Canadian astronaut turned governor-general trashes all Canadians who doubt that life is a “random process”

From Global News:

“And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process.”

Payette was trained as a computer engineer and later became an astronaut and licensed pilot and in 1999 was the first Canadian to board the International Space Station.

She urged her former colleagues in the room to be “vigilant” and aim to make science a topic so well known and understood it is a subject of conversation at cocktail parties in the same way people now talk about the weather or the latest hockey scores. More.

If Payette’s former colleagues follow her lead in this matter, cocktail party invitations may well diminish somewhat…

It’s not clear why Payette felt she had to say those things because they’re not related to specific Canadian science policies. Most Canadians believe in God, as reflected in our Constitution.

Canadian journalist Brian Lilley notes that she stepped way out of line for her position:

Now plenty of those who agree with Payette, who cheer her on in the media and elsewhere likely are happy that she’s mocking those backwards Christians that think God had something to do with making the planets and human life. And she is mocking them. And the elites in this country will love that because who among them doesn’t like a good “let’s mock the Christians session.”

So maybe I need to explain this in the language of the elites. Diversity.

Our new GG also mocked Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus. You get the picture.

If this how Madame Payette feels about religion that is her business but as the Queen’s representative it is not her role to mock religious belief. I should also point out that the Queen herself is the head of a religion, the Anglican Church, that believes in this idea Payette just mocked. More.

Also, Rex Murphy at Canada’s National Post:

There is more than a taste of Scientism in Ms. Payette’s frequent reference to “learned debate,” an easy phrase but a perplexing concept. How would she characterize debate in the House of Commons, or any of our provincial and municipal assemblies? Probably not up to Royal Society standards, I’d guess. Are we to conflate learned with scientific, for that was plainly her thrust? Should the lesser learned, who somehow get elected, defer to those with B.Sc. degrees? Should we change the franchise? Those with Grade 11 or less, or mere Fine Arts certificates – the “unlearned” or “wrongly learned” – get half a vote?

Naturally, Ms. Payette opined on climate science, and equally naturally placed inquiry and skepticism on what is proclaimed the consensus of that but emergent discipline as denialism – thereby endorsing the ugliest rhetorical term in this entire, explosive issue, which summons the butchery and cruelty of History’s greatest crime as a spurious backdrop to debate on an unresolved public issue. We have a right to expect better from Her Majesty’s representative.

This is certainly a way for Payette to put the governing Liberal Party voters firmly in their place. People inclined to vote for other parties can simply make a point of continuing to do so and adding daily to their numbers until the next election.

Added: Let me (O’Leary for News) offer one Canadian’s perspective: The Governor-General represents Her Canadian Majesty, Elizabeth II.

The Queen does not belittle citizens of Commonwealth countries whose opinions may differ from hers, especially not on issues that are irrelevant to constitutional government. In fact, you will not likely hear that she belittled anyone in her seven decades of public service. In any event, in England, she is also head of the Church of England and can hardly be associated with Payette’s private opinions in principle.

Payette is one of those increasingly familiar (and decreasingly popular) figures, the “celeb” who thinks that people care about her opinions as opposed to her performance. It’s easy to think of popular cultural institutions in the United States to which such people are doing significant damage.

I think the trend is peaking. An underlying factor is that the people who do this kind of thing are out of touch with why other people even pay attention to them. Canadians were proud of Payette as an astronaut but probably don’t feel they need to be lectured by her on philosophy of science.


  Update: Jane Harris, author of Eugenics and the Firewall* (2011), is also chair of a local branch of the Monarchist League of Canada, thus well aware of the duties of a governor-general in a Commonwealth country, duties that consist primarily in promoting unity within the principles of a constitutional monarchy. She kindly writes to say,

It really is puzzling. On the one hand, Payette is spontaneous and seems to enjoy people. In her installation speech, she was very clear that she knows she represents the Queen. So far, so good.

Given her background, she may not be aware that she knows anyone who supports creation or how many Canadians are members of conservative faith communities, but she will have to work with faith communities. She also needs to be able to work with Mr. Scheer [leader of the Conservative Party of Canada] if ever there is a minority or a change of government in 2019.

There’s been some concern that the current government hasn’t filled the role of the Canadian Secretary to the Queen. So that may be an issue, here as well.

Harris means here that no experienced person seems to have been available to fill Payette in on the nature of her job.

Ms. Payette has a lot to learn, as the role is quite different for her now that she has to represent people outside the bubble she is in. It’s a very bad position for her to be put in, if she’s seen as partisan or too indebted to the PM. There’s a lot to learn, so we can allow her some breathing space, but it’s sad to see her put in this position.

Ms. Payette is not the only person in public life these days, it seems, who will need to learn to think outside the Bubble.

* Note: Short interviews with Jane Harris at Uncommon Descent on the role of Darwinism in 20th century eugenics here (1), here (2), and here (3).

See also: Green cronyism and pop science