Thursday, June 02, 2011

Science and Religion

All this talk about jobs, the deficit, abortion, Gay marriage, health care, even our “wars,” the Israeli/Palestinian problem, nuclear energy, and the economy, may be worthwhile and perhaps will lead us someday to do a bit better than we are on some of these issues, but there is one more basic and important issue in my mind involved in the current contest for the Presidency in 2012, where do the candidates stand on science vs creationism, global warming, nuclear power, divine guidance, and Armageddon? I am not kidding.

As far as I know most of the Republican candidates for the 2012 Presidency are religious nuts who do not believe in evolution, maybe even global warming, probably believe in the overwhelming superiority of Christianity, and perhaps even divine guidance. This would certainly be true, I gather, of Pawlenty, Bachmann, Palin, and Romney. I’m not sure about Romney but as he is a Mormon I think it’s probably true of him as well. I also don’t know about possible others such as Huntsman (another Mormon), Gingrich (a newly converted Catholic), Santorum (almost certainly a religious freak), or most of the others making noises about possibly running for the nomination. I’m not entirely certain even where President Obama stands on the issue of science vs religion, although I’m pretty certain he believes in science.

I do not know because the MSM seems not to think this is an important question. I beg to differ, I think it is probably the single most important question that ought to be raised. During the run-up to the last Presidential election one of the moderators asked the question, “who does not believe in evolution?” As I recall only Huckabee raised his hand (there may have been one or two others). As far as I am concerned anyone in the 21st century who does not believe in evolution (in some form as opposed to creationism, biblical literalism, or whatever) simply is not qualified to be President. This is not a minor matter, as it indicates (1) an appalling ignorance of the basic facts of science at all levels), and (2) a denial of science and the scientific method. If you are unwilling to accept the opinion of the world’s scientists, almost unanimous in their opinions about global warming, evolution, the age of the earth, the geology and geography of earthquakes and volcanoes, climate change and its possible effects, and so on, you simply are not in a position to be responsible for the welfare of either people or nations. When you hear Bachmann say she believes she is being told by God to run, or when the late President Bush claimed to have a direct line to God, you should know absolutely and with no doubt whatsoever they are not qualified to lead. I don’t know exactly what Romney believes about evolution (as no one has as yet asked him to my knowledge), but as he apparently believes in a religion that, among other things, believes in sacred underwear, I cannot help but be seriously put off. Indeed, many fundamentalists believe Mormonism is merely a “cult” (as opposed to their particular form of cultism). This doesn’t bother me as I think all religions are pretty much the same and should never, under any circumstances, be allowed dominate governments.

In spite of what would seem to be of the most fundamental importance with respect to an individual’s understanding of how things work, his or her ability to understand and utilize the most recent scientific findings, and thus their ability to make sound judgments about the most important problems facing the human species and the planet, somehow this is not considered important enough to bother about. It is enough that our President professes a belief in some religion (but not, of course, be a Muslim) and goes to some church more or less regularly thus pretending, at least, to be a good Christian. It would be, at the moment anyway, quite impossible for a professed atheist to be elected, whether he/she believed in science or not. The U.S. is far too much at the mercy of elected officials who believe in fairy tales and divine guidance to compete effectively in the modern world. Never mind signing absurd pledges not to raise taxes, candidates should be forced to sign pledges they will follow the best scientific judgments rather than listening to God or voices from above. It is not difficult to hold religious beliefs but believe in science at the same time. As far as I know (and I don’t know very much) major Christian faiths manage to do just that, but religious fundamentalists are a different matter and, if left unchecked, will destroy our country. Most of the civilized world has given up the magical beliefs of earlier centuries, if we cannot do so there will be something very like Armageddon (the signs are very clear). Of course now that Netanyahu appears to be singularly in charge of the Israeli/Palestinian problem, having bested Obama the Timid, we need not worry about the “Holy Land.”

It is not only that so many of our “leaders” appear not to believe in science, any of them also seem to lack knowledge of American or world history as well. We have become a nation of know-nothings and are being led by those who apparently also know nothing, or at least very little. Bachmann and Palin are perhaps the best examples but they are certainly not alone in their appalling ignorance. When you have teen-agers making them look like fools perhaps we should pay more attention to who aspires to power. Our situation is dire, time is short, hard times are unlikely to improve unless something drastically is done to change things. Oh, I forgot, Republicans have a plan…

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