Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Put down the pitchforks, Goodyear isn't a creationist

Stop the presses! Gary Goodyear our science minister speaketh, and hopefully endeth this brouhaha of the past few days:

OTTAWA — Canada's Science Minister has cut short a brewing controversy over his views on evolution.

Gary Goodyear raised eyebrows when he refused to tell The Globe and Mail newspaper if he believes in the science of evolution.

But the Minister of State for Science and Technology flatly said today that he does indeed believe in evolution.

Mr. Goodyear said he refused to answer the Globe question because it was “irrelevant” and his beliefs have nothing to do with government policy.

And so now we can all sleep a little better at night.

But seriously, here's my two cents. Were Goodyear not the science minister, I could care less about his personal beliefs on creationism vs. evolution. Were he defence minister it would be irrelevant. But he's science minister, so his views on basic scientific theories and what not are absolutely in bounds. I think it's lame for him to blame the reporter. From my reading of the interview he walked into it and then flubbed the answer, so it was bad comms by Goodyear. But good comms to come out now and hopefully put this thing to bed.

Let me say this though. There was absolutely room for legitimate criticism and debate here following the initial comments. But with respect to my "progressive" friends and colleagues, there's a way to raise the legitimate issues without being insulting and rude. The flinstones stuff and other jokes were unnecesary. We're supposed to be better than that.

While I do find creationism baffling, I respect people's rights to their own beliefs. I just expect my science minister to side with science, and apparently he does, so that's that.

UPDATE: Or maybe he doesn't. Read the comments. Whatever he believes or doesn't, he's doing a crap-ass job of handling this thing.

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32 comments:

Chrystal Ocean said...

Not so fast.

sjw said...

And you buy Goodyear's sudden revelation that he believes in evolution? I don't.
I do hear you on the Yabba Dabba Do front, it was infantile.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Well, good grief.

Adam M said...

Why does he have an Emmy?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Pehaps you could clear something up for my readers and me. Exactly who does Spinsella speak for?

Is he Iggy's voice? If not, what is his purpose spinning the Flinstone stuff and the offensive images at his site? Isn't he in charge of the Liberal war room?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Adam, I thought at first Goodyear replaced Charlie Sheen during the third season of Two and a Half Men, but it actually has to do with this:

http://tinyurl.com/c67p44

Joanne,

Who is Spinsella?

But seriously, what is with this incessant need for the right to attach stupid names to those they disagree with and repeat it endlessly? I find it hard to take what (from time to time at least) may otherwise be a valid point seriously.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

O.K. If I substitute WK for Spinsella, would you please give me your honest opinion on the matter? Thanks.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Like pulling teeth, Joanne? Well now I'm inclined to keep playing hard to get. And I have no more insight into Ignatieff's views on this than you do. But alrighty.

So you were asking about Warren Kinsella, then? Warren speaks for Warren. He was a member of the short-lived Ignatieff leadership campaign, a campaign that ended for all intents and purposes in December. I understand he will run the next Liberal war room. But unlike the CPC, we don't have the money to maintain a year-round war room. So, until the next election campaign there is no war room, therefore Kinsella can't lead it until then.

Therefore, as far as I know until then Warren is an admittedly well-connected Liberal who speaks for no one but Warren.

Hope that's as illuminating as you'd hoped.

Koby said...

Chrystal is right on. Goodyear does not understand the first thing about evolution.

Indeed according to Goodyear, some of us are not adapted to "walking on cement versus anything else" and that as we die off (COD pounding the pavement) we will be replaced by people who are adapted to "walking on cement versus anything else". It is disc thing I think. Their discs have more squishy stuff.

Greg said...

No, he doesn't believe in evolution. He believes in micro-evolution, an artificial barrier created by creationists.

He also believes in Lamarckism, the passing on of acquired traits to children, a theory discarded centuries ago and replaced by Darwinism, the selection of favourable genes.

Scruffy Dan said...

I am sorry, but I don't buy Goodyear's sudden revelation. It reeks of political damage control, and his explanation is absurd.

It sounds like the “I believe in microevolution but not macroevolution” crap some creationists use to legitimize their position, even though it is still completely anti-science.

Well either that or Lamarckism. And that is no better.

Alberta Girl said...

Interesting how you all just jump to the conclusion that a denial to a press who frame every question to the CPC as a gotcha question MUST mean he is hiding something. It wouldn't have mattered how he answered - this was destined to create an impression and even if he had answered the other way; you all would have accused him of lying.

Grow up people - most Canadians are so over the Liberals painting the Conservatives as neanderthals.

It makes you all look stupid for jumping on the bandwagon.

Oh, BTW - whatever happened to those 'attack ads' the Tories were supposed to be releasing - or was that a smokescreen so that you could start your own "attacks".

Leeky Sweek said...

Since when has it been established that knowledge of the theory of evolution is the embodiment of all sciences?? People can exhibit solid scientific knowledge without having a strong background in evolutionary theory... or even believe in it.

Jason Hickman said...

Were Goodyear not the science minister, I could care less about his personal beliefs on creationism vs. evolution. Were he defence minister it would be irrelevant. But he's science minister, so his views on basic scientific theories and what not are absolutely in bounds.

Ok, but what if he believes, as many even-somewhat-devout Christians do, in things like the virgin birth of Jesus, or that Jesus, to quote the good ol' Book of Common Prayer, "rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven".

Those things are hardly "scientific". To use your standard, would they disqualify one from being "science minister"? And if not, why not?

A BCer in Toronto said...

AG, you can believe it was a gotcha question if you want, but that doesn't make it true. Goodyear brought religion into it, not the reporter. Not everything is a conspiracy, but whatevs.

Jason, you miss the point. The issue is not his religious beliefs, but his (apparent) rejection of sound scientific theory. I'd find it troubling if we have a science minister who thinks science is hocus pocus. You're not troubled by that at all? If he believes in the resurrection, that's fine. Power to him. You can be religious and believe in science. Indeed, most of the devout do.

Jason Hickman said...

Jason, you miss the point. The issue is not his religious beliefs, but his (apparent) rejection of sound scientific theory.

Wait a sec. If I accept resurrection, or a "virgin birth", I'm necessarily "rejecting" more than one "sound scientific theory".

Coming back from the dead, to take the most obvious example, can't be explained, or even accounted for, in any "sound scientific theory" that I've ever heard of. In fact, it flies right in the face of any such "sound scientific theory".

This is why the whole gang-up on Goodyear over this issue is so. Bloody. Stupid. To be consistent, you would have to DQ anyone who may believe in something that isn't explained by science - or which may directly contradict it.

I'd find it troubling if we have a science minister who thinks science is hocus pocus. You're not troubled by that at all?

I don't see him saying that "science is hocus pocus." If anything, he was doing in public, in a very unelegant way, what many people have to do in their own minds: trying to reconcile what science teaches us with their religous faith.

But in answer to your question: whether Goodyear believes how life as we know it was created is explained through evolution, the Book of Genesis, Sihkism or anything else, is not my concern. My concern, in terms of public policy, is exactly that: what policies are implimented, and how are they implimented.

Marc Garneau, in the story you linked to, had the most grown-up approach to this whole "issue": criticising over policy, without dragging Goodyear's beliefs into it.

Joanne (True Blue) said...


...Therefore, as far as I know until then Warren is an admittedly well-connected Liberal who speaks for no one but Warren.


I can accept that, Jeff. But I just wonder why Michael Ignatieff doesn't formally dissociate himself from Warren's blog then.

Leeky Sweek said...

"You can be religious and believe in science. Indeed, most of the devout do."

Thank you for saying this...this is a point I've been making for the past 24 hours on both Liberal and Conservative sites. But I don't understand how you conclude that evolution is sound scientific fact...it's not, it's still a theory.

"I'd find it troubling if we have a science minister who thinks science is hocus pocus."

We must have read different reports, because I didn't see or hear him say that anywhere. To reiterate, just because someone doesn't necessarily believe in evolution, doesn't mean he's not scientific. And evolution is not the "ultimate science."

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jason, can science disprove that god doesn't exist? Can science disprove that some 2000 years ago a man was born of virgin birth, died and was buried and then rose again a few years later? Not really. Those are questions of faith. There's a difference between what can be proven by science, and what can't be disproven. Can science prove man evolved from apes? Yes it can.

And Marc is entitled to his opinion, as are you and I. I want a science minister that accepts basic scientific principles. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

Joanne, why would Michael do that? Ezra Levant worked in the last Harper war room and has said things I've found objectionable and that likely aren't reflective of CPC comms strategy, should Harper dissociate himself from Ezra?

As a Liberal I'd enjoy that, as you'd no doubt enjoy it were Mi to do so to Warren. But for either of them to do so would be unnecessary, as they both do speak only for themselves, and taking the step of denunciation would seem to imply otherwise. It would serve to give fodder for one's political opponents, and to no end.

Leeky, I think I did say IF he believes its hocus pocus. Or at least I meant to. Frankly, I don't know what he believes at this point. His attempts at clarification have only further muddied the water.

Leeky Sweek said...

"Can science prove man evolved from apes? Yes it can."

Really? Can I see the definitive report on this? Admittedly, I am no expert, but what little I have read is that there are still gaps in the fossil records.

Perhaps that's why evolution is still a "theory?"

Jason Hickman said...

You're splitting hairs, Jeff, though maybe you have to, in order to avoid DQ'ing anyone who isn't a complete atheist from the job in question - unless you can find me a "sound scientific theory" that accepts things like the resurrection of a human from the dead (assuming that the same "theory" even allows for the possibility that the human in question is the living embodiment of God).

Scruffy Dan said...

@ Leeky Sweek

You might want to read the scientific definition of the word theory.

Leeky Sweek said...

Scruffy Dan, I know precisely what a scientific theory is. Your implication that I don't doesn't change the main thrust of my arguments.

Nice try, though.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Leaky, let's just say I'm certainly satisfied with the scientific case for evolution. You're welcome to your own view.

I have too few hairs left to waste them with splitting Jason. As I said before, there is scientific evidence to support evolution, which would seem to disprove creationism.

But science can't prove, or disprove, the existence of god. Just because we can't resurrect the dead doesn't mean it has never happened. It just means we don't have the capability of doing it. Artificial insemination now allows for what could be considered a virgin birth. Who knows what the future may hold, or the past. Was it God? A super intelligent higher power? Or is it all just a collection of short stories? These are questions of faith, not science.

Scruffy Dan said...

@ Leeky

Your comments here indicate otherwise, but just so we are all on the same page here in science a theory refers to "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge"

Which is precisely why calling evolution only a theory is meaningless. Not to mention that the theory of evolution is in great company, with the theory of gravity, relativity and pretty much every other cool things science has discovered.

Leeky Sweek said...

Scruffy Dan:

This is the definition I ran across:

"A scientific theory is used as a plausible general principle or body of principles offered to explain a phenomenon."

There is nothing definitive about a theory...it is only a possibility.

Your adding gravity to your example is incorrect. Gravity is not a theory, it's a law. Big difference between a law and theory. Also the Theory of Relativity has not yet been proven...right now it's just an interesting "theory." Maybe one day we'll have the "Law of Relativity."

Scruffy Dan said...

@ Leeky

Of course there is nothing definitive about a theory. This is science we are talking about. NOTHING is definitive.

And that holds true for scientific laws, such as Newton's law of universal gravitation (which we now know is only an approximation). It falls apart under known circumstances. And that’s where general relativity comes in (and yes it IS only a theory, but that isn't a knock against it). Relativity well never be considered a law, despite the fact that we have very compelling evidence to accept it (GPS wouldn’t work unless we corrected for the effects of relativity).

Something that is only plausible is a hypothesis; something that has supporting evidence and is well substantiated is a theory.

Leeky Sweek said...

Scruffy Dan, I could keep bantering with you about this, but this is getting too far off-topic from my original suppositions. Suffice to say, that we may have to agree to disagree on some of this.

I suspect that if we were discussing this face to face we would be covering similar ground in some aspects rather than debating points of semantics.

Scruffy Dan said...

"I suspect that if we were discussing this face to face we would be covering similar ground in some aspects rather than debating points of semantics. "

I am not so sure, based on what you have said here I think we would mostly disagree.

Jason Hickman said...

I think we've exhausted our arguments on that point, Jeff. One thing I would disagree with is your response to Joanne, here:

Therefore, as far as I know until then Warren [Kinsella] is an admittedly well-connected Liberal who speaks for no one but Warren.

Not to belabour the point, but WK regularly appears on CTV's political show as the "designated Liberal" (with Tim Powers as the Tory).

Now, I remember one of the first articles that came out after MI's takeover of the leadership was that 1 thing (among others) he was going to do differently from Dion was impose some strict message discipline. In other words, nobody had better go on a TV panel as the Grit representative unless and until it had been ok'd by the boss.

(And putting my partisan bias aside for a sec, good on him for doing so. If you let a bunch of freelancers operate out there as your designated spokesmen or -women, you deserve the grief you'll get.)

So, to say that Warren is just a "connected Liberal" who "speaks for no one but Warren" is not quite accurate, at least not all the time. (Whether MI approves, or even has any knowledge, of what WK puts on his blog on a daily basis is of course something I can't answer.)

Leeky Sweek said...

Scruffy Dan, In some aspects, we might agree...in others, you're right, not so much. It might however, make for a lively, civilized debate.

Nevertheless, my point is that I'm not contributing to this issue anymore. Life's too short...

Have a good day.

Scruffy Dan said...

I always find it interesting how people can so casually throw out mainstream science.