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Friday, February 16, 2007

Sen. John McCain's Conservative Evolution: By Intelligent Design?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain was due in Ohio today for private meetings and fundraisers with GOP heavyweights in Cincinnati, but it's a week out that his schedule takes a far more interesting turn. He's going to speak at an event in Seattle co-sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a West Coast think tank that is openly skeptical about Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. This raises a question: Is McCain's reputation as a moderate Republican evolving; is he becoming a hardshell conservative?

Officially, McCain will speak Feb. 23 about the role of the U.S. in the global community during a luncheon co-sponsored by the Discovery Institute, the CityClub of Seattle and the Seattle World Affairs Council. But it is the Discovery Institute's involvement that is raising some eyebrows. The organization says it "supports research by scientists and other organizations developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design."

Ohio was the scene of a flare-up in the state board of education last year over evolution, and there was an unsuccessful and highly controversial push to encourage doubts about Darwin's ideas. The people on the losing side no doubt are encouraged to learn that Sen. McCain doesn't view the some of the most outspoken proponents of their viewpoint as kooks to be avoided at all costs.

The Discovery Institute is aggressive in challenging Darwinism. It has an online statement for scientists to sign that say: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

McCain probably won't have a word to say on the subject of evolution. He's more likely to stay on topic, which is how the U.S. should position itself to confront expected challenges around the world during the next decade. Information about the Discovery Institute is HERE.

This online manifesto describes a little of the Ohio debate, though it was not published by the Discovery Institute, whose own Dissent From Darwin is worth reading.

A stimulating DEBATE about Darwin's theory was published online by Natural History Magazine, and there is discussion about the flap over Ohio's teaching standards. As for McCain, the transformation may be taking place right before our eyes.


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