Following the earlier Republican debate in which candidates were asked if they “believed in evolution,” I wondered how our state legislators would respond to that question. So I asked. A little more than a week after that email went out to all Senators and Representatives, only six responded.
Here’s the exchange:
[Me]: Hi. I write a blog on political issues in SC and am doing a survey of SC legislators (the results of which will be published) on the question asked in the recent Republican presidential debate, which is: Do you believe in evolution? I would appreciate your taking the time to respond yes or no. If you feel the need to expand beyond a simple yes or no, please feel free to do that as well. Thanks in advance for your time.
Representative Bill Cotty: Yes, and well as in God. Despite being Presbyterian, I don’t believe I was predestined to answer this survey, but instead opted to do so by free will.
Representative Mike Mulvaney: I “believe” (if that is the right word) in evolution. Much of it is unassailable from a scientific perspective. However, I also recognize that there are significant holes in the theory: gaps in fossil records, for example. A most compelling weakness from a scientific standpoint regards the development of the eye, which I understand even Darwin himself had a hard time reconciling with his theory of natural selection. From a philosophical standpoint, I also see some weakness in evolution’s ability (or better, inability) to adequately explain altruistic behavior.Personally, I have never believed that evolution and a role for God are mutually exclusive (and indeed I believe there is a school of thought on this referred to as “deism”). It seems to me that God can be, is, and was involved in creation — especially as regards Man and his immortal soul — but that in no way rules out natural selection as one of his tools. I hope that answers your question at least to some extent. I would be glad to talk about it more if you like.
Senator Larry Martin: I’m not sure how smart it is to respond to a survey about evolution to an email address named, “not very bright”. However, my view on the subject you asked about is rather straightforward. I believe in the creation of the world by God who spoke the world and all of His creation into existence. To the extent that the theory of evolution contradicts this article of faith, I disagree with it. Thanks for being in touch.
[Me]: Sen. Martin, thanks for your response. Can you further explain, for me, though, how you believe that “the theory of evolution contradicts [your] article of faith?” Many thanks.
Senator Larry Martin: It is my recollection that the theory of evolution teaches that man evolved from lower life forms over the span of millions of years. I believe that man was created by God in God’s image. Hope this helps.
Senator Kevin Bryant: Thanks you for including me in your survey. My answer is No. Why: Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Have a good weekend!
Representative Garry Smith: I believe that evolution cannot and does not explain the complesxities of man. It is a good theory for the explanation of adaptation, however. To take this theory beyond adaptation to evolution is inappropriate.
[Me]: Rep. Smith, thank you for responding. Can you explain what you mean by: “To take this theory beyond adaptation to evolution is inappropriate.”
Representative Garry Smith: I mean: You are not an accident. You were created, not evolved. The ability of creatures to adapt to their environment is one that this theory can easily explain, but creation it cannot. Life is too complex for that. Even the simplest forms such as the amoeba are too complicated for such a huge leap in this theory.
Senator Lewis Vaughn: NO NO
Update (5/16/07) Representative Ted Vick: No. I believe in creationism.
Update (5/21/07) Representative Phillip Lowe: Evolution? Of course! How else could Jesus become Santa. There is but one true God and the creator of the universe.
[Me]: Rep. Lowe, can you explain your response? I’m not clever enough to understand what you mean by that. Thanks.
Rep. Phillip Lowe: It was satirical to say Jesus evolved into Santa Clause through our distorted world. Our creator is the God of Abraham. The one who is and will always be.
He sent his son to die for us all. Believe, and you shall live forever. Evolution is really genetic adaptation.
Rep. Ted M. Vick: I believe God created the Heaven and the Earth. I believe He is the sole creator, maker and sustainer of all we see and don’t see. I believe He and He alone has dominion of Heaven and Earth.
[Me]: Rep. Vick, thank you for responding. I wasn’t asking, though, specifically about your religious views so much as whether you believed that evolutionary theory is valid. Do you have thoughts on that? Thanks.
Rep. Ted Vick: I believe some aspects of evolution have validity, such as survival of the fittest. However, I do not believe humans evolved from monkeys or other animals.