Clash of religion, politics good news for reporters

New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade takes time to sign copies of his book after his speech on March 5.By Mike Caputo

Aspiring scientists and physicians studying in Rider’s science departments know two major obstacles they will have to hurdle in their future professional careers: politics and religion.

It’s a hurdle for the scientist, that is. For the reporter, on the other hand, the battle pitting science on one side and politics and religion on the other is “fine,” says Nicholas Wade, a longtime science reporter for the New York Times.

“If religious people were denouncing some branch of science, that makes the story better, not worse,” Wade told The Rider News in an interview before his lecture in the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) on March 5.

Wade added that it’s especially important for scientists to appeal to the government because it has the ability to provide funding through grants. History has proven religion’s impact on politics, because it is often used as a tool during many campaigns around the nation.

Two of the long-term scientific battles embodying religion and politics are Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories and stem cell research, said Wade. Darwin explained that species develop over time from a common origin through his presentation of natural and sexual selection. Wade appeared pessimistic toward a possible end to the religious war against Darwinism.

“I will expect the Darwin battle will continue because there is a fundamental difference there and if you believe the Bible’s literal truth, you are going to be disagreeing with the scientists,” said Wade. “That seems to be a permanent open battle.”

Conversely, Wade was optimistic about the topic of stem cell research. To Wade, it will take one major scientific finding to change people’s views toward the
controversial subject.

“A way it can get results overnight as if scientists actually make some breakthrough discovery,” said Wade. “Say we can cure Alzheimer’s with embryonic stem cells. So far, they haven’t come up with that big discovery.”

During Wade’s lecture in the BLC Theater, he presented his findings from his recent book, Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors. In the book, Wade details the history of the human race since the beginning of civilization.

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