This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/three-christian-scientists-explain-why-they-are-marching-for-science
Good article, and I appreciate how the emphasis is expressed that it is done in the interest of truth. We have nothing to fear from truth as Christians.
Excellent post! When Ken Miller (a Catholic scientist and professor at Brown U.) speaks to Christian audiences, he tells them that the first concern for a Christian should be for the truth.
Now THIS is a call to action! Thanks.
I have mixed thoughts on this. I get the positive side of the argument, and I know that many involved are hoping that the march will be non-partisan, but I am concerned that the political association will be unavoidable.
As believers in Christ, we affirm that God has two books of revelation, the book of Scripture and the “book” of nature.
We can often see how the message of the Bible gets politicized. So, it would be a shame to see the message of science, as we reflect on God’s Creation, get politicized as well.
I think this may be somewhat unavoidable. Jesus was eventually noticed as a “political phenomenon” by the political leaders of his day and his followers with their claims to worship one God (who was NOT the emperor) had a message that cut right through politics even while it was transcending it.
I think it may help if at least we do our best to make sure that any politicization that happens is about important and true things. If there is going to be any stumbling block, it had better be related to the cross and not a stumbling block of our own manufacture.
It’s interesting that the definition of “political” may come across as being, well, political.
I wonder if you read Brad Littlejohn’s post on Mere Orthodoxy which we link to. He makes a good argument that Science is political, but not partisan. “Political” here implies the more classical Aristotelian definition. In this sense, modern science, from it’s inception, has always been political. Public-funded science has always tried to serve the common good. Of course this also depends on how one defines “common good”. It helps if we think of “common good” in the framework of “Shalom”.
I’m seeing this thought a lot this week, and I want to echo @Aaron_Sathyanesan’s thoughts about the difference between political and partisan. I also want to suggest that that whether science is “political” (in the bad sense of the word) is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. For instance, Katharine Hayhoe (a Christian climate scientist) is often furiously denounced as a leftist demagogue simply because she is trying to educate people about climate science and the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is in spite of the fact that Dr. Hayhoe (to my knowledge) has never uttered a partisan word in public. But because climate change involves political decisions, her advocacy is treated as “political” by many. So what exactly is Dr. Hayhoe supposed to so? Stop talking about climate science, so she can be less political?
All this to say: the relationship between science and politics is unavoidable—some might even say essential. So I think if one critiques the science march, it has to be deeper than “it’s political.”
Brad/Aaron: I get it, and the case that Brad raises regarding Katherine Hayhoe is a good one. Yet I am still mixed. My concern is that the folks who need to be reached are the ones who may not easily see the nuanced distinction between political and partisan.
Rather than marching on Washington and in other locations around the country, I suggest that my fellow scientists march into local civic groups, churches, schools, county fairs and, privately, into the offices of elected officials. Make contact with that part of America that doesn’t know any scientists. Put a face on the debate. Help them understand what we do, and how we do it. Give them your email, or better yet, your phone number.
This isn’t an either/or situation. Scientists should do both - March along, getting some attention, and following up with grassroots interactions. I think progress on major problems which require significant science to address are thwarted less by general understanding of the basics and more by simple tribalism and ideological polarization
Enjoyed the article, and really makes a good point. Of course, the other downside of a march is that if the turnout is so-so, then the political machine will then look at science as irrelevant to their interests.
It seems like the scientific community would be served by connecting science to “truth” in a society that seems to be focused on “post truth” and “fake news” in recent times. The challenge is to get the general population and mass of voters to support science, and most support what is in their interest, which often means health and wealth.
Phil, I see what you are saying, and of course I have high respect for your positions, but I think your appraisal may be off here. Nobody is interested in “post truth” and “fake news”. Those are just epithets people use to describe other positions. Nobody says “hi, I love fake news and alternative facts, and I hate science and truth.” And I’m really worried about the use of that rhetoric, because I think it has the potential to be unhelpful and condescending. I have similar thoughts about the phrase “anti-science.” As accurate as it might be, it has zero value if you actually trying to change the conversation, because almost nobody consciously hates science, they just disagree with mainstream science and are skeptical of the scientific establishment.
i’ll go along with that, but feel there is so much false information out there, that we need to try to educate people as to what constitutes truth and what does not. Unfortunately, the underlying problem is a lack of critical thinking, and that goes back to the educational process. As you point out, people in general do tend to think whatever their current belief is the truth (self evident I know, but the alternative is have healthy skepticism, and be open to critical analysis of those positions), so it is very difficult to change minds without a change in thought processes.
In short, after thinking about it, I am pessimistic about any impact a “March for Science” will have, largely due to the skepticism of science you pointed out, but more power to the science people!
Changing gears a bit, we as Christians believe and promote the ultimate truth of the gospel, and must be concerned when that truth is sullied by false claims and poor witness, just as science is negatively affected by pseudoscience and poor science.
I am pessimistic also. I hope I am wrong but this March could have a negative impact for science. As noted in the post the recent Presidential election has been the catalyst for the March. If the March is used to oppose Trump the scientists will be seen as tools of the Left. If this happens those who are skeptical of the scientific establishment will become even more so
I was just looking at my Facebook feed, and saw where a good friend (who is pretty fundamentalist) shared an article by Stephen Meyer that was deeply critical (and misleading). Maybe it was just payback for my sharing Biologos articles that show up on his feed…
In any case, looking at the comments on that article makes you appreciate the type of discourse we strive for here.
Very interesting article, thank you!
I was particularly intrigued with the phrase, ‘certain non-evidence-based policy proposals by members of the then-incoming US administration.’ as a catalyst for the march. Can the authors provide some specific examples of the proposals being cited here? That would be very helpful.
I find political activism always harmful. The march is activism, not science. There is no good can come of it. http://reason.com/archives/2017/04/21/scientists-march-on-washington
Were the women’s suffrage and abolition movements harmful? More harmful than what they were challenging?
First, I would say that these marches did not politicize science, those politicians who pandered to a constituency which is hostile to science are the ones who politicized science.
Second, since politicians politicized science they needed to be aware of the fact that there are constituencies who value science, so there is a political price to be paid for trashing science. Trump cannot expect to broaden his support if he continues to play to narrow base.
Third, the marches point to the value of science. The PotUS seems to see his role as carrying out his “promises” to those who voted for him (even though they represented far fewer than a majority of those voting,) rather than trying to govern in the best long range interests of the whole nation.
Fourth, however I do think it is important to point out the importance of telling the truth life and politics. In my opinion it is the Church that should be doing this and I fault the Church for not doing this.
Jesus was very clear about the need for telling the truth. He said that Satan is the Father of Lies. John 8:44 (NIV2011)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the Father of Lies.
When people misrepresent the facts, they are doing the work of the Devil, they are doing his work for him. He is the Source of all lies, just as Jesus is the Source of all Truth.
This being the case it is our responsibility as followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to stand up and speak out when a candidate for potUS willfully and deliberately misrepresents the facts, not just try to put the best face on the facts as we all do to some extent.
On glaring example is the birther question. After loudly questioning the fact that Pres. Obama was born in the US, Mr. Trump during the campaign issued a statement saying the he was born in the US. He refused to apologize for this error or even explain why he made it. In fact he had never accepted responsibility for any mistake, even though he has made more than his share of them going against the Christian way of living.
On the other hand his opponent during the campaign did acknowledge serious mistake, which Mr. Trump never missed a chance to mention and exaggerate far out of proportion. He was quick of judge and convict his opponent of endangering the security of the US, when he and his people were doing things far worse by echoing the false news of Russian misinformation.
We Christians blew it when we did not stand up for the truth. This does also include the false information about climate change.
Yes. I suppose you know not the history of Kansas. I assume you are ignoring the American Civil War. St. Paul did more with “neither male nor female” than all political activism. I suppose it is politically correct to ignore the fact Christianity quietly eliminated slavery in only a few hundred years. There was little or no slavery in most of the world until Islam revived the horror.
Gandhi and MLK-Jr. and their honest demonstration of solidarity and willingness to be abused, yes, we need some of that, but activism is always more harm than good.
Bluntly, the march was nothing but political activism.
You want good science? Add these words to the First Amendment right after “religion” “education and scientific research.” Would to God our education and science were as free and readily available as our houses of worship.