I’ve heard some people say (and I’m paraphrasing),
Sarah Palin may prove to be, not just someone who believes in God, or someone who believes that God plays a role in evolution.
She may, rather, be someone who reads Genesis literally—that is, someone who is a young earth creationist.
She may, in other words, think that the earth is 10,000 years old and that fossils are in the earth because they were deposited there by the Great Flood of Noah.
And she may believe this because she has never taken the time, or had the inclination, to explore the matter in any depth.
She has been busy developing the other aspects of her life, and attending to her family.
And a lot of Americans are young earth creationists—so cut her some slack here!
It’s hardly, afterall, un-American to be a young earth creationist—and maybe even the majority of Americans are young earth creationists.
So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is this: A lot of Americans also believe in astrology—but that doesn’t mean that we should feel comfy with a vice-presidential candidate who believes in astrology, or even takes it as a reasonable possibility.
Young earth creationism and astrology are intellectually equivelent. They are both forms of flim-flam that no serious, thinking adult should assign more than a vanishing probability of being true.
For example, there is no anxiety within the scientific community whatsoever that there will ever be a NY Times banner headline that says, “Scientists Discover Correlation of People’s Fate with the Position of the Stars.”
Likewise, one can sleep sound in knowing that one will never wake up to find such a NY Times front page headline as this: “Scientists Discover Earth to Be 10,000 Years Old and All the World’s Fossils Deposited by a Catastophic Flood.”
Because science has established, as well as science humanly can, that the earth is OLD and the plants and animals on the earth have CHANGED over time.
The fact that the earth is old and that plants and animals have undergone change from era to era throughout the earth’s history is something that scientists know. These two things are facts.
God may have had a hand in these two facts, but they are nevertheless facts. They are as certainly established scientifically as that the earth revolves around the sun.
And anyone who would aspire to the complex task of governing a 21st century world power, and having to seek out, and understand, scientific council and advice all along the way, cannot be confused on these two points.
It simply displays too far a distance between yourself and reality to be in a position of high responsibility.
In other words, a candidate, however busy his or her life has been, who professes belief in fundamentally irrational propositions—such as astrology or young earth creationism—tells us something important about his or her habits of critical thinking—and even his or her capacity for critical thinking.
In short, a person who professes belief in astrology or young earth creationism, if he or she is sincere in that belief, does so for only one of two reasons:
- relatively low intelligence or
- intellectual inattention
By intellectual inattention I mean that he or she is either:
- insufficiently curious to know the actual facts of the matter,
- or is in the habit of avoiding facts or information that do not accord with his or her prejudices
Put bluntly, if the person is not stupid, then he or she is incurious or insular—or worse, both incurious and insular (as I think our current president is).
Sarah Palin, if she professes belief in young earth creationism (or astrology for that matter) suggests that, should we get her as president someday, that we are in for an administration characterized by incuriosity and insularity—that is, something akin to the current Bush administration.
And in her public life, Palin has already shown unmistakable proclivities to incuriousity and insularity—as in the fact that it was only in the last year that she applied for a passport—and when she was mayor of Wisalia, she tried to censor books in the local library.
But the indications that she is a young earth creationist are, perhaps, most disturbing, because they suggest that she is not just censorious, incurious and insular—but that she is not quite in contact with reality, and is content, and maybe even pugnaciously proud, not to be so.