Eventually, someone, somewhere had to stand up for a politician’s right to ignorance.
I for one applaud Canada’s federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear for refusing to answer reporters questions regarding his belief in evolution. Such conversations are indeed “not worth having.” The personal beliefs of a politician are simply irrelevant to his or her ability to successfully manage public affairs.
We have seen this amply demonstrated already by the Canadian federal conservatives in their succession of Minsters of the Environment, none of whom know the least thing about environmental science nor care a whit for sustainability, yet who have all excelled in their ability to run a tight ship.
Whether Goodyear “believes in science” is a total red herring. Goodyear could be a voodoo-practicing astrology columnist who tries to convert humours into gold on the weekends for all I care. The role of government is simply the bureaucratic allotment of resources to the right people at the right time, an entirely neutral science, which depends not at all for its success upon concrete knowledge of the issues concerned.
I actually think Goodyear erred in referring to his chiropractic expertise as providing him with a scientific knowledge of the body. To re-iterate, the man’s understanding of science is neither here nor there. All that matters is that his reasoning is sound, and this was amply attested by his grasp of the fact that lack of evidence is not evidence of lack:
“I do believe that just because you can’t see it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could mean we don’t have a powerful enough microscope yet. So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”
Goodyear is clearly referring to our current and lamentable inability to see God in a microscope. It is my private hope that some of the funds he oversees will be funneled to those humble and hard-working scientists seeking to achieve this holy grail of microscopy. I will readily admit to being encouraged by this beautiful vision of science and religion working together in the most productive of ways.
Only good can come of this.