The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign season is quickly approaching. Many politicians have already declared their candidacy. Over the next eighteen months we will hear their platforms expanded upon ad nauseam. I consider the candidates’ views on scientific issues to be important. This will be the beginning of a series where I examine the presidential hopefuls and investigate their stances on evolution. Do they consider evolution to be a scientific fact? Are there any signs of support for the teaching of intelligent design in biology class? I’ll start with the presumptive democratic nominee: Hillary Clinton.
First of all, let’s not be pedantic. Sometimes people will object to the phrase “believe in evolution” because it can imply that evolution is a matter of opinion. Claiming to “accept evolution” may be a better way of phrasing it, but let’s avoid that route for our purposes here. The word “believe” can mean to “have confidence in the truth or reliability” of something. That suits this situation well enough.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at a couple of statements Clinton has made about evolution. In a 2007 interview, Senator Clinton said “I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying,” That shot at “people in public life” was referring to some of the republican candidates for the presidency openly denying evolution. You can see some of those candidates, such as Mike Huckabee, in this debate clip.
Clinton continued: “I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason.” Politically, that was a satisfactory answer. She didn’t alienate religious people, but instead urged them to use the brain that they believe was intelligently designed.
If we go back another decade, we can find a couple relevant lines in her book “It Takes a Village.” She proposed this as a basic educational principle: “Schools may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about the Bible, civic values and virtue, and moral codes, as long as they remain neutral with respect to the promotion of any particular religion.” That seems like clear opposition to creationism or Intelligent Design having any kind of foothold in a science classroom.
None of these references to evolution are recent. The book excerpt is from almost 20 years ago and the interview was nearly a decade ago. I’d say we can assume that she hasn’t been won over by the creationists since then. A needless comment about reason being a gift from God withstanding, her statements are clearly pro-evolution. Democrats may have some concerns about candidate Clinton, but this shouldn’t be one of them.