In New Hampshire, a woman came to an event to see Governor Perry and told her son to ask the Governor his views on the theory of evolution and if he knew how old the earth is.
An article on a website I had not posted to before (not one I link to) suggested that Governor Perry should give political answers to science questions, so as to avoid having the wrong opinion. I thought I posted a response but it hasn't shown up (I probably mis-submitted or something) so I will use it here instead as a base for a longer post.
Watch Governor Perry (whose degree is in Animal Science) over time, and I think you will find that he gave political answers to these questions - and smart, nuanced answers at that. He reached his intended audience with his intended message while displaying gentle respect to a little boy whose mother was using her child for her own political agenda.
Asked "How old do you think the earth is?" Governor Perry moved down to eye level with the boy and said "You know what, I don't have any idea - I know it's pretty old, so it goes back a long, long ways. I'm not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how old the earth is."
The mother then instructed her son to "Ask him why he doesn't believe in science."
"I hear your mom was asking about evolution," Perry told the boy. "That's a theory that is out there - and it's got some gaps in it."
He told a child that science requires the study of facts, and that the answers are to be found within the gaps in our knowledge. Surely no scientist would disagree.
He added: "In Texas we teach both Creationism and Evolution in our public schools -- because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."
He told a young boy he's not afraid to give children all the info we have and let them think for themselves (and the parents listening all heard the tacit inference that this man won't try to indoctrinate their children).
While creationism and Intelligent Design are not a part of the approved curriculum in Texas schools, they would be allowed as part of the study, evaluation and critique of scientific theories in biology class, and can be discussed if students ask. Creationism could also be discussed in the high school elective Biblical History.
According to MSNBC, the Supreme Court ruling in 1987 about teaching Creationism held that ""teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction."
Texas schools are, in fact, better than average, as proven by test scores and objective standard measurement criteria of the US Department of Education. According to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott, Texas students are excelling in the sciences: "The 2009 NAEP Science results were impressive, as well. Texas’ African American eighth-grade students earned the highest score in the nation and our Hispanic eighth-grade students were eighth. Only eighth-grade students attending the Department of Defense schools scored higher than Texas’ white students who were tied with white students in Massachusetts. On the fourth-grade test, Texas’ African American students out-performed their peers in every state accept Virginia and those students attending Department of Defense Schools. Texas’ fourth-grade white students were ranked third behind only Virginia and Massachusetts."
The stage mother in this exchange (and perhaps US Education Secretary Arne Duncan) needs to spend some time watching RFD TV or read up on agricultural science to educate herself: there is no physical or biological or genetic science more cutting-edge than that being developed and used in practice by farmers or ranchers who graduated from Texas A&M. While Governor Perry has not practiced in a scientific field in a long time, and he may not have gotten an honorary doctorate, that doesn't change the fact that his mind is trained in the hard sciences.
And as another Christian long ago, Galileo, showed us, science is not made true or nullified by "consensus". Only proofs and objective facts can determine the validity of a scientific theory.
Asked what Texas schools teach about the theory of anthropomorphic global warming, Perry told a New Hampshire teacher ""We teach the straight-out facts in Texas in our schools. You'll have to pick those up in our classbooks."
The LA Times reported that Perry has said "...scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climate's changed — [it's] been changing ever since the Earth was formed."
Perry said it is not wise to spend billions of dollars on untried programs for an unproven theory: "I don't think, from my perspective, that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on what is still a scientific theory that hasn't been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question."
While organizations such as the United Nations support global warming schemes for developed nations, adding carbon taxes and carbon restrictions to create a "carbon trading market" that would work the same way today's stock market works, many thousands of traditional climate scientists working in the field, including meteorologists, geophysicists and chemists, have stated unequivocally that "there is no convincing scientific evidence" that human activity is causing or will cause climate change. They state further that "there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects on the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."
Perry has actively supported alternative energy development: Texas has developed the largest wind-power capacity in the entire United States, and more than most countries. He has worked continually to develop Texas' clean water resources and other essential environmental needs.
Perry said as long ago as 2007 that anthropomorphic global warming has been so politicized as to inhibit rational scientific inquiry: "Virtually every day another scientist leaves the global warming bandwagon. ... But you won't read about that in the press because they have already invested in one side of the story. I'm not saying we shouldn't be good stewards of our environment. We should. I am just saying when politics hijack science, it quells true scientific debate and can have dire consequences for our future."
Perry is willing to maintain a healthy skepticism until all the facts are in.
More importantly, Perry is one of the few candidates who is not willing to "go along with the crowd" in the meantime.
Most importantly of all, Rick Perry is the candidate who will refuse to subject Americans to immediate hardship in the here and now over hypothetical future possibilities.
The age of pretend-calamity is over, because the real calamity is upon us right now.
People need jobs right now, and the predictable governance that will let them build a new future for their families. They are smart enough to figure out for themselves who has a real plan with the right tactics, and who is going to be able to execute that plan to get the job done, and get America working again.