Creationism Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders
By Pema Levy
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) raised eyebrows Monday when he told GQ he couldn't answer a question about the age of the earth because "I'm not a scientist, man."
Having a top prospect for the 2016 presidential nomination say the age of the planet is "one of the great mysteries" comes at an awkward time for a party attempting to rebuild from its Nov. 6 drubbing at the hands of voters turned off by the GOP's embrace of social conservatives. But Rubio is hardly alone among potential Republican presidential contenders. Other big names for 2016 have weighed in publicly at various times over the years to position themselves as supportive of creationism proponents.
To science education advocates, these public statements fall into two categories: craven political panders to the conservative base and expressions of actual doubt in basic scientific principles. Both are disconcerting, the advocates say, and whether or not a president stands up for science has a broader impact than the education battles where creationism most often comes up.
"It's important beyond whether somebody has a direct impact on evolution [education] because it's an indicator of the way they look at the world and who they accept as reliable guides and authorities on subjects," said Dr. Eric Meikle, an anthropologist and director of education at the National Center for Science Education. "It's very important in terms of that."
For the record, Mitt Romney actually accepted the science of evolution and opposed the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" theory in science classrooms when he was governor of Massachusetts. That puts him to the left of some of the men potentially vying to be his replacement on the ticket in four years.
A look at some big names in 2016 Republican presidential speculation and what they've said about evolution or creationism:
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