My very strong hunch is that it’s because the Harper Government is ashamed of what social scientists poke their noses into. The behaviour and custom of distant lands; literature in funny languages; philosophies whose tenets might not pass the screens erected by the PMO. Questions about the role of women in our society and a thousand others. It’s all so icky. Which is why the Harper government has ensured that this year’s new money for the SSHRC will fund only “business-related” graduate scholarships. And why Harper is so eager to tell visiting scientists about his plans for getting their ideas out of the lab, and so reluctant to ask them what their ideas are. Now, I’m no expert, but I seem to recall that Jesus had the occasional problem with moneychangers. Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.
The above is a quote from Paul Wells’ characteristically thoughtful and intelligent piece on research funding in this country. If you haven’t read it, you should. Go. Go now. Post haste!
Like (hopefully) most of the people in this country, I am embarrassed that our Minister responsible for directing government’s science policies does not believe in one of the most pivotal theories of modern science. However, I agree with Mssr. Wells that his beliefs are irrelevant so long as they do not impact his actions as Minister. A central premise of maintaining a division between church and state – something too many people, particularly Conservatives, are anxious to eliminate – is that one must be free to believe whatever they believe, so long as they do not let their religious beliefs impact government policy.
And contrary to popular right wing thought, I’m not hostile to religion. I do, however, have a vehement opposition to biblical literalists. I am a product of religious school education that began with an Orthodox Jewish school (complete with the beards, long sideburns, etc.) and continued throughout my secondary education. Having studied Hebrew for more than a decade, I can say this unequivocally – there are staggering differences between biblical Hebrew and Aramaic that makes up the Old Testament and the modern Hebrew spoken today. There are significant volumes written by Jewish scholars debating the exact meaning of individual words which significantly alter their context. If the great Rabbinical scholars of history – who spent their entire lives studying these texts and their meanings in a time when the language had not evolved nearly so drastically (no pun intended) – could not come to agreement on the meaning of these words, how can we be so arrogant as to assume that we can perfectly understand their meaning and their purpose. Moreover, I was taught at several points – as an arrogant little pischer, myself – that for us to assume that we understand the exact will and intention of God is more than arrogant but blasphemous.
The bible is an important document in history that represents the foundation of our morality. Whether we believe it to have been divinely inspired or divinely written or none of the above, we must concede that at minimum, it represents the greatest wisdom of mankind at a given point in history (again, that’s at minimum). But anyone that suggests that they may fully understand the exact word of God and his intentions has clearly never understood a single word they’ve read within the bible.