An Unqualified Appointment?
A NASA political appointee has been making some waves:
On the one hand, the Big Bang is a theory. It is competing with (highly speculative) theories involving smaller bangs. On the other hand, anybody who thinks that the Big Bang theory is incompatible with a Creator is unqualified to comment on these matters. (I suspect this includes most atheists.) On the gripping hand, the opponents sound like people who were equally confident that we would run out of resources in the 1980s or that oil price deregulation could not possibly work.
In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.
The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.
In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.
The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."
Why some people might not listen
When making an argument, you should look around you. When you defend Darwin's theory about the fact of evolution, you are, from the point of view of a conservative non-scientist, standing right next to people saying "Nuclear power killed my poodle." and not far away from people claiming that the late Terri Schindler Schiavo was brain dead. The more confident you sound, the more they think you're about to start marching in a demonstration featuring giant puppets.