A new invertebrate life form has been discovered—politicians who have no backbone when it comes to what they say about evolution. They are a secretive breed, slithering away at the merest hint of the E-word, but one of them named Scott Walker was captured by a reporter on a trip to the UK.

When asked whether he is comfortable with the idea of evolution by natural selection and whether he believes in it personally, he replied: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another.” Later he tweeted “Both science and my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe that faith & science are compatible & go hand in hand.” Still no answer to the question about evolution. On that topic, Scott Walker has no more backbone than a sea cucumber.

Mike Huckabee, another Republican presidential hopeful, has more backbone than Walker on the subject of evolution. He was bold enough to say during the 2008 presidential campaign that evolution is just a theory that should be taught alongside creationism in schools. Then he added:  “None of us are running in order to be an eighth grade science teacher. We’re running to be president.”

Do any politicians have enough backbone to say that they accept Darwin’s theory of evolution? All UK politicians do, according to the reporter who captured Walker. Why not, since Darwin is so politically correct over there that he’s on their ten pound notes?

Among American presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle, Hillary Clinton arguably had the most backbone when she said  “I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying.”

TVOL is pleased to provide an evolution scorecard and sample of quotes for all of the US presidential hopefuls. Reading through them, a sad conclusion emerges: Even those with enough backbone to say that they accept the theory of evolution have tiny brains when it comes to what they know about it. Even more sadly, they assume that they don’t need to know anything about evolution in their line of work. graph What would they think if they read The Darwin Economy by the distinguished economist Robert Frank and learned of his prediction that 100 years from now (I’m betting on 10), Darwin and not Adam Smith will be regarded as the father of economic theory?  Or if their economic advisors started to read a 2013 special issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization titled “Evolution as a General Theoretical Framework for Economics and Public Policy”? Their tiny brains would be dumfounded. I’m not sure that British politicians would be any more comprehending, despite their surface acceptance of evolution.

Currently, one of the best places to learn about the deep relevance of evolutionary theory to public affairs is The Evolution Institute and its two communication outlets, This View of Life and the Social Evolution Forum. Read just a few articles and you’ll be more advanced than almost all politicians. Politicians with backbones and big brains on the topic of evolution have yet to evolve. Would you like to know the actual statements from our politicians regarding evolution? Here you go:

bachmann Michele Bachmann – Former Congresswoman from Minnesota (6th District)
“I support intelligent design. What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of a scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides. I would prefer that students have the ability to learn all aspects of an issue. And that’s why I believe the federal government should not be involved in local education to the most minimal possible process.” (CNN, June 17, 2011)

bush Jeb Bush – Former Governor of Florida
Journalist: “Does the governor believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution?” Bush: “Yeah, but I don’t think it should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you. And people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.” (Miami Herald, Dec. 26, 2005; Discover, Dec. 28, 2005; St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 28, 2005) Bush attempted to walk back his statement later that week: “I am a practicing Catholic, and my own personal belief is God created man and all life on earth. However, I do not believe an individual’s personal beliefs should be the basis for determining Florida’s Sunshine State Standards.” (Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 31, 2005)

carson Ben Carson – Author and Retired Neurosurgeon
“Carson has spoken publicly about his views on evolution and creationism, once telling a convention of the National Science Teachers: ‘Evolution and creationism both require faith. It’s just a matter of where you choose to place that faith.’ In an article in the Adventist Review, Carson was quoted as saying, “By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.” (Washington Post, May 8, 2012) “Those of us who believe in God and derive our sense of right and wrong and ethics from God’s word really have no difficulty whatsoever defining where our ethics come from. People who believe in survival of the fittest might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from. A lot of evolutionists are very ethical people.” (Inside Higher Education, May 8, 2012)


Ted Cruz – United States Senator from Texas
“Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will not talk about it.” (New York Times, Feb. 13, 2015) However, his father, Rafael Cruz, thinks evolution is a communist lie. (Right Wing Watch, Nov. 4, 2013)


Chris Christie – Governor of New Jerseychristie
When asked at a press conference if he believed in evolution or creationism: “That’s none of your business. . .  Evolution is required teaching. If there’s a certain school district that also wants to teach creationism, that’s not something we should decide in Trenton.” (The Star-Ledger, May 12, 2011) “I probably have little business getting myself involved in these kinds of questions,” Christie said, adding that local school boards “should be making those decisions about what curriculum is being taught in your schools. I think it’s really a dangerous area for a governor who stands up from the top of the state to say you should teach this, you shouldn’t teach that.” (The Star-Ledger, May 8, 2011)


Jim DeMint – Former United States Senator from South Carolina
“The thing that we’ve conceded as a people that we’ve got to fix, is turning the education of our children over to the government…. Let ’em go to a school where they can learn that God created this earth—because we know he did. Scientists more and more are—are being trapped or backed into this whole idea. As they see the whole genome experience, experiment, or they research all the DNA, they realize that this had to be created. It could not have happened by accident. It’s impossible. So we can go out with confidence that we are created, we are given unalienable rights, and God has blessed this country beyond anything we could have imagined. And he’s put us in charge of this vineyard we call America.” (New Yorker, Dec. 6, 2012)

huckabee2 Mike Huckabee – Former Governor of Arkansas
“If you want to believe that you and your family came from apes, I’ll accept that,” adding, “I believe there was a creative process.” He said that he did not object to the teaching of evolution as a theory in public schools and that he did not expect public schools to teach creationism. “We shouldn’t indoctrinate kids in school,” he said. “I wouldn’t want them teaching creationism as if it’s the only thing that they should teach.” (New York Times, May 5, 2007) “Huckabee: Well, I think the proper thing to do is to make sure that students have an understanding that there are a lot of points of view as to how the world began… Interviewer: Do you think they should teach that in science courses? Huckabee: I would be more comfortable with simply an acknowledgment that there are many points of view and that nobody actually knows what happened and we can‘t prove any of them. You can say, this is the predominant view. But one thing I‘m very adamant about, I don‘t expect the public school system, a secular public school system, to instruct my children in religious affairs. And I frankly don‘t want them to, because I think they‘ll mess it up.” (NBC News, August 5, 2005)

paulRand Paul – United States Senator from Kentucky
When asked at a Christian homeschoolers conference how old the Earth was: “I’m going to pass on the age of the Earth. I’m just going to have to pass on that one.” (Christian Homeschool Educators of Kentucky [CHEK] conference, June 25, 2010; YouTube)

demint Bobby Jindal – Governor of Louisiana
“The reality is I’m not an evolutionary biologist. What I believe as a father and a husband is that local schools should make decisions on how they teach. And we can talk about Common Core and why I don’t believe in a national curriculum. I think local school districts should make decisions about what should be taught in their classroom. I want my kids to be exposed to the best science, the best critical thinking…” The reporter interrupted Jindal, a Rhodes scholar who studied biology and public policy at Brown University, to press him on the original question of whether he believes the theory of evolution reflects the best scientific thinking about life on Earth. “I will tell you, as a father, I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their schools, but secondly, I think local school districts should make the decision,” he said. Pressed a third time on what he personally thinks, Jindal again sidestepped. “I told you what I think. I think that local school districts, not the federal government, should make the decision about how they teach science, biology, economics. I want my kids to be taught about evolution; I want my kids to be taught about other theories.” (Raw Story, Sept. 16, 2014; CSPAN, Sept. 16, 2014)

perry Rick Perry – Governor of Texas
“How old do I think the earth is? You know what, I don’t have any idea. I know it’s pretty old so it goes back a long long way. I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is.” While Perry was answering the child’s question, the mother continued to loudly whisper in the child’s ear to ask him about evolution and why he doesn’t believe in science. “Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it’s a theory that’s out there, and it’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” (ABC News, Aug. 18, 2011) “I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.” (Standard-Times, Sept. 11, 2010)

unsureMarco Rubio – United States Senator from Florida
“GQ: How old do you think the Earth is? Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.” (GQ, Dec., 2012) He later remembered: “There is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old,” he told Politico’s Mike Allen at a Playbook breakfast Wednesday. “I was referring to a theological debate.”

He said he isn’t conflicted about possible discrepancies between the two views. In the Bible, God creates the universe in a seven-day period, and many Christians believe it is only about 6,000 years old. But he said it’s possible to believe in both creationism and scientific proof that the Earth is much older. “Science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it. The more science learns, the more I’m convinced that God is real.” His comment to GQ on the age of the Earth was controversial, in part, because of a debate over whether children should be taught creationism in school, either instead of or in conjunction with science on the matter. Rubio said he believes science should be taught in school, but parents also have the right to teach their children about the Bible’s version of the Earth’s creation. (Huffington Post, Dec. 5, 2012; Politico, Dec. 5, 2012)

santorum Rick Santorum – Former United States Senator from Pennsylvania
“The theory of intelligent design, which predates ancient Greece, contends that nature shows tangible signs of having been created by a pre-existing intelligence. This is in contrast to Charles Darwin’s theory, which assumes all physical and material reality has gradually evolved through pure chance and natural selection, whereby the fittest members of each species survive and reproduce. Research has shown that the odds that even one small protein molecule has been created by chance is 1 in a billion. Thus, some larger force or intelligence, or what some call agent causation, seems like a viable cause for creating information systems such as the coding of DNA. A number of scientists contend that alternate theories regarding the origins of the human species – including that of a greater intelligence – are possible. Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.” (Washington Times, March 14, 2002)

cruz Scott Walker – Governor of Wisconsin
When asked if he accepts evolution by a British journalist: “I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question that a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another.” (Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2015) He later tweeted: “Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand.” (Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2015)

biden Joe Biden – Vice-President of the United States
“Despite his personal belief that human lives begin at conception, Biden supports abortion rights and human embryonic stem-cell research. Biden has never been shy about speaking his mind; in an appearance last month on Bill Maher’s liberal television talk show, he spoke out against teaching intelligent design in science class, saying “I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey.” (Nature, Sept. 24, 2008) After President Bush endorsed the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution, Biden told The News Journal in 2005 that the separation between church and state should not be “messed with.” (Pew Forum, Nov. 4, 2008)

clinton Hillary Clinton – Former Senator from New York and Secretary of State
“I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying.” I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason.” “I am grateful that I have the ability to look at dinosaur bones and draw my own conclusions,” she added, saying, too, that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is evidence that “evolution is going on as we speak.” (New York Times, Oct. 5, 2007)

obama Barack Obama – President of the United States
“I do believe in evolution. I don’t think that is incompatible with Christian faith, just as I don’t think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind, then somehow you should reject religion. And I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I’m amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe. And it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it.” (Democratic Forum, 13 April 2008; Nature, 2008)

County Resident: “York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What’s your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?” Obama: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.” (York Daily Record, March 30, 2008)

Published On: February 19, 2015

Eric Michael Johnson

Eric Michael Johnson

Eric Michael Johnson is Managing Editor for This View of Life. He has a master’s degree in evolutionary anthropology focusing on primate behavioral ecology and received his Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of British Columbia. His dissertation, The Struggle for Coexistence (reviewed on TVOL here) focused on the debate between ‘Social’ Darwinism and ‘Socialist’ Darwinism in England, France, Germany, and Russia in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In addition to publishing original research in such places as the Journal of Human EvolutionAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology, and Slavic and East European Review he has written on evolutionary topics for general audiences at SlateTimes Higher EducationDiscoverWiredPsychology Today and many others (see his website for more). He is a longtime advocate of science communication online and has spoken at academic as well as social media conferences on how important it is for scientists to reach out to the public by engaging readers with a compelling narrative. He can be found on Twitter at @ericmjohnson.

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson is president of Prosocial World and SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life, through Prosocial World and in his own research and writing.  A complete archive of his work is available at www.David SloanWilson.world. His most recent books include his first novel, Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III, and a memoir, A Life Informed by Evolution.


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