From today’s Globe and Mail:
Canada’s science minister, the man at the centre of the controversy over federal funding cuts to researchers, won’t say if he believes in evolution.
“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,” Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
Uh, ok. So, we should expect Harper to appoint a pedophile as Minister of Justice and a racist as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism?
Not pictured: designer of blue thing in background
Near as I can tell from this account, the question was whether the individual in charge of funding scientific research in this country agreed with one of the most fundamental concepts in biology, not what his religion was. If that’s his response, I weep for biologists, chemists, geologists, etc. whose work may go unfunded because of the religious beliefs of the Minister. Although the Federal Government has set aside $2 billion for infrastructure projects, including improvements to colleges and universities, the funds will be distributed by the government based on an application process, rather than the usual method of distribution on a per capita basis. This way, the Guv’mint can decide what the priorities are.
According to the Minister:
“Obviously, I have a background that supports the fact I have read the science on muscle physiology and neural chemistry,” said the minister, who took chemistry and physics courses as an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo.
“I do believe that just because you can’t see it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could mean we don’t have a powerful enough microscope yet. So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”
I’m sorry, ‘not fussy’? You managed to finish fairly strong, but not before you completely undermined my confidence that you have a clear concept of what science is and what it should do – god is not to be found under a microscope. I agree that we don’t know everything – part of the allure of science is it has never and will never stop working to discover and explain the complexities of the universe. However, I’m not altogether confident that the pursuit of scientific inquiry for its’ own sake will not be undermined by a flawed understanding at the highest levels. Even now, the funding for the three major granting councils the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHI), which support work by students, is being slowly squeezed to support a business agenda, with SSHRC scholarship grants in particular being focused on “business-related degrees”.
We here at the ‘Kog have recognized the faint scent of the Conservative agenda for some time, but now, the scent has become an overwhelming stench. To place this guy in charge of funding scientific inquiry is irresponsible, but probably should not have been unexpected.