Today's Blogs

Evolving Beliefs

Bloggers punch fist-sized holes in Sen. Sam Brownback’s thoughts on evolution, are mixed about Jack Kevorkian’s parole, and say buh-bye to loyal Bush staffer Dan Bartlett.

Evolving beliefs: In a much-discussed op-ed for the New York Times, evangelical Sen. Sam Brownback outlined his views on evolution, which came up during a recent Republican presidential debate. Brownback says he believes in microevolution—small forms of species changes over time—but can’t fathom a cosmos absent a grand designer. Another Kansan dukes it out with Darwin, reaping a storm of scientific censure.

Secular Skeptic takes issue with Brownback’s endorsement of microevolution: “[W]hat makes it so obvious that Brownback has no understanding of evolution, is that microevolution and macroevolution are the same thing! Macroevolution is what happens when microevolution goes on long enough. ‘We weren’t around back then so we can’t know for sure’ is not a valid argument. We do know for sure.”

Rick Garnett at Catholic legal-theory blog Mirror of Justice respects Brownback but is wary of his intentions: “Maybe the Senator is trying, in his op-ed, to simultaneously (a) assure the New York Times that he is not an ignoramus and (b) assure those Christians for whom it is important that evolution involve no more than ‘small changes over time within a species’ of his bona fides, but I hope not.”

Lee, a “mainline Protestant” at A Thinking Reed, responds to Brownback’s concern that macroevolution diminishes the value of human life: “Each individual human being comes into existence by way of natural processes, but that in no way justifies treating their individual worth as somehow diminished. So why should the fact that the species came into being by natural processes diminish the worth of human beings as such? If we can say that God intends my particular existence, even though I came into being through natural processes, then why can’t we say that God intended to bring human beings as a species into existence by means of natural processes?”

Conservative John Derbyshire at National Review’s The Corner snarks, “Here is Sam Brownback talking about evolutionary biology. That’s a bit like saying: ‘Here’s Paris Hilton talking about partial differential equations.’ … What’s going on here is that Brownback has got a whiff of the notion that living species indisputably do change over time. This is so well established that the old creationist position—that species do not change over time—has had to be abandoned.”

Read more about Brownback’s thoughts on evolution.

Death walked out: Suicide helpmate Dr. Jack Kevorkian was released from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for second-degree murder. Even those sympathetic to physician-assisted suicide can’t help but remember the creepy monomania of “Dr. Death.”

At Assisted-SuicideBlog, Derek Humphry, the founder of the right-to-die Hemlock Society, thinks Kevorkian’s media aura is bad for the movement: “Many in the health professions were and are skeptical about Kevorkian’s style of assisted deaths back in the l990s. … Claims that he launched the right-to-die movement, and was responsible for the introduction of ‘Living Wills’ are inaccurate. The Hemlock Society was already ten years old with 20,000 members before Kevorkian surfaced publicly in l990. California passed the first Living Will law in l976. There is no further need for Dr. Kevorkian’s services.”

Libertarian Nick Gillepsie, the editor in chief of Reason, posts at Hit & Run: “Whatever your position on assisted suicide is, I suspect we can all agree: Kevorkian was creepy with a capital K.”

Conservative Alan Burkhart at Burkhart’s Blog sees Kevorkian as “a dangerously eccentric old man with a penchant for playing doctor,” but nonetheless concludes: “From a purely humanist standpoint, one might conclude that each person owns his or her life. We create living wills so that a family member has the power to ‘pull the plug’ if we become permanently incapacitated. How is it then, that a doctor can be authorized to disable a life support device when I’m a vegetable, but cannot enable a device to stop my heart under other circumstances? In both cases, it is a matter of a physician flipping a switch or prescribing a drug to end a life.”

Read more about Kevorkian’s parole.

Bartlett says goodbye: Dan Bartlett, a senior aide in the Bush White House, announced that he’ll resign in July after six years of executive service. Depending on whom you ask, he’s either another rat abandoning a sinking ship or someone stainless who deserves to call it quits.

Lefty Steven Taylor at Outside the Beltway says: “[C]ouldn’t these guys (politicians, coaches, whomever) come up with a better explanation than the ol’ ‘time with family’ bit? One guesses he isn’t going to become Mr. Mom.”

At Political Punch, ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper reminisces: “I first got to know Bartlett in 1999 when he was director of Rapid Response for the Bush for President campaign—’rapid response’ being the term of art for having responses to any serious questions about the then-governor’s draft record, DUI, etc etc. If you had a question about anything uncomfortable or untoward, you were referred to Dan.”

Read more about Bartlett’s resignation.