This week, Gov. Rick Perry has not been able to resist knocking down scientific theories that are considered facts by a good chunk of the modern world. First it was global warming; now, it's evolution.
Perry's remarks about global warming have already become a staple for pundits, after an address earlier this week where he told a New Hampshire crowd that scientists have manipulated data to receive more funding for their own ventures. He took his skeptical attitude one step further on Thursday after a woman used her nine-year-old son to ask the governor about his beliefs on evolution and science.
According to multiple reports, the boy asked Perry, a self-professed evangelical Christian, how old the earth was at the behest of his mother.
You know what? I don't have any idea, Perry reportedly answered. I know it's pretty old, so it goes back a long, long way. I'm not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is.
When Perry heard the boy's mother urging him to ask the governor, who is considered a top contender for the Republican nomination for 2012 presidential race, about evolution, Perry was quick to say it's a theory that's got some gas in it, and emphasized how, in his home state of Texas, public schools teach both evolution and creationism.
I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right, Perry added.
Scientists actually believe the earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old and formed as a result of the Big Bang. Many fundamentalist Christians like Perry do not accept that theory -- or that of evolution -- and instead believe in creationism, or the religious belief that the universe and humanity are the creation of a supernatural being.
Perry has not been shy about his doubts regarding evolution in the past.
Earlier this month, he appointed a biology teacher who disputes evolution as the chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education. In a July interview with The Associated Press, Perry went further and said there were some holes in the theory.
There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn't happen by accident and a creator put this in place, he said.
Perry apparently once believed that his views would hamper any larger political aspirations, telling The AP hours before he was elected to his third term as Governor in 2010 that his controversial beliefs were proof that he could never run for president.
Although Perry's Christian faith has had a strong influence on his political platform, he has strayed on some occasions. In 2007, Perry mandated that all schoolgirls in Texas be vaccinated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil -- which included an order to provide it free of charge for those not covered by insurance -- to the outrage of many social conservatives, who questioned the moral implications of the decision.
While Perry eventually backpedaled and said the mandate was a mistake, some suggest it may have actually been a business decision: Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil, donated $6,000 to Perry's election campaign fund as part of a national lobbying effort. In addition, the company's Texas lobbyist that year was Mike Toomey -- Perry's former Chief of Staff.