On Wednesday of this week, an Iowa atheist gave an invocation to a meeting of the House where he asked the representatives present to invoke the “holy trinity of science”.
Justin Scott invoked the trinity of “reason, observation, and experience” when speaking to the Iowa House. He asked the lawmakers in his “opening prayer” to use these three pillars of science when going about their work in order to keep them from allowing “confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance or intellectual dishonesty to blindly guide positions and votes.” The ending of Scott’s invocation had a distinctly prayer-like feel when he said, “Let this trinity guide you and protect you. May this trinity inspire you and be honest to you ... lift up the truth upon you and give you peace.”
Scott gave the opening invocation as the guest of Representative Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo. He is believed to be the first atheist to offer an invocation in the Iowa House. He said that he hopes this will help “normalize what atheism is, what atheism isn’t,” admitting that there is a negative connotation with the word “atheist” and a popular image of the “angry atheist.”
I do find stories like this promising, especially when the atheist in question is not met with protesting Christians wielding pitchforks and torches. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States in January we now have several key government officials in place who are devout, evangelicals. Donald Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and his Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, have all been extremely vocal about their religious beliefs, and their reliance on their beliefs for making decisions that will impact public policy while they are in office. We need more people like Justin Scott who are fighting the good fight against these ancient, narrow-minded dogmas.
Scott’s plea for scientific reasoning to be considered is especially important given the current climate in the United States. The actions and statements of Donald Trump and his cabinet have made the War on Science feel very real these last few months with their total disregard for scientific consensus. Scientists are beginning to fight back in a few ways, however, and we can hope that the momentum building now among those who are fighting for science, reason, and enlightenment will continue to crescendo as the Trump administration continues.