David Barton: Creationist Founding Fathers Settled Debate Over Evolution

Pseudo-historian and Christian reconstructionist David Barton must believe America’s Founding Fathers had time-traveling capabilities, flitting merrily back and forth between the centuries, spying on us and our modern ways. How else does one reconcile this recent interview that caught the eye of Right Wing Watch? Barton says that the writers of the Constitution settled the whole debate over teaching evolution – at least 70 years before Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species. Heck, they settled it even 20 years before Darwin was born.

“As far as the Founding Fathers were concerned, they’d already had the entire debate over creation and evolution, and you get Thomas Paine, who is the least religious Founding Father, saying you’ve got to teach Creation science in the classroom. Scientific method demands that.”

As head-shakingly frustrating it is to think that someone could make such a claim when the historical facts refuting it are so obvious, it’s actually standard Barton fare. Little different than his statement that Jesus opposed the minimum wage or that the bible takes a stand against net neutrality.

One of Barton’s chief tricks is to conflate two concepts and treat them as the same thing. In this case, he references the 1968 Supreme Court decision of Epperson v Arkansas in which the court ruled that laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution were based on religious objections and therefore violated the First Amendment.

On his WallBuilder website, he says the subject of evolution predates the birth of Christ. And that’s a little bit true, as long as one is defining evolution solely at an incredibly primitive level.

But that’s not what he’s referring to when he speaks of the “creation evolution debate.” Rather, he’s talking about the very foundation of all of modern biology, a theory that encompasses myriad scientific disciplines, and for which there is more evidence than gravity.

Barton is arguing that because the Founding Fathers discussed the concept of evolution based on the philosophy of the day, we should be teaching creationism in public schools.

As he says in the video, “They had the entire debate on creation evolution.” So I guess nothing more to see here folks. The matter is settled. Don’t bother reading about the vast amounts of scientific strides that have taken place since 1787.

By the way, you know what else these guys didn’t know about? Germ theory. So, in keeping with Barton’s constitutional philosophy, may I suggest that we should all stop teaching children to wash their hands after using the bathroom since it didn’t have the endorsement of our Founding Fathers?

laurilebo@gmail.com'

Lauri Lebo is the author of The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, a book about the 2005 First Amendment trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism.