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Ron Paul, Creationist

Via Perry de Havilland via Instapundit, here is video of Ron Paul responding to a question about the questions on evolution that have come up in the Republican primary debates. Paul avers that evolution is "a theory," and "as a … Read More

By / December 28, 2007

Via Perry de Havilland via Instapundit, here is video of Ron Paul responding to a question about the questions on evolution that have come up in the Republican primary debates.

Paul avers that evolution is "a theory," and "as a theory," he doesn't accept it. I've stood up for Paul before — I thought the charge that he's a friend to neo-Nazis was scurrilous — but this is indefensible.

As a backdrop, let's recall that Paul is a medical doctor, and therefore ought to have more than a passing acquaintance with biology, and also ought to know something about the scientific understanding of concepts like theory and proof. Yet here he stands, trading in the most deceitful of all creationist canards, namely that evolution is just "a theory," a theory he doesn't accept, and a theory for which "no one has proof on either side."

Quickly: "Theory" in science refers to an extensive model for predicting data that either is or is not confirmed by evidence, and which is "proven" by meeting a certain threshhold of confirmation. The theory of evolution has been confirmed by mountains of evidence, hence it is a proven, and inductively valid fact.

But there is, of course, the colloquial usage of "theory," on which the term is roughly equivalent to "conjecture," and the colloquial understanding of "proof," which is restricted to deductive proofs. Try saying "general relativity is just a theory" out loud. It doesn't quite go down like honey, does it? Furthermore, think what it would mean for theory of evolution — or general relativity, or the germ theory of disease — to be proven or even provable in such a way that it could never admit of disconfirmation. In that case, it wouldn't be a scientific theory.

Either Ron Paul really believes this stuff, or he's bullshitting to win votes. Paul is fairly strenuously sincere — which, in this case, as in others, isn't always an admirable trait — so he's probably not being deliberately dishonest. But either way, he doesn't have the judgment to be president. Oh well, scratch another off the list. (Okay, okay, the gold standard insanity and the inconsistencies on free trade and immigration aren't encouraging either.)

 

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