Friday, January 04, 2008
Run In Circles ...
Now here's a potential example for the entry in the dictionary under "breathless"! The Raw Story is blaring this headline: "US 'doomed' if creationist president elected: scientists."
Okay, here's the quote from University of Michigan professor Gilbert Omenn at the launch of the book on evolution and creationism by the National Academy of Sciences that probably fueled the headline:
If our country starts to behave irrationally whereas all the other countries coming up and chasing us (to take over as the world leaders in science and technology) behaving rationally, we are doomed.The cynic in me has to ask: When, exactly, was the last time our country acted rationally? Still, the point is well taken that an official policy to treat science as just another "belief system" will do (heck, already has done) severe damage to the future prospects of America. As Omenn went on to say:
The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming. I would worry that a president who didn't believe in the evolution arguments wouldn't believe in those other arguments either. This is a way of leading our country to ruin.But the doom doesn't come from one president's election, it comes from the fact that collectively we do not find such a denial of reason to be an automatic disqualification for the job.
Well said. In my mind, this is related to the mistaken understanding of the Constitution's "no religious test" clause. Stating that people cannot be forbidden from running for or holding office on the basis of their beliefs does not mean that I can't consider their beliefs when I vote for or against them. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have the same rights to run for office as any other Americans. When they campaign, they are supposed to illuminate me regarding their policy positions, etc. The relationships between their politics, policies and religion are legitimate factors for me to consider. To connect this to the point of your post, if candidates show evidence of denying reason via denial of evolution, etc., I'd better think long and hard about how their flimsy reasoning processes re: science, religion, etc., will affect their decisions and my life.
It is a bit of a two-way street, of course. Some atheists complain that one of their own can't be elected because the American people won't vote for one. It is the voter's right to apply whatever criteria s/he wants, even pernicious ones, like racism, sexism and anti-semitism.
On the other hand, it is also my right to point out that excluding atheists is not based on any relevant criteria for office, while willing suspension of thinking is a very relevant quality in a person in charge of goverment and my tax money.