I believe whatever I want

Paul Broun, Republican from Georgia believes, according to one report, that Evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are lies from the ‘pit of hell’. This representative is astonishingly, a medical doctor. I can only say that I am glad that I do not have to avail myself of his services as a physician. There are sangomas (witch doctors), in the nation from which I hail, that I would rather visit to tend to my ailments. At the very least their treatments are based on thousands of years of observations handed down over the centuries. Broun gets his information via the spiritual telegraph. Or so I am led to believe.

What makes matters worse is that this man actually sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. By what incantation of incompetence was he chosen to sit on this august body? But then, most appointments are made by the Republican leadership in the House. None of them are renowned for their intellectual rigor, their insightful grasp of the nuances of scientific research.

Broun believes, as he stated during a speech at a sportsman’s banquet, that the earth is only 9,000 years old. He did not say how he arrived at a figure of this precision. He has not produced the data, along with the calculations, but then, facts are really not in evidence when Republicans make pronouncements of this type. Broun’s spokesman says he was speaking off the record. When you are a congressman, nothing is ever off the record.You are a public servant, act as though you represent the public.

The crux of the matter is this; we do not get to vote on the facts as they are presented to us. We cannot choose the facts that suit us, or ignore the ones that do not. We have no choice when sufficiently compelling facts are presented to us, but to accept them, regardless of our personal predilections. Until we can produce sufficiently compelling facts of our own to refute facts in evidence, we cannot challenge them.

We can believe whatever we feel, but we have no choice but to accept the facts. Naturally, believing whatever we so desire is relativism in action, and people of Broun’s ilk are absolutists. Why then biblical teachings are so vehemently debated is beyond me. In science, we accept the science based on the facts available to us given our technological tools, until we have sufficiently compelling evidence to induce us to change our minds. This is how science advances.

Evolution is a fact, or at least a vast collection of facts that provide mutual confirmation. Botanists, biologists, ethologists, chemists, physicists, geologists, paleo-anthropologists, paleontologists and a vast array of people agree on one thing. Evolution is what drives all life on earth. All species evolved from other species whether we like it or not. Evolution is the single theoretical framework that allows us to explain almost everything about life on this planet. Confirmation is found in fields as diverse as Continental Drift Theory, Cosmology, chemistry, and genealogy.

Big Bang Theory is a similar idea. All the evidence points to our universe starting with a singularity, an explosion, massive expansion, nebulae, galaxy formation, and subsequent solar and planetary formation. All the evidence is confirmation of the theory. There are questions and controversies, but none of them seriously alter the basic theory. Paul Broun’s pronouncements will not change that.

The real tragedy is that we have to continue to be the world’s leading edge developer of technology when we have technologically illiterate imbeciles running our science committees. It is no surprise that the Chinese, Indians, Germans, South Koreans, British and far more are eating our lunch in the technology stakes. With Broun leading the charge, we are far more likely to end our days as a latter day Somolia or Yemen than as the world’s greatest innovator.

Charles Darwin help us all!

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