It has been raised in various discussions on the topic of the 2008 presidential elections: just how important is a candidate's belief in the theory of evolution? Should the people even care?
I say yes.
It shows that one has a respect for the sciences and scientists. It shows that one has an understanding of the scientific method and how a large majority of respected scientists have arrived at the conclusion that evolution is an established and accepted scientific theory. It shows that one can objectively evaluate the data and evidence that has been produced that show evolution to be undeniable.
This is the information age. We are in an era defined by the technological and scientific advancements that have been made over the last century. Antibiotics, the personal automobile, nuclear energy, peering into the depths of space via the Hubble telescope, the Internet...all of these discoveries, inventions, and conveniences are the direct result of science, not faith. Religious faith would have one believe that prayer alone will overcome a serious infection. Religious faith would have had us believe that the Earth is the center of the universe. Religious faith would have had us believe that the Earth is flat. Religious faith would have us believe that "because that's how God designed it" is an acceptable answer to anything we do not yet understand. Faith is a cop-out of an answer.
When our scientists and engineers are shunned (e.g. re:stem cell research), when peer reviewed results are discarded or deemed irrelevant (e.g. evidence of human driven global warming), when generally accepted scientific theories are questioned (e.g. evolution), then you know that the leadership of this country has failed to put a premium on knowledge and grant respect to those in our society who seek to enrich the collective knowledge of the Humankind.
If one cannot fathom evolution, even given the consensus of the world's leading scientists, If one cannot accept evolution, even given the large amount of evidence (on a micro and macro level), if one cannot objectively make a decision based on unbiased data without the interference of personal faith/beliefs, then such a person is not of the mental capacity and certainly not of sound judgement to lead the United States of America.
You know, I found it quite humorous to hear these candidates babble on about the manufacturing sector and how we simply cannot compete with China, Mexico, and other countries where low cost labor is abundant.
I ask, why the **** would we even want to compete with them on such a level? The promise of the future lies not in manufacturing, but in knowledge, information, and the ability to innovate. These are all things that Americans excel at. These are things that science excels at. We should be glad to have this opportunity to continue our transition from an industrial economy to a knowledge and service driven economy.
Instead, the leadership has taken us backwards.
As energy costs soar in the next century due to increases in demand and decreases in the raw resources, alternative energy sources will be the only option. Instead of embracing this ideal, the US is letting the opportunity to innovate and lead slip away.
Instead of embracing the promise of stem cell research, our leadership views such science with disdain because of the uneducated masses that support them. Instead of taking a leadership position in this vital field, we force some of our brightest scientists in this field overseas to countries like China, Singapore, Japan, and various European nations where such pursuits are embraced because of the financial and medical promises of such research.
As we move forward, it will be the global alliances and friendships that we form that will help drive our markets and help drive demand for our knowledge and unique capability to innovate. And yet, instead of reaching out to allies and trying to mend torn relationships, instead of diplomatic solutions and dicussion, instead of dialogue and sound governance, we seek to take a bully like stand on the global stage with strong talk like a young child throwing a temper tantrum (or an e-thug).
To drive us towards a better, more prosperous future, we need leadership that will respect science. We need leadership that will respect dialogue. We need leadership that will look at subjects and look at the data objectively and not let personal faith muddy the waters of clear and sound judgement. It is innovation in the sciences and engineering that has made America the country that it is today. It is innovation in these areas that hold the greatest potential to drive us forward tomorrow and we need leaders that understand the importance of leading a global economy driven by information, technology, innovation, and science.