Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Evolution Schmevolution

The Daily Show is devoting this week to evolution, and, of course, it's been great. Kurt Vonnegut's appearance last night was a bit strange (a brilliant guy, no doubt, but he's in his 80s and couldn't really keep up with the fast pace of Jon Stewart), but the previous night I enjoyed the discussion with Chris Mooney of The Republican War on Science.

Mooney made an interesting point about the anti-science views within the Republican Party, and how those views are one link between the religious right wing and the pro-business wing. There's no doubt that plenty of businesses have lied about science in an effort to cover up the deleterious effects of their products, but I think the religious folks and the business folks have such different aims that it's a relationship that can't last.

People who oppose science for religious reasons do so because they believe everything in the Bible is true. Science has disproved much of the Bible, so those folks have no choice but to deny the fundamental truths we've learned through scientific inquiry.

People who oppose science for business reasons, however, fully understand the need for scientific inquiry. General Electric executives might lie about science when discussing PCBs in the Hudson River, but they fully understand that having educated scientists is vital to their corporate goals. Ultimately, they'll support the teaching of science in a way the religious right won't.

Finally, one last note: Plenty of Democrats lie about science, too. Whether it's environmentalists overstating damage to the ecosystem or lefty sociologists insisting that genes have nothing to do with IQ, it's easy to find such examples. A book called The Democratic War on Science probably wouldn't have as much raw material to draw from, but it would still make a good read.

7 Comments:

At 8:37 AM, Blogger dhodge said...

I don’t know if the end of the religious right/big business honeymoon is as imminent as you think. The aims of big business and the religious right are pretty similar. Both are interested in accumulating power and influence in order to grow and prosper. The religious right focuses on issues that energize their base but don't really offend the business interests in the Republican Party. If the religious right suddenly discovers a Christian basis for economic populism or starts pushing a social agenda that alienates a majority of heterosexual non-Darwinists, they will witness a precipitous decline in their support from within the Republican Party.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger MDS said...

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I do foresee a split within the Republican Party. Nationally their two most popular figures are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, two people who are unacceptable to most of the Christian right, and who are generally on the pro-science side. I think 2008 could be the year that a McCain or Giuliani could break from the Christian right either by winning the Republican primary without their support or by running as an independent. That might be just what we need to split big business from the religious right.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

The aims of big business and the religious right are pretty similar. Both are interested in accumulating power and influence in order to grow and prosper.

That's really everyone's aim in politics, but when you get power you need to focus it in one direction, so it is important that corporate america does have an ideological difference with the religious right.

This will be especially true if biotech gets to be as big as I think it will. Suddenly you'll see a whole bunch of well-financed pro-scientific businesses.

I think Mr. S is right on this, and if McCain of Rudy don't do it in 2008, someone almost certainly will be called to do it in 2012 when biotech is kickin' into high gear.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger dhodge said...

What I was trying to say is that I don't think the evolution/ID debate is going to cause the split. Giuliani, McCain, and biotech are definite possibilities.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Heehee. Check this out:

http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/09/jurassic_park_u.shtml#010975

and don't miss the link at the end of this line:

3. It gives me a new excuse to link to this.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger MDS said...

Dinosaurs attacking Noah's Ark? Hadn't heard that one before.

 
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