If you read the news related to the hurricane recently you may have seen some stories about Michelle Bachman claiming Irene and the recent eastern earthquake are both signs from God.
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, “Are you going to start listening to me here?” she remarked, as reported by various sources. (Business Insider.com)
There are at least a couple of things going on with this type of communication. One, it suggests other politicians are ignoring God, and implies she is the attentive, faithful one. Two, it suggests she is one of the few who can understand God’s communications. Three, it repeats a pre-scientific view of the world which sees natural disasters as acts of God, and therefore ignores the true causes.
What causes a hurricane? The complexity of the conditions aligning to produce a hurricane is far greater than the simplistic act of God. One of the conditions is a mass of warm water, up to a certain temperature, and water of a certain depth such as 150 feet. Another is the Coriolis force, which generally means hurricanes start at least several degrees away from the equator.
Global warming is thought by some scientists to be a possible contributor to hurricane development. If you say it is just an act of God, you dismiss understanding what is actually happening, which is dangerous because if you can’t understand what extreme weather is, it is less likely you will be able to know how some human activities might be making it worse. Climate change is believed by scientists to also be a possible factor in other extreme weather. Bachmann doesn’t admit climate change is a problem.
Plate tectonics theory has been the working model for explaining seismic activity for some time during the modern era. At a basic level it holds earthquakes are caused when plates on the Earth’s surface are moved due to temperature changes deep within the planet. Tectonic plates can be 100 kilometers thick. Earthquakes usually occur on fault lines, where there are gaps between the plates. which has been backed up by the meticulous collection of research data for decades. Notice God’s wrath is mentioned nowhere in this theory, field data collection or extensive data analysis.
Politicians who don’t understand basic science are not likely to be effective policy makers, especially at a national level. This nation, and all others need leaders who understand science, at least at a basic level, and more importantly, who understand the value of scientific inquiry, observation and analysis.
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