Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Rapid City Journal of Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s titled Scientists should not make public policy, and it’s the second letter at that link. The newspaper doesn’t have a comments section.
Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Neal. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
I’d like to comment on a letter published on Saturday, May 23: “Science, not religion, should guide thoughts.” The letter states religious beliefs and practices originated in human minds when ignorant man attributed natural events such as thunder, lightning, eclipses etc. to unknown spirits or gods.
This is the letter Neal is complaining about. It’s the fourth one at that link. Neal cleverly rebuts its claim about the origin of religion by saying:
Thankfully, the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, and revealed himself to Abraham whose descendants became the Hebrew nation which gave us King David whose descendants brought forth Jesus Christ, God incarnate. One can read all about it in the Bible.
All right! Neal demolishes that earlier letter’s claim by citing the bible to declare that religion didn’t originate because “fear led people to develop religions: fear of death, nature, crop failures, etc.” Let’s read on:
My second comment has to do with the idea, with the help of the paper’s editorial editor crafting the headline, that science and reason, not religion, should guide our thoughts. This is a dangerous idea.
Ooooooooooh — it’s dangerous to let science and reason guide our thoughts. Neal continues:
Basic science is the study of the natural world around us.
Yes, but what’s wrong with that? Neal says:
What is dangerous is when scientists advocate for public policy.
Scientists know their science, but they’re not necessarily experts on public policy. Neither are politicians, as we all know. But why does Neal want scientists to stay out of public policy? He explains:
This brings us 19th century racist ideas from Charles Darwin; early 20th century eugenics ideas that gave us lobotomies and abortion; and 21st century global warming tyranny, to name a few.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Racism and eugenics pre-date science by millennia. See Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin. As for what Neal calls the “global warming tyranny,” that makes us uncomfortable because in a very limited way your Curmudgeon agrees. In NCSE Expands into Climate Change, we said:
Science must stand or fall on its own merits, not on the way it may be misused. … But we don’t oppose the science of climatology, or its conclusions about global warming — man-made or otherwise. Science gives us useful information for the conduct of our affairs, which we should be free to pursue without governmental coercion.
Your Curmudgeon’s political sentiments always upset our readers, but that’s how it goes. And now we come to the end of Neal’s letter:
Scientists should learn to do science and not mix public policy with their work.
If Neal would apply that same thinking to religion and public policy, his letter wouldn’t be worth writing about. But like all creationists, he’s essentially a theocrat, and he’d like nothing better than a religious dictatorship — run by his religion, of course. Anyway, it was an interesting letter.
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