Sunday, February 19, 2012

Evolution, Primatology, and Politics

An interesting topic in the news lately has been the issue of teaching evolution across public, primary and secondary schools. As the Republican Presidential Nomination process continues, the more conservative candidates and the conservative media have once more engaged with this topic. Catering to their conservative beliefs and constituents, Presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have used interesting language to characterize biological evolution. These well educated, career politicians claim that evolution is a "theory with holes" and that education must balance evolution with God, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. Mitt Romney, the leading Republican candidate, has recently stated, "I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe. I'm not exactly sure what is meant by intelligence design." Other candidates, such as Rick Santorum, have previously authored an Amendment to teach intelligent design attached to No Child Left Behind. 

God, shown here in the center organized evolution according to intelligent design

Regardless of political affiliation and beliefs, we must all think about the impact and consequences of teaching any other evolution perspectives beside biological evolution. Do we have strong evidence to support intelligent design? Do we have a body of evidence to refute biological evolution? Is it proper for a government-sponsored education system to inject faith and religious beliefs into science? How can the existence of primates and their extreme similarities to humans be consumed by other theories? The debate will continue and unfold into the Fall, but educators and voters must decide a path forward that is sure to shape how we see ourselves and primates in the future.

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