What Sam Brownback thinks about evolution

In today’s NYT

It’s softer than the outright denial of evolution that was assumed when he raised his hand at the debate, and certainly doesn’t sound like young-earth creationism. It seems to be intelligent design creationism without explicitly mentioning intelligent design – although some keywords are present. He, of course, uses many of the classic denialist arguments.

For instance:

We have a classic divide-and-conquer tactic of asserting that because there is some dispute over different evolutionary theories, there is room for doubt. I consider this a goal-post moving argument – you can’t believe in any science until there is absolutely no conflict within a scientific field.

If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.

Denial of macroevolution:

Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species.

Evolution means we’re dirty apes:

The unique and special place of each and every person in creation is a fundamental truth that must be safeguarded. I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos.

And finally, an atheist materialistic conspiracy theory (mixed with impossible-to-prove assertions):

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

Blogs 4Brownback (my new favorite blog) is already declaring victory! You see, everything is a victory for a crank.
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Comments

18 responses to “What Sam Brownback thinks about evolution”

  1. So, is Blogs4Brownback a satire site? I really hope so, but it’s not quite as obvious as jonswift.blogspot.com

  2. I suspect it is. Their recent insanity about NASA is just too silly. They talk about ether, screw up basic newtonian concepts, and suggest orbiting the earth would require faster-than-light speed.

  3. J-Dog

    That is funny! Stupid, but funny.

  4. Despite the application of enough political spin to make a Dervish envious, the good news is that Brownback, and Huckabee before him, feel the need to spin it. It is especially heartening that, this long after the debate, Brownback was still feeing enough heat to backtrack in the New York Times.

    I think that probably shows that creationism is a laughingstock among big Republican money-givers and that the Righteous Right is perceived by professional politicians to have less of a grip on the party than it once had.

  5. AdamG

    You know, when I read this earlier today, I wondered if it would make it on here. I almost disrupted my entire lab with my guffaws. Just goes to show that politicians need not have functional logic centres…

  6. Denial of macroevolution.

    Pssh, whatever. You Hoofnagles are just Baraminology deniers.

  7. I consider this a goal-post moving argument – you can’t believe in any science until there is absolutely no conflict within a scientific field.

    Nah, it’s not goalpost moving, it’s impossible expectations – the goalposts aren’t being moved, they’re just put on the Moon in the first place.

    And the last Brownback quote reads like something out of AiG…

    – JS

  8. Way to correct me on my own terminology JS. You’re right of course.

  9. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    I noticed this:

    The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

    He points out a false dichotomy. Fine. But later:

    If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

    He hasn’t dispelled the false dichotomy at all, he has merely moved the line of demarcation. Accepting macroevolution would be giving in to materialism, etc. Apparently his God is not powerful enough to work through means of macroevolution.

  10. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves.

    Does that sound to you like an acceptance of an old universe? Since hte entire point of the piece was to clarify his views, I would have appreciated even more clarity. I am still not sure what his answers are to:
    1) The age of the universe
    2) The age of the Earth and life on Earth
    3) Common descent of all known life on Earth
    4) including common descent between humans and apes

    On the question of common descent, is he happy to let the facts speak for themselves?

  11. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.

    Given the veiled nature of the rest of the piece, I am going to interpret that as denial of the egg-and-sperm theory of human conception.

  12. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order.

    What other species does not have “an image and likeness unique”?

  13. As has been pointed out somewhere else recently, “What Sam Brownback thinks about evolution” is right up there with “What Paris Hilton thinks about partial differential equations.” Brownback is an attorney and career politician, not a scientist or a biologist. Thus he speaks as a layman when speaking on evolution. But his religious background adds some insight: His religious beliefs have evolved (heh heh) from Methodist to evangelical to the Opus Dei flavor of Catholicism. Anybody know if Opus Dei is opposed to Pope John Paul’s nominal acceptance of evolution?

  14. Manboy

    I visited the Blogs 4Brownback site, and am really confused. I’m worried that it has been written in all seriousness, even though they get just about everything WRONG…

    It is bewildering to witness such endless stupidity.

  15. Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD

    As has been pointed out somewhere else recently, “What Sam Brownback thinks about evolution” is right up there with “What Paris Hilton thinks about partial differential equations.”

    Is Paris Hilton a candidate for one of the most powerful elective offices on the planet?

  16. Anonymous

    What other species does not have “an image and likeness unique”?

    Don’t you know? All them dumb animals are more or less alike, just puppets to be ground beneath man’s heel as we exploit them as God commanded us to.

    Or, perhaps Brownback was thinking of the Mottled Boringsnake of central Australia, a creature with a unique form of mimicry. Its appearance is designed to give the distinct impression in the viewer that “meh, I’ve seen that kind of snake before”, as his mind wanders to other topics, such as lunch.

    Then BAM! The boringsnake eats its prey whole.

    Really a fascinating case.

  17. Graculus

    Really a fascinating case.

    Is it related to the dropbear?

  18. Is Paris Hilton a candidate for one of the most powerful elective offices on the planet?

    Not unless she’s in the running for American Idol.