New on AlterNet: Why Creationism Is Dangerous

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, Why the Anti-Science Creationist Movement Is So Dangerous. In it, I survey the history of the modern creationist movement, point out how it’s completely captured one of America’s two major political parties, and illuminate the larger ideological goals that lie behind the assault on evolution. Read the excerpt below, then click through and see the rest!


A few weeks ago, Jon Huntsman torpedoed his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by making the following announcement: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

It’s a pathetic commentary on the anti-intellectualism rampant in American politics that this is newsworthy. A major-party candidate announces that he doesn’t deny a foundational theory of modern science! In fact, given the political atmosphere in the Republican party, it’s not just newsworthy but a daring act: polls have shown that almost 70 percent of Republicans deny evolution.

Huntsman is clearly trying to position himself as the moderate candidate. But while that strategy might play well in the general election, it won’t do him any good unless he can get the Republican nomination. And to win that nomination, he has to get past a huge obstacle: a solid bloc of Republican primary voters who are emphatically anti-science. This isn’t an exaggeration for polemical effect; it’s the plain truth. The modern Republican party has made a fervent rejection of scientific consensus its defining attribute — both on evolution and climate change, as well as in other fields — and Huntsman’s refusal to submit to party orthodoxy is likely a fatal blow to his chances.

Continue reading on AlterNet…

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Charles Black

    Looks like sitting here just talking about the problem is not the answer. We must get active & combat this idiocy at its core if we want future generations to be free of superstitious garbage.

  • Andrew T.

    I withstood a lot of creationist bullshit from my peers growing up in West Virginia.

    The most frustrating aspect of dealing with denialists is that most of them knew virtually nothing about evolution: They believed it meant a dog literally morphing into a cat, or something equally ridiculous. But, they instantly dismissed the matter as “wrong” because their authoritarian parents/preachers/teachers had told them so. They refused to even look at the evidence because they knew it would contradict their religious doctrine, and of course that was intolerable because they regarded their religious doctrine as infallible…gay people, women, “heathens,” and reality be damned.

    That’s enough fuming for now. Let’s turn this into constructive energy for combating ignorance at its core.

  • vin720

    As a solid Republican, I do not agree that creationism rule the Party. You are mistaking the upfront people you see on TV with the average party memeber. Creationism might play well in Texas, but not in the rest of the country. Jon Huntsman has no chance of winning the Republican nomination not because he believes in evolution, but because one, he has zero personality, and two, his former relationship with tho Obama Administration.

  • http://www.noforbiddenquestions.com/ NFQ

    Hey, thanks a lot for the link! :)

    @vin720: I have heard the sentiment you express before, but I think it borders on No True Scotsman-type fallacy. If people who value science and understand evolution are “average” Republicans and creationists are just a Texas anomaly, why are there so many Republican presidential candidates who stand by creationism?

  • jane hay

    @ vin720: Creationism plays quite well across the South, and you’ll encounter it in Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah, as well. Sounds like most of the country to me.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    As a solid Republican, I do not agree that creationism rule the Party.

    You obviously didn’t read any farther into my piece than the first paragraph, because in the second, I cited a Gallup poll from 2007 which showed that almost 70% of Republicans reject evolution. You may not personally be a creationist, but it’s you, not the average Republican voter, who is the outlier.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    @vin720

    I feel your pain. I’ve always been more moderate- a “dynamic conservative”, some may say- the kind that believes in a smaller government, but doesn’t “want the baby to be thrown out with the bathwater” with regard to social programs and medicine.

    As such, I was at one point very supportive of some moderate Republican candidates. I would support democrats more often, but it was still there.

    That was in 2009.

    All the sudden, it seemed, the Republicans veered to the insane right fringe like a plane plummeting into the ground. In hindsight, the subtle signs of it were there even as we see this spectacular crash still unfolding. It started at the bottom, with an increasingly disgruntled, impotent Christian base. They were- are- outraged at the modernization of the USA. Their imagined ideal lay in the ’50s, and that world is over. A growing faction now even idealizes the 1890′s Gilded Age of robber barons and crushed private unions. That repressed, seething Christian base began to coalesce. Like water droplets aggregating, they joined forces with strict constructionists, Nativists, conspiracy theorists, the lunatic fringe followers of Glenn Beck and his radio ilk, guns rights activists, McCarthyites, and even the most bigoted people in America.

    What we’re seeing is a backlash against the modern world. Unanimously, they want to return to the way things were- back in the fifties and the pre- Great War times.

    I know exactly how you feel. The party’s been hijacked, in your mind. Crazies have backstabbed the saner establishment Republicans and driven off all the moderates such as myself.

    But as I demonstrated, this radicalization has come from the bottom up. It’s not Rick Perry’s or Michelle Bachmann’s fault that they’re absolutely bugfuck insane, it’s the republican base’s fault for voting these people in. This is a movement by the people, against the people.

  • other Scott

    70% don’t believe in evolution?? If that is a real statistic it is absolutely staggering.

  • Andrew T.

    I’ve heard citations that creationists make up almost half of Americans as a whole. 70% is staggering, yes, but unfortunately there’s very little about right-wing authoritarian flailing, obstructionism, or reality denial that surprises me anymore.

  • sqeecoo

    Hearing you mention denial of evolution and denial of climate change in the same breath as if they were remotely similar is horrifying to me. I always feel slightly nauseous when my fellow atheists suddenly start saying things like “denying the consensus” and using arguments from authority to support their, well, religious belief in man-made global warming.
    It’s not a very good hypothesis, and the scientists pushing for it are behaving badly. Get over it.

    Whereas flat-out rejection of evolution is pretty scary, I agree :)

  • Leum

    The argument from authority is only a fallacy when the authority claimed is not, in fact, an authority.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    This is a movement by the people, against the people.

    That was brilliant, J. James. :)

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    …using arguments from authority to support their, well, religious belief in man-made global warming.

    Plus all the evidence. You forgot that part.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    @squeecoo

    Sorry, I’m more inclined to believe the climatologists than you. They’re the only ones qualified to say, “hey! It’s us causing this, at least in part!” And they do, so…