There are few areas of the culture wars that get rational people more upset than the idea that Intelligent Design is legitimate science (it isn't; see Kansas evolution hearings). But one of the least commented on aspects of the recent Republican debate is this:
On one level the debate can be seen as a polite discussion of political theory among the members of a small group of intellectuals. But the argument also exposes tensions within the Republicans’ "big tent," as could be seen Thursday night when the party’s 10 candidates for president were asked during their first debate whether they believed in evolution. Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.
Three of ten Republican candidates for President of the United States in 2007 do not believe in evolution.
The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time magazine that to teach intelligent design "as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of a religious authority." George F. Will wrote that Kansas school board officials who favored intelligent design were "the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people."
Well, they are most certainly right about that. It is to the disgrace of conservatism that this is seen as an equal and legitimate point of view to debate. I'm not suggesting they stifle debate... I'm hoping it continues load and clear.
What both sides do agree on is that conservatives who have shied away from these debates should speak up. Mr. Arnhart said that having been so badly burned by social Darwinism, many conservatives today did not want "to get involved in these moral and political debates, and I think that’s evasive."
Yet getting involved is more important than ever, after "the disaster" of "President Bush’s compassionate conservatism," he said, because the only hope for Republicans is a "fusion of libertarianism and traditionalism, and Darwinian nature supports that conservative fusion."
Arnhart and Derbyshire were on the non-wingnut side of this discussion. For the sake of our children and our country, I hope they do well in these debates; for the sake of exposing the modern Republican party (and the religious right) as being in the thrall of anti-rational zealots, I hope they keep having them.