Rick Santorum was at one time a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Now it looks like he may make a run for the nomination in 2016, a year when, according to Santorum, there will be a “real fight as to what the soul of the Republican party’s going to be.” One of the central issues in this fight for the soul of the party involves an issue that Rick Santorum has been on the front lines of for many years.
The fight is over the legitimacy of evolution and its place in the public education. Santorum has made perfectly clear what side he is on when it comes to this issue, but if Republicans want to re-capture the presidency and gain back a majority in the Senate, it is Santorum’s anti-science philosophy that it must abandon.
Santorum’s and the more conservative wing of the Republican party’s consistent and hostile rhetoric towards evolution will go down in political history as an embarrassment every bit as damning as politicians who fought against emancipation and civil rights, and it is an area where the party must reform its positions if it hopes to survive in the long term.
Hostility to evolution and advocacy of ludicrous ideas like intelligent design may please the conservative religious base of the party now, but these ideals are a dying breed, especially among young people who may agree with the party on more than they realized had they not been turned off by rhetoric on evolution being “only a theory.”
In fact, American’s confidence in organized religion has been dwindling for some time. In 1975, for example, 68% of Americans said they had ‘a great deal’ of confidence in organized religion. Today, just 44% of Americans say the same thing. More importantly, the number of Americans who claim no religious identity has tripled since 1950.
While it has been a very slow process, the fact is that religious ideals are losing clout in America, and eventually the majority of Americans will not identify with any religion at all. In fact, young people, who are the future after all, are increasingly turning away from religion. The number of millenials who doubt the existence of any God at all has doubled over the last few years, according to a Pew research poll.
America is a society built on science and technology. And when one of the major parties is hostile to evolution, the main theory that guides an entire discipline of science (biology), their misguided ways will eventually catch up to them. With religion on the way out, there will eventually no longer be an excuse to continue these embarrassing policies.