Congressman ignores science through religious beliefs

by: Maayan Schechter, Assistant Campus Voice Editor

Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) lost touch with reality a few weeks ago when he said that evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

Broun told a church audience, “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”

Broun’s comments came from a larger speech given on Sept. 27 at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Ga. The clip of the video was released by watchdog group, The Bridge Project.

Perhaps ironically, Broun serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, along with partner-in-crime Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.)

Broun is also known for trying to get the federal government to push a bill called “the Year of the Bible.” Contrary to Broun’s opinion, scientists contend the Earth has been around for roughly 4.5 billion years.

While Broun’s statement may raise eyebrows, his views are not far from American public opinion. According to the latest Pew Research Study in June 2006, 95 percent of the American public hold some sort of belief. About 32 percent believe in evolution and 31 percent believe humans and other living things have been in existence since before the beginning of time. According to the latest Gallup poll, 46 percent of Americans believe God made humans in the past 10,000 years.

While Broun may have the support of the American fundamentalist thinking, the majority of scientists wholeheartedly disagree with calling evolution and the Big Bang theory simply a theory.

UNC Asheville’s Gregg Kormanik, professor and chair of the biology department, is bothered by Congressman Broun’s comments.

“I’m concerned because these folks are making decisions for society and not basing it on hard science. Recently, North Carolina has even voted no on global warming,” Kormanik said.

This recent bill allows the Legislature to decide what is useful scientific data and what is not, which could threaten North Carolina’s coast as rising sea levels and rocky weather call into question what measures of safety should be put into effect. The GOP solution: global warming, that is not really happening.

“Evidence is overwhelming; evolution is fact,” Kormanik said. “We can make evolution happen in the lab and in nature.”

Broun may have been elected to Congress based on his representation of a sizeable segment of American thinking. However, that does not mean he has credibility to run a committee that deals with issues related to science.

There needs to be a conversation on how Congress can lead America into the future when someone on a science committee rejects the foundations of science. Evolution is fact. The Big Bang theory is the best explanation available based on scientific data. Religious fundamentalists who feel creationism should be taught alongside evolution need to step back and reconcile how their religious views are intertwining with factual evidence.  Faith is not science.

The conversation of evolution versus faith needs to happen outside of the classroom. The conversation should be kept out of government as well.  As a country, we cannot let our mainstream ignorance of science be allowed to effect our Congress.

Freshman Maya Newlin, a biology student, could not hold her eye rolling back toward Broun’s comments.

“How can we claim to be a free country when you can base your vote on your own personal beliefs?” Newlin said. “Evolution cannot be denied. There are fossils that have been around for millions of years.”

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