Friday, October 21, 2005
Our request for questions that should be asked of Supreme Court
nominees to elicit their views on science drew a huge response.
Traditionally, nominees are not questioned about their religious
views on the assumption that an oath to uphold the constitution
makes the nominee's religious views irrelevant. Science, which
bases judgements solely on the evidence, is the antithesis of
religion and is clearly relevant. The WN staff felt the question
that best captured the consensus of our readers' views in the
fewest number of words was from Abi Soffer at SLAC:
"How does being descended from a monkey affect your
WN will include more suggested questions each week until the
confirmation process in the Senate is over.
In early August, expecting it might come up in the Dover School
Board case, WN copped a definition of science from the Concise
Oxford English Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. It mentions the
natural world (WN 5 Aug 05),
but not the supernatural. On Tuesday, Michael Behe, the
defense's irreducible-complexity guru, testified in favor of a
broader definition. According to a NY Times story, Behe
acknowledged that "scientific theory" by his definition would fit
astrology as well as intelligent design.
Who would have believed that the United States, having landed men
on the Moon 36 years ago in a race with the Soviet Union, and
having spent more than $600B on its space program, would today be
locked in another race to send humans to the Moon? A race with
China? And China may be ahead? Go on! Now suppose I told you
that the United Kingdom, long admired by scientists for staying
clear of the ISS, is urged by a commission of the Royal
Astronomical Society to enter the race? "Say it ain't so, Joe."
In a 1989 interview on CNN, Vice President Dan Quayle explained
why the U.S. should undertake a manned mission to Mars: "We have
seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If
there is water, there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can
breathe," (WN 1 Sep 89).
That didn't pan out, but I have some good news: we don't have to
go all the way to Mars for oxygen. UV images obtained by the
Hubble Space Telescope show ilmenite deposits on the Moon. Need
to breathe on the Moon? Just smelt up a little ilmenite.