It turns out that surprise Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell (R-DE), in addition to her long career in anti-sex and anti-masturbation activism, has also pursued another field of religious right work: Promoting creationism, and questioning the validity of science that says fossils are millions of years old.
As Dan Amira at New York magazine dug up, O’Donnell appeared in March 1996 on a CNN panel discussion with Dr. Michael McKinney, a professor of evolutionary biology from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
At one point, O’Donnell provided this definition: “Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.”
O’Donnell opened the discussion saying: “Well, as the senator from Tennessee mentioned [Note: it is not clear from the Nexis transcript who is being referred to here], evolution is a theory and it’s exactly that. There is not enough evidence, consistent evidence to make it as fact, and I say that because for theory to become a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they put- that they use to support evolution do not have consistent results. Now too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact. But when you get down to the hard evidence, it’s merely a theory.”
When McKinney objected and explained that evolution is considered a fact with evidence and experiments to support it, O’Donnell responded. “Now, he said that it’s based on fact. I just want to point out a couple things,” she said. “First of all, they use carbon dating, as an example, to prove that something was millions of years old. Well, we have the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens and the carbon dating test that they used then would have to then prove that these were hundreds of millions of years younger, when what happened was they had the exact same results on the fossils and canyons that they did the tests on that were supposedly 100 millions of years old. And it’s the kind of inconsistent tests like this that they’re basing their ‘facts’ on.”
It should be pointed out that O’Donnell was the one who brought up the subject of carbon dating and objects being millions of years old, a major hobbyhorse of creationists who insist that that the planet — indeed the whole universe — is only about 6,000 years old. Amira writes of O’Donnell’s apparent story about carbon dating: “We Googled this and apparently it refers to some tests run by a guy at the Institute for Creation Research. Definitely the kind of stuff on which you want to pin your refutation of evolution.”
Another goody from the transcript is O’Donnell’s insistence that not teaching creationism in schools, as a counterpoint to evolution, violates the separation of church and state its opponents would usually invoke:
MILES O’BRIEN: Ms. O’Donnell, would you agree with that, that if it’s brought forth as a theory and then the evidence is laid out so the student can make his or her own decision, is that OK?
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: Well, I think definitely. However, you need to weigh them side by side - creationism and evolution side by side. When they’re-
MILES O’BRIEN: In the same classroom?
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: Right. When they’re-
MILES O’BRIEN: Science.
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: -together then it is not the establishment of religion. And another thing that we’re overlooking is that evolution is also based on a set of belief systems, i.e., a religion and that’s secular humanism. So if you’re going to say that you can’t have religion in school, you-
Dr. MICHAEL McKINNEY: I disagree with that.
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: -can’t have secular humanism in schools either, and if you’re- and that’s just impossible.