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The Pope Can Figure Out Science, So Why Can't the GOP?

Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images

Unlike some American politicians, Pope Francis doesn’t see science as an adversary.

In an address at the Vatican on Monday, Francis said scientific theories like the Big Bang and evolution are not at odds with faith. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”  

Francis may not be breaking ground with his remarks on evolution, as he has on same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church has generally been open to evolutionary science, although Pope Benedict XVI made comments that suggested a preference for “intelligent design” theories. But it does show that the pope—who said God “created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment"—might have more in common with scientists than your average Republican politician. 

Consider climate. Katharine Hayhoe, a professor at Texas Tech University and director of the Climate Science Center, has shown how concern for the environment is compatible with faith and conservative values. She is an evangelical Christian who co-wrote a book about faith and global warming science. "What's more conservative than conserving our natural resources, making sure we have enough for the future, and not wasting them like we are today?" she has said. And on NPR, Hayhoe has argued, "God gave us the brains to make good choices and there's consequences to the choices that we make."

That's certainly not the popular view of science and faith in America. On climate change, deniers like Senator James Inhofe have argued it's hubris to think humans can alter the atmosphere. Florida Governor Rick Scott has used religion to dodge a question on if he thinks humans have caused global warming. On evolution, Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal have pled ignorance  in order to avoid offending creationists. Lately Republicans have been invoking the same excuse, over and over again: When asked a question that touches upon science, they dodge the question by saying “I’m not a scientist.”

Francis isn't a scientist either. If he can have some faith in it, can't the GOP, too?

—Rebecca Leber 

News from Tuesday

EBOLA: Governors Christie and Cuomo have been sharply criticized for their aggressive quarantines following an Ebola diagnosis in New York—a far cry from the praise they received two years ago yesterday after springing to action after Superstorm Sandy. (Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin, Associated Press) 

SPACE EXPLORATION: The unmanned Antares rocket exploded Tuesday shortly after take off. (Jack LinshiTime)

TERRORISM: Due to ongoing terrorist threats against the U.S., government buildings here and abroad will have increased security measures. (Mohammad Zargham and Mark Hosenball, Reuters)

FERGUSON: The St. Louis County Police Department has spent $172,000 on more riot gear since August for dealing with the expected protests if a grand jury doesn’t indict Officer Darren Wilson in November. (Ryan Reilly, Huffington Post)

Articles worth reading

R.I.P. Carpooling. In 1970, more than 20 percent of workers carpooled on their daily commutes. Today, the share of commuters hovers below 10 percent. Danielle Kurtzleben explains the drop. (Vox)

Snubbed by the White House. Erik Wemple exhaustively compiled all of the complaints by journalists about Obama’s White House’s lack of transparency, with biting quotes like “most secretive,” “more dangerous” and “more restrictive.” (Washington Post) 

Gym rats or lab mice? Colleges are collecting data on students’ use of gym facilities, and analyzing it in relation to students’ GPA or stress levels, for example. The data-crunching comes at a time when many colleges are investing more money than ever in recreational facilities, reports Rachel Bachman. (Wall Street Journal)


We're in full-gear covering the final week before midterm elections. Alec MacGillis reports on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s panic mode, and Jason Zengerle defends Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley from the hecklers. Brian Beutler, meanwhile, tries to make sense of whether the post-midterm plans GOP leaders have are feasible.