Is Canada's Minister of Science and Technology a Creationist?

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

In a newspaper article published on Tuesday day, Canadian Conservative MP and Federal Minister of Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear refused to say whether he believes in the evolution, adding that he was a Christian and questions about his religion were inappropriate.

But, when pressed on the question during an interview on CTV's Power Play late that afternoon, he responded: "Well, of course, I do, but it's an irrelevant question ... We are evolving every year, every decade." Goodyear went on to give some examples from his experience as a chiropractor.

"That's a fact, whether it's to the intensity of the sun, whether it's to ... walking on cement versus anything else, whether it's running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment, but that's not relevant and that's why I refused to answer the question.

On Wednesday, following a speech at the Economic Club of Toronto outlining the government's incentives and funding for science and technology, Goodyear refused to clarify further, insisting his personal views aren't important.  When asked whether there was a conflict with someone with his portfolio being a creationist, he responded: "Absolutely not. How ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. That's why I didn't answer the question -- because it has no relevance."

Canadian scientists say they are somewhat comforted that Goodyear clarified that he believes in evolution, but his recent comments still raised some concerns and questions.

Steven Carr, a biologist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, said Goodyear's approach the question has bigger implications. "If the minister were asked if he accepts the theory of global warming -- an evolutionary phenomenon that will have massive impact on plant and animal species in the coming decades -- I hope he would not say that environmental change is irrelevant to his portfolio," Carr remarked in an email.

Elizabeth Elle, a biology professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., said it's good to hear the minister accepts the theory of evolution, but she was concerned about the example he provided.

"I think it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how evolution by natural selection works," she added.

The fundamental premise is that genetic variation among organisms results in differences in their "fitness" -- a biological term referring to the number of offspring they have. That ultimately leads certain characteristics to become prevalent among their descendents. However, the types of characteristics that result in more offspring change over time as the environment changes. Elle acknowledged that humans are evolving every day, being naturally selected for characteristics such as resistance to certain diseases, but not likely for the type of footwear they use.

Carr said Goodyear is confusing evolution with ordinary, day-to-day change.  "A suntan is not evolution, tired feet at the end of the day are not evolution," he said, adding that the misunderstanding suggests that scientists need to do a better job of communicating the importance of biological evolution.  Elle said if Goodyear really doesn't understand evolution, that's a problem because the concept underpins scientists' understanding of biology, from wildlife conservation to medicine. "To the extent that his portfolio includes anything biological, he should understand it," Elle said.

Which begs the question, how will Goodyear cast his vote in Parliament on issues such as stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, gun control, capital punishment, climate change, etc.? Will he consider the empirical evidence, or will he simply vote according to his faith?

There's more...

Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 201

Feb. 12th was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's and Lincoln's births. Yes, two of the greatest men of the 19th century were born on the exact same day. This week I discuss the ideas of both great men.

I also want to draw people's attention to a recent Daily Kos article on climate change. It is clear that the Denial Lobby continues to use the same junk science and lies, but the science is getting better and better at refuting their denial.

There's more...

Science education is under attack in TX and OK, right now!

Science may be returning to the White House this month, but anti-evolution forces are still hard at work trying to undermine science education in the public schools. And things are heating up right now in Texas and Oklahoma.

A bill has just been introduced in the Oklahoma Senate that would open the door for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design (not to mention "alternative" approaches to climate change and cloning).

In Texas, the news is better, but a big battle is looming. Educators have finalized improved curriculum standards that would protect the teaching of evolution, but the proposal is headed for a showdown with the creationist-packed State Board of Education.

There's more...

Ben Stein: Front Man for Creationism's Manufactroversy

Biblical creationism, repositioned as creation science and most recently intelligent design has lost the contest of ideas on all counts: the rules, the criteria and the judging. It doesn't follow the scientific method; it doesn't allow us to explain, predict, and control better; and the jury of relevant experts (aka biologists) keeps returning the same verdict.

Now the creationists have taken a new approach that they hope will help them achieve their goal of teaching religious beliefs in our schools as science. That approach can be summed up in one simple word: whining.

One week from today, the new movie, Expelled, attempts to turn creationist complaints into mainstream media. Featuring Ben Stein, one of the conservative right's biggest whiners, the film makes several plaintive appeals: There's a conspiracy among big government and big science, and it's not fair! All we ask is for our perspective to get equal time! (Read: we lost, so let's split the prize.) All we want is for teachers to "teach the controversy"! This is all about academic freedom. Americans like freedom, right?

There's more...

Alan Greenspan Made Monkeys Out Of All Of Us

He proved you could reverse evolution...
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Turned a whole country into
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Sub-primates.........  

There's more...

Diaries

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