Monday, November 20, 2006

Faith-Based Science

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush said that "the jury is still out" on the merits of Darwinism.[21] That is true only if the jury is not made up of reputable scientists. Bush meant to place religious figures on the jury, to decide a scientific question. As president, he urged that schools teach "intelligent design" along with Darwinism—that is, teach religion alongside science in science classes. Gary Bauer, like other evangelicals, was delighted when the President said that. Bush's endorsement proves, Bauer observed, that intelligent design "is not some backwater view." An executive at the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design, chimed in: "President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution."[22] By that logic, teaching flat-earthism, or the Ptolemaic system alongside the Copernican system, is a defense of "free speech."

Since President Bush advocates the teaching of intelligent design, it is not surprising that in his administration, the National Park Service would authorize the sale of a book at the Grand Canyon claiming that the canyon was formed by Noah's Flood. A group of scientists protested this endorsement by the government of bogus science. In response to that, the Alliance Defense Fund, set up by James Dobson and other fundamentalists, threatened a lawsuit if the book was withdrawn from sale at the federal site. As other religious right figures chimed in, it was discovered that a draft guide for park employees stated that the canyon was not formed in the time period of the Flood; the guide was not released. A survey of Park Service employees in 2003 found that almost nine out of ten felt the scientific message of the Service was being skewed for political reasons.[24] That is the very definition of faith-based science.

So is the Bush administration's denial of global warming. The religious right would seem to have no stake in this position, but for whatever reason —the premillennial lack of concern for the earth's fate as Jesus' coming nears, the "dominion" over the earth given Adam—evangelicals have been urgent in denying what most objective scientists have been observing. The White House intervened to have cautions against global warming removed from a 2003 draft report on the environment.[25] Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma has called reports of global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."[26] His hostility to any environmental concerns is such that he has called the Environmental Protection Agency a "Gestapo," and likened its female director to "Tokyo Rose."[27] Inhofe is an evangelical who says that Israel was given the West Bank by God—he claimed that the attack on the World Trade Center was caused by America's weak support of Israel...