Tag: ScienceDebate2008

And What About A Science Debate?

The Democratic candidates for president felt compelled to attend a public forum on religion. The two biggest controversies about Barack Obama involved religion. Because Obama has been falsely accused of being a member of a religion that is disgustingly demonized in this country he is nearly required to talk publicly about being a member of a more accepted religion. Because her husband offended the delicate sensibilities of some sexually repressed middle Americans, Hillary Clinton has to talk publicly about her own religious beliefs. In the third century of this nation’s existence, the constitutionally enshrined concept of separation of church and state is, in practice if not in fact, an anachronism. Does anyone else have a problem with all of this?

Jimmy Carter was openly religious and attempted to pursue a foreign policy based on respect for human rights. George W. Bush is openly religious and pursues a foreign policy based on vicious violence against those who are not compliant to his rapacious imperialistic greed. Why would anyone believe that a politician’s public blather about religion necessarily has anything to do with what that politician truly thinks or believes or would do with political office? All American politicians now feel required to tout their personal relationship with the divine. None have the courage to simply state that religion is intensely personal, and nobody’s else’s business. None have the courage to remind people of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution:

…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

To demand that politicians explain their religious beliefs is literally in violation of the Constitution. And yet, here we are, with one candidate who claims to have the experience to be ready to lead on day one, and another who claims to champion hope and change, and with neither able to stand up against the disgusting political expectation that they engage in public displays of religious demagoguery. What the hell does talk about religion have to do with the way people will run the country? Nothing. Of course. And this is to in no way disparage religion itself or those who are religious. It’s just that religion and politics should not mix. Neither is good for the other. And nothing any person says about their personal religious beliefs can be presumptively taken at face value. And yet, two nights ago, the two Democratic presidential candidates were in public, on national television, discussing their religious beliefs.

What makes this even worse is that there has never been a night when two presidential candidates were in public, on national television, discussing their beliefs about science. To anyone not overly cynical, it would be astonishing: in an ostensibly rational nation, among ostensibly rational people, religion takes precedence over science. Despite the fact that so many of the problems that actually will decide humanity’s future and fate have to do with science. From global warming and climate change, to biomedical research, to whether or not our education system trains our children to be ready to compete and help our nation compete in an increasingly technologically competitive world, there are few broad political themes as important as a candidate’s understanding of and relationship with science, and few that receive less attention both from the candidates and from the corporate media.