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Beating the evolution gotcha


Nothing in Scott Walker’s abortive run for the presidency was as good as his leaving the race with a request that other stalled GOP candidates do the same. He just wasn’t quick enough for the major leagues. Here’s an example: Back on Charles Darwin’s birthday in February, a London reporter asked Walker if he believed in evolution. The Wisconsin governor responded, “I’m going to punt on that one. …” The non-response didn’t save him. New York Times columnist Gail Collins and others labeled him “anti-science,” as if he said Jesus (an imaginary friend, of course) had a pet dinosaur.

Jesus had a better way to respond to gotcha questions. Chapter 20 of Luke records how chief priests asked by what authority He taught, and Jesus answered by asking whether the baptism of John was from heaven or from man. That put them in a political hot spot, so they punted. Jesus then answered, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Reporters will persist in asking GOP candidates about evolution, and it would be better for them to answer with a question: “What do you mean by that?” Reporters are likely to stammer and say, “Bird beaks elongate,” or, “Moths change color,” and the candidate can say, “Of course I believe in microevolution.” Macroevolution, one kind of creature bringing forth another, remains an unproven theory.

Or candidates can follow Jesus by countering with a question that leaves liberals with unattractive options. One possibility: “Is a 20-week-old unborn child a human being?” A “yes” angers the abortion lobby, a “no” is unscientific. Another question, suggested by David Harsanyi at The Federalist: “Do you ever question settled science?” A “yes” answer opens the door to considering criticism of Darwinism acceptable. A “no” is wrong by the skeptical canons of science itself.

But it may be hard to avoid the rude response: “Do you believe that ugly critters emerged from muck and after millions of years evolved into London reporters?”


Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.

@MarvinOlasky

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