Santorum on questioning science


Now here’s an interesting quote.

[Presidential candidate Rick] Santorum told the audience that “what’s taught in our school system as a result of liberal academia, is evolution is an incontrovertible fact. There is no suspicion of it. It is decided science that cannot be questioned. There cannot be any doubts about it. If you have any questions or doubts, it’s trying to inject religion into the science classroom. So it is above reproach.”

(Source: Santorum: Evolution Promotes Atheism, Creationism Is ‘Academic Freedom’ | The New Civil Rights Movement).

Santorum was speaking at a forum entitled “The Press & People of Faith in Politics,” hosted by the Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life. How much can you spot that Santorum gets wrong in those six short sentences?

First of all, he claims that evolution achieved its status as the dominant scientific theory due to “liberal academia.” In other words, in Santorum’s world, the theory of evolution was not discovered through years of field work, but rather was invented in the classroom by liberals with an agenda. Then he claims that “science cannot be questioned.” Really? In the debate between religion and science, he claims that it’s the scientists refusing to entertain any doubts or questions about accepted conclusions and beliefs?

He claims that if you have any questions or doubts, you’re trying to inject religion into the science class. But that’s wrong too. His objection to evolution is that it raises questions and doubts about religion, and his preferred response is to try and introduce religiously-motivated FUD into the curriculum to raise spurious doubts in the minds of the young. Science welcomes questions and doubts, as long as they’re motivated by thinking instead of by a stubborn refusal to think.

I think the main reason evolution tweaks off Santorum, though, is that his own God wasn’t smart enough to come up with the idea first. Evolution is amazingly sophisticated and subtle, building off relatively simple and self-maintaining processes to create an incredibly diverse, robust, and self-maintaining biosphere. The fact that Darwin et al thought it up before God did makes God look pretty dumb.

(On the other hand, this is the same God who came up with a “plan of salvation” that sends the vast majority of His beloved children to Hell, when all He really had to do was not create damnation in the first place. Duh. So Santorum may have a valid reason for disliking evolution.)

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    Hundreds of millions of people around the world will agree with everything Santorum says. His words will be quoted during church services and in Sunday Schools for years to come.

  2. says

    Santorum doesn’t understand science at all. Questioning science is how science is done. He’s correct that not questioning makes a religion, but science is all about questions. Science is looking at things that have already been discovered and asking “where is it flawed, is there a better explanation?”

    • says

      Kathy–I agree with you and would add that he has no desire to want to understand science. He is content with the bible to guide him and doesn’t see the need for anything else. So sad, that millions will vote for that kind of drivel.

  3. sailor1031 says

    The wonderful diversity of evolved life would not have been of interest to doG whose only ‘plan’ has concerned humans. All other species are of no importance and have value only as they can be consumed, sacrificed or traded for wives or other slaves.

    Humans, on the other hand, are very important to doG because, as you point out, his ‘thing’ is to shovel them into hellfire by the millions – what a laugh that must be for doG, eh?

  4. Sly says

    Everything he says about “science” is applicable to his dogmatic religious beliefs… but not to science.
    He’s a fool.

  5. davidct says

    One could have more respect for Santorum’s position if he had any idea of what he is objecting to. He does not know how science works and knows evolution only as a word. When it comes to how the diversity of life came about there is only one explanation that can be worked with by science. The creation story proposes supernatural explanations which make it untestable and useless for investigation. Science is not about dogma but about not fooling ourselves.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    It is decided science that cannot be questioned.

    Yo Senator Frothy: of course evolution, and any other science, can be questioned. It’s just that your questions are stupid.

  7. d cwilson says

    One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian mindset is a belief that things are true not based on verifiable evidence, but because a trusted authority figure says they are true. This is why Santorum truly doesn’t understand that evolution is based on a foundation of evidence and not just because some “liberal academics” thought it was a good idea.

    This is also why creationists always fail when they try to “question” evolution. Their questions are never based on the actual evidence, but on nonsense that simply betrays their ignorance (see: Kirk Cameron’s crocoduck).

    • jerthebarbarian says

      This is true, but you’d think that Santorum would know enough about his own religion to know that the current Catholic teaching is theistic evolution and Big Bang creationism. That God created the universe through the Big Bang and allowed life to form via evolution, but granted certain primates (Adam and Even) souls (made in his own image) some point in the past. The Church has in recent years striven to make their teachings comply with science where their teachings are falsifiable – and striven to make their teachings unfalsifiable wherever possible (to prevent another Galileo incident).

      If creationism of any stripe were being taught in US public schools, Roman Catholics would be forced to sit through what is essentially fundamentalist Protestant theology lectures. I have no idea why any Catholic would want that for their kids.

      • d cwilson says

        Evolution is only one of the areas that Santorum is out of step with his church. He supports the death penalty, backed the Iraqi invasion, and is against universal health care. All of which is at odds with the RCC today.

        Philosophically, Santorum is much more in step with conservative evangelicals than he is with his own religion. There are two possible explanations for this:

        1) He knows and accepts the RCC’s position on evolution, but wants to pander to the far right “base” to get elected.

        2) He simply rejects the church’s teachings whenever he finds them inconvenient.

      • Old Fogey says

        Most Catholics just ignore their church’s teaching when they don’t suit – such as on contraception, or divorce.

      • jerthebarbarian says

        You can only ignore them so far on divorce, though. Try to get re-married and the Church will force you to leave.

        Well, unless you’ve got a lot of filthy lucre to spread around the diocese, or you actually caught your spouse cheating. Then you can get the bishop to give you an “annulment” of your previous marriage. Which is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from a divorce because shut up that’s why.

        (The Church is actually “okay” with divorce as long as you don’t remarry. They can just pretend that you’re still married.)

  8. says

    Amazing. He’s saying about science what atheists say about religion. – It’s religion that “cannot” be question. It’s religion that is being strategically slipped into the class rooms. It’s religion that was, relatively speaking, arbitrarily created and spread amongst mass population. – He’s got the right questions but they’re pointed in the wrong direction.

  9. says

    One podcast I listened to had the question ‘can evolution be falsified’? and they struggled with it.

    The answer is that Yes it is falsifiable…but everything we know about the universe that would falsify it pans out against it.

    if we found out that genetics work different->falsified

    It is falsifiable, but cannot be falsified. It’s like asking if gravity is falsifiable, absolutely! just everything about the universe comes back in favor for it.

  10. Shawn says

    Santorum, like all Republican politicians, is just speaking to the mentally ill. What he is really saying is that religion is the antidote to science. And he is right of course, since for billions of people on this planet religion is the antidote to all human knowledge and action. The horror of mushroom clouds on all horizons: merely the glory of god manifest (in whose name the launch buttons will eventually be pressed in the first place). The alpha and omega. Ironically, not even room for satan (much less the stupidity of humans) in the equation. When the inevitable comes to pass, we will finally come to know god as the universal salve for melting skin. Or to paraphrase Homer Simpson: the (major) cause of, and (make-believe) solution to, all life’s problems.

  11. sunsangnim says

    The GOP has finally jumped the shark. Hopefully they’ll fade into irrelevance as they pander to a smaller and smaller base. Unfortunately, I don’t have much faith in the Democrats either.

  12. bybelknap says

    @ barbarian. It isn’t too gawdawful expensive. My wife is one of those weird Catholics. Just sort of goes through the motions, and picks and chooses what papal nonsense she’ll agree to. Anyway she was married once before me, and then when we had kids she wanted them baptized. I was a little less militantly anti-religion at the time so I went along for the ride not really caring about the whole charade. But, since I was her second the church wanted in a the ballpark of 500 bucks to annul her first PLUS since the twins were born BEFORE she paid them the annulment money they were a cool 250 each above and beyond the vig the local priest and his henchmen required as an “offering” to do the baptismal deed. I only found out about it much later when I was cleaning out the attic and found the paperwork. She was required to write a lengthy essay about the evils of her first marriage and how she was going to be a good girl and raise the kids in the faith. What a load of bollocks.

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