Dawkins calls Texas Governor a ‘fool’ for questioning the ‘fact’ of evolution
Published: 30 August 2011(GMT+10)
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Texas Governor Rick Perry, one candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 US presidential election, made headlines when he failed to toe the evolutionary line at a New Hampshire campaign event. In response to a mother and son who asked him if he believed in evolution, he said, “It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution. I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”1
In 2009, the Texas board of education changed the science standards to encourage exploring all sides of evolution, which many interpret as a not-so-subtle allowance for teaching Intelligent Design. While it’s incorrect to say that Texas schools teach creation, this is a common caricature.
While Perry’s comments hardly reflected a stereotypical ‘fundamentalist’ view on creation, it prompted a harsh reply from former Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, Richard Dawkins, published in The Washington Post:2
It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it—presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
“There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office.”
“ … a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.”
“There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.”
There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.
Notice that Dawkins is actually trying to sway voters’ opinions based on the candidate’s religious beliefs. However, he is so blinded by his own unswerving commitment to his anti-God scientism that he fails to see that it is a religious belief also. Ironically, he would probably object to the following comments as well:
“Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell.”3
“There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”4
“Darwinian explanations … are often too supple. … When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”5
“In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”6
“Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme … ”7
“Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”8
Religion or science, Dr Dawkins—according to your peers
But these are not the statements of the ‘ignorant fundamentalist evangelicals’ Dawkins loves to rave against. All but one9 of those statements are from evolutionists—either scientists or prominent evolutionist philosophers. It seems that Dawkins is far more dogmatic than many of his scientific peers! Does he call his fellow evolutionists ‘fools’ for saying that evolution theory is incomplete (with ‘holes’)? No, but he has no problem in calling a high profile elected official one. Indeed, if Perry were elected President, would Dawkins dare repeat his comments? No doubt his comments are probably designed to try to prevent that eventuality. Of course, Dawkins routinely expresses contempt for the American people, a large percentage of whom believe in creation.
Questioning the ‘accepted truth’ is supposedly a cardinal virtue in science—isn’t that exactly what Darwin did over 150 years ago? It’s ironic that Governor Perry is far more in line with the scientific mindset of critical questioning than evolution’s “high priest.” But is it surprising that someone who self-designates himself “The Devil’s Chaplain” uses argumentation more appropriate for theological dogma?
Join CMI in ‘Questioning Evolution’
The scientists at CMI, who got their degrees in the same sorts of secular universities as Dawkins and other anti-creationist scientists, have openly questioned evolution for years. But when leaders like Perry question evolution, they’re noticed internationally. You can get others to question evolution too and make a difference in the lives of others. There are many ways that you can get people to ‘Question Evolution’ and make a difference in your own community. Pass out our 15 Questions for Evolutionists tracts, or wear ‘Question Evolution’ T-shirts around—and when people react to them, be ready with answers and creation information.
- Tenety, E. Rick Perry, evangelicals, and evolution as ‘a theory that’s out there,’ The Washington Post, August 18, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/rick-perry-evangelicals-and-evolution/2011/08/18/gIQARsf6NJ_blog.html. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R. Attention Governor Perry: evolution is a fact. The Washington Post, August 23, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/attention-governor-perry-evolution-is-a-fact/2011/08/23/gIQAuIFUYJ_blog.html. Return to text.
- Davies, P., Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, New Scientist 179:32, 12 July, 2003. Return to text.
- Harold, F. The way of the cell: molecules, organisms and the order of life, (Oxford University Press, New York, 2001), p. 205. Return to text.
- Skell, P, ‘Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology’, The Scientist 19(16):10, 29 August 2005. Return to text.
- Kirschner, M, Cited by Peter Dizikes, Missing Links, Boston Globe, 23 October 2005. Accessed at www.boston.com, 4 November 2010. Return to text.
- Popper, K, Unended Quest, Fontana-Collins, Glasgow, p. 151, 1976. Return to text.
- Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post, pp. B1,B3,B7, May 13, 2000. Return to text.
- The late Philip Skell (not a biblical creationist) is perhaps best called a Darwin doubter. He was Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the prestigious Pennsylvania State University. Return to text.
Dr Dawkins’ comments are the most egregious ad hominem I have seen in years. Not only does he attack the Governor personally because he does not agree with the doctor’s views, but he lumps together the entire (US) Republican Party as if they were not individuals with individual minds.
If one were to judge the validity of the theory of evolution purely on the logic of some of it’s proponents then it would fail right there.
Great article! Good that the politicians are taking notice.
But do you notice the way that evolution has captured the language? Rick Perry said “creationism and evolution”, rather than a more neutral “creation and evolution”, or “creationism and evolutionism”.
Just the addition of the “ism” implies that “creationism” is “religious” and that “evolution” is not. Yet creation-v-evolution IS religion-v-religion.
The indisputable fact is that molecules-to-man evolution is a belief which relies on philosophical assumptions (that is religious beliefs) than can NOT be proved by the scientific method.
In simple terms: evolution is religious scienceISM not science.
When a person is accused and labeled, often theses are reflection of the person who does these. Educated ‘fools’, of course, can be in every country and every period of history. Evolution idea, ie there is no God, is not something new to this age. What does ‘nothing to human’ evolution provide to all to be cultivated and adequate? Does it provide a moral standard?
“Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.”
For me personally, Dr. John Sanfords ‘Mendel’s Accountant” provides the basis for nailing the coffin lid on the theory of evolution. We don’t argue with our calculators when we balance our checkbooks, so one cannot argue the crunching of the evolutionary theorists numbers regarding heredity and mutation. Given the genetic data we now have, empirical calculation has ripped the floor out from under the evolutionist’s argument.
As a white, middle aged male from South Africa personal introspection into the reasons why and how people judge, classify and relegate other people is a given pasttime. Knowing that one’s formative years have an almost permanent influence on one’s philosophy of life, it did not come as a shock to discover that Richard Dawkins was raised as an Christian (an authoritive discipline he rebelled against as a typical teenager) in Malawi and Kenya. His remark on Mr. Perry’s comment includes the inference that disbelief in evolution disqualifies a person of being cultivated or adequate as a citizen. Rudeness such as displayed in his derogatory remarks are much more of a litmus test of cultivation (or lack thereof). More importantly though is his reference of adequacy of citizenship. This was a measure efficiently applied in colonial and apartheid rule. Unfortunately it is likely that Prof Dawkins will get more and more vociferous as his convictions are questioned, particularly as they become more questionable. Relegating opponents to an inferior human or social status is neither novel or unique. Notably it is, however, integral to evolution and detestable to Christianity.