'Palin-tology': Have Former Alaska Governor's Views On Creationism Evolved?

Was Sarah Palin so eager to get on the McCain ticket that she threw creationism under the bus and endorsed evolution?

I regard Sarah Palin's new book like I do the movie "New Moon" – I'm not the intended audience and I don't really care about it.

But the media keeps sticking the thing in my face. In the case of Palin's book, it has become obvious that I'm going to be forced to look at the train wreck even though I'd rather not.

So let's just plunge right in, shall we?

It turns out there's actually a church-state angle because release of the book has reopened questions about what Palin does (or does not) believe about evolution.

In Going Rogue, Palin portrays herself as skeptical of evolution. She recounts a story of being questioned by McCain campaign top strategist Steve Schmidt the day before it was announced that she would be McCain's running mate.

As Palin tells it, Schmidt pointed out that Palin's dad is a science teacher and therefore, she must know that evolution is accurate.

Palin writes that she replied, "Parts of evolution. But I believe that God created us and also that He can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt."

Writes Palin, "Schmidt winced and raised his eyebrows. In the dim light, his sunglasses shifted atop his head. I had just dared to mention the C-word: creationism. But I felt I was on solid factual ground."

To hear Palin tell it, she boldly stood up to the evil secularist Schmidt who wanted to elevate Darwin over Jesus, standing firm for the biblical account of creation.

The problem is, the account contradicts reporting by Shushannah Walshe and Scott Conroy, co-authors of the book Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise And Brutal Education Of A New Conservative Superstar.

In their book, Walshe and Conroy report that it was Palin who first brought up her science teacher father. When challenged about evolution by Schmidt, she replied, "I'm the daughter of a science teacher. My father showed me fossils. I know about evolution, and I accept evolution. That doesn't mean that God didn't set everything in motion."

The two report that Schmidt was satisfied with the answer and didn't wince. (They don't address whether his sunglasses danced around on his head.) Walshe and Conroy say Palin never told Schmidt she backs creationism.

It may seem like a minor incident, but it's interesting because it raises the possibility that Palin was so eager to get on the ticket that she threw creationism under the bus and endorsed evolution.

If that's indeed the case, her retelling of the incident in Going Rogue, with its full-blown embrace of the "C-word," may be little more than damage control and spin – an attempt to mollify her Religious Right fan base.

There could be something to that, because an anonymous former McCain aide said if Palin had endorsed creationism, she never would have ended up on the ticket.

"If she had been, 'I am a creationist,' she would not have been the nominee," the aide said. "McCain wouldn't have gone for that."

What does Palin really believe about evolution? Who knows? Perhaps she's not even sure. But it does look like we'll have more opportunities to find out since Palin seems determined to do all she can to keep herself on the national stage. The question is bound to resurface.

So I look forward over the next few years to getting some answers to burning questions: Does Palin believe Satan created the fossil record just to fool us? Were there dinosaurs on Noah's ark? Just how old is the Earth, anyway?

If we have to continue to put up with this woman – and it looks like we do – we might as well try to enjoy ourselves.