Today is Darwin Day, commemorating the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and of the publishing of On the Origin of Species. The National Academy of Sciences, “the nation’s most prestigious scientific organization,” declares evolution “one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have.” President Bush’s science adviser John Marburger calls it “the cornerstone of modern biology.”
Yet, on February 23, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker for the most prominent creationism advocacy group in the country. The Discovery Institute, a religious right think-tank, is well-known for its strong opposition to evolutionary biology and its advocacy for “intelligent design.” The institute’s main financial backer, savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, spent 20 years on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, “a theocratic outfit that advocates the replacement of American civil law with biblical law.”
McCain has an ambiguous record on whether he supports intelligent design in the science curriculum. In 2005, he said it should be taught:
Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?
McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don’t think is – or one belief on how people and the world was created – I think there’s nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.
Daily Star: Does it belong in science?
McCain: There’s enough scientists that believe it does. I’m not a scientist. This is something that I think all points of view should be presented.
But last year, he said the intelligent design theory should not be taught in the science classroom:
“I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view,” he said. “I happen to believe in evolution…I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.“
As McCain continues his lurch to the right, where will he come down on intelligent design in the science classroom? We’ll be watching.