December 10, 2008

Now He Tells Us

George W. Bush -- not a Biblical literalist. Actual quote (the headline is deceptive):
Asked whether the Bible was literally true, Mr Bush replied: "Probably not. No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it. The important lesson is 'God sent a son,'" he said.
Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up.

"I don't think [Christian faith is] incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution," Bush adds. That's swell, Mr. President; why, then, did you spend so much effort in office and on the campaign trail urging local school districts to "teach the controversy" if you personally don't think there is a controversy to teach? Note also that Bush referred to "scientific proof" of evolution taking place.

This certainly proves that Bush can acknowledge the blindingly obvious. How sad that we've had to wait until the end of his term in office, when he no longer needs to pander to the evangelical right for political support, for him to say these patently obvious things to which previously he had positioned himself in opposition.

Let no one doubt that President Bush is a faithful Christian, by the way. He says he's a good Christian and even though he doesn't seem to go to church all that often, and I take him at his word, although I don't think it really means all that much to say you subscribe to one religion or another. You don't have to be a Biblical literalist to be a good person. Nor does belief in evolution preclude belief in God. However, you shouldn't allow your belief in God to substitute for the intellectual rigors of science, either -- it's not sufficient for a scientist to reach a difficult question and say "Well, that must be where God got involved." My suspicion is that a faithful scientist sees God working in very subtle ways, ways that science does not measure.

Just think, next he'll admit that the sky is blue on a clear afternoon, that water flows downhill, and that the sun rises in the east. But I should check my sarcasm and encourage President Bush to continue his walk away from antiscience. The point here is that someone who has been idolized by the evangelical right has now demonstrated that we are better off treating the Bible as containing allegories and not insisting that every word of it is literally true, and admits that evolution has scientific proof. Let us use these concessions as a springboard from which we may abandon some of the least intellectually attractive notions to pollute our society.

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