Reader Feedback: Sarah Palin and Science

Thanks, Neil, for sending in the following comment re: McCain’s VP choice. Hmmm. You make some excellent (and courageous) points. What do the rest of you think about science in this election?

Darlene,

  

John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate changed the presidential campaign in a moment.  Issues like abortion and gun rights which had receded will now be in the front of the debate.  On science the Barack Obama and McCain hold different positions, but both accept the dangers of climate change as real and both know that science and science education is critical to our economy and our future.  Joe Biden agrees.  But Palin has said, “Teach the controversy” referring to the Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism.  To be fair, she has not pushed creationism in Alaska schools, but like the current President she sees a controversy where there is none.  The high technology that underpins the best of our economy is based on science as practiced by scientists, not untested science dreamed up in Seattle or on display in the Creation Museum in Kentucky

Evolutionary biology is the only biology used by practicing biologists.  Both Intelligent Design (ID) and Young Earth Creationism (YEC)) deny this.  Worse still for YEC to be true, Einstein has to be wrong about relativity and all who followed him would therefore be wrong about modern physics.   The most laughable consequence of this would be no solid state electronics.  The computers these folks use to spread there silly message depend on science which they say is wrong.  You can’t make integrated circuits withNewton’s physics.

I am saying all this as a very orthodox Christian believer.  On matters of faith, I am closer to Sarah Palin than any of the candidates.  But I also work at a library and museum of the history of science.  We keep the records of the people who pursued truth through the study of nature for more than two millennia.  Those records show how ardently these men and women pursued truth.  Their work has given us modern medicine, clean water, safe food and longer, healthier lives.  In my case I have three times escaped death, paralysis and blindness through modern medical care.  It is crazy to think that the science that lead to replacing the 7th vertebra in my neck with a cadaver bone (DNA bone matching—evolutionary biology) is false while saving my life and thousands of others, but that decorates the Creation Museum and saves no one is true.

Like Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome project, and author of the book “The Language of God” I believe that God created the universe in a way that neither atheists nor creationists can force their opponents to believe.  Creation is complicated, beautiful and beyond the full comprehension of any of us.  What we do know of the mechanics of creation, we know from the work of scientists—pursuing truth whether they are believers or not.

 

 

 

  • Since I’m in John’s camp with respect to being a Christian and a scientists (not to be confused with a Christian Scientist), I Have to agree with him. McCain has a real conundrum – he accepts Climate Change as a real threat, but he isn’t likely to fund the research and technology development we need to address the issue. Instead, he’ll wait for the “market” to drive the innovation engine, and they will – in other countries like Japan, and perhaps even India and china. So sad, especially since he’s the first intelligent Republican presidential candidate in decades.

  • Since I’m in John’s camp with respect to being a Christian and a scientists (not to be confused with a Christian Scientist), I Have to agree with him. McCain has a real conundrum – he accepts Climate Change as a real threat, but he isn’t likely to fund the research and technology development we need to address the issue. Instead, he’ll wait for the “market” to drive the innovation engine, and they will – in other countries like Japan, and perhaps even India and china. So sad, especially since he’s the first intelligent Republican presidential candidate in decades.

  • The naming of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate represents a grave threat to the USA’s position within Western civilization.

    Anti-science attitudes will nudge us back to the Stone Age.

    That John Sidney McCain III would place such reactionary forces so close to the White House is tantamount to taking a big, steaming dump on our government and our nation.

  • The naming of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate represents a grave threat to the USA’s position within Western civilization.

    Anti-science attitudes will nudge us back to the Stone Age.

    That John Sidney McCain III would place such reactionary forces so close to the White House is tantamount to taking a big, steaming dump on our government and our nation.

  • Re: global warming and spending

    McCain’s representative at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (http://www.isdc2008.org) was quite adamant about the Senator wanting to do something more about global warming/cooling/climate change. He specifically mentioned more funding for Earth-observing satellites.

    Re: evolution, creationism, intelligent design, etc.

    Like a couple of the folks mentioned above, I consider myself a Christian. However, there’s room in my mind for an “old Earth.” Common structures (biological, skeletal) abound in Earth-based life, and they are hard to ignore, as is the fossil record. However, the precise mechanisms of evolution are still unclear–we’ve never really seen it happen–so I’m willing to leave a little mystery out there.

    Or one might quote the t-shirt that says, “And God said [Maxwell’s Equations], and there was light!” Never mind. I’m probably going to heck just for typing this. My problem, not yours.

    /b

  • Re: global warming and spending

    McCain’s representative at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (http://www.isdc2008.org) was quite adamant about the Senator wanting to do something more about global warming/cooling/climate change. He specifically mentioned more funding for Earth-observing satellites.

    Re: evolution, creationism, intelligent design, etc.

    Like a couple of the folks mentioned above, I consider myself a Christian. However, there’s room in my mind for an “old Earth.” Common structures (biological, skeletal) abound in Earth-based life, and they are hard to ignore, as is the fossil record. However, the precise mechanisms of evolution are still unclear–we’ve never really seen it happen–so I’m willing to leave a little mystery out there.

    Or one might quote the t-shirt that says, “And God said [Maxwell’s Equations], and there was light!” Never mind. I’m probably going to heck just for typing this. My problem, not yours.

    /b

  • Every four years since 1980 I have read The Prince by N. Machiavelli on the eve of the presidential election. It is a great book to provide a framework for all the stuff you hear from both candidates. The most quoted maxim of Machiavelli is that a [politican’s] primary goals are to take power and keep power. Everything else is secondary, because without power you can do nothing. By picking Sarah Palin, McCain shows his first concern is winning. Where science comes on that priority list, I can’t say.

  • Every four years since 1980 I have read The Prince by N. Machiavelli on the eve of the presidential election. It is a great book to provide a framework for all the stuff you hear from both candidates. The most quoted maxim of Machiavelli is that a [politican’s] primary goals are to take power and keep power. Everything else is secondary, because without power you can do nothing. By picking Sarah Palin, McCain shows his first concern is winning. Where science comes on that priority list, I can’t say.

  • John S.

    As an Alaskan resident, I was a Palin supporter. But the more I get to know Palin, the more I think she is not educated or experienced enough to be a heart beat away from leading this country. I admire her life story. However, an admirable life story by itself should not be sole requirement to be Vice President.

    Sarah Palin does not have a science or medical degree. I’m not putting her down. She is a remarkable women who has a lot of potential with wonderful leadership skills.

    Without having a basic grasp in the fundamentals in science, engineering, and medicine how can Sarah Palin make decisions on global warning, funding for NASA, stem cell research, funding for science education, and other issues.

    In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the Federal Government heavily funded science, engineering and education to beat the Soviets to the Moon. That resulted in a boom in science and technology that brought us new technologies that we take for granted today.

    Since our politicians today have little knowledge in science, we have become a second rate country in the area of engineering, science and other R & D ventures. Most of the students attending our top rated graduate schools in science and engineering are foreign nations from India, China, and other countries.

    I would like Sarah Palin to visit our Top rated graduate schools in engineering and science. Her and John McCain needs to talk to PhD’s in science and engineering on how to improve our standing in the world in research and development. Palin and McCain need to tour our top rated medical schools and visit NASA centers. If Sarah Palin doesn’t understand the basic fundamentals, how can she answer complex questions or tackle issues.

  • John S.

    As an Alaskan resident, I was a Palin supporter. But the more I get to know Palin, the more I think she is not educated or experienced enough to be a heart beat away from leading this country. I admire her life story. However, an admirable life story by itself should not be sole requirement to be Vice President.

    Sarah Palin does not have a science or medical degree. I’m not putting her down. She is a remarkable women who has a lot of potential with wonderful leadership skills.

    Without having a basic grasp in the fundamentals in science, engineering, and medicine how can Sarah Palin make decisions on global warning, funding for NASA, stem cell research, funding for science education, and other issues.

    In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the Federal Government heavily funded science, engineering and education to beat the Soviets to the Moon. That resulted in a boom in science and technology that brought us new technologies that we take for granted today.

    Since our politicians today have little knowledge in science, we have become a second rate country in the area of engineering, science and other R & D ventures. Most of the students attending our top rated graduate schools in science and engineering are foreign nations from India, China, and other countries.

    I would like Sarah Palin to visit our Top rated graduate schools in engineering and science. Her and John McCain needs to talk to PhD’s in science and engineering on how to improve our standing in the world in research and development. Palin and McCain need to tour our top rated medical schools and visit NASA centers. If Sarah Palin doesn’t understand the basic fundamentals, how can she answer complex questions or tackle issues.

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  • Danette McGovern

    Sara Palin would never even be hired as a teacher in any public school in the USA. How can anyone believe she should be a heartbeat from the presidency? Since she believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as “science” it would discredit her as a teacher. What was McCain thinking? By marketing to what he perceived as a popular view (choose any woman they’re all the same-let’s get those Hillary supporters) he has cheapened the entire election.

  • Danette McGovern

    Sara Palin would never even be hired as a teacher in any public school in the USA. How can anyone believe she should be a heartbeat from the presidency? Since she believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as “science” it would discredit her as a teacher. What was McCain thinking? By marketing to what he perceived as a popular view (choose any woman they’re all the same-let’s get those Hillary supporters) he has cheapened the entire election.