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The Sciences

Canadian Science Minister update: kinda.

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMarch 18, 2009 9:04 PM


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So yesterday I asked if Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology was a creationist, because he was being pretty dodgy about his answer to the question, "Do you believe in evolution?" He got a lot of flak from this, both in the Globe and Mail, which broke the story, and by the blogs. Well, when asked the same question again, today he "clarified" his position:

“Of course I do,” he told guest host Jane Taber during an appearance on the CTV program Power Play. “But it is an irrelevant question.”

I'm calling shenanigans on him. Why? Because 1) he should have answered it in the first place -- if, by his reasoning, the question was irrelevant yesterday, it still is today, and 2) it is an extremely relevant question, given that he was couching his answers yesterday in religious terms. As I pointed out in my post yesterday, religion is irrelevant only if it doesn't affect the job. But as we have seen over the past 8 years in the US, religion does indeed have a tendency to affect people's decisions, especially, critically, if they are a creationist. Then it colors everything they do, including trying to overthrow the Constitution. Of course, this is Canada and not the United States we're talking about here, so the ground rules legally are different. But tell me, how would you feel if the head of an official in your federal science department told you he believes the Earth is flat? Or the Sun revolves around the Earth? Or that he thinks the sky is a great crystal sphere, and he lies awake at night worried that the Voyager probes will smash it and let all our air out? Those beliefs have just as much basis as young Earth creationism: they are faith-based only, and have no evidence for them, and about a billion solid pieces of evidence against them. If your science advisor told you any of those things, you'd think he was crazy and you'd look for a replacement. So yeah, you're darn tootin' this is a relevant question. And for him to say otherwise is a denial of reality both politically and, well, realistically. I certainly hope his equivocal answer isn't the last of this situation. Canadian scientists and politicians need to continue to look at Dr. Goodyear very carefully.

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