It’s the science, stupid.
The 2012 Presidential campaign — and its aftermath — continues to weigh heavily on my mind. The other day, I finally got around to blogging my thoughts on the Republican Party, aided, in part, by yet another excellent blog post by Jim Wright on Stonekettle Station. I thought that would be enough to get it off my mind. But no, I still had some more mulling over to do.
You see, it bothered me that I really didn’t clearly indicate why I have such bad feelings about the GOP. I mentioned that I thought certain elected representatives and senators were “batshit crazy” and gave some examples. But I didn’t really connect the dots to explain exactly what bothered me personally about these people.
Thinking a little harder about Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s comments about the age of the earth helped me better understand what was going on in my subconscious about this. From the GQ interview, “All Eyez On Him,” where they were first made:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
This is, of course, outrageous. Scientists have accumulated enough evidence to estimate the earth’s age at 4.54
million years old. There are not “multiple theories” that dispute this. There’s only science and religion. Science is based on research, facts, and analysis. Religion does not have “theories” about anything. All it has are sacred texts written hundreds or thousands of years ago. Sacred text that believers, by definition, must believe.
So when I read about this, I used it as an example in my post of the craziness of certain Republicans.
And then an article by Daniel Engber in Slate Magazine, “Rubio and Obama and the age of Earth: Politicians hedge about whether universe was created,” suggested that Obama had made a similar statement in an interview back in 2008, when he was running for president. The quote:
Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?
A: What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.
The article goes on to compare the quotes from these two men, claiming that they’re not very different. The argument is compelling — at first. But bloggers at the Maddow Blog had no trouble picking it apart and zeroing in on what made the comparison fail. In “Those Who Celebrate Science (and Those Who Don’t),” Steve Benen says:
Rubio was asked a scientific question in a secular setting, offered an ambiguous response as to whether he believes the planet is billions or thousands of years old, and suggested an objective, scientific truth may be unknowable, though reality shows otherwise.
On the other hand, Obama was asked a theological question in a religious setting, offered a response that rejected young-earth pseudo-science, and suggested spiritual, philosophical truths may be unknowable.
That blog post then went on to give good examples of how Obama embraces science.
Paul Krugman’s article in The New York Times, “Grand Old Planet,” takes this news tidbit to the next level:
By the way, that question didn’t come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics — although he graciously added that “I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Gee, thanks.
What was Mr. Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence. (emphasis added)
Mr. Krugman goes on to point out several other examples where Republicans have suppressed hard facts that challenge their faith-based preconceptions. I won’t repeat them all here; go read the article. It’s short and very worthwhile.
(By the way, Mr. Krugman also mentions Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality. He doesn’t mention Mr. Mooney’s earlier book, The Republican War on Science, “the New York Times bestseller that exposes the conservative agenda to put politics ahead of scientific truth.” I think both are worth a read if you care about science and how politics can affect our future.)
And this is why I’m so opposed to the Republican way of thinking. These people are, for the most part, putting their religion before science and everything else. They’re trying to force a faith-based educational and political agenda on everyone in this country — no matter what everyone else believes. They seem to forget the doctrine of separation of church and state. They’re willing to sacrifice our ability to lead the world in science and technology so as not to offend a god that their fellow Americans may or may not believe in.
Personally, I’m horrified at the suggestion that creation (or “intelligent design”) be taught in public schools alongside evolution. I think it’s tragic that people are still trying to deny that climate change is real and likely caused by man. And it pisses me off to no end that public proceedings such as Town Council meetings often begin with a prayer and that I’m asked to “swear to God” in court. As if nothing can be done in the legal world without acknowledging a supreme being that has the power to guide or punish us.
(Let’s not forget that the original Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase “under God” until 1954.)
And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of a political party that’s constantly whining about how our freedoms are being compromised wanting to regulate what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes.
Anyway, I think this post finishes the thought I started in my previous blog post. I think it connects the dots to clearly state what bothers me most about the Republican way of thinking.
I’m willing to bet that this way of thinking is turning off a lot of otherwise conservative people. I think that if the GOP would stop its faith-based crazy-talk and get back to reality, it will likely attract a lot more voters in the future.
Again, I’ll leave comments open until moderation becomes a chore. If you want your comment to appear, keep it civil.