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Santorum: Americans Must Challenge Science — With Biblical Dogma

by David Badash on March 22, 2012

in Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,News,Politics

Post image for Santorum: Americans Must Challenge Science — With Biblical Dogma

Rick Santorum says that Americans should — but don’t — feel comfortable challenging science, and instead rely on biblical dogma and teachings. Santorum takes two of the most scientifically-settled concepts known to man: evolution and climate change, and says that just because ninety-something percent of the world agrees that both concepts are true and correct, there’s no reason to accept them as fact because here in America, we have our bibles and our faith.

In a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed titled “The Elephant in the Room: Challenging science dogma,” Santorum writes:

A recent Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of Americans agreed that “humans developed over millions of years” and “God had no part.” A Zogby poll this year found that 78 percent of Americans agreed that schoolteachers “should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” The same poll also found that 86 percent of self-identified liberals agreed that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.” But the scientific “community” claims there is no controversy, and that debate should be banned.

First, Rick, point to me where the scientific “community” has claimed there is no controversy, and that debate should be banned. You can’t can you?

Of course, when it comes to science, well, why should we use science? Why trust scientists? We should look to God and religious leaders — not to scientists and those trained, often for decades, in scientific exploration and the pursuit of knowledge and truth, right, Senator?

This reminds me of bible-thumping Senator James Inhofe, who last week told Rachel Maddow he was angered that his grandchildren are being taught in public schools “nonsense” climate change information provided by the EPA. Inhofe stated that people should trust elected officials — not lifetime civil servants — when it comes to important matters like knowledge and science.

Of course we should trust lawmakers who have to pander to millions of Americans — often uneducated or undereducated – to get elected and re-elected, as opposed to, say, scientists at the EPA whose jobs are dependent upon how well they do at their jobs — just like you and me.

Seriously, this is where Santorum is taking America: facts are not important. Proof is not important. What’s important? God’s word, and how much you believe in something. It’s the anti-reality of George W. Bush all over again. Or, if you will, the faith-based community vs. the reality-based community war Santorum is fighting daily.

And what are we really talking about?

Via Wikipedia on “Reality-based community“:

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove):

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Scary?

You betcha.

Now, remember, Santorum was a U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania, until he lost his seat by a huge margin. One commenter — probably a former constituent — writes on Santorum’s anti-science op-ed:

Just because one “believes” or “doesn’t believe” doesn’t make something true. Science isn’t conducted by opinion polls. It is painful to realize this man once represented Pennsylania in the U.S. senate.

Another:

OMG. The consistent ridiculousness by Santorum in his weekly column justifies every bit of criticism he gets. This particular column comes from an ideology based in denial of facts. Something the extremists on the right, like him, seem to embrace more and more as the party shrinks and becomes politically marginalized. It is why no one takes them seriously. They appear in the media because they are freak shows, not serious or credible contributors.

And still another:

It is hard for me to improve on some of the educated comments above. I will add, however, that Mr. Santorum uses a common ruse of language where he places all criticism of objective truth in the same box as conjecture and “belief”. He uses all the following vocabulary in reference to science that signals religious faith: dogma, heresy, High Priests of DarwinISM. recant, vow, ideology, Pharisees. And what does he use for his main argument for supporting objections to evolution and climate change science: POLLS of what Americans believe. His anti-intellectual attack on science is breathtaking. Science does not depend on “believing” anything. It depends only on concrete, empirical evidence. If new evidence clearly disproves or illuminates former conclusions, then science accepts that. That is how scientific inquiry works. Only religion uses terms like “heresy” when discussing disputed positions. Santorum is comparing apples and fire plugs. He cannot be taken seriously when critiquing science.

Remember, these are likely his former constituents. What does that say about how Americans might feel about a President Santorum?

Writing, “I refer, of course, to the latest scientific non-controversy, man-made global warming,” Santorum then attacks reality and ignores facts all over again:

Climate change’s Pharisees reassure us that the global-warming science is still settled. Never mind recent revelations of gross misconduct on the part of Britain’s Climatic Research Unit. Never mind its repeated refusal to release vital climate data. And never mind the legitimate questions that climate-change skeptics have been asking for some time. There’s nothing to see here; move along.

Um, actually, Rick, those “revelations of gross misconduct”? Totally disproved. Twice. At least. Maybe more.

And talk about living in a bubble, Santorum adds:

Given this uncertainty, I think most Americans find the experts’ cocksureness unsettling. Despite the bravado and billions of dollars in media hype supporting the climate alarmists, only 37 percent of respondents agreed that man is causing global warming in a recent Rasmussen poll.

Yep. It’s that whole “liberal elite” that Santorum hates so much. You know those elites. Who wants them? Like the elite Seal Team Six who took out Osama bin Laden, right?

Closing with, “In some respects, the case for evolution is improving: We may indeed have evolved to the point where we can detect hot air of a different kind,” Santorum actually states:

Americans don’t like being told what to believe. Maybe because we have learned to be skeptical of “scientific” claims, particularly those at war with our common sense – like the Darwinists’ telling us for decades that we are just a slightly higher form of life than a bacterium that is here purely by chance, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s informing us last week that man-made carbon dioxide – a gas that humans exhale and plants need to live, a gas that represents less than 0.1 percent of the atmosphere – is a dangerous pollutant threatening to overheat the world.

Yes, Rick, we can detect hot air — and where it’s coming from.

Your God, Rick, cannot trump my science. And our Constitution demands you accept this fact.

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Hat tip: Little Green Footballs

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{ 5 comments }

Superabound1 March 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

We MUST get rid of religion in this country if we want to survive.

BeerandOnion March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

Does Rick want to bleed patients? Does he want to drill holes in the heads of people to let out the evil spirits? This is 2012 not 1642. I agree with Superabound1, "We MUST get rid of religion in this country if we want to survive."

If Rick's appendix where to become enflamed, would he have a clergy man pray over him or would he go see a doctor, a scientist?

Kayo56 March 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I can point out exactly where Rick Santorum got the statistics he twisted to come up with his argument.
He wiggles in the phrase about how only 14 percent of Americans believe that "God had no part," making it sound as though most Americans believe God micromanaged the development of the human race, rather than providing the seed from which the Universe sprung, which eventually gave way to life forms, and eventually the evolution of the human race.

It's probably not off the mark that over 80 percent of Americans believe in a Higher Power that had something to do with the start of the Universe. So if a poll question were phrased in that manner, which is meant to be misleading, he could then manipulate the argument to sound as though 85 percent of Americans believe we got here as the result of a six day marathon, rather than millions of years of development.

I personally doubt that he believes this either. Santorum has higher education degrees, snobbish though they may be, and one would assume he must have been awake for one or two science classes, as he doesn't seem enough of a whiz kid that just glancing at a book the morning of the test would be enough to pass the course. These views he's been espousing about faith and science are not the views of the Catholic Church, of which he is a member. It would seem that anyone so entrenched in the Church as he would have us believe, would have found a church more in alignment with the uber fundamentalism in which he cloaks himself.

I think this shtick is a way of setting him apart from his opponents, all of whom stand back a little further removed from the edge of the lunatic fringe on which Santorum is perched. After all, if reality shows have taught us anything, it's that a person needn't be smart or talented or a great human being in order to be famous; and fame and infamy are often interchangeable.

Take away his Moral Man cape, and he's nothing more than an insignificant failed senator from Pennsylvania banging on a drum might perhaps appeal to to his Amish constituents; except that they don't get involved in politics.

Considering some of the fads that have taken hold in this country, the Rick Santorum phenomena is not so unbelievable. Eventually, however all fads fade. We can only hope that Moral Man folds up his cape and fades off into the sunset along, with Pet Rocks, goldfish swallowing and streaking.

labman57 March 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

That's the great thing about faith-based proclamations.  No verifiable facts or empirical evidence are required.

"God works in mysterious ways" is a religious rationalization for what these folks really mean:  "I have no freaking clue how natural phenomena happen, nor how the process of scientific observation, experimentation, analysis, deduction, and discovery further our understanding of the universe".

Religion was originally developed to answer many of the questions that science could not, as well as to bring a sense of order by controlling the behavior of the populace.  As mankind's scientific knowledge grew, some religious folks felt uneasy and insecure, fearing that God was being displaced by science, and so they attempted to undermine and discredit both the science and the scientist.  This self-serving practice by religious extremists continues to this day.

Organized religion plays a valuable, useful role in the lives of many people throughout the world.  It can bring communities together in times of hardship, it can help people cope with personal tragedy, it can provide a means of emotionally and financially assisting the downtrodden.  But all too often, it is used to denigrate and/or persecute the non-believer.

If you happen to be a believer, wonderful.  If you are an atheist or agnostic, that is equally wonderful.  Both points of view should be respected, and neither should be so insecure that they feel the need to convert or condemn the other. Furthermore, there is no inherent conflict between spirituality and science — there is plenty of room for both to co-exist in the human psyche.

Most importantly though, people who belong to any of the myriad of religions that exist in this country should observe their tenets and practice their rituals in the comfort of their homes, their sanctuaries, and their private schools and not try to impose their particular religious values and morals onto the rest of society via political lobbying or by proselytizing religious dogma in public schools.

LOrion March 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Come on, be rational… DO YOU Really want a physicians that is an Evangelical Christian and doesn't believe in science??!! I don't!

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