I got this email in my inbox today, and I wanted to share it with you in case you haven’t heard yet of Science Debate 2008. This issue matters a lot to me, not just as a scientist but also as an atheist. I cringe to know that they are going to stand up there and probably make claims as to how important their faith is to them but how it won’t impact their policies, but then on these important science and technology issues, they are remaining silent. Not having been as aware of the science community and research infrastructure until the past 5 years, I don’t have much of a feeling for if it’s always like this or this is a relatively recent thing, but I fear that all this fervor over religious issues (using morality as a code word, but with that comes the inaccurate assumption that the non-religious don’t bother worrying about morality) is leading the nation to fall behind in science and technology compared to the rest of the world. Anyway, without further ado, here is the update on the status of science debate 2008:
Clinton and Obama will debate faith but not science
I am sorry to send two emails in such short succession, but I thought you should know that after declining our invitation to debate science in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton yesterday agreed to attend “The Compassion Forum,” a forum of “wide-ranging and probing discussions of policies related to moral issues.” CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of the “presidential-candidate forum on faith, values and other current issues” at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pa., April 13 at 8 p.m. You can read more here.
Perhaps among the moral issues discussed should be whether they have a moral obligation to more fully engage on science issues, since the future viability of the planet may hang in the balance, for starters. Is there a larger moral imperative? How about the future economic health of the United States and the prosperity of its families? Science & engineering have driven half our economic growth since WWII, yet but 2010 if trends hold 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia. Then there are the moral questions surrounding the health of our families with stem cell research, genomics, health insurance policy, and medical research. There’s biodiversity loss and the health of the oceans and the morality of balancing destruction of species against human needs and expenses, there’s population and development and clean energy research, there’s food supply and GMO crops and educating children to compete in the new global economy and securing competitive jobs. Science issues are moral issues.
I would encourage you to write letters to the editor, emails to the campaigns, and blog postings pointing this out. And if you can, support our ongoing effort to turn this country around.
Shawn Lawrence Otto