In Their First Televised Debate, All Four Republican Lieutenant Governor Candidates in Texas Embrace Creationism

During their first televised debate Thursday night, the four Republican candidates to become the next Lieutenant Governor of Texas unanimously agreed that public school science curriculums needed less science and more God.

The four stooges on stage (Jerry Larson – Waco Tribune-Herald)

Late last month, state Board of Education members adopted new high school science books that include full coverage of evolution without the disclaimers sought by social conservatives and other critics of Charles Darwin’s theory.

While none of the lieutenant governor candidates mentioned the board’s decision, three — [Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples] — blasted teaching only evolution as a form of “political correctness.” They linked it to what they described as a broader moral decline.

“The breakup of the family in this country has started when we took God out of the classroom,” said Patrick, a radio talk show host.

“As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught,” said Staples, a former state legislator.

[Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst, who is seeking a fourth term, agreed.

“It’s a fair discussion to expose students to both sides and let them make the decision with the advice and counsel of their parents,” he said.

Patterson said the country has gone too far in deleting religious instruction from government institutions such as schools. A 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banned teaching of creationism in science classes.

“We need to go back to those things that made this country great,” he said.

Who knew ignorance made our country great?

God, that’s embarrassing. Even for Texas.

The whole conversation evoked the unforgettable moment from 2007 when three Republican candidates for President admitted they didn’t accept evolution:

By the way, if you’d like to fight back, consider donating to Democratic gubernatorial candidate (and filibuster-er extraordinaire) Wendy Davis or her running mate State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (before science suffers even more).

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://flavors.me/idoubtit idoubtit

    Just finished reading the B. Franklin biography. Made me think how completely inept today’s politicians are. For example: When Franklin narrowly escaped a shipwreck near the English coast he joke that were he a Catholic, he would find this an occasion to build a chapel to some saint. But, he says, were I to vow at all, it should be to build a lighthouse.

    Also, when a town in MA named itself Franklin and asked him to donate the church bell, Franklin told them to forsake the steeple and build a library: “books instead of a bell, sense being preferable to sound”.

    Ah, those were the days of enlightened people.

    [Source: Isaacson, p 467]

  • Miip

    Yes indeed. If it were not for Franklin, Payne, Jefferson, Adams & Washington. The constitution would not have the separation of church & state… They new all to well of religious tierny before the Constitution & Declaration of Independence.

    “The most stringent controls on speech in the colonial period were controls that outlawed or otherwise censored speech that was considered blasphemous in a religious sense. A 1646 Massachusetts law, for example, punished persons who denied the immortality of the soul. In 1612, a Virginia governor declared the death penalty for a person that denied the Trinity under Virginia’s Laws Divine, Moral and Martial, which also outlawed blasphemy, speaking badly of ministers and royalty, and “disgraceful word.”

    The Founding Fathers
    http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

  • wallofseparation

    I am all for teaching creation myths in a science classroom.
    PLEASE PLease PLEASE, give me the freedom to use logic, evidence, and the scientific method to DESTROY creationism in a public school classroom.
    Within days the fundies will be crying about those teachers using reality to destroy their kids beliefs in myths.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

    There is some mileage in this…unfortunately you are not the only potential teacher…shame though.

  • primenumbers

    Doesn’t work. Their creationist beliefs are not based on logic and logic does not defeat them. To defeat creationism you must defeat faith first.

  • wallofseparation

    Thats the point, in a science classroom we get apply logic to the myths. No preachers, no parents, no outside illogical influences…just the scientific method.
    I dont think this is really what fundies want…but I am all for it.

  • primenumbers

    Yes, in the science classroom you get to use good science, logic and facts. The kids may even answer the questions on evolution correctly in the exam yet still not believe the answers are true. Then the kids go back to their parents, back to their churches and have holiday trips off the the creationist museum.

  • Peter Naus

    Wait….whut?

    No, no, no, no. Teach the “controversy” in a social studies or religious class, for sure.

    But the moment you even crack open the fairytale book in a science class, the conversation becomes “my pastor says…” and the scientific method doesn’t even get a LOOK in.

    Then once it’s part of the curriculum, the entire science course becomes controversial instead of instructional. And what about the mythicist/fundamentalist school boards? They would be short-stroking all over the place, delighted that they finally get to “teach the controversy” – fundy-speak for ignoring science and teaching religion. That’s what they want.

    While I’m sure you and many other teachers would be able to control the conversation once started, there are far many more teachers salivating to get to talk religion in a science class. Hell, they’re doing it now, across the bible belt, even though it’s illegal. Giving them a chance to legitimately preach faith would be a huge step backwards.

  • wallofseparation

    For some maybe.
    But for me, “your pastor says what? Oh lets look at the evidence…your pastor is wrong and it will be on the test”
    See by opening the door to destroy creation myths we get to do it with evidence and direct counterarguments…trust me, an effective science teacher will create many new realists given the opportunity. See, scientifically there is no controversy and we get to teach Chinese and Native american myths right alongside Christian ones…it could be glorious to the point of outrage by the fundies.

  • A3Kr0n

    Educators don’t have time to waste debating creationists in science classrooms. China just made a soft landing on the moon with a rover, and India has a space probe en route to Mars.

  • wallofseparation

    Really it would just be a day or too…and yes, they have plenty of time considering how much is wasted on other things…including checking their email.

  • Derrik Pates

    They have so little time as is, and you’d say “oh, what’s a couple more days debating ridiculous creationist arguments?” Really? Try actually talking to a real public school teacher about what being a teacher is like, and maybe you’ll learn something.

  • wallofseparation

    Hmmm…I have, and they have plenty of time to debunk myths.
    Its called a teachable moment, good teachers would have a field day with this freedom.

  • Derrik Pates

    Maybe if they didn’t have ridiculous crap like “No Child Left Behind” hanging over their heads all the time.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Men with big words and numbers say volcano god not real.. Make volcano angry!!! Must make men with numbers go away or volcano will destroy us!!!

  • Miip

    LOL!!! Very funny… :)

  • Malcolm McLean

    Well yes. One of the problems with science education is that it tends to make the person who was right into the hero. But actually it’s not easy to build up a world model which is accurate. In case we think it’s a case of ancient ignorance, Skinner wasted an academic career giving rats electrical shocks in cages. You can’t learn anything useful about animal behaviour that way, because animals behave according to the environment they are adapted for.
    Can the men with numbers manipulate the volcano so that it erupts on demand? Can they even predict eruptions with any accuracy? If not, how much weight can be put on their explanations?

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Wow really? You find one scientist in history who barked up the wrong tree and that completely invalidates curing small pox, travelling to the moon and inventing the computer you’re reading this on?

    “Can the men with numbers manipulate the volcano so that it erupts on demand? Can they even predict eruptions with any accuracy?”

    Can men of god manipulate the volcano so that it erupts on demand? Can they predict eruptions with any accuracy?

    When dealing with volcanoes and other natural phenomenon, I’ll listen to the men with numbers, you go ahead and listen to the guy in the dress chanting incantations in dead languages.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Clearly, the country needs less Texas and more sanity.

  • Castilliano

    Why does that feel redundant?

  • Spuddie

    Time to consider selling Texas back to Mexico.

  • toth

    Take my Texas, please!

  • Spuddie

    The only term i would add to the sale is a leaseback provision for the oil wells and Willie Nelson.

  • http://conticreative.com/ Mario Strada

    The stupid… Hurts!

  • WallofSleep

    And thanks to my fellow voters in California passing a certain ballot initiative, that is pretty much what my General Election ballot looks like for my district. *sigh*

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Did you also get to choose between the wife of the guy who held the district before, and the guy who wrote prop 8?

    Democracy! Fuck Yeah!

  • WallofSleep

    Dear lord, what were my fellow Californians thinking? Now on the General ballot, in my neck of the woods, I am faced with the unenviable choice between a Creationist Republican, or a Republican Creationist.

    Good job, guys. While you’re laughing about the fact that you won’t see a republican on your GE ballot any time soon, passing this law has ensured that a real big chunk CA will remain deep red for the foreseeable future. Thanks.

    Oh, but I’m not bitter. Not at all.

  • Rain

    Dumbest debate ever.

  • John

    “Broader moral decline” meaning Christian morals, naturally. From a secular perspective, I think we’re more moral on average today than we’ve ever been in recorded history.

  • WallofSleep
  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Absolutely. Access to abortion has reduced the number of unwanted kids ending up on the streets, often as criminals. Easy (and largely acceptable) divorce has greatly reduced both spousal abuse and child abuse. Crime rates have been dropping for decades. Our culture is intolerant of all sorts of bad behavior that was simply ignored in the past.

    I wouldn’t try to compare morals over too long a period, but I think our society is on more solid moral ground today than at any time during the lifetimes of anybody alive.

  • TruthIsHere

    Or society proves itself time and again its self-righteous and sees itself as moral on its own. Believe it or not people back in their day would see themselves as moral and never question anything they did as a society. One could say that abortion could be compared to how people threw out babies or still as today got divorced. True society is intolerant of behaviors but sometimes those behaviors evolve into new acceptable forms.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    That’s why I don’t believe there are any immoral societies. But I believe there are societies with better morals, and ours today is better than nearly any others throughout history.

  • CottonBlimp

    One could say that abortion could be compared to how people threw out babies

    Yeah, if you don’t care about “facts”.

    For that matter, you could say that the ACA could be compared to slavery, but you’d be a moron.

  • rtanen

    You can compare anything, you just might not find meaningful results. This doesn’t mean that they are similar. You can compare a tomato to a weapon, but that doesn’t make a tomato something lethal that must be kept away from children.

  • $324578

    “The breakup of the family in this country” started when we decided money, possessions, and running the rat race were more important than living.

  • baal

    Be quiet and stop dissing the memes that serve our corporate masters. For they are Just and Holy.

  • flowerchild

    Or better yet why not add the people who brought in the sex revolution.

  • IAmAGuest

    Ugh… The kids are at school, what, 6-8 hours?…. and with 8 hours of sleep and 24 hour days, you have at least 8 hours to put whatever crap in their heads you want.

    And even if I was a christian, I sure as hell wouldnt want some random crazy teacher teach my kids their type of christianity or creationism… this stuff is rather individual since its not based on any sort of objdctiveness…

  • EuropeanCommunist

    …adopted new high school science books that include full coverage of evolution without the disclaimers…

    Yes, let’s just put disclaimers everywhere!

    The mean radius of Earth is 6,371km. Note: According to some people Earth is actually flat so the previous statement may or may not be correct.

  • Aleister Gates

    this is some creepy crap

  • Miip

    Sometimes the repubs are a bunch of Jackasses….

  • Derrik Pates

    Only sometimes?

  • Madison Blane

    Science doesn’t have ‘both sides’!!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
  • UWIR

    ““As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught,” said Staples, a former state legislator.”

    As a much-overlooked skill, how to write sentences without misplaced modifiers should be taught.

  • CottonBlimp

    You’d expect better grammar from someone who sells stationary.

  • Pickle

    Here’s to turning Texas blue in the next election. If we stay red much longer the rest of the country may secede from us!

  • Malcolm McLean

    As a Brit, what I see is that the American academic system has broken down, because of the exclusion of moderate Republicans from the universities. I think about 1% of English literature faculty are Republican, for example.
    Evolution is settled scientifically. Global warming isn’t. The lefty consensus on gay marriage, affirmative action, feminism, Obamacare, etc has absolutely no support whatsoever from science. But the whole lot is presented together as a package the university student must sign up to, or often face disciplinary action. So Republicans tend to reject the whole lot. Since Republicans are excluded from university posts, there are no Republican academic figures who can correct them on the creationist issue, where they are unequivocally wrong.

    We also have to be a little bit careful. A literal reading of Genesis is incompatible with our current scientific understanding. That’s not the same thing as saying that Genesis is wrong. Scientific models change. Things which once seemed obvious (no giants) turn out a hundred years later to be maybe not so obvious – modern humans really did interbreed with creatures who were almost but not quite human, and the place that probably happened was modern Israel. So are the giants in Genesis 6 a folk memory of that? Probably not, the timescales seem wrong, and giants pop up elsewhere in the text. But it does give one pause for thought.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I think about 1% of English literature faculty are Republican, for example.

    You think? If you’d said even 10% I probably would have passed by, but 1%, you’re just speculating which is about as useful as telling us about the liberal Eng Lit instructors you had. Are US college faculty well left of the general US population? Absolutely. Is that a self supporting system? Probably. But,

    The lefty consensus on gay marriage, affirmative action, feminism, Obamacare, etc has absolutely no support whatsoever from science. But the whole lot is presented together as a package the university student must sign up to, or often face disciplinary action.

    I’m not sure what kind of ‘support from science’ you’re looking for for ‘gay marriage’ aside from the numerous studies that show that children growing up in same sex parent homes do as well or better than the general population on just about any measure you want, but that’s not really important.

    What is is, “the university student must sign up to, or often face disciplinary action”. I work in US academia. Students face disciplinary action for getting drunk and setting off fire alarms in the Res Halls or for copying essays from the internet. They don’t face disciplinary actions because they don’t agree with any or all of the things you listed. For most of the things you listed, I personally know faculty or staff (and I’m sure I can dig up student newspaper opinions) who are vocally opposed. Nobody faces ‘disciplinary action’. And from what I can see, they don’t seem to have any problem with career advancement either.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    When I was in college, one of my primary responsibilities as a member of the student government was to act as a clearing house for complaints of an academic nature by students against professors. I had that job for three years, and the number of times a charge of political bias leading to an unfair grade crossed my desk was zero. Which is not to say that there weren’t serious conflicts in the wider community; once, for example, we had to smack around Dining Services because they tried to selectively enforce their table-tent ban only against the College Republicans (and that was sorted out quickly and painlessly for all involved; table tents for everyone!).

    Far more often, there would be cases of feigned victimization. One president of the College Republicans wrote a risible op-ed in the school paper which amounted to a complaint that he had to hear discussion about homosexuality from his openly gay professor in a Modern Political Ideologies class (because one can’t possibly imagine *cough*Foucault*cough* how those things could possibly intersect), and that having to listen to this amounts to discrimination. He got an “A” in the class, mind you; the professor was the model of professionalism, the kid was a whiner.

    As a conservative who had many liberal professors (and learned a great deal from them), I honestly think that the bias towards liberalism in the university community (which very obviously exists) is:

    1. a self-inflicted wound by conservatives who spend a lot of time disdaining in turns intellectualism, college, and learning from your adversaries

    2. not a big deal, considering how conservatives currently dominate most of the rest of civil society; colleges can be a liberal bastion because they are in many real senses the last or only bastion thereto

    3. important because it is often the only place (partly as a consequence of point 2) that a student might actually learn the not-theme-park version of liberalism and liberal ideas, since our public dialogue is in most ways a complete ideological wasteland


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