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Planet Earth

The GOP and ID

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJanuary 19, 2006 10:26 PM

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It's good to have friends. In this case, specifically, Jason Rosenhouse, who has taken on a few of my critics for me. The gist is this: Some conservatives, in response to my arguments in The Republican War on Science, have been trying to make it look as though "intelligent design" is not so heavily backed by the GOP. For instance, Rosenhouse cites Adam Keiper in National Review, who has argued that "Conservatives are not politically unified in, not especially motivated by, and in a great many cases simply annoyed at, the intelligent-design debate." He also cites Kevin Shapiro in Commentary, who argues that

Intelligent Design is an unscientific theory, but the Republican party has hardly made a systematic effort to promote it; the effort has instead been spearheaded by private institutions with only vague ties to some conservative politicians.

In response, Rosenhouse shows that although we should be glad that some conservative intellectuals feel uneasy about this, the Republican Party cannot easily distance itself from ID: 1) Scores of prominent Republicans have spoken in favor of ID, but only one (that I'm aware of) has spoken negatively about it; 2) the Discovery Institute, the center of ID activity, is politically of a Republican tilt, as I explained in my book; 3) at the state level, all all pro-ID initiatives have come from Republicans as well. But most importantly, Rosenhouse notes that all of this is exactly what we would expect to see, given that ID creationism is fundamental to the Christian Right, and the Christian Right is a core part of the Republican political base. This is undeniable, and it explains why support for ID is predominantly a Republican political phenomenon.

Now, does this mean that no Democrat has ever said anything troubling about evolution? No. I can think of Al Gore's remarks on this subject during the 2000 election campaign, for example. But there's no serious comparison between the two sides of the aisle on this question.

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