I thought I might write about something other than politics this morning, but some things are just too there to ignore. But perhaps this isn’t strictly about politics.
Representative Paul Broun of Georgia recently said the following. I’m pulling the quote from news sources so I don’t get it wrong.
“God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually. How to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”
His spokesperson later tried to explain that this was off-the-record in a speech to a church group and the representative was discussing his personal beliefs. What are we to make of such a statement? That the representative really doesn’t believe what he said? That he was lying to the church group? Or that he’s lying to the citizens of Georgia about what he really believes when he is “on-the-record”?
Now, aside from that, there are two things about Broun and this that trouble me. One, he’s actually a physician. Which means that he should know better. (But I don’t actually know what that means in this context anymore.) And two, he sits on the science and technology committee, along with another great light of biological science, Todd Akin, who seems unclear on how women’s reproductive anatomy works as well as apparently believing you can perform an abortion on a woman who is not pregnant.
It’s not like the rest of the folks on that committee are particularly inspiring, either, but the others focus on environmental science to misunderstand.
The committee’s chair, Ralph Hall from Texas, also has a habit of invoking the deity in denying the findings of science. (Obviously he’s a Republican, since they are the majority in the House and committee chairs are always chosen from the majority party. I wonder how many people actually understand that. But I digress.)
Here is what bothers me. We have the tool in hand to investigate and understand the world we live in. It’s called science and its methods are nonpartisan. Science, practiced honestly, doesn’t care what Party you belong to, where you stand on fiscal policy or trade imbalances. It is concerned with all that precedes policy and only gets involved with policy when people start basing it either on the findings of science or for some reason wish those findings to be other than they are.
What it has a very difficult time dealing with is entrenched stupidity that is paired with a power base.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology” and so forth is what gives us the medical expertise we are currently both enjoying (because it works) and having so much trouble deciding how to pay for. Genuine lies and nonsense do not work.
Except, apparently, in politics.
Now, it is true, I do not believe in god. There is a reason I don’t and it’s a long and convoluted story, but it began with people like Representative Broun basically lying to me about reality. The reason I will rely on science rather than his nonsense is because I see that science gives me answers that, in a word, work. What science describes is borne out by experience and more and more we see that, while sometimes (often) scientists get things wrong, the overall result is that we know why things happen and are learning more all the time. All people like Representative Broun are saying, stripped of the holy-roller palaver, is “I don’t like what science tells me so I’m going to deny it and tell you that you don’t need it.”
This may seem like an academic argument. What difference does it make if Broun says it’s god and a scientist says it’s evolution?
Normally, I’d say it doesn’t make much difference, but here is someone who has a position of power, someone whose opinion determines policy, someone whose policy decision could cost lives. It is irresponsible of the citizens of Georgia to elect what amounts to an myopic ideologue who can hurt millions of people because he doesn’t accept reality.
You do not have to abandon your belief’s in the supernatural in order to accept evolution—millions of believers do this every day. But you do have to ignore what’s around you to keep voting for someone who is more concerned with convincing you that the world is some other way than it really is than in serving the people competently.
It amazes me how often these days I encounter Republicans who shake their heads and bemoan the state of their Party, claiming that “those morons aren’t real Republicans.” Maybe not and I’m more than a little inclined to believe them. But they then continue to vote for these people. Why? Because they’re Republicans and they’re loyal to their Party.
Maybe it’s time to rethink that?