A few years ago, then Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) delivered some rather amazing remarks in which he described pillars of modern science -- including evolutionary biology and the big bang -- as quite literally “lies straight from the pit of Hell."
House GOP leaders made Paul Broun a member of the House Science Committee.
As it turns out, the same year, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson delivered remarks that were strikingly similar. BuzzFeed reported yesterday:
In a speech delivered in 2012, Ben Carson said the big bang theory was part of the “fairy tales” pushed by “high-faluting scientists” as a story of creation. Similarly, Carson, a noted creationist, said he believed the theory of evolution was encouraged by the devil.
I wish I could say that's an exaggerated description, but it's really not. The retired right-wing neurosurgeon, known for his off-the-wall ideas about a great number of issues, called the science surrounding the big bang "ridiculous," and added in reference to evolution, “I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary."
In context, "the adversary" appears to refer to Satan.
Addressing his bizarre views yesterday, the GOP presidential hopeful said, "I’m not gonna denigrate you because of your faith and you shouldn’t denigrate me for mine. And that’s the kind of attitude, you know -- that’s the kind of attitude that I think is very important in the society in which we live today.”
It's an unsatisfying response because it misses the point of what makes revelations like these significant. A leading national candidate, who's asking Americans to trust his judgment, has ridiculous ideas about a demon shaping our understanding of modern biology. It's the sort of the thing that, for some in the reality-based community, is a disqualifying characteristic for someone seeking the world's most important job.
Carson seemed to suggest yesterday that his bizarre beliefs are somehow off-limits. To notice a presidential candidate's weird ideas, he says, is to "denigrate" the man who talked about those ideas publicly.
It's treating faith as some kind of trump card -- as if prominent public figures who denigrate science (and scientists) should be left alone because of their religious motivations, regardless of the disservice they're doing to the discourse.
Campaigns for national leadership don't, and can't, work this way.