From time to time, we’re reminded of the right’s general hostility towards science. The assault tends to be all-encompassing – climate science, medical research, modern biology, sex ed – and my friend Chris Mooney even wrote a brilliant book about it, documenting the extent to which conservatives have targeted the scientific process itself.
That said, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), one of Congress’ most far-right members, is taking Republican opposition to science to a more startling level.
For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s what Broun said when he spoke two weeks ago at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Ga.
“God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”
For the record, Broun’s religious beliefs are obviously his businesses, and if he chooses to believe cosmology, biology, and geology are, quite literally, “lies straight from the pit of Hell,” that’s between the congressman and his conscience.
But the larger, national significance to this is that Broun isn’t just some private citizen who rejects science; he’s a member of Congress who sits on the House Science Committee.
I don’t care that Broun prefers ignorance to knowledge, and chooses to reject evidence and reason, but it should matter that a man who thinks the planet is 9,000 years old is helping shape science policy in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 21st century.