During his April 27, 2009, address at the National Academy of Sciences’ annual meeting, President Barack Obama called for focused scientific research aimed to improve the daily lives of American citizens. He framed his remarks in the words of Abraham Lincoln, whose administration created the NAS for the purpose of providing “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery...of new and useful things.”1
Among the “useful things” that Mr. Obama said he would love to see come to fruition are “solar cells as cheap as paint; green buildings that produce all the energy they consume; learning software as effective as a personal tutor; prosthetics so advanced that you could play the piano again; [and] an expansion of the frontiers of human knowledge about ourselves and world the around us.”
Regarding the intersection of science and faith, the president refrained from commenting on any issues where people have used science’s ability to alter or destroy life as the justification for doing so, which usurps a prerogative of God: “Science cannot supplant our ethics or our values, our principles or our faith. But science can inform those things and help put those values—these moral sentiments, that faith—can put those things to work—to feed a child, or to heal the sick, to be good stewards of this Earth.”
In many respects, most of the goals outlined by Mr. Obama in this speech are in accord with principles advocated by the Institute for Creation Research. ICR founder Dr. Henry M. Morris wrote in 1976 concerning God’s command to Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth, as recorded in Genesis 1:28:
“Science is man’s disciplined study and understanding of the phenomena of his world. “Technology” is the implementation of this knowledge in the effective ordering and development of the earth and its resources, for the greater good of all earth’s inhabitants (including such fields of human service as engineering, agriculture, medicine, and a host of other practical technologies)....Science and technology, research and development, theory and application, study and practice, and so forth, are various ways of expressing these two concepts. This command, therefore, established man as God’s steward over the created world and all things therein.2
Interestingly, the long list of useful items that the president mentioned lacks even a single reference to any benefits derived from or used for evolutionary theory, which is touted by some as the unifying theme of all the biological studies. Was this a tremendous oversight by Mr. Obama? Not likely, since his speech aggressively promoted the practical application of science to the benefit of humanity. Evolutionary theory is totally irrelevant to achieving that goal, as one evolutionist acknowledged: “Most [biologists] can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. ‘Evolution’ would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”3
A great chasm exists between the real, testable, and experimental science behind developing “prosthetics so advanced that you could play the piano again” and the scientific basis for looking at the fossilized bones of a wolf-like creature and contriving a “just so” story of how it “emerged” into a whale.
Some of the loudest applause Mr. Obama received occurred when he said, “Next, we are restoring science to its rightful place. On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” But does Mr. Obama really believe that science is not influenced by the ideology of atheistic and evolution-only researchers? His decision to use federal funds to destroy human embryos for research made plain his scientific ideology, which is robustly supported by the scientific elite.
The closest science gets to operating free from ideological sanction is in the focused, experiment-based research and development that is doggedly fixed on producing the kinds of useful items the president appropriately detailed in his speech. Mr. Obama should redirect his influence to fully promote scientific achievement that really does foster good stewardship of this earth.
- The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by the President at the National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting. April 27, 2009.
- Morris, H. M. 1976. The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 77.
- Wilkins, A. S. 2000. Evolutionary processes: a special issue. BioEssays. 22: 1051-1052.
* Dr. Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative.
Article posted April 30, 2009.