The original question was asked of John McCain, who said "I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also." In other words, McCain endorsed a sort of theistic evolution. The question then asked was "is there anybody on the stage that does not agree, believe in evolution?" Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo raised their hands.
The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.Here, Brownback is being disingenuous. McCain clearly stated that he believed in evolution, but that it didn't mean that he was an athiest--that he believed that God had a hand in putting together the world. Brownback is simply trying to have his cake and eat it, too--to claim that he believes in evolution, even though he makes it clear later in the piece that he doesn't agree with any science that contradicts his beliefs:
While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.In other words, as long as reality doesn't interfere with Brownback's beliefs, he's all for paying attention to it. Brownback's support for the teaching of intelligent design--warmed-over creationism--is nothing new. My guess is that Brownback truly is a Biblical literalist, but has taken so much crap from the media for that ridiculous stand that he feels the need to disassociate himself from his beliefs--at least until the election is over. His base is not reading the opinion page of the Times, and if they do, they'll understand what's going on.