Prominent atheist author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has slammed Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson for his rejection of Darwinian theory and "disgraceful" belief that God created the earth.
Speaking to Fareed Zakaria on CNN over the weekend, Dawkin said the GOP candidates' reluctance to accept evolution as fact "fills me with despair."
"This is not something you believe in or not," he lamented. "I mean this is a fact. It is a fact. It's just as much of a fact as the Earth goes around the Sun. You can't not believe it unless you're ignorant."
Dawkins argued that some of the candidates probably do not believe what they are saying, but need to appeal to evangelical voters: "I believe what they're doing is they think that they've got to say that in order to appeal to their constituency," he said. "And if that's true, it's deeply depressing."
However, the God Delusion author directed his harshest criticism at former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson: "You've just told me that all the Republican candidates except one say they don't believe in evolution. I mean that's a disgrace," Dawkins said. "But for a senior, a very eminent distinguished doctor, as he is, to say that - it's even worse, because, of course, evolution is the bedrock of biology. And biology is the bedrock of medicine."
He added, "For a distinguished doctor to not understand..the fundamental theorem of his own subject...that is a terrible indictment."
Speaking on Fox News last month, Dawkins issued a similar condemnation of the Republican candidates' defense of creationism, calling it "disgraceful".
The Huffington Post notes that during that exchange, Dawkins was also asked if he thought religious people were "mentally ill."
"It's hard to use the word 'mentally ill' when there are so many of them," he responded. "If they believed what they did and they were the only one they would undoubtedly be called mentally ill."
"I know a lot of people say that I believe the earth is 6,000 years old, and they have no basis for saying that. I don't know how old the Earth is," the former neurosurgeon said. "[Genesis] says, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth' - and then there's a period there..You don't know how much time elapsed."
When O'Reilly asked, "Are you really a creationist?" Carson stated that he believes God is "our creator" and implied that some simply don't understand the power of God.
"He's God. If he wanted to create an Earth that was billions of years old he could do it," he added, referencing those who reject such theories. "They can't do it. How come they're always trying to put themselves in the same category as God?"
In September, Carson also weighed in on the issue during an interview with Time Magazine after the news outlet questioned a 2011 speech in which the presidential hopeful "seemed to imply that Darwin's evolutionary theory was inspired by Satan".
"Well, you wouldn't understand it, no one would understand it unless they believe that there were forces of good and forces of evil," Carson responded. "If you don't believe that, then that would be a nonsensical statement to you."
Carson clarified that by "forces of evil" he meant that there are forces at work trying to make people reject the existence of God.
"I believe in micro evolution. I believe in natural selection. But I have a different take on it," Carson said. "The evolutionists they say there, that's proof that the theory of evolution is true."
He added, "I say that's proof of an intelligent and caring God who gave His creatures the ability to adapt to their environment so He wouldn't have to start over every 50 years."