Gabriel Andrade

24 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Gabriel is a professor at Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela. He has written books on Darwin, the existence of God, the afterlife, and postmodernism.

"Nicolas Maduro" by Hugoshi is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Is Venezuela a dictatorship? The words democracy and dictatorship should be defined on a continuum. But, it should by now be clear that Venezuela is closer to the latter than to the former. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro clinched power in a contested election in 2013. He promised a recount on national TV, but only hours later, he retracted. Ever since, he has claimed American imperialism is the real power standing behind opposition forces in Venezuela.

by -
"Medical X-rays Skull Fracture" by Nevit Dilmen is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer died on July 2. It was hardly noticed in English language media. This is not surprising as, indeed, he was an obscure person. But, unfortunately, his legacy lives on, and the harm he has caused far outweighs the media attention that he has been given (Spanish and German newspapers have dedicated more attention to his death).

"The Vologne, where Gregory Villemin's body was found" by Raphael Tassin is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikipedia)"

The case of Gregory Villemin is well known in France, to the point that it is frequently referred to as the “Affaire Villemin.” Gregory was a four-year-old boy who was found dead in 1984, in the waters of the Vologne River in eastern France. There was intense media coverage of the case’s details, but ultimately, the murderers were never found.

"Satan Before The Lord" by Corrado Giaquinto is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikipedia)

Arturo Sousa, the Superior General of the Society for Jesus (Jesuits) recently said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo that, “we have formed symbolic figures such as the devil to express evil.” His words seem to imply that Satan is not a real being, but just a symbol; the devil would be more akin to Lex Luthor than Adolf Hitler, i.e., a fictional character.

"Evo Morales" by Sebastian Baryli is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

It’s no secret that indigenous populations in Latin American countries have suffered all sorts of abuses ever since Columbus’ arrival to the so-called “New World” 500 years ago. It is undeniably true that there is the ethical obligation of bringing social justice to these peoples, and that ever since independence from the Spanish Crown in the 19th Century, criollo governments have failed to do so.

"The Pied Piper leads the children out of Hamelin" by Katie Greenaway is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikipedia)

Over the last few months, there have been reports of a deadly internet game, “The Blue Whale.” Allegedly, teenage gamers participate by following the instructions provided by the designers of the game. These instructions include watching horror films and waking up in the middle of the night. The challenge goes on for 50 days, and then, the final instruction is to commit suicide.

"Science March Maastricht at Wycker Brugstraat" by Lars Willighagen is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

A worldwide march in favor of science was successfully carried out on April 22. It was convoked by a wide range of groups, to be held on Earth Day. The initiative came out as a result of major concerns over President Donald Trump’s policies, which include the disbanding of the Environmental Protection Agency, budget cuts in scientific research, and the elimination of scientists’ roles as advisors in the government.

The march was allegedly non-partisan. But, there are plenty of reasons to think otherwise. Critics of the march have seen it as leftist ideology masquerading as legitimate scientific activity. If, indeed, the march is more about politics and less about science, then that should be of concern to the scientific community.

Make no mistake: President Trump is no friend of science. His populist style appeals to unverified claims (or, as it is now called, “post-truth”), the very antithesis of any scientific procedure. His strongest base of supporters is made up of climate change deniers, creationists and anti-intellectualists who see no significance in scientific activity.

These people, however, need to be brought to the light of science. Some of these people may initially understand the importance of scientific activity, but ultimately become disappointed with scientists, because they seem them as too far to the left. They do have a point. To some extent, science has been hijacked by leftist ideology. If the scientific establishment wants to regain the trust of ordinary folks, then it must do a better job of purging its ideological bias.

Take, for instance, the choice of the day for the march. It was celebrated on Earth Day, an obvious appeal to the importance of discussions on climate change. No serious scientist would disagree that, indeed, global warming is a problem. But, what must be done about it is much more open to discussion. Scientists such as Matt Ridley and Bjorn Lomborg have long acknowledged that global warming is a problem, but at the same time, reasonably argue that short-term initiatives on carbon emission reduction (such the Paris Agreement) are far more harmful for the welfare of humanity. Fossil fuels do contribute to global warming, but they save lots of lives, especially in the developing world.

Sure, something must be done, but reducing economic growth, for the time being, is not a rational solution. A more reasonable alternative, as Lomborg has long proposed, is to invest in research in order to find more efficient ways of developing clean energy without reducing economic growth. Solar panels are not enough. The prospect of nuclear power is much more promising in this regard. Yet, for some strange reason, most ecological groups oppose it, and the scientific establishment does not seem to care. This plays into the right-wing narrative that so-called “science” is more about ideology than about facts.  

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of people who went to the march in favor of science have a stand that goes far beyond the mere scientific facts on global warming. They make the unwarranted leap from scientific facts to a defense of leftist environmental policy. This is no way to bring Trump’s supporters to the light of science.

Global warming is not the only area where leftist ideology masquerades as science. Take evolutionary theory. Sure, Bible-quoting Creationists feel more at home at a Trump rally than at a scientific lecture on some college campus. And, of course, it is easy to mock people who believe the world is only 6,000 years old and want intelligent design to be taught in public schools. But, unfortunately, the scientific establishment fails to oppose other types of Creationists, the so-called “Creationists of the Mind” (the term was created by scientist Robert Kurzban). This brand of Creationists is made up of leftists who, for some strange reason, believe that Darwinism applies to the body, but not to the mind. They oppose evolutionary psychology on the grounds that it is racist, sexist and an intellectual tool to justify capitalism’s status quo. These Creationists of the Mind were the instigators of the firing of Larry Summers from the presidency of Harvard University, simply because he argued that in some areas of intellectual achievement, women are at a natural disadvantage (as evolutionary psychology claims). This bias in opposing one type of Creationism, but not the other, again plays into the right-wing narrative that the scientific establishment pays more attention to ideology than to facts.

Or, take GMOs. Humans have been genetically modifying organisms for at least 10,000 years. Now, thanks to impressive advances in genetics, we have the technology to do so even more efficiently. It is not hyperbole to claim that GMOs have the potential to solve the problem of world hunger once and for all. And yet, the scientific establishment is too timid to fully embrace GMO research and strongly refute those environmentalists who oppose these technologies (although it must be acknowledged that more than 100 Nobel laureates recently signed a letter defending GMOs).

The recent march in favor of science on Earth Day tried to build the narrative that anti-science is exclusively right-wing. That is clearly not the case. Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell make an extensive argument exposing the fallacies of the anti-scientific left, in their acclaimed book Science Left Behind. The scientific establishment should take note. Science is worth marching for. But, when that march becomes more of a ruse to propagate leftist ideology, it is ethically objectionable. Science needs all the support it can get, and it needs to persuade people to abandon their anti-scientific view of the world. But, when the scientific establishment is itself sequestered by some people who seem to care more about ideology than about facts, it fails in its attempt to bring the likes of Creationists and climate change deniers, to the light of science.

Easter was recently celebrated by Christians all over the world. 2017 was one of those rare years when the Julian and Gregorian calendars coincide in their timing of Easter; therefore, the Eastern and Western Churches celebrated Jesus’ resurrection on the same day.

Yet, a recent BBC poll revealed that a quarter of British Christians do not believe in the resurrection. We do not have poll results for the rest of the world. The United Kingdom is among the most secularized countries in the world, so the results are probably not representative of other countries. Yet, the modernizing and secularizing tendency seems to be spreading in the rest of the world, and it would be safe to assume that the percentage of people that do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection is on the rise.

"Pope Francis" by Alfredo Borba is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

With two deeply conservative predecessors (John Paul II and Benedict XVI), Pope Francis has raised a lot of eyebrows over the years. He has not made any significant reform (unlike, say, John XXIII), but his populist style has definitely struck a chord of sympathy amongst many Catholics. John Paul II was a populist as well, but he was closer to the original version of populism, gathering huge crowds all over the world. Francis, on the other hand, is not so apt at crowd gathering, but he is apt at appearing to be in touch with common folks. He has repeatedly washed people’s feet (in remembrance of Jesus’ humbleness), and he is very warm to journalists and visitors. Unlike Benedict XVI, he does not seem to be too interested in pompous rituals or luxurious protocols. We may never know whether these gestures are genuine, or a calculated political image; they are most likely something in between.