Darwin for Congress

Paul Broun, Congressman from the Georgia 10th District, member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, made a bit of an ass of himself, declaring evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang Theory, pretty much all of modern science really, to be “lies from the pit of hell.”

Needless to say, having a blithering idiot making science policy rubbed some people the wrong way. And by “some people,” I mean anyone who never skipped science class for a bible study. Even conservatives in Georgia are alarmed that Broun faces no opposition in the coming election, worried that biblical literalists like Broun make Republicans look less enlightened than Salem witch hunters. This is unfair. Biblical literalists are exactly as enlightened as Salem witch hunters.

So a planet biologist named Jim Leebens-Mack, University of Georgia, started a Facebook page promoting Charles Darwin as a write-in candidate for Broun’s seat. There are a few niggling details that could spoil this cheeky bit of political protest. One, the deadline for write-in candidates has passed. Two, as a British subject, Darwin is not a citizen, much less a resident in the 10th District. Three, and most annoying, he’s dead. Still, after more than 120 years of no brain activity, Darwin is more qualified than Broun to serve on the science committee.

The folks behind the campaign concede that their candidate has a few eligibility issues. They hope that the late English naturalist will receive enough votes to send a message to House Republicans that there might be more qualified candidates for the science committee than someone who thinks scientists are doing the devil’s handiwork.

I would suggest that, if the Republicans need to run against a dead man to learn that lesson, they are thicker than we have ever given them credit for being. If I were making the rules, before a person could serve on the house Science committee, one would have to pass a basic high school science test without resorting to bible quotations.

I believe that, in the coming century, scientists will be tackling some of the biggest challenges in human history, including climate change, energy, food supply, and water supply. It would be a damn shame if the considerable scientific resources of the United States were shackled by a bunch of politicians who insist upon debating whether or not the last 150 years of science actually happened. At this point, debating the scientific validity of evolution is akin to someone suggesting that the American Revolution never really happened and therefore we’re still colonies of the British crown.

Part of me wouldn’t be sad if that happened, because at least the British Parliament isn’t having the same idiotic debate about evolution. They understand that one dead English naturalist has more authority on the subject than a roomful of brain dead American politicians.

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