Perpetuating ignorance

I recently wrote that potential presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, touted as not stupid, nevertheless appears to be anti-science.

Now it’s Marco Rubio’s turn. The Florida senator said he couldn’t tell how old the Earth is, whether created in seven days, or seven actual eras, or whatever science claims. He added, dismissively, “I’m not a scientist, man.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

You don’t have to be a scientist to accept the non-controversial findings among scientists that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus 50 million years. Given such ignorance, one wonders why Rubio serves on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

These personal (or pandering?) views are bad enough, but for Rubio the “crux” of the disagreement is “whether what a parent teaches their children at home should be mocked and derided and undone at the public school level.” He added, “I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”


Because some parents teach their children that blacks are inferior to whites and women should be subservient to men, does Rubio also think that schools should shrink from offering more modern points of view? If so, why not just keep children away from schools so they won’t be exposed to scientific and social views that conflict with what their parents believe? Oh, wait! We do allow home schooling.

And what about the widespread ignorance of politicians throughout the country on both the constitutional and practical need to separate church and state? Here’s an example in my hometown of Charleston, S.C.

In 1997, Charleston County’s then-Councilman Tim Scott insisted on posting a Ten Commandments plaque on the wall of council chambers despite being told that he would lose any legal challenge. Scott argued that the display was needed to remind residents of moral absolutes. The Charleston Post and Courier then asked Scott if he could name all the Commandments. Guess what? He couldn’t. Nor could any of the other council members who voted for the plaque. Perhaps they just wanted to multitask—learn Commandments while working on Council business.

When Scott posted a King James version of the Ten Commandments on the wall, the court, as expected, declared the display unconstitutional and handed taxpayers a substantial bill for legal costs. Scott, normally a fiscal conservative, said, “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.”

Scott was subsequently elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, and in 2010 became the first African-American Republican in South Carolina to serve in the United States House of Representatives—and is now the only African American Republican in Congress. He is my Congressional representative, though I can’t say he represents my views.


Read remainder of article at the Washington Post's On Faith.

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