Ron Paul: I Don’t Accept The Theory Of Evolution

Via CBS News comes this video of a Town Hall from 2007:

“Well, first i thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter,” he said. “I think it’s a theory…the theory of evolution and I don’t accept it as a theory. But I think the creator that i know, you know created us, every one of us and created the universe and the precise time and manner and all. I just don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side.”

How, precisely, does one go through college and Medical School and all the scientific training that involves and even think that something like this has any merit whatsoever?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, Religion, Science & Technology, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jay says:

    I’m hoping this is just his way of saying that he believes in genetic selection but not in evolution-as-the-origin-of-life (i.e. deism). If he denies all of the Theory of Evolution, we have a problem.




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  2. Peter says:

    Those for whom this is news didn’t pay attention in 2008. The question had infamously been asked during a GOP debate and Paul was among the evolution “skeptics”.

    P.S: even the Vatican made peace with Darwin. They even made piece with the Big Bang.




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  3. @Jay:

    Evolution is not concerned primarily with the origin of life, but with how lower forms of life led to the development of higher forms.




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  4. Peter says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Indeed. Darwin’s book is titled “On the origin of species”, not “on the origin of life”.




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  5. Bleev K says:

    How, precisely, does one go through college and Medical School

    Are you sure about this? Maybe it’s like for the newsletter, somebody else did it.




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  6. michael reynolds says:

    Wow. Ron Paul is coming apart like a piñata in a hurricane.




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  7. David says:

    Do any of the Republican candidates actually understand what a scientific theory is?




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  8. ponce says:

    Ron Paul is coming apart like a piñata in a hurricane.

    Meh.

    How about “Like a piñata in a car wash?”




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  9. Tano says:

    How, precisely, does one go through college and Medical School and all the scientific training that involves and even think that something like this has any merit whatsoever?

    Well,,,,
    Physicians are not scientists. They need to understand the state of the art in medical science, but they need not understand how to create science – how to do research, rather than just apply the findings. Especially in fields like Paul’s, medicine is applied science – one really does not need to have read or understood Darwin in order to deliver a baby.

    And, evolutionary biology has only recently been fully integrated into basic biology instruction – when Paul was an undergrad or med student, there was probably precious little mention of evolution at all.




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  10. Bleev K says:

    @David: No.




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  11. Ron Beasley says:

    @Tano:

    And, evolutionary biology has only recently been fully integrated into basic biology instruction – when Paul was an undergrad or med student, there was probably precious little mention of evolution at all.

    It was fully integrated when I took college biology in 1966.

    Physicians are not scientists. They need to understand the state of the art in medical science, but they need not understand how to create science

    This couldn’t be further from the truth – the scientific method is critical to practicing medicine.




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  12. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Paul’s too worried about tracking devices in paper money, along with exposing and defeating the World Zionist Konspiracy, to give a lot of thought to such mundane topics as evolution vs. creationism.

    As for the apparent dichotomy between Paul’s medical training and his viewpoints on evolution, let’s be blunt: OB/GYNs are not brain surgeons and practicing in the U.S. Air Force is not the same as practicing at the Mayo Clinic or at Sloan Kettering. Paul’s not only literally crazy he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.




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  13. Anderson says:

    @David: No.




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  14. Anderson says:

    … Sorry, Bleev, I forgot that OTB allows “replies” but doesn’t nest them, so that I have to finish the thread to see whether someone has “replied.”

    If the reply is just going to appear at the bottom of the thread, then what is the point of the “reply” function at all?




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  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    How, precisely, does one go through college and Medical School and all the scientific training that involves and even think that something like this has any merit whatsoever?

    Since you asked…..

    http://www.amazon.com/Six-Days-Scientists-Believe-Creation/dp/1864364432




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  16. michael reynolds says:

    @ponce:
    Yep, that is better. In my defense I was at my doctor’s office.




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  17. Ernieyeball says:

    @Anderson: Another site (let’s call it Sneezin’) “nests” the replies. To check replies to all posts one must begin with the first post every time. The reader then has to scroll down through the nests ad nauseam.
    The OTB system allows one to check the last post and then work up to the time stamp last visited.




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  18. God Dammit, can’t there be just one politician out there I can vote for enthusiastically? They don’t even have to win, I just want to vote for someone without having to hold my nose for once in my life.




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  19. @Ron Beasley:

    It was fully integrated when I took college biology in 1966.

    How about in 1957, when Ron Paul took it?




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  20. @Peter:

    Those for whom this is news didn’t pay attention in 2008. The question had infamously been asked during a GOP debate and Paul was among the evolution “skeptics”.

    Actually, those of us who were paying attention in 2008, remember that Paul was not amoung the evolution skeptics when the question you’re referring to was asked.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4Cc8t3Zd5E

    Huckabee, Brownback, and Tancredo were the ones who didn’t not believe in evolution at that debate.




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  21. @michael reynolds:

    Meh,

    How about “I was being thrown off a plane as I typed it.”




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  22. ponce says:

    How about “I was being thrown off a plane as I typed it.”

    LOL




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  23. Franklin says:

    “I don’t accept it as a theory”

    You can stop right there.




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  24. Racehorse says:

    How about this creation theory: What can be done to create jobs?
    Now that is the most important creation question.




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  25. catfish says:

    Well I would have to say that his newsletter theories on AIDS transmission are just as disturbing. Especially when you consider that he is a man who makes his living as an obstetrician, you’d hope he’d be counselling his patients based on science instead of crazy theories.




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  26. Anonne says:

    Remember, it’s a THEORY, not a LAW. It is perfectly okay to be somewhat skeptical of a theory. It’s not like he questions gravity.

    As for scientists, one does not have to reject science in order to have faith or to believe that the universe didn’t happen by chance. Many of the great scientists had faith in a deity. One does not need to read Genesis or some other book of faith’s telling of creation literally in order to believe in creation.




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  27. catfish says:
  28. A voice from another precinct says:

    @G.A.Phillips: Clearly you don’t understand G.A. The guys cited in the book are NOT “real” scientists. They can’t be because they don’t believe what REAL scientists believe. If you won’t accept my word on it, then ask Doug. He will set you straight because he has the necessary scientific credentials to comment on this matter (i.e. he believes in evolution and declares that anyone who doesn’t is an idiot).




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  29. Jay says:

    @Peter: You are both right about Darwin, but he is not the end of the Theory of Ev. If the principles of the theory hold going forward from fish to humans, than they must hold going backwards all the way to the either right before or right after the creation of the first cell (depending on your perspective). Darwin is the most important figure in evolutionary biology, obviously, but the body of scientific work that we call Ev Bio now includes cellular biology in addition to explanations of how plants and animals evolved over time.




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  30. Jay says:

    @Anonne: You’re completely wrong here. When scientists use the word “theory”, they are not using it in the every day sense of the word. When we say “theory”, we mean “really good guess”. When scientists say “theory”, they mean “testable hypothesis”. The Theory of Evolution is a testable hypothesis that has been tested and proven to to be a biologic law (like the Law of Gravity is a law in physics). Since the Theory of Ev was originally put forward as a testable hypothesis by Darwin, it retains that original title as a scientific theory, but is now understood to be a proven law.




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  31. Tano says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    It was fully integrated when I took college biology in 1966.

    I don’t thinks so Ron. Unless you went to a pretty special school. The struggle to weave an evolutionary perspective into the teaching of basic biology has been a long arduous process, and it continues to this day in some places.

    the scientific method is critical to practicing medicine.

    That is just totally false. The scientific method is a means to define scientific “laws” – i.e. regularities or patterns – based on underlying processes. The practice of medicine is the opposite of that – it is the application of previously-learned laws onto the individual instances that appear to you when you see a patient. The goal is not to learn new generalities – but rather to cure the patient.

    Of course there are scientists who work in the field of medicine – that is how the fields advance – but those are the researchers, not the practitioners.




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  32. Tano says:

    @Anderson:

    If the reply is just going to appear at the bottom of the thread, then what is the point of the “reply” function at all?

    It is precisely because the comment will appear at the bottom of the thread that we have the “Reply” function – it appends the name of the person to whom you are replying in a link that goes back to the original comment.




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  33. Ben says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    God Dammit, can’t there be just one politician out there I can vote for enthusiastically? They don’t even have to win, I just want to vote for someone without having to hold my nose for once in my life.

    Tell me about it. Now it’s down to perhaps Huntsman, or Johnson, which would mean voting Libertarian, which I swore I’d never do again. Blech.




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  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    You’re completely wrong here. When scientists use the word “theory”, they are not using it in the every day sense of the word. When we say “theory”, we mean “really good guess”. When scientists say “theory”, they mean “testable hypothesis”. The Theory of Evolution is a testable hypothesis that has been tested and proven to to be a biologic law (like the Law of Gravity is a law in physics). Since the Theory of Ev was originally put forward as a testable hypothesis by Darwin, it retains that original title as a scientific theory, but is now understood to be a proven law.

    lol….




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  35. G.A.Phillips says:

    Clearly you don’t understand G.A. The guys cited in the book are NOT “real” scientists. They can’t be because they don’t believe what REAL scientists believe. If you won’t accept my word on it, then ask Doug. He will set you straight because he has the necessary scientific credentials to comment on this matter (i.e. he believes in evolution and declares that anyone who doesn’t is an idiot).

    lol….

    Here is what I do. I listen and read what both sides have to say, and look at their findings, and then I compare the two. The great help is the history of what both side are getting at and why they look at the “evidence” that they come up with the way they do.

    I am no scientist, but I can read, listen and compare.

    At first and being a person who had fantasy and science fiction completely involved in his life from a very young age I did not like what I was concluding….In my 20’s…

    I tried to mix the two, the truth I was learning and my want of my life’s love to stay a part of it.

    It is was a ruff change, and is still hard to let go of completely…




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  36. sam says:

    @Anonne:

    Remember, it’s a THEORY, not a LAW. It is perfectly okay to be somewhat skeptical of a theory. It’s not like he questions gravity.

    Well, there’s the fundamental(ist) confusion — that is, confusing a phenomenon with an explanation of (theory of) the phenomenon.




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  37. Robert in SF says:

    A layman’s commentary:

    @jay:
    Evolution is an explanation about the change in a given population’s genetic composition over time….i.e., how did the genetic pool for a given population change over time…which genetic exhibitions become more or less prevalent in the pool until it was predominant or nonexistent, and what were the environmental and genetic factors that caused this. It is by no means intended to be an explanation for the origins of life…it looks at evidence available, postulates an explanation, and tests that explanation against new evidence when encountered. If the evidence supports the idea, then it moves forward; if not, then the explanation is adapted to fit the evidence…But just remember, the plural of anecdote is not data (or proof)….

    Also, tl;dr: animals don’t evolve…populations do….animals mature, populations change.

    @tano:
    The modern practice of medicine most certainly follows the scientific method….observe, propose, test, adapt….in my own wording. The doctor observes the condition of the patient, proposes a treatment based on those observations, sees the results, and adapts if it didn’t work using those new data….just because a lot of proposals work the first time based on years of experience leading to medical standards doesn’t mean it’s not scientific. It’s not based on faith, but rigorous historical experimentation and study.




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  38. george says:

    Remember, it’s a THEORY, not a LAW. It is perfectly okay to be somewhat skeptical of a theory. It’s not like he questions gravity.

    Actually gravity is a theory as well (in terms of science, Law is just another word for theory, and in fact, Newton’s Law of Gravity has been proven to be wrong, and was replaced by Einstein’s theory of general relativity). And Einstein’s theory (our current best theory of gravity) is incompatable with our best theory of particles – quantum mechanics; there’s hope that String theory can unify gravity with the strong and electroweak theories, but that’s a long way off. Other theories of gravity (such as Newton’s) have already been proven to be incorrect.

    So actually, not believing in the theory of gravity is scientifically less controversial than not believing in the theory of evolution (quite a few physicists feel that General Relativity will eventually be proven to be wrong when you get down to the Planck length). I’d feel better about him if he’d said I don’t believe in the theory of gravity than I do about him saying he doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution.

    But my suspicion is that he has no understanding of either the theory of evolution nor the theory of gravity, and perhaps would be best off not speaking about them – presidents talking about things they know nothing about is never a good thing.




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  39. george says:

    And actually its quite common for both biologists and physicists to believe in God. The idea is that God started the big bang and set the rules for the universe – which include both evolution and gravity. That is, they believe that evolution is the way God chose to implement creation.




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  40. jay says:

    @Robert in SF: Again, I think this is wrong. Evolution as a theory began as a method of explaining how population genetics change over time. The problem is that about 5 minutes after you start wondering how a flower came to be pink instead of red, you have to start wondering how the plant’s DNA came to be changed over time. And as soon as you take that leap, you are officially in the land of cellular and molecular biology. DNA itself is not alive, but for the Theory of Ev to be true, DNA must have somehow “evolved” (obviously). In other words, exploring the question of how the first strand of DNA came to be and how that DNA was first encased in a cell wall is certainly in the realm of evolutionary biology in may people’s minds.

    This may seem like hair-splitting, but it is important for people who learned black-and-white high school/college biology, which is split along certain lines (i.e. last semester I took evolution, now I’m taking genetics, next semester I take cell bio), to recognize that the idea of evolution to many people includes the idea of how life first started. That helps explain where some of the evolution/creationism controversy comes from.




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  41. ed says:

    Anyone else see a pattern? After Dr. Paul’s well documented pandering to shithead racists, Jewaphobes, homophobes, and batshit looney paranoids, why wouldn’t he also shoot for the evolution denialists?




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  42. Tano says:

    @jay:

    Evolution as a theory began as a method of explaining how population genetics change over time.

    No. Evolution as a theory predates any knowledge of genetics. Evolution as a theory began as a method to explain the patterns of similarities and differences in physical characteristics seen between species.

    exploring the question of how the first strand of DNA came to be and how that DNA was first encased in a cell wall is certainly in the realm of evolutionary biology in may people’s minds.

    Thats true. The origin of life is not outside the scope of evolutionary biology. The membrane-wrapped DNA system – the cell – is the form that survived the selective pressures of the early environment.




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  43. Tano says:

    @Robert in SF:

    The modern practice of medicine most certainly follows the scientific method….observe, propose, test, adapt…

    That is roughly approximate to the scientific method, but it is not the same thing. The “propose” step, for the scientist, is to formulate a novel generalization that explains the otherwise-incomprehensible phenomenon in front of them in a way that links it to other known phenomenon. The “propose” step for a physician is merely to choose one well known category or another (to make a diagnosis) into which the phenomenon in front of them (the disease) fits.

    The one is a creative step leading to new knowledge about a class of phenomena. The latter is simply fitting a new case into an established order.

    Its like the difference between writing a new law, or going through a trial to determine if a particular person is guilty relative to an existing law.




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  44. sam says:

    @jay:

    Evolution as a theory began as a method of explaining how population genetics change over time.

    That’s not quite right if it be taken to mean the Darwin (we are talking about Darwin, right?) knew about Mendel — he didn’t. (One of the really great “What-ifs” in history.)

    Moreover, we need to make a distinction between evolution and the theory of evolution (see my comment on gravity and theories of gravity above). Evolution (as a description of a change in animals over time) was fast becoming an undisputed fact in Darwin’s time, and his was only one theory of the mechanism of evolution (see Lamarck).




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  45. G.A.Phillips says:

    Sigh….




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  46. Tano says:

    @sam:

    Evolution (as a description of a change in animals over time) was fast becoming an undisputed fact in Darwin’s time, and his was only one theory of the mechanism of evolution (see Lamarck).

    I don’t dispute the general gist of your remark – it is true for example, that Lamarck had an evolutionary theory, and a classification of species to go with it, 50 years before Darwin’s Origin. But I would not say that evolution was “fast becoming an undisputed fact” in Darwin’s time. It remained the interest of a very small fringe until after Darwin published. Only then was there an aggressive effort to persuade biologists and the public. I don’t think one could really say that it was seen as undisputed fact, even amongst biologists, until well after Mendel’s work became known, and the two theories were synthesized in the 1920s and 30s.

    And, of course, amongst the general population, we still have quite a ways to go.

    Given that it is nearly 500 years since Copernicus and we still say that the sun rises and sets…..




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  47. george says:

    Given that it is nearly 500 years since Copernicus and we still say that the sun rises and sets…..

    Oddly enough, given General Relativity its just as accurate to say the sun revolves around the earth as to say the earth revolves around the sun. The math, however, is much, much easier if you use the sun as the reference frame rather than the earth (well, actually a point just outside the sun, and its slightly more complex than even that, but you get the idea).

    The distinction was important in Newtonian Physics, with his absolute reference frame – one the “Laws” which has turned out to be wrong (another example of why science doesn’t talk of laws any more, just theories … in science, law is just another word for theory).




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