Suddenly, Evolution Isn't a "Huge" Issue Anymore

Monday, November 14, 2005

Suddenly, Evolution Isn't a "Huge" Issue Anymore

Zoe noted in this post today that Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is now singing a new tune on the issue of teaching so-called "intelligent design" -- Creationism Lite (CL), as I call it -- in the public schools. The new Santorum comes only days after Dover, Pa., voters defeated members of their school board who backed the teaching of CL.

The article that Zoe linked to included a reference to previous statements by Santorum. But to fully appreciate the magnitude of the senator's change of heart, let's review the record:
* Four years ago, Santorum sponsored an amendment that advised state and local education officials to design a science curriculum that will "help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist" on evolution.

* Three years ago, in this Washington Times op-ed, Santorum didn't equivocate. Referring to efforts to require the teaching of CL in Ohio's public schools, Santorum wrote that "intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

* If the evolution issue didn't really matter that much to Santorum, one would have expected him to let it go after '02. But, just this August, Santorum gave an interview to National Public Radio in which he declared that the evolution-versus-CL debate "has huge consequences for society .... if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us."
Of course, evolution doesn't address how the world and its plant and animal life came into being; it only speaks to how these life forms evolved over many centuries. And believing in evolution doesn't mean you are a person without a sense of moral obligation. But try telling all that to the Religious Right.

Meanwhile, Santorum has decided that an issue that he once said "has huge consequences" is no longer worth the fuss. This is how Santorum operates. Just as he did in the months leading into 2000 (the year he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate), Santorum is trying to tone down his rhetoric long enough to fool the centrist voters of Pennsylvania.

We'll see if it works.

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