Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney have evidence that evolution is true, but they tell the country it is not.
1) Do these candidates know that evolution is true, or
2) Do they believe that evolution is true?
On the face of things, this thought experiment is rather silly, but think about it. Each are presented with the same facts as everyone else, and the theory of evolution is just a cohesive explanation for why these facts exist as we observe them over time. So they ‘know’ that evolution is true, unless they can establish that the facts or the explanations are untrue. To my knowledge, none of them have approached this issue; one can only assume that they agree with the facts, and by extension they know that evolution is true.
But why, then, do they not ‘believe’ that evolution is true? The first clue comes from Gov. Perry’s equivocation of the word ‘theory’. It is obvious that he has no understanding whatsoever of what a scientific theory is, and doesn’t appear to care to know either. By this reckoning, all theories should be disregarded as being factually inaccurate opinion. But this neither changes the nature of the facts in question, nor the explanations for their observation under the scientific method.
The second clue comes from their insistence that creationism has equal validity. This is of course entirely fallacious, as creationism makes no predictive tests by which it can be verified or falsified, consistently denies observation and has no explanatory power whatsoever. As such, it is not a science, and cannot be deemed equally valid as subjects taught in science lessons.
The final clue, though, is the most damning; namely their Christian faith. Genetics has proven that the biblical Adam and Eve did not exist; the genetic precursor to the eldest male ancestor, and the eldest female ancestor, is off by tens of thousands of years. Put simply, the creation of man and woman that we are all derived from never existed. And herein lies the real reason why messrs Perry, Bachmann and Romney deny science; if there were no Adam and Eve, the fall never happened and the Jesus character died for nothing. If he ever existed at all, he was a fraud. Christianity has no basis whatsoever.
The only way to combat this cognitive dissonance, then, is to bury yourself in faith, and wilfully disregard the abundance of evidence and reasoned arguments for their existence, in favour of not believing that theory that explains it all. But, again, this neither changes the facts or the explanations of the theory of evolution.
Science denial is not just a choice or ignorance – the facts are there for all to see – rather, it is a means of justifying ones faith in the proposed son of God. It matters not if the facts and explanations are true, but rather what they say about the very foundation of ones belief systems.
So to answer the questions stated at the beginning; Yes, they do know it is true, and no, they do not believe it. Faith, then, is not the foundation for knowledge, and neither does it solve the candidates’ levels of cognitive dissonance.
In truth, their positions on the matter should be widely dismissed as wildly incoherent.