All of a sudden, people all over effbook are freaking out about the two-year-old story that Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of Science, doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution. I think this is a bit of an odd turn. I mean, it’s been out there for over two years. It’s not like we didn’t *know* that the guy’s personal religious beliefs are contrary to a scientific theory. Maybe folks are getting upset about it now because there’s an election coming up?
But if the only thing you can pick out of the current administration to be incensed about is that one of the elected ministers in Cabinet doesn’t believe in what he’s Minister of, well, maybe we need to go back to square one with ‘why people get to be elected’ and ‘how elected officials get Cabinet positions’. We’re not the first, nor will we be the last, country who spent time with a Minister of the Environment whose opinions on the environment were dicey, from the point of view of environmentalists. Environment Ministers are often chosen because they can handle the economics of environmental development, and not because they’re environmentalists.
We had a Minister of Justice who wasn’t particularly just. I’m sure he wasn’t the first. I mean…first, why is this a surprise, and second, why does it matter? Explain to me why it matters if an elected official doesn’t believe in evolution.
I don’t care if the people I vote for are atheists. Or religious. I don’t care if they believe in the curative properties of garlic. I don’t care if they don’t believe in the effectiveness of antibiotics to combat infection. I don’t care WHAT they believe, as long as they do the job they were elected to do.
A better question…a far *bigger* concern…is what the current Canadian administration has done to things like research and development in the area of sciences (and in many other areas, but let’s just focus on sciences for now). If you’re going to argue that the reason funding has been cut to research programs is because the Minister is a creationist, that’s a pretty big leap of logic. A more important question is: why does the Canadian government feel that knowledge, education, and learning are unimportant? By cutting funding to researchers and educational institutions, the government is endangering the health and well-being of every single Canadian.
Well, it certainly goes further than things like trying to find a cure for cancer.
Things like learning for the sake of learning, questioning because you don’t know the answers…without those things, there wouldn’t be *any* progress. We’d still be using water wheels and driving horse carts. On skids. Maybe. If the government doesn’t understand THAT, then there’s a far bigger problem.
Calling someone down because of their beliefs is…well, it’s not really very nice, I hear. Would it have been better if he hadn’t mentioned his religion? If he had said, “there are many scientific theories that have not been proved to be true or false; there are many I don’t have an opinion on”, would that have been better? Do you have to believe in evolution in order to support learning? Nope. Do you have to believe in evolution to be a scientist? Depends on the kind of science, I suppose. Maybe there are physicists out there for whom the idea of evolution is really not all that important.
*My* point is that it seems to me folks are chewing on the wrong lapel here. The man’s personal beliefs aren’t as important as whether or not he’s doing his job. Did the Prime Minister come in and say, “Gary. About this evolution thing. It’s, you know, a big scam”? Or is it more likely the Prime Minister came in and said, “Gary. About this budget. We need a few million dollars for corporate tax cuts. You don’t really NEED this research budget, do you?”
We might disagree with his personal beliefs. We might say things about hard evidence proving, without a doubt, that homo sapiens have been living on earth for more than two thousand years. We might say that even if he believes that there is a Universal Force that “created” the proper conditions in which evolution took place, that doesn’t mean the animals of the world were “created” to be as they are, in their current state, and that evolution doesn’t take place. We might refute his beliefs.
And if you don’t like the way he’s doing his job, fire him. (That means don’t vote for him again.) But it’s still illegal in this country to fire people for their religious beliefs **unless their religious beliefs impede them from doing their jobs**.
Personally, I don’t think the man’s personal beliefs are preventing him from doing his job. I think his manager (the Prime Minister) is preventing him from doing what his job *ought* to be. I think Gary Goodyear is doing *exactly* what his manager is telling him to do in cutting funding for research. But it hasn’t anything to do with his personal beliefs.