Ben Carson on Wednesday responded to a question about climate change with a long diatribe about the planet, science, evolution, and even wondered aloud where gravity comes from.
"You don't believe in evolution or climate change, I believe," the Republican presidential candidate was asked at a town hall at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. "And I was just wondering, do you seriously not believe that climate change is happening?"
"Is there climate change? Of course there's climate change," Carson replied. "Any point in time, temperatures are going up or temperatures are going down. Of course that's happening. When that stops happening, that's when we're in big trouble.”
The crowd responded with loud applause—though not as loud as when he insisted moments later that although we should "take care of the environment," "There is no reason to make it into a political issue." (Which raises the question: If we don't use politics to protect the environment, who will? The Earth itself? God?)
At that point, Carson detoured. Though he had been asked about climate change, he continued, "As far as evolution is concerned, you know, I do believe in micro-evolution, or natural selection, but I believe that God gave the creatures he made the ability to adapt to their environment. Because he's very smart and he didn't want to start over every 50 years." (More applause.)
And later in his three-minute response, he said, “Just the way the Earth rotates on its axis, how far away it is from the sun. These are all very complex things. Gravity, where did it come from?”
For a neurosurgeon, Carson has some profoundly unscientific views on politically charged topics. He frames science as no more than a religious system he has the freedom to reject. “I just don't have that much faith," he said. "But they are welcome to believe whatever they want to believe. I'm welcome to believe what I want to believe.” Using this logic, no subject is safe from his scrutiny: Climate science, evolution, even gravity.
And we do know, in fact, where gravity comes from and how it works. Magnets, on the other hand, remain one of life's great mysteries.
This article has been updated.