We already know that Ben Carson has torpedoed his reputation as one of the greatest neurosurgeons this nation has produced in favor of becoming a water-carrier for the far right. Remember, this is a man who claimed that gays can do whatever they please–as long as they accept they can’t be allowed to marry. Well, People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch discovered that Carson offered even more proof a couple of weeks ago, when he told a Christian talk show why he doesn’t believe in evolution.
On September 4, Carson was the guest on “Faith and Liberty,” a talk show hosted by Ohio Christian University, a small holiness-aligned school outside Columbus, and the dean of its School of Business and Government, Dave Garrison. Ohio Christian recently got in the news when its president, Mark Smith (who also moonlights as a member of the Ohio board of education) called for his fellow fundies to take over our schools.
The discussion soon turned to Carson’s opposition to evolution. It first came to notice in 2012, when nearly 494 professors, students, and alumni at Emory University wrote a letter calling attention to Carson’s views ahead of him speaking at Emory’s commencement. Judging by this interview, it doesn’t look like the scrutiny has fazed him–and that’s even allowing for him essentially preaching to the choir. Listen to the whole thing here.
Carson claimed that we really can’t know how old the earth is because the Bible doesn’t say how much time elapsed before God made the earth–and “no one has that knowledge, based on the Bible.” Carbon dating and other methods used to determine the age of the earth “really don’t mean anything” to God. Before you roll your eyes and wonder how anyone so smart can say anything so dense, you have to remember that a lot of fundies believe that the Bible is not only infallible, but that it is the final authority on everything on which it speaks. However, the verse they use as “proof,” 2 Timothy 3:16-17, actually hurts their argument. It says that Scripture is useful for “teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness.” Where’s any mention of science? Nowhere!
To Carson’s mind, mankind’s basic problem is that “they believe they are so smart that if they can’t explain how God did something, then it didn’t happen–which of course means that they’re God.” If that’s the case, Carson says, we really don’t need God “if you consider yourself capable of explaining everything.” As incredible as this sounds, this is a new twist on a very common argument from creationists–that evolution is invalid because it takes God out of the picture. A popular creationist website claims that evolution “makes atheists out of people.” For the better part of the last 30 years, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has argued that belief in evolution undermines the biblical authority on which our culture is built. A version of a “castle” illustration Ham uses to illustrate that point actually made its way into a high school biology lesson last year.
Carson says that as a neurosurgeon who has spent most of his life studying the human brain, he believes the brain is too complex to have simply evolved. He also doubts that our eyes could have evolved, since none of its parts can function without the others. For an eyeball to have evolved, Carson says, “according to their scheme, boom, it had to just occur overnight.”?Carson apparently forgets that evolution doesn’t just occur overnight, but over years and years. Rather, Carson leans toward natural selection via intelligent design. To his mind, “if you have an intelligent creator, what he does is give his creatures the ability to adapt to the environment so he doesn’t have to start over every fifty years creating all over again.”
Whatever objections Carson may have to evolution, once he claimed that his basic objection is that it cuts God out of the picture, he sounds more or less like an adult in a “Peanuts” cartoon. Saying that evolution is invalid because it negates God may get you a lot of mileage in the fundamentalist world. But if Carson actually decides to run for president in 2016, he’d be asking to get Goldwatered if he peddled that claim on the campaign trail.
Darrell Lucus, also known as Christian Dem in NC at Daily Kos, is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.