At an event in
"I'm going to punt on that one as well," the
It wasn't a great answer, though there have been worse ones.
But it was also a bad question, even though it's a favorite among liberal journalists in the U.S., and apparently across the pond, too.
That's not to say Walker is wrong. It's a pretty stupid issue to get worked up about when considering a presidential candidate. The number of public policies that hinge on whether you believe in evolution -- or which theory of evolution you subscribe to -- are few to none. A creationist can be brilliant on economics and foreign affairs, while a secular humanist atheist can be an addlepated nimrod on the same subjects.
That's because the evolution question really isn't about evolution at all. On the surface, it's about the culture war. To borrow a phrase from the campus left, Darwinism is used to "otherize" certain people of traditional faith -- and the politicians who want their vote. Many of the same people who bleat with fear over the dangers of genetically modified food, fracking, vaccines or nuclear power and coo with childlike awe over the benefits of non-traditional medicines will nonetheless tell you they are for "science" when in fact they are simply against a certain kind of Christian having any say about anything.
Presidents have become avatars in the culture war being fought across the Internet and the airwaves, and nothing gives secular liberal journalists more of a buzz than exposing the alleged backwardness of those they consider backward. It's a cultural wedge issue used by the very people who claim they hate cultural wedge issues.
Beneath the surface, the salience of evolution as a political football is ultimately about the status of man. Are humans moral creatures whose actions are judged by some external or divine standard, or are we simply accidental winners of an utterly random contest of genes? If it's the latter, does that mean we are only answerable to whatever ethical standards we invent for ourselves? Few people argue about astrophysics in the same way, even though it's as problematic a subject for biblical literalists as evolutionary biology, because astrophysics really doesn't touch on the question, Who (or What or Why) Are We?
Heck, we now know that Obama lied about opposing gay marriage on religious grounds, or at least that's what
Politicians have to deal with the press and the electorate as it is, and that means they have to answer bad-faith questions about their faith. Whether they lie is ultimately up to them. Whether they get away with it is up to the rest of us.
Still, I'd rather get the full truth. If you think evolution is wrong or flawed, I'm keen on hearing your arguments. "Punting" simply sounds like you're afraid to answer, which amounts to the answer the questioner was looking for. My own answer would be something like: "Not that it much matters for the job I'm seeking, but I think the evidence shows that all life evolves. Why is there life, and what are we supposed to do with it? Only G0D knows."