Political Animal


October 05, 2012 4:31 PM Another Fine Scientist on the Hill

By Ed Kilgore

So you think a level 85 orc running for office is scary? Consider the prevailing community standards, wherein the great biologist and women’s health advocate Todd Akin sits on the U.S. House Science committee with the physician Paul Broun, Jr., from my home state of Georgia. In the tradition of Friday Horror Movies, TPM’s Benjy Sarlin has drawn attention to a video of Broun speaking to a Baptist Sportsmen’s Banquet in his district on the importance to him—as a scientist—of understanding that science is Satanic. Give it a gander if you aren’t disturbed by having twenty deer trophies staring at you as Broun raves on, to many audible “amens”:

Now as a practicing Christian, I’m more offended religiously than politically at Broun’s rant. The Bible, he says, is a “manufacturer’s handbook,” that shows “how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches…how to run all of public policy and everything in society.” What an astonishingly, depressingly unspiritual way to look at the Good Book; what an appallingly illiterate way of understanding it, particularly if you get that the only scriptures people like Broun want to use to control the lives of everyone in the world just happen to reinforce the kind of smug white conservative patriarchal world-view from a bygone era they consider ideal.

It’s saddening and maddening, worse yet because among the “amens” greeting Broun’s soul-deadening paen to religious and political authoritarianism there wasn’t one voice saying “Really?”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • TCinLA on October 05, 2012 4:47 PM:

    Bear in mind this looney-tune is a Medical Doctor. With a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

    Further proof that you need to know your doctor's political orientation. Can you imagine having a moron like this anywhere near you with a scalpel??

  • martin on October 05, 2012 5:12 PM:

    Can you imagine having a moron like this anywhere near you with a scalpel??

    Keep electing him or he will cut again!

  • Joel on October 05, 2012 5:18 PM:

    He is not a scientist. He is a physician. Some physicians are also scientists, but most are not. He, for example, is not.

    It is true that science underlies what physicians do in their practice. But that fact doesn't make physicians scientists any more than the fact that science underlies what science underlies how cars work makes an auto mechanic a scientist.

  • Bob M on October 05, 2012 5:26 PM:

    On his fourth wife. Must be hard to get along with.

  • Frank Wilhoit on October 05, 2012 5:27 PM:

    It is worse, Ed, it is blasphemous.

  • ComradeAnon on October 05, 2012 5:30 PM:

    Aw, he's just (the opposite of) a good ol' boy.

    Captcha: supertis seditious

  • schtick on October 05, 2012 6:06 PM:

    You'll have to forgive him. He is, after all, a teapub.

  • Mitch on October 05, 2012 6:26 PM:


    Well said.

    I have known several individuals who seem to think that their advanced education makes them into wise men of every field. Physicians often seem the worst in this aspect, but I have even known some genuine researchers who knew a great deal about their area of study, but little to nothing about other disciplines. This lack of knowledge seldom stops people from spouting off as if they had all of the answers.

    Of course, most people do not seem to understand science at all. They seem to believe that science is little more than Big Words spouted off by some guys in white coats. They do not understand that science is, quite simply, the acceptance of evidence, instead of belief in preconceived notions.

    I do not believe in natural selection or heliocentrism or plate tectonics or the Standard Model of particle physics or the Second Law of thermodynamics.

    I have been convinced by the evidence that those things are true and accurate explanations for the world around us. Indeed, most of our current scientific knowledge has been proven correct by experimentation, observation and physical evidence again and again.

    As an atheist and lover of science, I am enraged and appalled by this video. And frightened because I know that millions of my fellow citizens (and most of my family/friends) agree with him.

    I would like to ask him how, as a physician, he explains the recurrent larygeal nerve, the undeniable DNA evidence that all known life is biologically related, the layout of the mammalian skeleton or eyeball, the existence of the vermiform appendix, embryological development and little things like goosebumps while denying evolution as he does.

  • Joel on October 05, 2012 7:41 PM:

    "Physicians often seem the worst in this aspect"

    Many see themselves as M.Dieties.

  • RepubAnon on October 05, 2012 10:12 PM:

    So, Paul Broun thinks that the various creatures inhabiting the Earth were not the result of competition choosing the fittest - but were instead the product of a centrally-planned system? Doesn't that make God a Stalinist?

    (Does the Big Bang really contradict "let there be light"? Especially after several thousand years of being passed down via oral tradition? I can imagine an all-knowing and all-powerful God being able to accurately describe Creation to an illiterate stone-age shepherd - I just have a hard time believing that shepherd's great grandchildren being able to accurately relate what the shepherd told them God had said.)

  • Doug on October 05, 2012 11:49 PM:

    "...depressing unspiritual...appallingly illiterate..." Ed Kilgore

    Sort of sums up today's GOP, doesn't it?

  • Rick B on October 06, 2012 1:04 AM:

    What this man is saying about the bible is what the Moody Bible Institute said when they started the fundamentalist xtian denominations. The preachers were aghast that other religious scholars were applying what were in the late 19th century modern forms of textual analysis to see who actually had written the bible and how accurate it was. These guys considered that blasphemy and established the biblical inerrancy philosophy.

    Then in response to science they began to interpret the bible as an engineering handbook which, when read line by line,provided god's answers to all life's persistent questions.

    This is an utterly reactionary response to the revelations provided by the philosophies and techniques of science, especially evolution.

    Read Karen Armstrong's great book The Battle for God. It explains much of the insanity spoken by the fundamentalists and the dominionists. They demand that there be an uncontested god who provides absolute commands to be obeyed and absolute truths to control them. The scientific philosophy that all knowledge is tentative and open to question and doubt drives them up a tree.

  • Bathrobespierre on October 06, 2012 3:22 PM:

    Broun is with wife number four. Broun is a whoremonger according to the Holy Bible he believes to be inerrant.

  • David Martin on October 06, 2012 4:14 PM:

    With respect to Karen Armstrong, she's entirely correct that fundamentalists attempted to turn mythos into logos. "The Bible is a fact-filled book."

    I would not have Dr. Broun as my physician, nor as a spiritual guide.

  • Jesse Fell on October 07, 2012 1:42 AM:

    Liberals are slow to see the extent to which Dr. Broun misuses scripture and travesties traditional Christian thought and believe because they aren't very familiar with either, by and large. Where are Christian leaders like the Niebuhr brothers, or any of the other large and impressive group of Christian thinkers who could, from their deep understanding of their faith and tradition, expose the nuttiness of the Dr. Brouns of the world? The field has been left to self-style Christians who distort Christianity for ideological purposes, and their critics on the left, who see the danger of the distortion, but not the true shape and meaning of what has been distorted.