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A Conspiracy? … Belief, Evolution, and Global Warming (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

The coverage of the Copenhagen meeting and the recent debacle over the “climate gate” e-mails has raised a number of different questions for many people.  See here for one of the multitude of reports. The questions range from the reality of anthropogenic global warming to the strength and reliability of the evidence for evolution. After all, some ask, if there was conspiracy over the climate data why should we trust scientists
on evolution – could this be conspiracy as well?

One commenter mentioned struggling with the ability to find good, trustworthy information…

I’ve been thinking about the “conflict” (I’m boycotting quotes for
the rest of this post or there would be too many to count) between the
Bible and science.

As I look back on the evidence I’ve seen–I concede it has been
biased– it appears that the arguments fall into stereotypical insults.
The young earth’s are depicted as ignorant and not knowing science. The
mainline scientist are characterized as conducting biased studies in
support of preconceived notions. That is young earth supporters portray
science as having a bias against the Bible.

I’m not telling anyone anything new. My struggle is to find “fair
and balanced” information. (Sorry I don’t want to start a tangent on
the news).

The same commenter came back a bit later and noted:

The link from the weekly meanderings (here) sums up some of my concerns with both evolution and global warming. Thoughts…

I have two questions I would like to consider today – What do you think?

How do we know who to trust? Why or when would you suspect a conspiracy?

And

How do we evaluate the evidence?



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Bob Porter

posted December 31, 2009 at 8:23 am


I can certainly identify with the problem. Sometimes I feel that trying to determine what is true has been a life-long quest.
It seems to me that we need to find people with expertise in the topic and who holds a theistic world view, but have the humility to recognize that they may be wrong.



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Dr. Bill Stone

posted December 31, 2009 at 9:11 am


Keep in mind that Jesus never read the New Testament and therefore could not share in the conflicts that arise from a (modern)literal interpretation of the Bible versus science. As a working molecular biologist, I use the concepts derived from evolutionary biology to help find cures for cancer and heart disease. I marvel at the beauty and harmony that exists in the natural world and strongly object to those who would make me blind and incapable of seeing.



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carlos cardoso

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:15 am


Just follow the money…



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RJS

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:29 am


Carlos,
From the science side, there isn’t big money in either evolution or global warming research. There is funding, but if you are going to discount research for which funding is available, you’ll have to discount everything.



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dura mater

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:48 am


Hello. Whom to trust, and how to evaluate the evidence are questions that have been bothering me, so I am delighted to see your post, RJS, and curious to read what others have to say.
We are in a perfect storm of information and confusion. There are huge questions — evolution, climate, war — that are both technically and theologically complex. An immense amount of information is available to us, in the form of facts and opinions, or the two conflated, and in a plethora of intellectual “flavors” to suit any taste. Our limited, human brains (mine, anyway)aren’t big enough to encompass and digest it all.
I’m a physician, and I home-school my kids. I also teach high school biology to other home-schoolers. What I try to do, and teach my various students to do, is the following:
-start at the beginning
-look at the data
-read the primary source, not what others have said about it
-think for yourself
-be honest
-remember that God is not out to trick you; deception is not consistent with His nature
-start from what we know to be Truth, and assess everything through His lens.
I think that deferring to “experts” whom we have decided to trust is potentially a slippery slope. After all, we choose them based on our intellectual tastes; it’s essentially a consumer choice. I am not saying that we should not seek counsel from those with experience or wisdom, just that we should not blindly abdicate mental and spiritual conviction.
just my $.02.
Happy New Year!



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Ben Ayers

posted December 31, 2009 at 10:55 am


It is important to note that a number of the scientists who did the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are solid Christians. This includes Sir John Houghton the co-chair of the IPCC (3) report. I know five of these scientists personally.
As a Christian, I am saddened by Christians who deny the overwhelming peer-reviewed scientific evidence and don’t understand that seeking truth is fundamental to Christian integrity.
Look, the oil and coal industries are trying to mislead us. Fox News–owned in part by a Saudi Prince–doesn’t want us to move away from dependency on Middle East Oil. When are we going to wake up to the truth?



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dopderbeck

posted December 31, 2009 at 11:17 am


Fascinating topic. It’s hard enough just to pin down what, if anything, the “climate-gate” emails signify. There may be nothing dishonest about a statistical “trick,” for example, as that can be lingo for common techniques.
Nevertheless, it shows that “Science” as an institution is thoroughly human. Arguments from authority aren’t satisfactory, even when they invoke the authority of “Science.” The questions shouldn’t be whether the “Scientific consensus” is X or Y, but rather the correspondence and coherence of the scientific model in question with all of the resources of knowledge available to us. The same is true, BTW, for the “Theological consensus.” This means that if you want to discuss something intelligently, you need to research it for yourself at least at some basic level.
All that said, no one can be an individualistic island of Platonic ideas. We have to inhabit traditions of thought and we have to rely on those tradition-trajectories for frameworks that help us focus the ways in which we invest our limited resources of time and study. There is a certain degree of faith we must have in the basic integrity of well-established traditions, even as we retain some degree of critical distance.
I think that, for a Christian, this basic degree of faith needs to apply both to the Christian theological tradition and the tradition of the natural sciences. Both have proven to be valuable, though imperfect, means of knowledge in different (but related) spheres of thought. And we have to have a certain degree of faith in the final coherence of all Truth, which imbues a degree of patience when that coherence seems hard to come by.



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AHH

posted December 31, 2009 at 11:31 am


A few principles that come to my mind …
1) Respect expertise. Opinions of lawyers and philosophers on evolution, or of economists and physicians on global climate, should carry about as much weight as my opinion on exegesis of Biblical Greek (which I have never studied). This does not mean “experts” should be trusted unquestioningly, or that those from outside the field can never contribute anything worthwhile. But many issues reach a level where amateurs are unlikely to be able to make a well-informed critique.
1a) Give more weight to experts in the center of a field than those whose expertise is only tangentially related. We scientists like to think we can understand anything technical, even at the fringes of our expertise. So one gets critiques from the fringes that are not well-informed — for example the 2 main founders of “creation science” were a civil engineer who pronounced on “flood geology” and a biochemist who pronounced on fossils. I can think of two active global warming skeptics who are only in related fields (a hurricane forecaster and a geophysicist). Related expertise can make important contributions, but typically those in the center of their expertise (biologists & geneticists for evolution, climatologists & atmospheric scientists for climate change) will have the best overall view.
2) Recognize that most scientists are independent-minded, so the idea of an organized conspiracy is ludicrous. The phrase “herding cats” comes to mind. That doesn’t mean the majority consensus can never be wrong, but if it is wrong it won’t be due to conspiracy. It would be any scientist’s dream to be the one who obtains and displays evidence to overturn a major paradigm, and it is the culture of science to consider all ideas (at least if advanced by people with relevant expertise). Nothing in the hacked climate emails contradicts this, although there were isolated cases of iffy ethics as might be expected in a group of humans.
3) Many scientists are Christians too. So charges that scientific consensus is an atheist conspiracy or new-age Gaia worship slander the integrity of the many Christians who faithfully study evolution and the global climate. Particularly unfortunate are the suggestions (often heard from “culture-war” sources with regard to evolution) that Christians only go along with the consensus to maintain respectability in the academy. That’s a real slap in the face to many faithful Christians in academia.
4) Look for as much objectivity as possible, but of course nobody’s objectivity is perfect. “Follow the money” is a valid point. It is not unreasonable to note that those who study global climate have an incentive (maintaining funding for their research) to play up the seriousness of the problem. But “follow the money” also applies to those on the “skeptical” side whose efforts are funded by corporate interests with lots of money at stake (like the tobacco industry supported skeptics of the cancer link) or by those with cultural axes to grind (like anti-evolution efforts funded by Religious Right sources).



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Your Name

posted December 31, 2009 at 11:41 am


RJS -
Couple of quick thoughts in answer to your three questions:
1) trust next to no one; but if you must trust, elevate those w/o an axe to grind above those with one
2) calculate the carbon footprint of the AGW/Green movement’s leading prophets
3) read both sides of the issue, while repeating #1 and 2
Oh, and I should add – maybe a 3a if you will – give up the notion of “Science” settling any debate w/ any sort of finality. Only 30 years ago we were warned of an Ice Age, according to “Science”. Science is/can be a help but remember that it’s in the hands of fallable humans…



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MarkP

posted December 31, 2009 at 11:42 am


What are the risks of getting it wrong on global warming? If the consensus is wrong, the risk is a serious and unnecessary financial hit. If the consensus is right, the risk is leaving a barely inhabitable world for my children and yours (besides wiping out the polar bears and all the rest, and besides once and for all settling the question of what kind of stewards we are of God’s creation). I think the latter is a much worse fate than the former.
Too many people treat this as part of the culture wars. It’s not. We’re all facing the same risks here, and there will be no joy in having won the battle if it turns out we’re wrong on the facts.



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Darren King

posted December 31, 2009 at 11:53 am


This may sound a tad cynical, but generally I count on the fact that human beings are generally too inept to contain, or perpetuate, a conspiracy for very long; especially in this day and age of the 24 hour/multi-format media, padded by an army of watchful bloggers (from all stripes and political persuasions) ready, willing, and able to expose such conspiracies at a moment’s notice.
As far as getting reliable information goes, that’s more challenging. I guess I take it as a given that there will be corruption and bias on both sides of any position – including global warming. I do find it interesting when non-right-wingers, with scientific backgrounds, such as Michael Creighton for instance, enter the fray to suggest the whole case is overblown and based on unscientific assumptions. That definitely gives one pause. After all, people like this are not guilty of the typical agendas.
Now, that said, eventually, despite all this being the case, consensus does form. It all shakes out and reality begins to emerge. And to me it seems clear that the lineup of naysayers has definitely decreased over time; to the point where its now mostly made up of those with a vested interest in debunking global warming – either as happening at all, or being primarily human caused.



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BradK

posted December 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm


RJS #4
There may not be big money in salaries to climate researchers, but there is a LOT of money riding on the results of climate change research. Take this comment from Jeffrey Sachs (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-clunker-of-a-climate-policy) in the November issue of Scientific American for example:
“We?ll need to spend trillions of dollars over time to save the planet from climate change.”
With trillions of dollars riding on research, one cannot easily dismiss the possibility of “funny business” with the numbers. I think that transparency is extremely important to credibility here. Especially in the wake of the fallout from the emails.
That said, the research on climate change is not even close to as conclusive as the research on evolution. This probably makes sense as climate research has a shorter history. But as a result I’m not even close to as convinced about climate change as I am about evolution either. There’s no doubt that climate changes and there’s little doubt that humans are affecting it. But the degree to which humans are affecting it is a big question in my mind.



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Rick

posted December 31, 2009 at 12:17 pm


I agree with listening more to those who are experts in their fields, but also I look to those who are open, honest, and authentic. This is where some on the climate issue lost some credibility. They pretended they are totally objective, hid data, and acted as if that was ok. (I find it interesting that some of the comments here have ignored that).
I also heed the words of Keller and his warning of idol worship. Among those idols is that of reason and science, which becomes to some, in his words, their “Athena”. As he points out, it is what they cannot do without. It is what “saves”. When its social standing is threatened, there is chaos and confusion. Its supporters lash out, rather than respond in humility.
I also am more hesitant to buy in when some go beyond the scope of the field and treat it as a worldview, the GTE (from the Keller posts earlier in the week).



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MH

posted December 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm


Why are you linking evolution and global warming research? They’re two distinct areas of science with different amounts of evidence for them.
The theory of evolution and the evidence supporting has been accumulating for over 150 years. To maintain a conspiracy for that long would be impossible. To evaluate the evidence just take a biology class. Much of the evidence for evolution is fairly straight forward and can be taught to a high schooler.



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RJS

posted December 31, 2009 at 1:13 pm


MH,
I brought these topics together because I have had several people link them – in terms of this question of knowing who to trust.
I think you over estimate the simplicity of evolution though. High school biology tells a coherent story, but at that level there is still a lot of “authority” involved in accepting what is taught.



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Darryl

posted December 31, 2009 at 1:25 pm


Interesting article. I’m not certain how I feel about the conspiracy issue, although certainly many people in both camps tend to ignore and dismiss those who disagree without fully engaging them or listening.
For an interesting take on AGW by physicists: http://www.climategate.com/german-physicists-trash-global-warming-theory



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Darryl

posted December 31, 2009 at 1:28 pm


MH I would also suggest you put too much trust in high school biology! The theory of the embryo reflecting evolutionary progress has been debunked for years by evolutionists themselves. And yet it is still taught as fact in High School Biology classes!



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Darryl

posted December 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm


I can’t remember the theory’s actual name. It’s something like ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Something like that…



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Josh Rowley

posted December 31, 2009 at 2:09 pm


?How do we know who to trust??
My related question is Why are people today so suspicious of experts? This suspicion seems to be characteristic of our postmodern age. People distrust institutions like the government, the academy, and the church. Is the distrust of experts (scientists, for example) an extension of the suspicion of institutions? When did this suspicion of institutions begin?the Nixon years (around the same time as the start of postmodernity)? Perhaps this suspicion is somehow related to the postmodern rejection of metanarratives.
I am more inclined to be suspicious of conspiracy theorists than I am to suspect a conspiracy. Given their popularity here, is there something about American culture that fuels conspiracy theories?
The evaluation of evidence for climate change or anything else should be an ongoing process that is characterized by epistemic humility. For my part, though, I will still give more weight to the opinions of experts (in the case of climate change, scientists) than to the opinions of bloggers.



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AHH

posted December 31, 2009 at 2:09 pm


Another helpful skill in evaluating is to recognize when sources are not worth listening to.
For example, it is a good rule of thumb that anybody who uses the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an anti-evolution argument does not know what they are talking about (I say this as one who specializes in chemical thermodynamics).
On climate, anybody who does not know the difference between “climate” and “weather” is not worth being listened to (examples: “how can we predict the climate in 50 years when we can’t predict next week’s weather?” or “we had a cool summer in the Eastern US, so much for global warming”).
It is useful to be able to recognize such nonsense and separate the wheat from the chaff in “skeptic” arguments. On some issues (like the age of the Earth) there may be no wheat left after this process, but on others there may be non-nonsense arguments worth listening to.
Somehow our education (both generally and in some cases in churches) needs to better equip people to recognize a few very basic things (like the difference between climate and weather) in order to make the conversations more constructive.



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David Johnson

posted December 31, 2009 at 2:16 pm

AHH

posted December 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm


MH #14,
I think “linking” is appropriate for a couple of reasons (although certainly the issues themselves should be considered individually).
1) Opposition to the scientific consensus on the 2 issues, especially among Christians, to a large extent comes from the same people. It seems often to be part of the same “culture war”.
2) The tactics of the opponents have a lot of overlap. RJS mentioned the invoking of conspiracies. There are other tactics like cherry-picking quotes out of context, ad hominem attacks (on Charles Darwin or Al Gore, for example), and seizing on small problems to distract from the evidence for the big picture. In some comment a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how the way AGW skeptics are using the hacked emails was similar to the notorious book “Icons of Evolution” from the Discovery Institute’s main biologist.



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Bob Robinson

posted December 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm


VanguardChurch – blog and website
I am not a scientist nor am I an economist. So when I researched the latest paper from the Cornwall Alliance denying Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW), I found the sections on science and economics just above my head. It’s difficult for a layman to determine what’s what in these spheres!
But I am a theologian, and so I was able to dig into their chapter on the theology on why they deny AGW. I found that theology intriguing, but I had some major issues with it. First, they have a narrow understanding of the imago Dei, reducing it to merely ?dominion,? (which allows them to say humans have a “privileged place” in the creation). Second, they dismiss the Fall?s effect on the environment due to humanity?s sinful use of it. Third, they have an ideological slant toward free market capitalism as defining a “Christian worldview.”
<a href="VanguardChurch – blog and website“>Assessing The Cornwall Alliance?s ?An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming?



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Lawrence Baker

posted December 31, 2009 at 3:28 pm


The World is held hostage to a 20th Century fossil fuel product line. The use of fossil fuels is here until the Earth gives up. The advancement in SCIENCE with new inventions (new economy) is unfunded and will not happen this Century.
The advancement of SCIENCE with new Green Energy Technology is the greatest threat to the multinational corporation?s corrupt power and control of the economy.
Fact: American green energy innovation and ingenuity, science really, hasn?t been funded since 2001.
http://www.eere.energy.gov/inventions
New renewable energy inventors have no stimulus grant money to develop their inventions. The Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and in particular, Dr. Chu, has snuffed any new green energy advancements. Their agenda is to do research and development of product line for the multinational corporations and keep American innovation down.
Greed is a disease. Good enough is never good enough and the hunger for profit and power is never satisfied- the soul is never grateful.



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Peter

posted December 31, 2009 at 3:31 pm


Well, I’ve taken a real kick in the pants reading these comments. I have been a bit of a cynic re: AGW as well as the more fundamentalist forms of evolutionary theory, constantly asking, “How do they know?” when I really don’t have any education in climate and my biological education is in a different area. Just today I was talking about how aggravating it is for me as a pediatrician to read or hear people waxing eloquent on the wisdom of not immunizing your child(ren). Infuriating is the word that comes to my mind when I think of infants I’ve seen with pertussis, meningitis, and other preventable diseases. So the suspicion of authority/specialist comments made above have made me realize that perhaps I should just accept the experts’ statements, just as I expect others to accept mine. Might take some time though.



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Ken

posted December 31, 2009 at 4:40 pm


I would like to connect the comments of #25 (a pediatrician who seeks to practice medicine in the light of attested science and not folklore) and #14 who asks, Why are you linking evolution and global warming research?
I think the area of medicine is an area of knowledge that can be compared well with global warming and evolution. Medicine has many questionable theories in addition to the immunization issue mentioned by #25. What about the use of herbal remdies? It has just been shown recently that Gingka biloba does not significantly improve mental abilites in relation to Alzheimer’s, etc. But many will continue to buy it and other elixirs sold by “medicine men”.
Medicine seems a little different than global warming and evolution because it often has an immediate short-term personal application. It seems to me that most humans accept the best medical advice and treatment they can get in spite of the variety of speculations about certain conditions. We trust those closest to best practices and peer-reviewed knowledge when the chips are down.
Areas such as medicine, evolution and global warming are comparable because of characteristics of the human mind in evaluating and interpreting evidence. There are important differences, but the mind is faced with similar dilemmas in each case.



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Bob Robinson

posted December 31, 2009 at 5:21 pm


vanguardchurch.blogspot.com
I really like the insight from Peter (#25). When I, or my wife (who has her advanced degree in Physical Therapy and practices at the most advanced level of Sports Medicine Rehab) read an article in the media on a subject that either of us knows, we are usually disappointing at best or infuriated at worst. The result is that it’s hard to know what believe when the subject matter you’re reading about is not what you know very well.
However, we evangelicals have a very anti-intellectual, anti-scientific bent to us. As I wrote, fundamentalist suspicion toward the scientific community dies hard. If the predominant scientific consensus believes that Anthropocentric Global Warming is real, then how can I simply dismiss it? Is this because I’m hard-wired to be suspicious toward the scientific community? On the other hand, maybe I’m so afraid of being a “fundamentalist,” that I will dismiss any real evidence that Anthropocentric Global Warming is a fallacy.
Oh, man.
Round and round it goes.



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RJS

posted December 31, 2009 at 5:56 pm


Bob,
I have avoided taking a firm position here on global warming because I have not studied it enough to have an educated position. I know that some people I trust are convinced – but that isn’t the same thing.
On the other hand … I know enough science to know that manmade warming is a distinct and reasonable possibility. Those who make pronouncements claiming that it is human arogance to think we could change the climate are dead wrong. The earth is finite, with countable and measurable quantities, the atmosphere, even including the various reservoirs, is also finite and the chemistry limited.
This is an issue we must take seriously.



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Darren King

posted December 31, 2009 at 5:59 pm


On topic, Bob Hyatt, the pastor at Evergreen in Portland, just posted about how a climate change protest was squelched by a freak snow storm in Salt Lake. When I asked Bob if he has the scientific background in climatology to assume climate change isn’t real, he responded: “Absolutely not! But I do have two very important qualifications in this area- 1. I can read and 2. I can look out the window :)”
I think this speaks to part of the problem. How much should one have “read” before really being able to speak with authority in this area? This seems to be a problem. And of course, this says nothing of *what* “sources” one is actually reading.



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danderson

posted December 31, 2009 at 6:39 pm


1) I find it strange when some Christians focus so much on this issue — important as it is — when there are international Christians and missionaries who are literally dying for their faith. Why is there so little blogging on issues of persecution? 2). as Lars Lomborg (sp) has pointed out, we can do so many things NOW to alleviate poverty around the world. 3) People the most upset about global warming are usually the same ones who are relatively unconcerned about certain cultural issues and the decline of civilization. It becomes a hierarchy of importance for both sides of the ideological divide.



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BenB

posted December 31, 2009 at 7:43 pm


I think American Fundamentalism has learned to trust no authority except for their own reading of Scripture. Thus,
1) Evolution must be false and therefore a conspiracy
2) Global warming must be false and therefore a conspiracy
I think that even a large percentage of the Evangelical wing of Christianity which is not Fundamentalist has been deeply influenced by fundamentalism. Thus, this becomes our standard approach to science.
This post highlights my major frustrations with friends who are evangelicals.
I have posed one consistent challenge to friends and they’ve never passed:
Can you explain to me
1) The scientific evidence that you’ve found that contradicts evolution so strongly
2) Produce for me a scientific theory better than evolution
3) Produce the scientific evidence for that theory
4) explain why 99.85% of the PhDs in the field have come to accept evolution and not your theory
and do this ALL without proposing a conspiracy theory.
They can’t, and this points to a major problem in evangelical thinking.



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Rog

posted December 31, 2009 at 7:58 pm


1. This is a serious topic we should all be concerned about getting “right” (great consequences to being wrong either way)
2. The vast majority of people of the world are relatively unconvinced and/or unaware that AGW is an issue
3. The AGW scientists/politicians/et al have the burden to make their case to the world (as does anyone who says, in effect, the sky is falling, when many/most don’t see it or seem to care)
4. Dismissing the AGW deniers/skeptics/conspiracists is not an appropriate response given #2 above.
5. Where are they making the case for AGW well? Is Al Gore’s movie the best tool available?
Please share your favorite references/tools which help educate “lay” citizens on the validity and consequences of AGW. Last week someone shared an excellent speech from Professor Richard Alley. (http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml) But he was not making a case for AGW.
Where do you find the case for AGW in clear and convincing terms?



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AHH

posted December 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm


Rog #32 asks:
Where do you find the case for AGW in clear and convincing terms?
A good short overview, from a Christian outfit in the UK, is here:
http://www.jri.org.uk/brief/Briefing_14_3rd_edition.pdf
One can go to http://www.realclimate.org (a site run by climate scientists) and go to the “Start Here” page.
The “Climate Literacy” booklet linked there, which I hadn’t seen before, looks pretty good for the lay reader.
There have also been a few accessible recent books, which come recommended but I can’t vouch for them directly. One is The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart but other titles escape my mind.



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Bob Robinson

posted January 1, 2010 at 12:44 am


vanguardchurch.blogspot.com
RJS (@ #28),
I absolutely agree that this a serious issue. I’m just voicing how hard it is for me to come to any absolute authoritative stand on it, since I’m not a scientist.
I get frustrated when people who are not experts act like they are (i.e., Darren’s frustration with Bob Hyatt in #29). I am not a scientist, and wouldn’t pretend to understand the data that these climate scientists are studying. However, I do know that the predominant scientific consensus is in the camp that believes in Anthropocentric Global Warming.
I can’t really assess the science. But what I can do is assess the theology. And much of the skepticism toward the scientific community is unfounded on theological grounds. Also, the theology of the major evangelical anti-AGW group, the Cornwall Alliance, does not stand up theologically either.
I believe that their theology has some serious flaws. If this is true of their theological conclusions, then I have to wonder about their scientific and economic conclusions as well.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted January 1, 2010 at 8:34 am


Doesn’t conspiracy mean that we can simply not grapple with the material, or dismiss it on the basis of other experts? We need to be working on these things, and what is evident to me is both a lacking theologically, as Bob Robinson (and in his helpful posts on his blog) is saying here, and a lack of humility. We won’t listen because we are right. As long as we insist on this kind of stance, I agree that various communities in the world won’t take our witness seriously. We are defending an ideology rather than moving and living in the kingdom of God in Jesus, and witnessing of that.
Jesus community



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RJS

posted January 1, 2010 at 8:49 am


Bob,
I agree that the theology has serious flaws – but the first two statements you quote in your post – one affirmation and one denial – these are also flawed, both theologically and scientifically.



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Steve S

posted January 1, 2010 at 9:58 am


No offense to the Dr (#25), but I have dealt with my fair share of quacks in my day. The ‘trust me I wear a white coat’ argument just doesn’t hold water for me.
I have had enough arguments with mechanics (the ‘experts’), and enough pill-pushing from Doctors, not to mention obvious attempts at indoctrination from professors…
I share his (Peter) frustration at people’s unwillingness to trust experts, I have my own field of expertise and I would love it if people would just shut up and do what I tell them. …but, the world just doesn’t work like that. For better or worse, we live in a day and age where people withhold trust.
There are pro’s and con’s to placing the locus of authority within the individual. But we aren’t likely to change it within our lifetimes; people must prove themselves trustworthy over and over again, their credentials won’t do the trick…



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bck

posted January 1, 2010 at 11:03 am


The lack of trust arises not (so much) in whether to accept the basic science of evolution or global warming, but in the “requirement” that one also has to accept the “expert’s” Grand Theory of Everything (as Tim Keller put it in the earlier posts) that they conclude from the science. That is, it’s not enough to believe the science behind evolution or global warming, but that one must believe that evolution proves God does not exist and that global warming requires a massive financial and economic reordering or we’re all doomed.
Similar to Bob Robinson’s comment that when he finds someone’s theology lacking, he then wonders about their economics and science, as well; if I question the expert’s conclusions and GTE’s, then I am going to give a more skeptical eye to their underlying science too.



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ron

posted January 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm


Responding to bck (#38), I don’t think that one must simply accept “experts” … that is, the science behind global warming is amenable to everyone’s qualitative (as opposed to mathematical) understanding. However, it does require reading to understand the basic physical principles which are well established independent of their application in predicting global warming. This enables one to critically approach the simplistic assertions of those who deny global warming is happening or that if it is it is insignificant (e.g., scientists thought the earth was cooling 70 years ago, the climate goes through natural cycles all the time, CO2 is much less than one percent of the atmosphere and can’t be significant, etc.). But one needs to learn some basic principles that are or can be part of “physics for poets” college courses, as well as appreciate the data that has been accumulated by climate scientists in the last 50 years and its interpretation in light of the basic physics (e.g., temperature and CO2 records, not only those recorded instrumentally in the last 200 years, but the paleontological records that go back hundreds of thousands of years). Most of the typical arguments one reads in the media from people like George Will or the American Enterprise Institute fall apart in the presence of this level of evidence.
AHH @ #33 provides three excellent sources — the John Ray Initiative for a Christian perspective, http://www.realclimate.org for a blog by practicing climate scientists, and a detailed history of “the discovery of global warming” which is maintained at the site of the American Institute of Physics (scientific baloney has a short life span, if it shows up at all): http://www.aip.org/history/climate/
Darryl @ #16 mentions “an interesting take on AGW by physicists” and provides a link which is based on a paper by Gerlich and Tscheuschner. Not all papers that make it into “peer reviewed” literature are sound. This one is definitely not, but if all one reads is this paper, in the absence of the background physics above, one can get bamboozled. This paper has been very thoroughly critiqued by other physicists in a way that is accessible to the interested lay reader (if one takes the time to go through G&T, then one should invest the time to read a critique here: http://groups.google.com/group/rabett-run-labs/web/G%26T_rebuttal-2-6.pdf?hl=en Also here is a post containing links to discussions by other physicists of this paper: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/05/krammed-to-our-misfortune-gerhard-kramm.html
Perhaps it is beating a dead horse, but it bears pointing out that ALL of the domestic (U.S.) and international scientific societies (e.g., National Academy of Science, American Physical & Chemical Societies, geophysical societies, etc.) are on board with AGW. Those elements, “institutes”, etc., that are in opposition (e.g., American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute, etc.) receive their funding from enterprises which have an interest in maintaining the status quo energy-wise (viz., protecting an existing multi-trillion dollar revenue stream, as opposed to a potential revenue stream from renewables requiring investment of today’s dollars), and they are dominated by individuals driven by political or economic agendas rather than by people doing fundamental research which is the case for the scientific societies.



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ron

posted January 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Here is a link to a post by Arthur Smith, who describes his own situation as a (accomplished) physicist, but not a climate scientist. http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/content/some_basic_climate_references
Smith is capable of critiquing the science, and the arguments against it, and says the following:
“Another reference I have found extremely useful is Spencer Weart’s comprehensive history of the subject, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’ [See AHH #33 above and my previous comment] – one thing you learn by reading that is the comprehensive collection of objections and challenges to the science that have been posed over the years. What is discouraging is seeing these same objections raised again and again, without those raising them seeming to be aware of the history and how these have been answered perfectly adequately decades ago.”



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AHH

posted January 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm


bck #38 makes a good point about the way it sometimes feels like a “requirement” to accept not only the science but also add-ons in public policy, metaphysics, etc. Often the discourse pushes us toward false dichotomies where we are supposed to accept a whole “package” of things (a “conservative” package or a “liberal” package, for example) rather than considering each item individually.
Certainly accepting the science of global climate change does not mean one must take the views of Al Gore or whoever on how to deal with the problem, but reasonable discussion of the best course of action is difficult amidst all the FUD from those opposing the science. And (contra some aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins) accepting the science of evolution need not be packaged with God-less metaphysics. Unfortunately, with evolution this bundling of science and philosophy into a single take-it-or-leave-it package is perpetuated by many Christians.
Of course these are not the only areas where such all-or-nothing “packages” poison our discourse. It’s hard these days to be an anti-abortion Democrat, or a Republican who favors estate taxes or environmental protection laws.
Many of us lament what is often perceived as the Evangelical “package” where following Jesus seems to be bundled together with hatred of homosexuals, culture-war politics, anti-intellectualism and pseudoscience. Many of our neighbors find elements of that “package” distasteful enough that they have no interest in being a Christian, not realizing that following Jesus need not be bundled with all those other things.
I think one of the best things we can do as Christians, and as citizens, is to reject attempts to force our thinking into these “packages” and to work to unbundle separate issues at every opportunity.



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MH

posted January 2, 2010 at 9:20 am


I was away for a day so I’m catching up on the replies.
Yes it is “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” which has been discredited. I don’t remember if I was taught that in high school because that was a long time ago.
My point about getting educated is that it provides the basics to understand further reading aimed at layman and then evaluate it. For example the concept of pseudogenes wasn’t taught in high school biology, but armed with that primer it was pretty easy to understand the concept. It also made it easier to understand the evidence behind the notion that a mitochondria was once a free living organism.
The other reason I was wondering about the linkage is the arrow of time in the two phenomena. Evolution is something that occured in the past (but is still happening), and evidence for it can be found in the present. AGW is something that requires extrapolation into the future, so I can understand the skepticism a little more.



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