Because to do so would reduce the debates to actually performing a useful and necessary function: weeding out joke candidates that do not believe in the fundamental theories of science.
And which candidate would that be in 2012? Oh, Mitt Romney.
See, if Barack Obama really wanted to do a public service in the debates, and really wanted to introduce a topic that would provide a substantive delineator between himself and Mitt Romney, at some point he would turn to Romney, and ask a simple question:
Governor Romney, do you believe in scientific evolution, that is the evolution of lifeforms by the process of natural selection, introduced and discussed by Charles Darwin, and if not—why not?
Now, here's the tricky part—of course there's a trick, it's Mitt. Romney would try to answer that question "yes" he did believe in evolution, and he answered that way in a 2007 presidential debate. He gave a more detailed explanation in a New York Times interview (May 11, 2007), where he said:
“True science and true religion are on exactly the same page. They may come from different angles, but they reach the same conclusion. I’ve never found a conflict between the science of evolution and the belief that God created the universe. He uses scientific tools to do his work.”The problems with this statement are Romneyesque—doubletalk, distortions, and especially dissembling.
Here's the main problem with it: religion is assumed to dominate and subsume science. As Romney says, if science is true, it must not conclude something differently than would true religion. And, for example, the LDS unequivocally teaches that God created the first human being, named Adam. In the Mormon view of things, that human being did not arise or evolve after a long process where there were pre- or proto-Adamic creatures, or primate ancestors that are root species for humans and other primates like chimps.
Now, many Mormons attempt to deflect this important point by saying there is no official position on evolution in the LDS. But that is also a misleading statement, as numerous LDS Church leaders have been explicit in stating that evolution cannot be the process that led to Adam or one that affects human beings. For Romney to say otherwise, as he appears to do in the Times interview: "I believe evolution is most likely the process [God] used to create the human body"—would put him in direct conflict with LDS teaching.
For example, here is Mitt Romney's cousin, Marion Romney, who was President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the LDS, explaining the doctrine of the exclusive spiritual and material origin of human beings:
"[O]ne of those fundamentals [of the Mormon Church] upon which [General Authorities in the LDS] are in accord is that Adam is a son of God, that neither his spirit nor his body is a product of biological evolution which went on for millions of years on this earth."And in rejection of what Mitt Romney appears to be saying in his few public comments about his belief in "theistic" evolution, Boyd Packer, current President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, has said the following:
"And, I am sorry to say, the so-called theistic evolution, the theory that God used an evolutionary process to prepare a physical body for the spirit of man, is equally false. I say I am sorry because I know it is a view commonly held by good and thoughtful people who search for an acceptable resolution to an apparent conﬂict between the theory of evolution and the doctrines of the gospel."What is the "apparent conflict" that Packer refers to? The fact that Mormon scriptures say this about the origin of humanity:
"For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth...And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in fheaven gcreated I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air...And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living dsoul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word."—Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, chapter 3, verses 5-7Clearly, if God "formed man...upon the earth" prior to there being any other flesh (or life) upon it, then, as Marion Romney said, according to Mormon doctrine human beings could not be "the product of biological evolution which went on for millions of years."
This puts Romney in a difficult position—one he often finds himself in when he attempts to find "an acceptable resolution" to the conflict his unadulterated beliefs may pose to others. By alleging that evolution must be a tool in God's Creation Kit, Romney of course offends science, which has for some time now explained the origin of life forms on Earth, and other natural phenomena in the Universe, without the need for divine intervention. What is the evidence God used evolution to create human beings? Absolutely none whatsoever.
Further, Romney's attempt to science-up God clearly offends LDS doctrine, which explicitly states God created human beings before any other life form was made upon the Earth.
As so many of Mitt Romney's ideas seem to be, his absurdly qualified affirmation of evolution suggests he does not understand or care about the true science of what he is alleging to believe. Further, in light of the fact this affirmation offends a basic doctrine of his religion (a religion he pumps millions of dollars into every year), one cannot help but think Romney, when he said he believed in evolution, was masking his true beliefs about the creation of humanity in political rhetoric he hoped would sound acceptable to people who imagine truth is always the middle ground between two competing, contradictory ideas.
This is a typically dishonest ploy on Romney's part, but not one that he should be allowed to get away with. It is absolutely necessary, in the year 2012, that politicians are held to a high standard regarding their understanding and acceptance of scientific principles. Indeed, that is a far more important issue to the future success and well-being of the American empire than whether a candidate alleges to possess sufficiently benign bourgeois values—or worse, the mid-19th-century Confederate values currently peddled by the GOP.