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‘ow old’s the Earth, Bruce?

by Phil Plait, May 05 2010

Wow. Just wow. You need to watch this to — ahem! — believe it. This guy, Steven Fielding, an Australian Parliamentarian, dodges, ducks, dips, dives and dodges so well he could be an American politician!

Did you notice anything about what he said? Like, how he never answered the actual question? I do have to wonder about his exact reasons for dodging Richard Dawkins’ questions about the age of the Earth. It’s almost as if he’s embarrassed by his own beliefs, knowing how old-fashioned, provincial, and downright wrong they must sound.

Tip o’ the Mintie to Michael Rosch. Originally posted on the Bad Astronomy Blog.

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21 Responses to “‘ow old’s the Earth, Bruce?”

  1. Tacticus says:

    As a Victorian and Australian i apologise to the world for letting this nutcase have the modicum of power he has (unfortunately a fair amount as he is a fairly important senator)

    • norris says:

      As another Australian, I too apologise for this idiot being inflicted on the world by my country. Take heart that Australians generally speaking are far more enlightened than this twit. As Tacitus says, though, he does have power; far more power in the Australian Senate than he ought to.

  2. Michael says:

    Be aware that Stephen Fielding is from a small extreme right wing party called Family First. They are not a mainstream party. Dawkins was in Australia for the Atheist Convention in Melbourne that I attended. He compared Mr Fielding to an earthworm. Very apt.

  3. Dwight says:

    Oh I so want to see the rest of this!

  4. ejdalise says:

    He should have been called on the “people can believe different things” line.

    If you are a legislator, are responsible for directing tax dollars, and help set national policy, it’s no longer just a matter of personal belief.

    Then again, he got elected, which perhaps speaks more to his constituents than anything else. Unless he lied during his campaign (what a shocker that would be), he is a reflection of his constituents, their values, and their beliefs.

    As far as comparing it to an American Politician . . . not a fair comparison. Pretty much all have to give the god idea a wink and a nod to even be considered for elected office, so a more interesting question would be how many lack ethical and moral standards. I would wager a large number of them, but that’s just observation on my part.

    • Re: “he got elected, which perhaps speaks more to his constituents than anything else“, if you’re not interested in a lecture on how the Australian electoral system works, then suffice it to say that constituents have very little to do with it!

      If you would like an extremely short lecture, see below.

      Basically, if a party wins more seats in the Senate than it has candidates to fill them, then the extra seats are filled by representatives of other parties according to a list published prior to the election by the party that would have won the seat. (In theory, voters get a say too, but in practise, nobody bothers.)

      Fielding got a seat not because anyone voted for him, but because he bribed at least one major party (no prizes for guessing which one) to put him up the top of their list.

      I’m simplifying like mad here. If you want more information, try:
      http://www.aec.gov.au/Elections/federal_elections/2007/candidates/gvt.htm

  5. Drew says:

    Man, I wish I lived in a country where people would laugh at those statements…

    • Lucian says:

      I know what you mean, Drew. I was really happy that the crowd WAS laughing, because those beliefs are absolutely absurd!

      • Max says:

        Were they laughing at the absurd beliefs or at the evasiveness?
        I think both, because a crowd that comes to listen to Richard Dawkins probably includes his fans.

      • tmac57 says:

        My understanding is that Australia is much more secular than the U.S.. But, having said that,you can well imagine those kind of statements getting the same response if they were said in front of Bill Maher’s audience on ‘Real Time’.

    • kabol says:

      Man, I wish I lived in a country where people would laugh at those statements…

      i couldn’t agree more.

  6. Majority of One says:

    I watched this entire video on Richard’s site. I have to hand it to Richard for being so patient with these people. I thought the rabbi lady was ok but the other lady was also a nutter. She finally played the “you’re insulting my beliefs and I’m taking offense” card at the end to which they mostly all piled on because they know that is the only way to shut down a Richard Dawkins. He was applauded quite a bit so the audience did seem to be a good mix of people.

    I have to say to the Aussies who felt embarassed by Fielding…at least your TV station ran the program. I don’t think a show like this would make it onto the air here in America. Not without a lot of heavy editing. So, don’t feel embarassed. At least you’ve got an open system and after more people see Fielding and learn what he stands for he will be ridiculed and driven out of office (one can at least ‘ope, eh?).

  7. billgeorge says:

    Typical politician – be evasive so as not to alienate any science ignoramus that may be a registered voter.

  8. Yay! I get plugged on two sites for the price of one. :)

  9. Cpolsonb says:

    I wrote briefly about this debate back in March. For those like Dwight who want to watch it in it’s entirety there is also a link on my blog entry here: http://friendofreason.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/richard-dawkins-on-abcs-qa/

  10. Amy Earth says:

    He was acting like a politician. Not giving a definite opinion because he doesn’t want to be seen as disagreeing with anyone.

    Dawkins is a scientist, not a politician. He can say what he wants.

  11. peter says:

    After 10 seconds listening to this arsehole, my brain started to slowly rotate – time to quit.

  12. Moochie says:

    I generally don’t give a hoot about what people believe in the privacy of their own heads, but I vehemently object when their beliefs underpin decisions to send the young to gratuitous wars, or when they feel it incumbent upon them to make their beliefs mine. I tend to think a nation gets the politicians it deserves. Alas, the current crop of our Australian politicians fails on so many fronts that it’s downright embarrassing. Australia is in dire need of a rigorous separation of church and state; our current arrangements make it all too easy for the Fieldings of this great land to wiggle into positions well outside their intellectual capacity.

  13. Oh my goodness. I need to move to Antarctica.