Timothy Eagan of the New York Times vents about evidence-challenged members of Congress (all Republicans) in a recent Opnionator blog post. I weighed in with this comment ( It hasn’t appeared after several hours, apparently because the site is having technical problems).
The persistence of such primitive attitudes in our country is deplorable, but not surprising.
Science and religion (at their best) are both truth seeking endeavors. Yet their champion urges — seeking facts that hold up vs. seeking values that are to be upheld — are clearly at odds. Many of the religiously-motivated, rationality-challenged folks I’ve known seem shamelessly willing to parrot utterly implausible and easily discredited “facts” in the service of received orthodoxies.
In trying to understand how they can live in such an apparently unreasonable and unreasoning way, I’ve come to recognize that methodological concepts of provisional and contingent truth, whether facts or values, are highly suspicious to them, and even repugnant. Just as their absolutism is suspicious and repugnant to me.
The answer, I believe, is for scientifically-minded people to emphasize the pursuit of durable truths, and to give more productive attention to the seeking of durable values. I emphasize the word durable in light of the fact that the words durable and truth derive from the same etymological root.
Truth seeking is an honorable and compelling endeavor. We need to find ground on which to collaborate.