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Vice President Candidate Mike Pence Denies Evolution, Wants Public School Students Taught Creationism

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Here’s a 2002 video of  U.S. Representative from Indiana Mike Pence denying evolution on the House floor. Pence quickly reveals that he, like many creationists, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word theory. Pence does on to ask that other “theories” of beginnings be taught — you know like Biblical creationism. Pence is being disingenuous here when he says he want creationism to be taught alongside evolution. He wants no such thing, as he makes clear towards the end of his speech. Pence believes Genesis 1-3 is scientific fact, not just one theory of origins among many.  His grand hope is that everyone will one day know that evolution is false and creationism is true.

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13 Comments

  1. Avatar
    JR

    I agree with him. They should teach other theories of cration in science class. For example the Native American creation stories, Ancient Greek theories, and my favorite the Babylonian creation theory in Enuma Elish. This theory is that we are the result of a cosmic battle between the gods and a sea monster. Children have a right to hear this theory in the classroom! Teach the controversy!!!

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I have long argued that public high school students should be required to take a World Religions class, along with classes in logic and philosophy. Of course, creationists don’t want all the creation myths taught–just theirs. Why? Because THEIR myth is the truth. All of those other myths, even the ones that are eerily similar, are false.

  2. Avatar
    Geoff

    It’s frightening that a guy whom many see as a saviour of the Republican Party from the menace of Trump can harbour such ignorance.

    In most cases evolution denialism is harmless, though it tends to be self perpetuating, when kids of these people are homeschooled. But when it comes to leaders of the western world it’s unforgivable. It means either that he has ‘switched off’ his intelligence sensors when it comes just to this subject, because it conflicts with his firmly held beliefs, or he is genuinely uneducated, or he is lying. I don’t get the impression he’s lying, I don’t think he’s lacking education, so I have to assume the former.

    And if he can reject overwhelming evidence for psychological reasons in one part of his life, then why should he be trusted with the presidency, which requires cool, calculated, consistently logical thinking.

  3. Avatar
    Melody

    I was taught both in high school: evolution because it was part of state exams but, as we were a Christian school, the teachers were allowed to put their own spin on it. So basically we got evolution taught with the constant reminder that it was not true and we were not to believe it. Never ever, as obviously the Bible was true.

    A few years later, at a Christian student club, discussions would ensue. I myself was pretty much a creationist at the time and as a humanities student didn’t have any other input. Many of the Christian students that studied biology and such, did accept evolution as truth. However, this got them to be seen as lesser Christians because they believed in evolution. Other students began to doubt how genuine their faith was and attacked them on their position which hurt them very much. My brother knew one of these students and told me that this student got so much pushback from his church and family whereas he was still a believer, but just couldn’t reconcile the creation story with what he knew to be true from his education.

    I knew micro evolution was true, but macro evolution couldn’t be true. There would be no original sin, death would have existed before the original sin, when did human conscienceness arise and did God even have a hand in it etc. etc. The whole thing would collapse and so evolution couldn’t be true. I am no longer a Christian but do take the position that orthodox Christianity needs creationism to be true otherwise the dogma doesn’t hold up.

    • Avatar
      JR

      I went to a christian school (church of england) and everyone believed in evolution. Everyone in the church I grew up in believed in evolution.

      The first time I met evolution deniers was at uni when I met conservative evangelicals. They believed in old earth and big bang and maybe evolution of animals but NOT humans. The reason? As you say the whole thing would unravel… original sin, fall, death etc.

      I came to deny evolution for that reason
      But thinking about it my arragance was huge. I looked down on answers in genesis as being stupid and over the top but I also disagreed with scientists that taught evolution. But my position (old earth, evolution of animals but creation of humans at a specific time) was correct! And that was based on what evidence???? Romans 5….

      • Avatar
        Joel

        JR, I don’t believe anything in the biblical account technically precludes evolution (common ancestry). This isn’t to make a truth claim regarding either position, but simply that evolution and the special creation of humans isn’t necessarily incompatible.

        One interpretation of the Romans 5 passage you mention is that it refers solely to death in a spiritual sense, not physical death. Special Transformism proposes that at some point a hominid form was imbued with a soul. From that point onward there existed potential for “sin” to enter the physical world, along with spiritual death.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          The problem, though, is if Genesis 1-3 is not literal, it pretty much destroys the NT and its message of sin/redemption. Taking this path ultimately leads to, in my opinion, the destruction of the Christian narrative. An increasing number of Christians want to hang on to Jesus while jettisoning anything they find disagreeable/uncomfortable. Universalism is likely the fastest growing subset within Christianity. If so, this is good news. The sooner Evangelicalism dies, the better. 🙂

          • Avatar
            Joel

            It seems to me that a collapse of the biblical narrative doesn’t necessarily follow from a non-literal interpretation. What are your reasons for thinking this to be the case?

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            In light of what Paul wrote in the NT, how is it possible to maintain the Christian narrative that humans are sinners and in need of salvation/redemption? Paul said what the first Adam lost, the last Adam gained. If Adam is a metaphor, then Jesus is too, right? Without Adam and Eve, out goes original sin, the atonement, and the necessity of redemption (if one maintains any connection with what Christians have historically believed). Worse yet, is believing that humans reached a certain point developmentally and then God then gave them a soul, made them accountable for sin, so Jesus could died for them on the cross.

            If the OT stories are reduced to metaphors, why then do I have any need of the forgiveness of sin/salvation? Once Christians go down this path (a recent phenomenon) I don’t see how they can stop before the entire Bible is reduced to “nice stories, but hey we love Jesus and that’s all that matters” drivel.

            Perhaps the better approach is for Christians to admit that the Bible is no longer coherent or relevant. When the texts were written 2000 plus years ago, they reflected the history of their day. Maybe it is time for a new Bible, one that reflects modernity and our scientific understanding of the world. Now, if you believe the Bible is some sort of divine/supernatural/inspired text, well you’ve got a big problem on your hands. 🙂 A new Bible would require God showing up again and “inspiring” the text. We have cellphones now, so I am sure his reappearance would be documented.

          • Avatar
            Joel

            Sorry, I should have clarified that I wasn’t advocating the dismissal of the historical Adam. I agree that doing so becomes highly problematic, since the rest of scripture appears to treat him as a historical figure. However, even a secular categorization of Genesis 1 as prose narrative allows for a historical person to exist in the midst of an allegorical or non-literal story.

            The claim is that evolution and the biblical account are logically incoherent and therefore mutually exclusive positions. One can examine this with a simple question, does an evolved Adam with a belly button create any scriptural theological implications that a special creation Adam does not? It seems to me that you can insert either into the creation account without disruption of the narrative. It doesn’t negate the deliverance of divine commands, doctrine of original sin, need for reconciliation, atonement, etc.

            Again, I’m not arguing that such a sequence of events actually occurred. Just that it’s a coherent possible scenario which isn’t at odds with the remainder of the text.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Joel, I have got to be honest here, I think you are grasping at straws, trying to embrace scientific fact, while at the same time holding on to classic Christian orthodoxy. While I commend you for trying to do so, I fail to see how such an approach is intellectually coherent. I will gladly give you the opportunity to write a blog post defending your view if you wish to do so. Perhaps I am missing something in your arguments that might be more fully explained in a blog post. Specifically, I want to know how it is possible to embrace orthodox Christianity with doctrines such as original sin, substitutionary (or any other) atonement, and the need for redemption, while at the same time believing the evolution best explains the existence of the human species. You could, perhaps, argue from the God of the gaps perspective–that the Christian God allowed creation to move along for millions of years, and then 6,021 years ago stepped in, created humans, and by doing so set into motion an elaborate sin/judgment/salvation story line. You COULD argue this, but surely you can see how absurd such an argument would be.

            Christian Cameron Buettel had this to say about this issue:

            …There are only two ways to deny a six-day creation: ignore the text or reject the text. Scholars ignore the actual text by blinding themselves to the genre, grammar, and layout in order to insert their own. Skeptics simply reject the text as erroneous. Either way, the result is the same—a clear text becomes a confused text.

            Some people like to dismiss this debate as a secondary issue, not directly related to the gospel. But it is clearly an issue that goes to the authority of Scripture. And furthermore, as MacArthur rightly points out, it has massive repercussions for the gospel:

            “If Adam was not the literal ancestor of the entire human race, then the Bible’s explanation of how sin entered the world makes no sense. Moreover, if we didn’t fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ, because Christ’s position as the Head of the redeemed race exactly parallels Adam’s position as the head of the fallen race: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18–19). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life–giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13–14; Jude 14).

            So in an important sense, everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1–3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture.”

            The opening chapters of Genesis are not up for debate, nor are they negotiable. The academic credibility of our faith is meaningless if we’re so quick to sacrifice the meaning of Scripture at the altar of public opinion. Better to be counted a fool for the sake of God’s Word than to be embraced for our willingness to compromise it.

            Scientist and atheist Jerry Coyne stated:

            …The problem, as you’ll know if you’re a regular here, is that genetic data show clearly that the genes of modern humans do not descend from only two people (or eight, if you believe the Noah story) in the last few thousand years. Back-calculating from the genetic diversity seen in modern humans, and making conservative assumptions, evolutionary geneticists have shown that the human population could not have been smaller than about 12,250 individuals: 10,000 in Africa and 2,250 in the group of individuals that left Africa and whose descendants colonized the rest of the world. There was a population “bottleneck,” but it was nowhere near two or eight people.

            This shows that Adam and Eve were not the historical ancestors of all humanity. And of course that gives theology a problem: if the Primal Couple didn’t give rise to everyone, then whence our affliction with Adam and Eve’s Original Sin? That sin, which the pair incurred by disobeying God, is supposed to have been passed on to the descendants of Adam and Eve, i.e., all of us. And it’s that sin that Jesus supposedly came to Earth to expiate. But if Original Sin didn’t exist, and Adam and Eve were simply fictional metaphors, then Jesus died for a metaphor. That’s not good!

            That doesn’t sit well with theologians, of course, who, if they accept the science (and most of the smarter ones have), must then explain the significance of Adam and Eve, and whether they really existed. I discuss this in the Albatross as well; suffice it to say here that there are several interpretations of Adam and Eve as both historical and metaphorical, many of them funny and none of them coming close to solving the problem of Original Sin and the coming of Jesus…

            https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/christian-fundamentalists-are-right-about-genesis-1-3/

  4. Avatar
    anotherami

    Pence is a nightmare. I know, because I live in Indiana, where his governorship has been far-right. There was the RFRA fiasco that made national headlines and an abortion bill that is absolutely heinous. (“Fetal remains” must be treated as any other corpse, requiring either interment or cremation. Google “Periods for Pence” for the backlash.) That Pence was buddies with Michelle “Bat-shit” Bachman should be all anyone needs to know.

  5. Avatar
    Troy

    One thing to remember about Pence (and likely why he won the V.P. debate) is that before he was governor he was a talking head on right wing radio. During a trip to Virginia with my father-in-law he played right wing radio all the way there. It is interesting but also sad. There is absolutely nothing but hot air, there is no cross examination and no unorthodox opinions are entertained. It is a pure sugar rush for the socially conservative mind.
    Trump himself is said to have taken most of his issues, early in the campaign from right wing radio. It would explain his birther-ism and anti-immigration stances.
    I don’t think Pence is a dummy, accepting the losing slot on Trump’s ticket is actually a win for him. He’ll likely make it onto Fox with his own show, and he has the chops to actually succeed (unlike Palin).

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Bruce Gerencser