Normally I use Kathleen Parker's columns for menial tasks, usually including cleaning up spills picking up spiders. Saturday's column in the Enquirer had promise and showed a tad bit of merit, but then it trails into basic drivel, and in the process she manages to miss the main points.

The evolution question in the republican debate was the hot-button that everyone seems to be focusing on. Parker specifically points out how John McCain deftly handled the question, by saying he believed in evolution, but "...when I hike the Grand Canyon and see the sunset, [that] the hand of God is there also".

On its face, I really don't have a problem with that. Though I may not be the most spiritual person around, I believe that religion and science can be embraced simultaneously and without influencing each other. To be honest, this shouldn't even be close to a radical concept.

Unfortunately the rationality ends, as the plight of those who said they did not believe in evolution (Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo) was lamented, saying that they paid a price for taking the "calculated risk" that there would be more people encouraged than offended by their answer. Apparently evolution is "controversial among people of faith", and since 73% of evangelical Christians do not believe in evolution (her stat, not mine), then it's something that ought to be debated in greater detail.

Adding to the confusion is a post-debate comment from Huckabee complaining about the game show/lightning round format of the debate, saying "...if I'd had time, I would have asked whether he meant micro or macro evolution".

I must confess that I'd never heard of the distinction between the two. Huckabee's beliefs in the scope of microevolution are "...species do, in fact, adapt and there are many instances of adaption and mutation, but I still believe that...the creation has a creator". So he believes that God put us here, and then evolution proceeded from there? Color me cynical, but that's a heck of a stretch. If Bill Clinton or John Kerry had pitched an idea like that, I can only imagine how the right would have reacted.

All the while, the major issue is skirted, and it's this: evolution is established science. The great majority of scientists accept the theory of evolution. This is not something that should be up for debate anymore.

Over the past six years the Bush administration has launched a gradual, but definitive, assault on the scientific world. If a study to support a piece of legislation produces result that run counter to the administration's position, the release of that study is almost always delayed until the legislation has passed. Sometimes the study does get released, but with the conflicting information omitted, or in some cases even changed.

This country has dealt long enough with a president who makes decisions based on faith or gut feelings instead of established science or empirical evidence. There is absolutely no reason why any president should ever handle himself in this manner. I think it's perfectly rational to ask a question with the undertones of "do you believe in a scientifically accepted principle".

Parker and her ilk may paint the "creationism three" as some sort of evangelical heroes. In truth, these are people that have decided that their personal beliefs should trump science, and in most people's minds that ought to automatically disqualify any of them from being considered a serious challenger for the republican nomination.

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