Goodyear’s gotta go

Colby Cosh drops the hammer:

McIlroy asked Goodyear whether he believes in evolution and he spluttered, “I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate.” Well and good, Minister, but you weren’t asked about your religion. His panicked answer left listeners with the strong impression that Goodyear must, in fact, hew to some metaphysical belief system that is inherently inconsistent with Darwinian evolution. Late today he tried to clarify matters, giving a garbled explanation that he does indeed believe in some form of “evolution” (though his reference to “running shoes or high heels” leaves confusion over whether he is talking about the biological kind at all). In trying to justify himself, he essentially confirmed that McIlroy’s original inquiry was a fair one.
Since his position involves promoting Canadian science to the world, promoting science as a career to Canada’s young, and making political decisions about funding for biological and medical research, it cannot be an outrage for anyone to inquire into his scientific beliefs. As a Minister, he exists to serve and nurture a clientele of scientists. …
[…]
Goodyear need not be challenged on his religious beliefs, but there is nothing wrong with interrogating him about his scientific ones. And insofar as his religious beliefs may impinge on his scientific opinions, they obviously become fair game for discussion. (His past career as a chiropractor — i.e., a practitioner and vendor of pseudoscience — seems even more relevant; it is almost certainly a tacit reason for the wariness with which the Minister is regarded by scientific professionals.) Why wouldn’t we prefer to have a Science Minister who accepts a major part of the accepted life-science framework? Aren’t we entitled to at least know whether he does?

Dan Gardner isn’t letting up, either – although the Liberal Party of Canada appears to be doing just that:

On Tuesday, Liberal science critic Marc Garneau said that believing in evolution is not a job requirement for the science minister.
“It is a personal matter. It is a matter of faith.… I don’t think it prevents someone from being a good minister,” said the former astronaut, who has been a vocal critic of the government for its cuts to the three granting councils that fund university-based research in Canada.

If nothing else, now we know how much influence this guy still has within the Natural Governing Party(TM).
Damian P.

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24 thoughts on “Goodyear’s gotta go

  1. Goodyear didn’t handle the question very well, but the media pile-on is outrageous.
    Even Marc Garneau said that it was done of the reporter’s business (in so many words).

  2. I guess the reporter was a real meanie. Next time he might ask about other matters of faith such as gravity, relativity or the human genome project.

  3. Evolution is a settled science: right? These statements are made by the same folks who brought us the same line regarding global warming and we know how accurate that is, don’t we? There are some very reputable mathematicians and scientists who question whether there has been enough time for evolution to have occured and they have the formulaes to prove it. That is settled science too. Evolution is not science it is a religion masquerading as science. Creation likewise is not a science. Both are unprovable so your viewpoint depends entirely upon your faith and our constitution safeguards (so far) our respective faiths. Leave Goodyear alone and go after the reporter who definitely has a hidden agenda.

  4. *I guess the reporter was a real meanie. Next time he might ask about other matters of faith such as gravity, relativity or the human genome project.*
    The question was intended to be religious: otherwise, why ask it?
    Evidently, the reporter knew of goodyear’s religious leanings, and decided to create a `scandal’ by asking a loaded question.
    But, so far as I have read, goodyear has not forced his views on anyone (this is assuming that he holds `creationist’ views at all).
    If we exclude people from office based on allegedly anti-scientific views – and why privilege evolution in this respect? – there would be no one left to serve in office.

  5. Let me get this straight…
    According to you, anyone who doesn’t believe in the “official” theory of evolution is not suited to be a Minister?
    Does this mean that anyone who doesn’t believe in Global Warming is also unqualified to be a minister? After all, according to the orthodoxy, “the science is settled”, no?
    There are many scientists who believe that the theory of evolution as it stands is highly flawed and is even disproved by the lack of evidence.
    Would you advocate that anyone who believes in God is unqualified as well? After all, science has never been able to prove that God exists.
    Your position is just so wrong on so many levels!!

  6. Reading the above comments I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
    Evolution is a “theory” in the same way as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is.
    Nobody is denying the Minister’s right to his personal beliefs, but when they impact negatively on the lifes’ work of tens of thousands of scientists in very disparate fields, yes, the Public most definitely has a right to know. Especially when, in most cases, the said Public is paying BOTH their salaries.
    The tone of the comments suggests that the commenters have some serious catching up to do on their DNA and evolution science reading.
    A good place to start:
    http://www.amazon.ca/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne/dp/0670020532

  7. Where is evidence that Mr. Goodyear’s religious beliefs have any kind of a negative impact on his job? A reporter’s ‘gotcha’ moment is relevant?
    By all accounts the man is doing a good job, is that not enough?

  8. Classic example of a Witch Hunt, modern style.
    Evolution is a theory. One doesn’t have “faith” in theory, one looks at the evidence and makes a judgement. I happen to think that evolution theory is the best explanation for biological diversity. I don’t “believe”, I accept it as a working hypothesis.
    Seems to me Goodyear is the victim of a Kinsella-style take-down—not the first Tory to be attacked by the Liberals and the leftist media like the G&M and the CBC in this way.
    As for the Executive Director of the CAUT, who has figured prominently in the “Burn him! Burn him!” mob, I think the CAUT Board might reasonably be expected to censure him. The CAUT on this person’s watch is a far cry from the balanced, deeply ethical and carefully constructive critic of a few years back. As a former academic, I’m now ashamed of the CAUT in this rabidly left-wing incarnation.

  9. “Evolution is a settled science: right? These statements are made by the same folks who brought us the same line regarding global warming and we know how accurate that is, don’t we?”
    “Does this mean that anyone who doesn’t believe in Global Warming is also unqualified to be a minister?”
    These statements are BS and you both know they are. Evolution is as accepted in the scientific world as any theory in physics or chemistry.
    Global warming is not a theory, it isn’t even a good hypothesis. It is not accepted science and hasn’t got any evidence to back it up. Despite what you hear in the media it is not accepted in the scientific community except by a couple of loud mouthed idiots.
    Speaking of, when blowhards like you two equate global warming and evolution, it does make me question whether Goodyear equates global warming and evolution as well.. Perhaps the question is relevant.

  10. Dan,
    The correct response is to laugh, and here’s why:
    People who don’t “believe” in the theory of evolution are simply illiterate in the field of biology. In fact they probably have no idea what the word theory means in this context and will have no effect, positive or negative, on the advancement of that field of science.
    Some of them, out of the shame of being smacked in the face with their own ignorance, start “accepting” fabricated versions of it like “microevolution” (which doesn’t even pass the muster of a spellchecker). This is a way of creating a subset of evolution for which there is absolutely no wiggle room left.
    Of course, it’s just a perversion of Darwin’s work and nobody has actually taken the time or effort to scientifically distinguish it from their other creation macroevolution.
    This is the common thread in the neo-primitives. They feel that they should be allowed to have their feeble opinions counted against the reams of publications created over generations simply because they can wiggle their vocal chords or tap their fingers on a magic box that they bought but couldn’t ever possibly build.
    Get thee to a university!
    It’s for these reasons, however, that I agree with Marc Garneau.
    First of all, this guy wouldn’t last a second if he tried to stick his nose into a biological debate from a creationist standpoint. He’d be ridiculed and thrown from office and he knows it.
    Secondly, evolution is not something that is being actively studied for profit or something that figures prominently in actual scientific work. It’s accepted at such a low level that there is generally no need to mention it even in the work which is based directly on it.
    Simply put, if you’re smart enough to recognize which parts of today’s complex science rest on evolution, you aren’t likely to start spewing young earth theory.
    Evolution explicitly appears mainly in textbooks to get children started down the long road from actually learning science to doing something useful with it. Creationists get stuck at the first crossroad and put up lots of pickets, leaving lots of open lanes ahead for actual scientists who want to further their knowledge rather than further their opinions.

  11. Would the Globe and Mail EVER have asked the same question of a Muslim faith based cabinet minister?
    ‘Sir, how do you square your faith’s fundamentalist beliefs with that of modern scientific theory?’
    I would love to be a fly on the wall if that ever happened..!!!.
    However, we all know that ‘truth spoke to power’ only happens when your target does not bite back, or are fellow idealogical travelers.

  12. I’m mostly with Wayne, in that I don’t think that believing in the (thoroughly well-evidenced and as certainly correct as anything we can’t directly observe can be) evolutionary theory of speciation is *particularly important*, even to a “science Minister”.
    The real question, I guess, is why does Canada even *have* such a Minister? What function does the office serve?
    If it’s really just “promoting science”, that’s a complete waste of time and effort for the State to engage in, especially with a Ministerial position.
    (I mean, “promoting Canadian science to the world”? Public relations*? That’s not science.
    And a system such that *one Minister* makes funding decisions for research is a problem no matter what his beliefs – after all, even were he not religiously overridden on evolutionary speciation, he could have ridiculous beliefs about the *value* of funding various lines of research *without* any conflict with scientific knowledge.
    “What to fund” is not, after all, a question that science-qua-science can answer; science can’t tell us what outcomes we should prefer, what things we should abhor, or what things are, before appropriate data gathering ad experimentation, more or less likely to come to fruition in a way we find useful.
    By analogy, the kerfuffle over oppoition to Federal funding of new-line stem-cell research in the US was presented as being “anti-science”… but science can’t tell us whether it is or is not moral to do so. Science, properly, does not even *pretend* to answer questions involving moral calculus – it can only speak to the practical.
    Science can [generally] tell us “should we do X, if our goal is Y” – it cannot tell us “is it right to do X?”
    Full disclosure: I thought the ban on Federal funding was pointless, and don’t oppose its removal, other than that I oppose Federal spending on things like that in general, on the grounds that the private sector is quite capable of investigating any truly promising avenues with its own incentives.)

  13. To the evolutionist bigots in this thread…not believing in evolution doesn’t mean that we automatically believe in creation. It simply means that the theory of evolution is full of holes and simply is the theory which is most fashionable right now. Even you should be able to understand the fact that perhaps there is yet another theory which needs to be formulated which would fix the defective evolution theory.
    One example of a glaring failure: if it took millions of generations of very gradual evolution to go from monocells to complex animals such as mammals, where is the evidence in the form of skeletons or other traces from these millions of slightly different generations? They are nowhere to be found of course.
    So feel free to believe in a flawed theory…I prefer keeping an open mind and saying that evolution certainly needs a lot of fixing before it can call itself a science.

  14. Sigivald; except that it’s ‘Science and TECHNOLOGY’…
    Universities across the country are hothouses for pure research which does require funding. If left strictly to private or corporate sponsorship, much of what is done would go begging because, as you carefully pointed out (“What to fund” is not, after all, a question that science-qua-science can answer; science can’t tell us what outcomes we should prefer, what things we should abhor, or what things are, before appropriate data gathering ad experimentation, more or less likely to come to fruition in a way we find useful. “) pure research is a quest for knowledge not profitable enterprise.
    http://www.conferenceboard.ca/HCP/Details/education/graduates-science-math-computer-science-engineerin.aspx
    If the Minister’s sole accomplishment is to improve our Science and Technology graduation rates then he’s been of some value.
    http://www.thesbn.ca/
    The NRC, a Federal program, steps up to the plate when there’s a commercial application in the offing.

  15. Sigivald; a perfectly good reason for a Federal oversight is to avoid wasteful duplication of research funding… (Feds; efficient; fiscally conservative…rofl!)
    *I’m still scratching my head over the ECOEnergy commercial app. forms…18 pages! to get a bit of a grant for upgrading the furnaces/HW htg./ltg. at a non-profit org. premises. We’re REQUIRED to have a P. Eng. fill out the forms?! Hey Dara…*

  16. Breakenridge, Gardner & Cosh!
    Kinda reminds you of the Magnificent Seven !
    And yet there are only three of them!
    Those Mexican Bandito’s are in for it now!
    Oops, I mean that lone unarmed Christian guy.
    They’ll teach him that he better worship their ideology.
    Seeing as how these three Magnificent CONquitadors are agitating for a Atheist Inquisition, maybe after they have done their dirty deed to the unarmed guy, they themselves can be hauled into the witness box for some intense questioning of their past and present beliefs and actions. After all, the funniest part of any inquisition is at the end of it, when the inquisitors get to taste the medicine that they themselves were so eager to mete out to others.

  17. So,what say you, Breakenridge. Have you committed any infractions against our society, besides your murdering of the English language on your radio program? (Not to mention logic! Good Grief, you sure don’t know when to shut up sometimes! I wonder if Guatanamo Torture Hour was as brutal?)
    And then we have this Gardner guy. It’ll be easy to find where his old bones are buried.
    I wonder what kind of interesting things they’ll find just down below the surface? No matter if it’s even the smallest little mustard seed, I’m sure it can be amped up into something on par with first degree murder. Counter-Inquisitions are fun that way!
    Last, and undoubtedly the most entertaining will be had with “Oh Cosh, not me! I’m innocent!” I can see him now in my mind’s eye. There he is, standing in the witness box, his fingers digging into the railing, his eye’s with their “caught in the headlight” trance of stark raving fear, the sweat running profusely down his forehead and cheeks, down his nose, where it collects into tear drops and plummets to the floor below, the hot glare of the spotlight bearing down onto him. But the worst of it is the stress, the sort of intense stress that can easily burn off the stiffest of alcoholic beverage or the most potent of THC. Then the judge looks down with repugnance at the now un-magnificent CONquistador and bellows down at him “GUILTY”. The culpable one’s knees suddenly give out and he falls forward, in seeming slow motion, he buckles at the waist over the railing, his upper body falls out of the witness box and his head crash’s into the outside of the box. The momentum carries the rest of him out of the box, where he lands “spread eagle” and “cold turkey” . On seeing this “swan song” everyone in the courtroom burst out in good cheer and gave the judge a standing ovation!
    You reap what you sow is so sweet sometimes!

  18. DaninVan it doesn’t matter what you believe, one could believe the earth sits on the back of a turtle as long as it doesn’t influence your decisions in your job in gov’t. There has been no suggestion that the minister has put any policy forward or withheld funding for anything based on his religious beliefs, so why the witchhunt.
    If he had directed funds in a particular direction and away from particular projects that seemed to have been influenced by those beliefs then sure question him on those beliefs and how they may have influenced him, but if they don’t effect his job, then get out of his personal business. I hope there still is Freedom of Religion in this country…I know there is for everyone else but maybe not for conservative Christians anymore.

  19. Norbert Weiner, a mathematician had this to say about DNA. Does the natural universe contain information? Yes. DNA represents both stored information and communicated information. It represents a design, or blueprint, or instructions, for life to be created. Like a musical score to music, it tells what notes to play, when, and for how long.
    Some scientists recognize that information constitutes a third element of the universe, something that is neither matter nor energy. Others resist the implications of this recognition.
    In all of human experience, information comes from intelligence, and communication comes from mind and not merely matter. Patterns may occur naturally in nature (snowflake, wave patterns on sand), but information and communication do not.
    This is the materialistic atheist’s conundrum. Based on what we know empirically about information and communication of information, inference to the most likely cause suggests there is a mind and intelligent cause behind life on Earth.
    Information implies intelligence. Intelligence implies a mind. A mind implies a Person.
    Random selection cannot account for DNA. There is no correlation between the encoded information and the end product. Evolution is a theory that cannot, in the end, be supported by logic; only by intuition which in itself is biased towards the personal beliefs of the individual. Don’t believe me, that is OK but don’t flame someone because they don’t believe you and, in the meantime, please explain DNA.

  20. Randall,
    Would you care to direct me to the scientists who have made a case for a “third” element? Or any who have even made the case that matter and energy are two distinct “elements”.
    I suspect you can’t because you’re speaking drivel. If you wish to demystify yourself regarding DNA you can start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA
    Then read some books written by people who work with DNA rather than pontificate about it.

  21. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.
    Chemically, DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases. It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.
    Within cells, DNA is organized into structures called chromosomes. These chromosomes are duplicated before cells divide, in a process called DNA replication.
    Hello Darryl. Have you really read your wilki. link? The quote above:contains the genetic instructions (where do the insructions come from),long-term storage of information (what is information if it isn’t knowledge (where did the knowledge come from), DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, (who wrote the recipe or created the code),contains the instructions (last I read, instructions explain how to perform a function or task so who defined the task),backbone that encodes information. (encoding information implies intelligence) I could continue through YOUR reference but I think you get the message or is intelligence just a figure of speech that you employ to describe someone who thinks talks and acts the same way that you do? Norbert Weiner isn’t just any Mathematician by the way, he was an MIT professor who pioneered the field of Cybernetics so you might say he was a reasonable scientist.

  22. Dara
    Tell me, is their any chance that your beloved “science” could someday discover another “Theory” that would explain things like our physical universe? The answer is no. At least until the Evo-Luddite, “know nothing”, “ know it all” scientists have become a spent force. Unfortunately, by the look of things, it’ll be awhile yet.
    Now, about your “pontificate” comment. The best example of “ponticating” on this comment thread is, of course, yours. Or, do all the opinions you don’t agree with automatically become “pontificating”. Where’s, all your opinions have to be considered rock hard facts? Don’t answer that, I know your response already.
    Now, lets scroll on up to your first comment, shall we.
    Wow, you sure know how to convince people! Your technique of insulting anyone who’s “not of your own kind” is a real winner and a real keeper! Very impressive! And your method of “pulling rank” by inferring your university credentials was really something to behold. Speaking of “universities”, all these “Wall Street Genius’s” that have destroyed
    so much wealth and so many lives lately. One must presume that their just a bunch of high school drop outs. They surely couldn’t be “University Grads”, now could they. But, and then again, I did read somewhere that not only were they “University Grads”, but they were also mostly from the highest ranking Ivy League universities around. Using your logic Dara, how can that be?
    I’ll end with the prediction that the “Evol Bigots” are going to find that this controversy isn’t going to be the slam dunk winner they think it’s going to be. But hopefully they’ll learn a little about showing some respect once in a while and maybe they’ll start to see how so many of their opinions are more “ideology” than they are “true science”.

  23. Randall,
    I see what the problem is. You’ve taken the analogies that people have used to describe what we know about DNA and you’ve taken those literally.
    Those analogies exist to help students along in their understanding of complex science, they are abstracted from a large body of work that has been created by those who have actually done the science.
    Like I said, wikipedia is only a starting point for a long haul of discovering the intricacies of DNA. Instead of using it as such, you’ve used it as an opportunity to find more things to express shallow confusion over.
    This is a product of your own willful ignorance, not an indication that you’ve single handedly revolutionized genetics without having ever taken a university course in biology (or apparently having even understood a wikipedia article enough to paraphrase it to suit your “argument”).
    In summation, kthxbai.

  24. “Tell me, is their any chance that your beloved “science” could someday discover another “Theory” that would explain things like our physical universe?”
    Yes, it happens every day. If you have a theory that you would like to present, then present it. It will be judged on its merits. If it fits better with the available evidence than Darwin’s theory, then yours will supersede his. That’s the way that it has always been.
    As far as pulling rank, please allow me to expand on my thoughts about education and available evidence.
    If you haven’t studied biology you have no leg to stand on in an argument about biology because you are simply not familiar with the available evidence or its significance.
    But consider the opposite case. That somehow, somebody who hasn’t ever picked up a textbook would be able to completely debunk 400 years of work when at any time, someone else could have made their name as famous as Darwin’s by simply publishing “how it really works”.
    Please do tell, how many books have you read on evolution? To be sure that it is wrong, surely it must be quite a few. How many books have you read on alternate theories? How many hours have you spent checking the facts and fitting curves to provide evidence for your view?
    What progress has this alternate view yielded? Is there a disease that is actually quite curable when you consider it from your point of view? Is there maybe something that your method has shown would be beneficial to people’s health?
    You know what?
    Ask a biologist those questions about their work and they’ll have answers. Not just vague answers, instead they’ll have it written down and documented. They’ll have pages of graphs and charts just to demonstrate the simplest of observations, with multiple references so that people can check their work.
    What do you have?
    An opinion, a keyboard, and functional fingers.

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