Pence in 2002: Intelligent Design Should Be Taught as Science in Public Schools

For Immediate Release: August 5, 2016
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785

Center for Inquiry says Americans deserve an explanation

The Center for Inquiry today stated that GOP Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana must make clear whether he still denies evolution and climate change. The website Right Wing Watch recently unearthed video footage of a speech made by then-Congressman Pence in 2002 before the U.S. House in which he advocated for teaching a form of creationism in public schools, and rejected the scientifically established way human beings came to inhabit our planet, which is through evolution by natural selection.

“The American people deserve to know whether Gov. Pence still thinks religious beliefs should be taught to our children in public school science class as a more plausible theory for human existence,” said Robyn Blumner, CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “He may hold whatever religious beliefs he chooses, but advocating that school children be religiously indoctrinated rather than be taught real science will handicap generations of students. He would apparently rather have America lead in biblical knowledge than scientific literacy — a recipe for economic disaster.”

In his 2002 speech, Gov. Pence demonstrated that he does not understand the definition of a theory in the scientific context. He derided evolution as never having been anything “other than a theory,” confusing it with a scientific hypothesis. In fact, a theory in science is not a guess but a well-supported and dependable account of the natural world. Gravity, for instance, is a scientific theory, as is the idea that germs cause disease.

In the speech Gov. Pence misrepresented what were then recent discoveries regarding human origins, demanding that “educators around America teach evolution not as fact,” and asserted that “only the theory of intelligent design [a form of biblical creationism] provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.” In 2009, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked then-Representative Pence if he believes in evolution, and was unable to get a straight answer, save for a declaration that “God created the heavens and the earth” and a vague reiteration of his position that children should be taught about “all of these controversial areas.”

In the midst of a tumultuous election season, Blumner expressed a concern that the highly consequential anti-science positions of the vice-presidential candidate may be overlooked.

“Gov. Pence has not only vehemently pushed for the teaching of creationism in schools, he has repeated the lies that cigarettes don’t cause cancer and that global warming is a ‘myth,’” said Blumner. “The implications of Gov. Pence’s views are disastrous, impacting education, public health, and the habitability of our planet. In order to make an informed decision as an electorate, we need to know whether he would still subordinate science to religion, and whether he continues to cling to views that are in conflict with the evidence on the true nature of reality.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at