Pres. George W. Bush doesn’t take the bible literally and he believes in evolution, saying it has been proven by science. What’s this? Is this the real George W. Bush?
I have long assumed that Pres. Bush is a Christian fundamentalist. Nothing has happened lately to convince me otherwise. But in a recent television interview on ABC’s Nightline, Bush made some statements that caused me to think he might not be quite as far out in right field as I have always thought.
I mean, he’s still far too much of a fundamentalist to be a successful leader. He’s proven to almost everyone that he can’t lead this nation. And one of the most annoying, though not often publicized, aspects of his presidency has been his tendency to substitute his worldview of Christian morality for pragmatic and practical decision making. His censorship of science, even from within his own science advisory team, speaks volumes about his predilection for making policy decisions based on his religious views rather than on the facts.
He has had no qualms about referring to the war in Iraq as a “just” war and that he is carrying out God’s will in trying to spread democracy by any means necessary. He has used his personal moral compunctions to justify withholding federal research grants from institutions to fund embryonic stem cell research, despite the promise it holds to perhaps cure many genetic diseases. And he has no reservations about using federal tax dollars to fund programs run by churches and other religious organizations in faith-based initiatives that stress abstinence over contraception, leading to more proselytizing than pregnancy prevention.
He has come out in the past to support the teaching of Creationism or Intelligent Design in public science classrooms whenever evolution is taught. He said it would stimulate critical thinking. Well, maybe it would, but the place to incorporate the comparison of worldviews is within a social studies classroom, not in science. Creationism is not science, and every court that has had the opportunity to rule on it, even the most conservative of courts, has reaffirmed that fact.
So I was a bit surprised when Bush came out in the ABC interview and basically called evolution a fact of science. He said he didn’t think the biblical story of the creation was at odds with evolution and that one could believe both.
“I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution,” Bush said.
So Bush admitted publicly that there is scientific proof of evolution, even though he hedged it with the disclaimer that God had something to do with it. He also came right out and said that he doesn’t take the bible literally.
Yet, for someone who believes evolution has been scientifically proven and that the bible cannot be taken too literally, he seems to govern from a position that is just to the right of Pat Robertson.
The point is, it doesn’t matter so much what the president says about his beliefs, at least not at this juncture in his tenure in office. What matters is that he has ignored the beliefs he has recently professed and made policy based on the antiquated notions of the religious fundamentalists, his base.
They elected him in 2000 and re-elected him in 2004. Perhaps if he had come clean about his true beliefs back then, he wouldn’t have been elected. He won by a very narrow popular vote victory in 2004 and he lost in the popular vote back in 2000. So if he had lost just a few conservative Christian votes he would have lost the election.
Kowtowing to the religious right was good political strategy. But as we have seen, it has diminished how this country is perceived by the rest of the world; it has restricted the growth of progress in research and in education, and it has led us to economic ruin. It doesn’t matter what Bush really believes; it matters what he actually did. And most of what he did was to build a policy to embolden the religious zealots.
Now, it’s going to be up to our next president, Barack Obama, to clean up Bush’s mess. It will be quite a chore.