Cruz Control

Ever ready to provide grist to the satirical mill, the Republican leadership has selected Ted Cruz to chair the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, which as the name indicates happens to be NASA’s governmental overlord. In case you thought that another Ted Cruz had been voted into Congress in the last election, you are sadly mistaken. Ted Cruz is still the same Ted Cruz that denies climate change, telling CNN that the “data are not supporting what the [climate change] advocates are arguing”. Oh Ted Cruz. And NASA is still the same NASA that has a climate change section on its website and states: “Most scientists say it’s very likely that most of the warming since the mid-1900s is due to the burning of coal, oil and gas.”. Needless to say, there are many light years between those two opinions.

If Cruz can readily deny what is now considered mainstream science, I wonder what his opinions of other well-trodden scientific truths are:

  • Did we go to the Moon, or was it a conspiracy by television manufacturers to boost sales?
  • Is the Mars Inc publicity team behind the recent explorations of our second nearest planet?
  • Was the Apollo 13 mission just a long viral campaign for the Ron Howard film?
  • Was Ted Cruz given this assignment with the hope that he would be taken on a field trip on a big rocket?
  • Or was it to bring him closer to science and discredit him to his Republican base?*

*I do realise that this assumes a type of logical coherence missing from so many of the Party’s decisions.

Evolution of All Things

The ascent of man hardly paints a scintillating picture of evolution; the figures are all heading toward the same gloomy path in a manner that is only comparable to the average resident of Grimsby. In addition, the insistence by Richard Dawkins to rationalise every aspect of human life that in turn has changed the absence of belief into a rabid, proselytising non-religion.

But reason and rationality holds no sway with Creationism, instead they imagine a hugely more enjoyable pre-modern existence allowing humans and dinosaurs to coexist (who doesn’t want to nip down to the local Co-op on the back of a Triceratops?). Creationism also casts God in a similar role to Richard O’Brien circa The Crystal Maze, setting traps and tests for all humans, which combines the belief in the impossible with the egotism of a minor celebrity.

This glib dressing belies a serious point, that evolution requires more belief than the other alternatives. It’s easy to have a fully enclosed system of being when the answer to all questions is God, but the quest for knowledge requires patience and an understanding that not everything has or will have an answer. My jaw is constantly agog when I meet people who don’t believe evolution, not because  I am a thought-dictator (well, I am to some extent), but because of their selective need for evidence. To point out the holes in evolution, most of which are a sad indictment of basic science education only to unsubscribe when it comes to proving their own can only be called hypocritical.

But these fickle dalliances with rationality are to be expected from all religions; love thy neighbour as long as they don’t show an over-active interest in interior design; be good and be admitted into heaven/Valhalla only if you believe that type of God; freedom of speech and liberty is permitted as long as it doesn’t hurt the feelings of the Almighty God.

Science in the end has been undone by its own definitions, or inherent lack of. As with any academic area, the need to be precise is key, but the ability to create a comprehensive definition that withstands the test of time is an impossibility. A theory must stay a theory as the continual quest for knowledge can support it one day but render it as useless as Ed Miliband in the Daily Mail HQ the next. Whilst evolution is thus far scientifically proven, the research spanning multiple different fields could raise fundamental questions as to its validity, but instead dubbing it blasphemous and burying them, they will form the centrepiece of new studies and further explored. The scientific belief in reason seeks to question all we know; the religious belief in the unknown questions reason itself.