is the closest to my beliefs. He deserves to be heard, and given the vast spectrum of support he is receiving, he needs to be listened to.

    Thanks for listening.

  15. December 28, 2007 5:13 pm

    Steve,

    Even the novice paleontologist knows that humans and great apes have a common ancestor in the hominids, who migrated to africa and asia 17 million years ago. Trusting this is no more faith than trusting that the stars are holes in the shroud of night.

    Dr. Paul’s stances on gay marriage and abortion have no bearing on his denial in this video that he does not support the theory of evolution, nor his view that he does support it in other quotes.

    Jeff,

    That is an excellent link, and my repsect for Dr. Paul has incremented a little. However, I still have to consider that Dr. Paul, in this statement, has denied belief in evolution, and as I said, though I don’t have a probelm with any other policies, I have to turn a jaundiced eye to this denial of reality.

    Joe,

    I don’t have to disprove anything. If you’re presenting a hypothesis, the onus falls on you to prove it. Also, creationism, until it has one iota of evidential support has no place in the classroom. Period.

  16. December 28, 2007 5:52 pm

    The good Dr. succinctly states,”If that were the issue of the day, I wouldn’t be running for office.”

    In other words, this country has bigger fish to fry than how we came to be.

  17. December 28, 2007 6:35 pm

    Okay, to anyone who didn’t watch the video, his exact statement was, “I um I think that its a theory , the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it”.

    To anyone that thinks that the presidency shouldn’t be decided on this one question: yes, you are obviously right. However, you may need to take into consideration that this one issue may mean more to some than it does to you. It means a lot to me; it means that this guy does not accept the single most well-supported by evidence theory in science. To me, that means he lives in la-la land or can’t be bothered to concern himself with how the world really works.

    Also, please note that I said this puts my support behind a total of zero candidates, though I will vote for whoever I think is the best one; thanks for that advice, John Cooper.

    Shirley, his lack of embarrassment is no more refreshing than if we unembarrassed by saying his dropped screwdriver may land on Mars. No reasonable man or woman would stick to their guns when the evidence so poorly supports their position. That’s just the same pigheadedness that got us into Iraq for WMDs.

    At this point, my choices are those that sincerely believe that the universe was magicked into existence or those who pretend to believe that in order to pander to those who do. This is not a win-win situation for a guy that just wants someone who will govern by reason and compassion for humanity.

  18. Ed T. permalink
    December 28, 2007 7:51 pm

    You said last night that I was one of four people that read this site…I guess there are a few more today!

  19. December 28, 2007 8:24 pm

    That was just pillow talk, baby.

  20. Jeff permalink
    December 29, 2007 10:18 am

    Also, please consider the possibility that he may have simply tripped over his words. In light of:
    1) The statement released by his campaign provided by Tyler
    2) The fact that he had the opportunity to say that he did not believe in Evolution with a showing of hands (during the first debate), and did not take it.

    I’m still under the impression that he DOES believe in evolution, and this may have been a rare occasion of him tripping over his words. These guys are out there campaigning 20 hours a day on no sleep, so its not impossible.

    Joe M. I recommend you email the campaign and post their response here.

  21. elma page permalink
    December 29, 2007 10:19 am

    The discussion of evolution and creationism has NO place in a forum for political discourse. Why would we ever demand that a candidate’s faith based beliefs be aired publically on such a level? Yes, we want to know his stance on abortion and gay marriage because these have become secular issues in this era, but delving into the minutia of a candidate’s faith is imappropriate in this country. There is no candidate in the world who will have beliefs that align with your individual view point. That’s why we have religious freedom and freedom of thought in this country. Divergent, free thinking people are the joy of this Republic. I view this trend as repugnant and repulsive as I watch the candidates try to “out God” each other. Ron Paul is our hope for the future. Look at economic policies, constitutional ethics and individual liberties. Now tell us who is the candidate of choice.

  22. December 29, 2007 11:35 am

    Jeff, you may be right, and I’m open to the possibility that the candidate misspoke. I will send a note to Ron Paul’s campaign to get an explanation of his statement in this video.

    Elma,

    I have already covered why I believe this topic has an important place in the debate process. Rather than flat-out denying it again, give me a good reason why a disbelief in an evidentially-supported scientific theory does not have a bearing on how science and education will be handled by a candidate.

    No one would vote for a man who didn’t believe in the theory of gravity, even though the theories of the mechanics of gravity are less supported by evidence, and even more of a mystery than those of evolution.

    Just because certain ill-informed people say that the theory of evolution is a matter of faith doesn’t make it so. A “disbelief” in evolution is no more than ignorance and a very telling sign of how a candidate may treat scientific inquiry and education in the US.

  23. December 29, 2007 11:47 am

    Okay, here’s the note I sent through Ron Paul’s campaign website contact form:

    “I’m writing for a clarification of a statement made by Dr. Paul in the following youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPoCsC8VT9g

    The comment that concerns me is when Dr. Paul states, “I um… think that its a theory , the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it”

    The theory of evolution is one of the theories most supported by evidence, and the implication that Dr. Paul does not accept it puts his support of scientific inquiry and education in the US into some dispute.

    Also, considering that the topic directly relates to science and education, I would like some clarification on why Dr. Paul feels that this is not an appropriate topic for debate, as he stated in this same video.

    Please be aware that I am posting this letter on my weblog, http://mertiboundalley.wordpress.com, and your response will also be posted.

    Thank you and have a Happy New Year!
    -Joseph J. Madjeski”

    The response will be posted when and if I get one.

  24. elma page permalink
    December 29, 2007 7:29 pm

    It is my opinion that a highly intelligent, well read Dr. Paul was asked for a simplistic response to a complex question. Even among scientists the definitions of theory and law are still being debated. What has always been accepted as Law since Newton developed his Laws of Physics are now undergoing redefinition based on quantum physics. What exists on a macrolevel does not necessarily apply to a quantum level. When asked for a simplistic response to a complex issue, you can almost see Dr. Paul’s brain scroll through a lifetime of reading and knowledge. This is also what leads to some of his stammer when asked historical questions. The wealth of knowledge that Dr. Paul has humbles me. There is much to process with the most seemingly simple question. Evolution, Creationism, Divine Intervention will be debated forever. When you say evolution is supported by evidence, of course there is evidence. A theory widley defined, is any set of observations that are widley accepted and can be used to make predictions. Dr. Paul is a scientist. The complexities of the definitions of theory and law are probably what caused his view point to come out as expressed. Dr. Paul would recogonize more than most that a theory is only a “working set of rules that define a body of knowledge”. Science cannot be defined by absolutes; new evidence can always cause a theory or even a law of science to be reevaluated. As stated in his platform, his policies on education are
    non-interventionist on a federal level. I do think that it is a great suggestion to contact his campaign and get clarification. The remark that you quoted is, I also believe, a stumble. Scientists, especially one that had to study vertebrate morphology, as Dr. Paul did, would not deny a theory of evolution. This isn’t even considering fossil evidence. Scientific semetics can get in the way of a clear response from a scientist. Sometimes knowing too much about a topic can make a response more difficult to express clearly.

  25. December 29, 2007 8:03 pm

    Elma,

    If I have correctly gathered the point of your comment, you are saying that Dr. Paul misspoke. I have already stated that I am open to that possibility, and I hate to sound rude, but I am tiring of repeating myself for the sake of one commenter.

    I also acknowledge that you wanted to point out that the candidate is a well-educated man. That is not in doubt. However, if his very simplistic answer to a simplistic question was not an error in speaking, then we can call into question what he has gleaned from his scientific education.

  26. December 31, 2007 9:10 am

    Joe: Go back and look at your comment to Duffy. Duff said,

    Why does a belief in creationism and evolution have to be mutually exclusive. If one believes in a omnipotent being it is certainly possible that he is the Prime Mover as theorized by St. Thomas. He is the point of origin and that evolution is merely the means of execution of His plan, no?

    to which you replied,

    Because, Duffy, you can’t believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago, and believe that it evolved over millions of years at the same time.

    I don’t see anywhere in Duff’s statement the figure 6,000 yrs. What he’s saying — and I agree with it — is that one can believe in evolution and also in a Creator. There’s much of religious belief that shouldn’t be taken literally, and that 6K figure is one of ’em. Evolution is just a theory, after all, but it’s the best we have at the moment. The Big Bang is just a theory too (and the best we have at the moment), but not a single scientist can answer how the damn monobloc exploded in the first place … or even how it got there in the first place. Can you, Joe? As I mentioned in another of your posts, even Harry Shipman brings up a “higher power” regarding this question.

    I’m not saying that the God is responsible for the beginning monobloc; it certainly can be that our God is actually merely a [much] more advanced form of intelligence. (This theme has been extrapolated in scifi literature quite often.) Hell, with current String Theory and hypotheses of “branes” and other dimensions, our own universe could have been created by a higher intelligence from an adjacent dimension lo those 15 or so billion years ago.

  27. December 31, 2007 9:18 am

    I guess the disconnect there was in different definiteions of creationism. I was using the popular usage as in a literal belief in the bible story of creation: adam and eve, world formed out of nothing 6000 years ago, and assumed that Duffy was talking about the same thing.

    I absolutely cannot explain the origin of matter, however I would certainly hesitiate to use an intelligent design theory to try. Whether or not we can say exactly how it happened at this time does not lend creedence to the theory that someone made it.

    The god of the gaps explanation has been forwarded many times to explain what we don’t know, but it’s science and not god that is providing real explanations of the world. Science does this by not assuming an answer, but by experimentation and reasoning to come to a conclusion.

  28. December 31, 2007 9:20 am

    P.S. – In case anyone is wondering, there has yet to be a response from the campaign of Ron Paul to my letter.

    I say that just in case anyone was thinking I got a response and was slacking in posting it.

  29. Brian permalink
    December 31, 2007 10:36 am

    Joe,

    Somber and sober discourse aside, your Army of Darkness reference in a previous comment in this thread had me almost painting my screen with coffee. No matter whatever political/theological differnces we may have, you’re alright, dude; you’re alright.

  30. December 31, 2007 12:51 pm

    Tension breaker. Had to be done 😉

  31. January 3, 2008 2:04 pm

    The more I research Ron Paul, the more he scares me. What scares me even more is how many young and idealistic people seem to be getting sucked up into a fervor supporting him.

    In contrast, Obama seems to give the perfect answer on how to strike the right balance between church and state:

    “This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

    Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

    We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

    Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God’s test of devotion.

    But it’s fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason. ”

    Read the rest of his speech here:
    http://obama.senate.gov/speech/060628-call_to_renewal/

    He is reasoned and balanced and eloquent – and he comes across as someone who can build bridges in a way that feels way beyond what Ron Paul seems capable of.

    Thoughts?

    – Chris

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