Posted tagged ‘fundamentalism’

Sullivan, Huckabee, and the step not taken.

January 18, 2008

Andrew Sullivan has been consistent on Huckabee — he thinks that a truly committed Biblical literalist would make a scary President. I agree with him, as too many posts on this blog should make clear.

Now, Sullivan has put together his clearest account of Huckabee’s commitment to the view that the Bible is absolutely true. That’s really true — not only in the sense that a man named Moses really did lead the Israelites through dry land in the sea of Reeds or that a divine/man named Jesus really did bring another man named Lazarus to life — but in that the inerrant text of scripture is the only real judge of truth for any claim made outside the Bible — law and government, the arts, medicine and science, everything.

Again, Sullivan seems entirely in the right of it here to me. These views are incompatible with reality. You can’t have a President who thinks the Bible is a medical text, or a guide to physics and so on.

But the real story here is that Huckabee is extreme in degree, but not in kind. Some kind of magical thinking infects all the major GOP candidates, not just the man from Hope.

You can see this most clearly in the near universal defense of a false, but foundational GOP belief, the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves. McCain is the latest of the Republicans to wave that magic tax-cut wand. But Giuliani did it too. Romney goes there and of course, Huckabee himself has signed on with a 30% “fair” tax. See this post and its links for one of the multiple debunkings of self-paying tax cuts, and this article for a takedown on the Huckabee tax proposal.

Such willingness to ignore the contrary, inconvenient fact takes us back to a running theme of this blog. The real reason that it matters whether or not the candidates and the voters understand and support science is not just to make sure that something we might like gets funded next year. It is because the stories of science teach that the goal is not to defend what you know is right — but to make sure that what you know is not wrong.

(I need to add that, of course, the Democrats have un or ill-examined assumptions of their own. But one of the consequences of being out of power for so long is that a lot of received wisdom erodes during the desert years. Right now, this is an acute problem on the GOP side. If the Dems hold power for ten or twenty years, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this kind of unreflective certainty become much more prevalent on that side of the aisle.)

Update: shortened and edited for clarity.’

Update #2:  John Cole puts my whole screed faster, cheaper, better, here.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, “Moses smashing the tablets of the law.” Source: Wikipedia Commons.