The favored liberal Democratic narrative — we’ve seen it trotted out against Rick Perry in the past two weeks — goes like this: Democrats are the party of the Enlightenment. They believe in science and facts. They know that Darwin was correct about the origin of species, and that human beings are responsible for potentially catastrophic global warming through production of carbon dioxide. Republicans, on the other hand, are the pre-modern party of superstition, religious explanations for natural phenomena, and global-warming denial.
Governor Perry played to type when he told a young questioner that “evolution” was “a theory that’s out there,” but “it’s got some gaps in it.” That’s why, he said, “in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” Well, he’s right that the theory has some gaps in it, but it remains the best explanation yet propounded to explain biological changes. He’s wrong, embarrassingly enough, about Texas. They don’t teach creationism in the public schools.
But Perry’s critics, who’ve been eager to lump his skepticism about man-made global warming into the same category as his openness to creationism, look equally foolish. Again and again, those who believe in anthropogenic global warming declare that “the science is settled.” But science is never settled. At the heart of the scientific method is openness to data and testing. And while creationism cannot be said to be an alternative scientific theory to evolution (because it cannot be tested), there are countless competing theories for observed changes in global temperatures over the past century. And there are many reputable scientists who dispute that carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are wholly responsible for those changes.
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