I’m not a Bush-basher. I voted for him in the last election, and while I didn’t agree with his decision to invade Iraq, I don’t believe it was based on some shameless quest for cheap oil or whatever other extremist theory you want to subscribe to (it was a decision obviously not supported by good espionage, but since George Tenet was appointed by a Democrat it’s hard to blame that error entirely on the Republicans).
But, speaking of ‘extremists,’ there is at least one thing about Bush that does bother me. His religiously-influenced bias against important scientific research. Glenn Reynold’s most recent TechCentralStation column pretty much lays out the problem. The thing I’d add to Glenn’s observations is this: the United States is not the only place where this sort of research can be conducted. If other countries get ahead of the U.S. in doing bioresearch then it’s going to be a black eye for us. Imagine if our response to the 1960’s Soviet space initiative had been driven by deeply religious people who believed that it was immoral to put men into space?
Countries that have the capacity to advance themselves with scientific knowledge, but choose not to, tend not to evolve. It is interesting that we deride the religiously-driven politics in a countries like Iraq, but yet we fail to see that we ourselves are not entirely free from the same tendency. We are blind to this tendency (and the potential harm) just as the religious radicals in the Middle East are oblivious to their short-sightedness. Somehow the fervent belief that God is on your side (as opposed to anyone else’s) is a hard myopia to escape from.
So, anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to vote for President Bush next year. I’m very concerned about letting people with dogmatic religious beliefs make decisions that have a significant effect on scientific research, especially bioresearch which holds the promise of great advances in curing disease. If the concern about bioresearch were coming from scientists who are analyzing the problem scientifically that’d be one thing, but since when have religious types ever provided insight into problems created by science? The more feverish their objections the less likely the concern is based on sober thought, but rather on ‘moral concerns’ about what is correct according to some religious doctrine.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be ‘moral concerns’ about bioresearch, but do the religious guys think they have a monopoly on all moral questions? Apparently so.