New Yorker Writer: Pope Francis Would Be a Better Science Point Man Than Inhofe or Cruz

“Intellectual achievement used to be revered in this country, not detested,” wrote Michael Specter, who specializes in scientific and medical topics for the New Yorker, in a Friday online piece. Ah, but that was before conservative Republicans such as Jim Inhofe and the “appalling” Ted Cruz rose to prominence.

Specter mused that Pope Francis, who “believes that science, rational thought, and data all play powerful and positive roles in human life,” would be preferable to Inhofe or Cruz, who “seem as if they do not” believe those things, as chair of a Senate committee that deals with scientific and environmental matters.

From Specter’s piece (emphasis added):

It’s a shame that there is no provision in the Constitution of the United States that would permit Pope Francis to serve as the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Or, for that matter, that there’s no way for him to lead the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Instead, it looks like we are going to have Republicans James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, in those jobs.

That’s too bad, because the Pope believes that science, rational thought, and data all play powerful and positive roles in human life. The senators seem as if they do not. Last month, Francis…said, essentially, that the Catholic Church had no problem with evolution or with the Big Bang theory of the origins of the universe…

This [was not] a radical departure for the Church…[which] has, for decades, taken the position that faith and science need not be opposed to one another…

…[But the] men and women we have chosen to represent us in Washington often equate support for Darwinism with eternal damnation. After all…forty-two per cent of American adults believe that “God created humans pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Among some groups—Republicans, for example—the figure is much higher. Perhaps we should at least be thankful that Congressman Paul Broun, of Georgia, who described evolution and the Big Bang theory as “lies straight from the pit of Hell,’’ lost his Senate race.

But the denialists don’t really need him; their bench is deep. They have Inhofe, who, beginning in January, will possess the authority to interfere with nearly any scientific initiative that the Obama Administration introduces…

So a man who believes that the international scientific consensus is a “hoax” will be in charge of the committee that approves funding for scientific programs…If anything, the appalling Cruz is worse; he won’t address evolution directly, but he is an energetic climate skeptic, an opponent of NASA funding, and, of course, the man who, last year, almost single-handedly shut down the government of the United States, which…caused serious and permanent damage to American science.

Intellectual achievement used to be revered in this country, not detested. For hundreds of years, progress has been defined by a reliance on independent inquiry and the study of objective data that could be tested, analyzed, and repeated. That process is usually described as the scientific method and, more than any religion, person, or movement, it has transformed the world…

“I am happy to express my profound esteem and my warm encouragement to carry forward scientific progress,’’ the Pope said.  It would be nice if we could elect political leaders capable of that kind of thought. But, in this country, that might take a miracle.

Congress Environment Global Warming Conservatives & Republicans Religion Vatican New Yorker James Inhofe Ted Cruz


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