It probably doesn’t seem like whether or not a candidate accepts evolution is very relevant to the job they’ll do in office. After all, the vast majority of politicians have no opportunity to directly impact or even influence the field of biology. Although, in many cases, it is used as a litmus test of sorts by bible literalists to determine if a candidate is a true believer.
During the 2008 Republican debate at the Reagan Library, all 10 candidates were asked if they believed in evolution. Three indicated they did not. More recently, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell was quoted as saying evolution was a myth. And Sarah Palin states in “Going Rogue” that she doesn’t believe in evolution. Clearly, some politicians see this position as playing to a certain group of voters.
However, there is a larger concern about someone with a staunch position against evolution. That person is basically saying they are immune to data and reason. Evolution has 200 years of scientific data and research behind it. The politicians discounting it as fiction are not doing so because they’ve studied all the information and have come to the conclusion the theory doesn’t hold water. Rather, they are faced with the situation that significant data are contrary to their ideology or worldview, and so they are dismissing the data.
This is not simply a matter of placing religion as paramount. This is a matter of once this person has taken a position, there is no reasoning with them. They will not be swayed. Some may see this as a sign of strength, but after eight long years of George Bush’s damn the data, stay the course policies, we should all be very wary of anyone who remotely thinks they already have the answers, and who won’t be truly open to rational arguments from the other side.
Evolution is not a question of faith. It’s a question of rationality… and we need more of that in politics.