Evangelicals and environmentalism

by Judith Curry

The previous thread on “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate change” generated over 800 comments that is still active, so I thought I should start a new thread on this general topic.  Some of you complained that only one perspective was presented, that of Dr. Gushee.  This post addresses the other side.

An  article in the New York Times  Green Blog appeared on Dec 30, entitled “An Evangelical Backlash Against Environmentalism.”  The Cornwall Alliance has released a 12-part educational  video series entitled “Resisting the Green Dragon,” that warns Christians against the dangers of environmentalism.

Note, Cal Beisner (head of the Cornwall Alliance) debated David Gushee on global warming in 2006.  I actually saw the video, it is very interesting.  Here is an interview with Beisner on Climategate.

Keith Kloor has posted on this topic at Collide-a-scape, discussing the saga of Richard Cizik, who was formerly the political lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals.  (note: I met Cizik at the same retreat in 2006 that I met Gushee).

Kloor states that “The battle (over global warming) between competing conservative evangelical camps is one to watch in 2011.”

660 responses to “Evangelicals and environmentalism

  1. I’ve always resisted political connection with people who adopt stances in politics and economics on the basis of an appeal to the ineffable, even when they position themselves in opposition to the nominally secular socialists (progressives, fascisti, “Liberals,” whatever in hell they’re calling themselves this week) posing as environmentalists.


    MODERATION NOTE: Rich, read the post on New Years resolution and blog etiquette, then come back and post.

    • Rich,

      I was a left-leaning university professor most of my life. But my students and the co-authors of major research findings – including reports that the entire solar system may have condensed directly from a single, local supernova [1,2] – included right-wingers, left-wingers, and centrists. E.g.,

      1. “Strange xenon, extinct super-heavy elements, and the solar neutrino puzzle”, Science 195, 208-209 (14 January 1977)


      2. “Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis,” Nature 277, 615 – 620 (22 February 1979)


      Today it appears that Cal Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance grasp the basic principles of science better than the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK Royal Society, the editors of Nature, Science, PNAS, and the UN’s IPCC.

      Oliver K. Manuel

      • Oliver,
        I was leaning towards a local blackhole that could only compress an hold so much mass and gases.
        I find the efficiency of the whole solar system experience with two dimensional rotation on a flat plane quite facinating.
        No doubt we have sister solar systems traveling in many directions on the same flat plane trajectory away from us.

      • I don’t deny that in certain defined spheres of endeavor, the proponents of unreason can function effectively. In my profession, the religious whackjobs and the left-wing fascisti can (and commonly do) practice medicine up to prevailing standards of care.

        But as I’ve said earlier, in the practice of medicine – as well as within the usages of “hard science” – these whackjobs are “splinted” by methodological structure external to their insanities. I suppose they serve as good examples of how the irrationalities of the pre-Enlightenment and pre-industrial millennia might be suppressed despite their persistence and puissance.

        But when these guys grope for the police power in the realm of politics, we get invidious willful stupidities like alcohol prohibition and the current bloody, wasteful, Bill-of-Rights-destroying “War on (Some) Drugs.”

        Their overall track record is abysmal, and it is really only on the basis of past history that a determination of their alleged benignity in present and future actions can be attempted.

      • Man, that sounds very close to a “free market system”.

    • David L. Hagen

      The Evangelical climate case is best made for the Cornwall Alliance in: A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming by E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., Paul K. Driessen, Esq., Ross McKitrick, Ph.D., and Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D. Beisner et al., show how the four assumptions of ECI’s “Call to action” are “false, probably false, or exaggerated”. They state:

      the destructive impact on the poor of enormous mandatory reductions in fossil fuel use far exceeds the impact on them–negative or positive–of the moderate global warming that is most likely to occur. . . .
      Imposing an absolute cap on national or global CO2 emissions in the absence of any low-cost abatement options would create substantial risks of job losses and economic disruption, whether or not permits are tradable. . . .
      we should emphasize policies–such as affordable and abundant energy–that will help the poor prosper, thus making them less susceptible to the vagaries of weather and other threats in the first place. . . .
      It is immoral and harmful to Earth’s poorest citizens to deny them the benefits of abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and other forms of energy (for homes, cars, airplanes, and factories) merely because it is produced by using fossil fuels. . . .
      the cure [IPCC/ECI] prescribes will rob the poor of the very thing they most need if they are to be able to adapt . . .
      the most prudent response is . . .to prepare to adapt by fostering means that will effectively protect humanity–. . .
      Government-mandated carbon dioxide emissions reductions . . .would cause greater harm than good to humanity–especially the poor–while offering virtually no benefit . . .


  2. Nope. If you’re going to go censoringly prissy and pale around the gills when dealing with the malignant idiocies of the religious right, you can do it without my participation.

    To quote H.L. Mencken on the subject:

    I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

    I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

    I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty and the democratic form is as bad as any of the other forms.

    I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

    I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech — alike for the humblest man and the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in organized society.

    I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

    I believe in the reality of progress.

    I — But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

    If you’re not in accord with that perspective, Dr. Curry, and prepared to defend rational thought – “to tell the truth [rather] than to lie” – then there’s no contribution you can really make to this discussion.

    So why participate in it with you?

    • There are so few phonemes of H. L. Mencken’s Credo one can fault; he gathers such persuasive momentum before derailing and crashing into the mire of that type of conviction we all so rail against, it is hard to see it coming until that logical and unavoidable conclusion happens.

      Yet the certainty without basis, belief without apprehension, viciousness without virtue are as apparent in this subtle screed as in any canon or cannon of howsoever superstitious a tyrant one could name.

      To use clear and honest thinking, one must recognize that when a thing contradicts itself it is false; to support it then is to war on truth, to uphold a lie.

      Perhaps Mencken is overly imprecise when he speaks of religion generally, and would be better served by some other word? There are many religions that uphold clear and honest thinking as great goals, much moreso than the tenets of the faithless. What value clarity or honesty to atheist schema?

      If one holds personal advantage to be the chief purpose of existence, then mathematically one is better served by lip service to truth than by truth that from time to time must conflict with one’s own ends. Should one hold to some external and yet somehow ‘unreligious’ core, other than ‘Truth’, so much more will truth and clarity come into conflict and ought by the rational objector to religion also be objected to in private though in public lauded and abused to one’s own ends with honeyed words and tricks. One cannot hold ‘Truth’ itself as a core belief, unless one is imbued with great madness, as our material world is too shaky a table for us to see true however richly gifted our minds. We materialists can at best have faith that there is truth in some objective sense, and build short-term, short range models of what is true to the best of our material sensibilities in any moment. If we uphold the model for our truth, we have created a schizm between our core belief and our actions, a falsehood before our truth.

      In religion, in a scheme where an outsider upholds virtues impossible for us to ourselves grasp, and as proxy gives us the ability through this indirection to seek those virtues through our own actions, we gain much more than in any direct but damaged appeal to the things themself; there is the clarity. There is the honesty.

      In short, Mencken talks out of his butt on religion. He trumpets falsehood, to vicious ends.

      So too in government, which by extending the abilities of individuals through self-evident advantages of social order grants liberties impossible in solitary efforts, more economically, more efficiently, and to greatest possible effect, one sees the only outcome of opposing government is the tyranny of the strong over the undefended weak, to the detriment of all. One sees H. L. Mencken’s pretty words turn serpentine and devour themself by the tail, venomous even to their own ends.

      In complete freedom of speech, if freedom from respect, courtesy, good order, is there not the inevitable invitation to vandalism, to obstructionists throwing rails down on the tracks, ending all potential progress, making that shaky table shakier still, taking away that movement toward discovery of truth?

      In complete freedom of thought, if free from rationality, logic, self-censorship against falsehood, that freed mind is only insane. It’s no doubt a fun place to visit, but it remains still a derailment into a bog.

      So, sorry you won’t be participating. You’re talented, learned and funny as heck.

    • “So why participate in it with you?” You keep implying that you feel that your time could be better spent elsewhere, then dashing our hopes by staying – ooh you are a tease….

    • Actually, there is another Mencken quote that is applicable to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. In one of its forms:

      For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, neat and wrong”. –H. L. Mencken

  3. David L. Hagen

    See particularly the Cornwall Alliance’s statement:
    An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming based on its detailed study:
    A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor
    TheAlliance’s major concerns are that:

    these proposed policies would destroy jobs and impose trillions of dollars in costs to achieve no net benefits. They could be implemented only by enormous and dangerous expansion of government control over private life. Worst of all, by raising energy prices and hindering economic development, they would slow or stop the rise of the world’s poor out of poverty and so condemn millions to premature death.

    Such concerns are quantified by Prof. Richard Tol’s analysis of EU’s “20/20/20 policy” where:

    for every Euro it costs, the EU policy is likely to generate just three cents worth of benefits. . . .by the end of this century it will reduce temperature rises by only about 0.05 oC – a reduction that may well be too small to measure.

    Current CO2 control policy appears to be the greatest method ever conceived for burying trillions of dollars/euros in a black hole with ~97% loss. While done in the name of the poor, such policies steal those funds from being put to the most important humanitarian projects for the poor.

    Instead Bjorn Lomborg advocates:
    Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits, particularly $100 billion/year into cost effective R&D.


  4. Rich, All view points are allowed here. Provide some actual arguments to support your point. Nasty words and insults aren’t useful or interesting. Your message was WAY over the top, and we’ve had these discussions before about what kind of language is allowed here. Your choice as to whether or not you want to participate here. This blog averages about 300 comments per day, I am not exactly desperate for participants. Your previous posts occasionally showed some spark (if one could get past the snark). From your background, it seems like you would enjoy engaging here and have the potential to be an interesting contributor. But flames and insults aren’t going to be tolerated.

  5. @Judith C

    I much appreciate your courage and persistence in forming and maintaining this website, and have said so a few times. I have found most of the technical threads informative and interesting

    This is the second thread, though, on the queer (to non-US denizens) mix of evangelical religion and AGW. To me, such a topic is of absolutely no significance.

    Obviously, I am missing something – else you would not have opened this second thread. So what is it, please ? Perhaps the % of evangelised US citizens, or their public impact ?

    • 800 comments on the previous thread indicates substantial interest in the topic, and posts continued to be made after more than a week, although I agree it seems to be mostly a U.S. centric topic. Hopefully you will find some of the other current threads more interesting.

      • People who do not understand religion find great difficulty in even talking about it sensibly. For example, they seem to think that religious people read the bible to find answers to factual questions. They do not, rather they read the bible to help interpret the facts in the context of their lives. But I would be very surprised to learn that only Americans are religious.

      • > People who do not understand religion […]

        Let’s wonder if David L. Hagen will consider this as the beginning of an ad hominem.

      • David L. Hagen


      • AnyColourYouLike

        “But I would be very surprised to learn that only Americans are religious.”

        As a Brit, I can tell you that the general perception over here is that the Christian right (including most(?) evangelical groups) form a much more influential, lobbying and politicised social force in the USA than in any European nation. Certainly in Britain, where Christianity has long been in retreat, religion is completely marginalised and regarded as almost irrelevant in a political context.

        Europeans, generally, find the need for US politicians to play to somewhat extremist-sounding religious groups rather worryingly “third world”. The separation of church and state over here may not yet be formal in every country, but it is a mere historical artefact in most, and even most moderate christians agree with this essentially secular governance.

        On TV, emotional preacher-types like Glenn Beck, come across as kind of grotesque Monty Pythonish self-parody over here, and we wonder how someone like him could come to a position of influence in such a powerful, and in many other ways sophisticated nation.

        Far from “two cultures seperated by a common language” there are many aspects of American sensibilty that confuse britons and other europeans. The need for a thread like this merely underlines the cultural schism.

      • Well put, ACYL. I agree that this is an American phenomenum and much less relevant to us English cousins. As a cutural schism, it is truly remarkable especially when you consider the extensive common cultural and political ground that exists between the UK and US. Like you, I find the blurring of hard-line religious beliefs with politics and science slightly worrying and most surprising coming as it does from The Land of the Free.

      • Indeed. For an European, the status of religion is the US is extremely strange. As a non-brit european, the US looks exactly like UK…..except that it has a religious atmosphere similar to muslim countries or israel. This is extremely strange for a well industrialised country, with free speech and democracy, and which is not in a state of constant war like Israel. Well, maybe it is in a state of constant war, with only the briefest period between the end of cold war and the “war on terror”. Maybe it would be interesting to check who benefit from a state of constant quasi-war? ;-) And more relevant to the AGW problem, who benefit from a “war on global warming”? Tthe urgency, the emergence of the climate rapid action group, the name-calling, … all of this looks quite similar to a “war on climate” to me. I think that it is time to re-read “state of fear” ;-)

      • Given the similarities between the U.S. and Britain, I’d think you’d find the difference in the matter of religion puzzling rather than worrying. You do say that “many aspects of American sensibilty [sic] … confuse britons and other europeans,” but I don’t think you mean that they’re curious about what could explain the differences.

        I’m an American, and I’m puzzled by the difference over religion. I don’t think it’s that your peoples are better educated. I think it’s a matter of some structural difference. I know that’s very vague. I’m not even sure what I mean by it.

      • “I’m puzzled by the difference over religion. ”
        Bill, I commented on this in the earlier thread – I hope it sheds some light.


      • Judith, generating interest and shedding light are not necessarily the same. Gushee’s post generated a lot of interest, but a lot of it consisted of various degrees of interest from the non-American anglosphere in what on earth any of this had to do with climate science. I have to accept that within the USA the connection between religious faith and climate “faith” may be extensive enough to warrant devoting not one but two posts to, but to the rest of us it’s all a bit odd.

      • Absolutely – I thought this was a board about the science of climate change. What the American extreme Christian position on this has to do with it is baffling to me.

        It might have generated over 800 posts but none of them have moved the scientific argument along. I’m pretty sure other extreme religious subject matter would generate many comments too (e.g. radical Islam, young earth creationism, etc) but none of that belongs on on a science board either.

      • Latimer Alder

        Perhaps the heading of this particular topic as

        ‘Evangelicals and Environmentalism’ fooled you about the content to expect on this thread?

        On the RHS of my Firefox window is a list of all the other threads that may be more to your taste.

        And I submit that it is for Judith to suggest topics for discussion on her blog using her skill and judgement and gaguing the audience’s desire to contribute. If you have little more to add than ‘I don’t think that this is a correct topic to discuss’, then please contribute to one of the other threads, or hold your peace.

      • Latimer Alder

        PS ‘Climate Etc’ might also have given you a clue about the wide-ranging nature of discussions to be expected here.

      • Who made you milk monitor?

      • Latimer, it is, of course, up to our saloneuse to decide what belongs here, and she has shown no need of assistance in asserting that privilege, but as the commenter to whom Louise responded, I think you are being unnecessarily harsh.

        For someone (admirably) willing to chastise others, you notably decline to address Louise’s substantive point (and mine) – that these religion/science threads generate plenty of heat, but shed little light on the science of climate.

        And you chose to infer that she was objecting to a discussion of religion within a thread on religion, when clearly her objection (and my puzzlement, which I urge her to substitute for objection) is at the presence of a thread on religion in a blog about climate.

        Which is a bit straw-personish of you. Not your best effort.

      • Latimer Alder

        I made no such infererence.

        But does not the title ‘Climate Etc’ give one the idea that lots of topics included in the ‘Etc’ are open for discussion? It is undoubtedly a fact that in the US there is some link between the climate debate and religion. John Houghton (who to the discredit of my alma mater) helped to start the ball rolling is an avowed christian evangelical . This strand of thought (though as an avowded athiest I personally consider to be bonkers) is not going to go away because Louise gets a fit of the vapours at the mere thought of discussing it.

        Seems to me that preventing discussion of uncomfortable topics (the G Schmidt/M Mann approach) is part of the reason that the Alarmists are in such a bind right now. Pretending that such things don’t exist won’t make them go away.

      • Latimer Alder – did you perhaps choose to chastise me rather than TomFP because you had already decided which ‘side’ of the AGW debate each of us belonged to?

        BTW, I said I was “baffled” – I didn’t get “a fit of the vapours”. I could say this was yet another example of the typical manner in which you misrepresent the views of those you disagree with – but I won’t.

      • Latimer Alder

        Nope. I chatsise you both equally. And I personally agree with you both on this issue… I think that any connection between religious belief and climate is barking bonkers.

        But wanting it go away as an issue, or saying that it shouldn’t be discussed and complaining when it is, is not the way forward. You never persuade people that your persepective is right and theirs worng by attemtping to deny them a platform. That has been the Alarmist way for far too long – and though it might work for a few years, when the dam inevitably collapses it can carry a lot of stuff in its wake.

        So, if you don’t like something, post good reasons why you think it is wrong. Don’t just whine that you don’t think it should be discussed at all by others because you personally find it baffling or bizarre or unpleasant.

      • You say “You never persuade people that your persepective is right and theirs worng by attemtping to deny them a platform.”

        and in the same post seem to think it OK to tell me I shouldn’t state my opinion (that discussion of religion does not progress the science of climate change)?

        That’s rich

      • Latimer, Tom, Louise, I think there’s been a misunderstanding.
        I can’t see that either Louise or Tom have tried to deny others a platform.
        Neither can I see that Latimer has suggested that either Louise or Tom should be denied a voice.
        Please kiss and make up.

      • “I chatsise you both equally.” That sounds fun for someone. ..

        But seriously, mate, are you really saying you’ve never, in all your blogging, let alone here, observed that a thread seemed to be going nowhere, or that it seemed more suited to another venue? Cos that’s all I’m saying, and it seems to be all that Louise is saying. Don’t know where you got the silencing-dissent business from. She might not have said it as well as you’d like, but given that you say you are essentially in agreement with her view on the topic, I think you could have chosen to correct her by example, rather than outdoing her in kind. The implosion of CAGW will be all the more enjoyable viewed from a high moral vantage point – don’t let’s erode it. Sparring with D64, Rich M and others who have comprehensively forfeit their right to civility doesn’t do this, of course, and is exempt. “To break a butterfly on a wheel…”

        And now she’s getting snippy with me on another thread, over something I said about D64! The warmist ingrate troll. It’s al sooo complicated! :-)

      • Latimer, I don’t find discussing the link, or its absence, between religion and CAGW Belief uncomfortable, nor do I pretend that it doesn’t exist, although outside a few pockets in the USA it seems pretty tenuous. And nor do I deny that “etc” allows for may topics beyond the strict science of climate, or that it is Judith’s privilege, and not Louise’s, to decide what to post on her blog. But equally it’s fair to expect that threads on “Climate etc” will have at least some bearing on the science. Perhaps if it were called “Etc, Climate”…… but it isn’t.

        “Religion/CAGW” has had not one, but two goes at it, and as far as I can see has failed. Failed very interestingly, at times (I mean I wouldn’t have missed Sir Oswald Muesli/Craven for the world) but failed. All it has produced is an endless and fruitless attempt to disambiguate the “link”, yet it remains as ambiguous as ever.

        As one who professes nothing stronger that a rather anaemic agnosticism, I have a sneaking admiration for the faith evinced by you red-blooded “avowed atheists”, but I do have to ask – to what or to whom did you make your vow?

        I think the far more fertile field is the “Marxist (and derivatives) fellow-traveller morphs-to warmist fellow-traveller” one which has so exercised David W. The more I think about it, the more points of similarity I see between the two fallacies – “property is theft” and “we’re killing Mother Gaia”.

        David objects on the narrow grounds (as I understand him) that nobody steeped in Marxist materialism could permit himself to fret about Mother Gaia. I counter that a vanishingly tiny percentage of those who identify as “left-ish” have so much as read a Marxian text, let alone become steeped therein, and are “progressives” because it makes them feel good about themselves.

        Sounds like warmism to me, so far. And here’s a couple more that I haven’t seen aired:

        They both tick the “special knowledge” box that seems so important to the “progressive” mind. The idea that “property is theft” is deliciously counterintuitive, as is the idea that plant food is killing the planet. And OK, the warmists don’t want to collectivise our property, but they sure as hell want to impose collective constraints on the ways we may use it.

        Belonging to a group that argues either creed confers on the adherent a reward sense of special wisdom that you just can’t get from holding plausible beliefs.

        And both are perverse, prescriptive extensions of unobjectionable theory. Marxian analysis is not without merit, and few dispute the “basic science” to which Dr Lacis appeals. It’s the extension of Marxian analysis to Marxist political prescription that offends, just as it is what Dr Lacis goes on to do with Arrhenius, Boyle, etc., that we object to.

        See? Far more meat than the evangelical thing, and more global (“Pan-anglospheric” might be more accurate) too.

      • I don’t see that the Cornwall Declaration is “extreme.”

      • Louise,

        “It might have generated over 800 posts but none of them have moved the scientific argument along.”

        On the other hand few of the posts on the scientific aspects of Climate Science have moved the dialogue along at all.

        There are several views, none of which can be proven through current observations, talking past each other!! So a couple more posts on religion would seem to fit right in!! 8>)

    • David L. Hagen

      Evangelicals act on belief in a moral principle of being stewards of creation, needing to care for the poor, and being good stewards of resources entrusted to us. Policies addressing global warming (aka climate change) impact each area.
      Poll: Evangelicals and Mass-Attending Catholics Helped Sweep Democrats from Office

      white evangelicals, who comprise nearly 30 percent of all voters, voted 78 percent for GOP candidates in the election. . . . 52 percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as born-again evangelical Christians. . . .
      “They’re believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that faith covers every area of their lives – cultural, moral, fiscal, business,” Reed said.

      A Pew Poll Oct 27, 2010 found:

      only 16% (of Republicans) say that warming is caused by human activity. . . .by nearly a two-to-one margin, Republicans say scientists do not agree that the earth is getting warmer because of human activity. Few Republicans see global warming as a very serious problem (14%) or in need of immediate government action (24%).

      The Cornwall Alliance supports caring for the poor and the environment, but opposes “cap and trade” as a very imprudent way to do so. See post above.
      PS In terms of stewardship, Gallup polls found Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives

      • 1) OK, thanks for the statistics – that 30% of US voters profess evangelical beliefs does not surprise me much. For example, I’ve heard Ball (Microsoft) expounding on some new product and thought he actually belonged in a southern revivalist circus tent … such aspects of cultural behaviour seem well embedded in the US

        2) >Evangelicals act on belief in a moral principle of being stewards of creation, needing to care for the poor, and being good stewards of resources entrusted to us<

        This idea does cause me to smile, I will admit. So who "giveth the moral", as it were ?

      • David L. Hagen

        How about “the Creator”?
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
        Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” Genesis 1:26-28 The Message

      • I suspect “The Creator” would say we’ve done a pretty poor job.

      • That is because you are so negative Derech06, and you and your fellow non-religionists really have done a poor job!! Of course, if you do not believe in a Creator it really doesn’t matter what you think he might think!

      • I do not want to engender flames but did want to insert Jesus thoughts on stewardship.

        Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

  6. Judy,
    Hope you do not mind me asking Rich a question.

    Rich, when you say, “the malignant idiocies of the religious right” I’m curious to know how many evangelicals, conservative Catholics, or conservative Jews you have shared a meal with one-on-one in the past year? I hope it is quite a few.

    What I am getting at is whether the “idiocies” about which you are writing are based on interaction with evangelicals or whether it is the the parody of their beliefs as characterized in the “New York Times” (such as this: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/10/nobody-out-here-but-us-rubes-ii.html ) and other MSM outlets.

    I’m genuinely curious. Happy New Year.


    • In part, my merry contempt for the religious whackjobs comes not simply of experience with these yutzes in what Mencken used to call “the Pellagra Belt” but also as the result of the first two decades of life spent in the concerted study of religion, leading to an undergraduate minor (courtesy of the Society of Jesus) in theology and philosophy.

      You familiar with George Carlin’s comedy routine about his education in parochial school? “They taught us to reason and question and think about that stuff until most of us lost the faith.”

      Religious whackjobbery – like Marxian political economics – really doesn’t hold up well under dispassionate reasoned analysis. Personal experience with it does nothing but hammer home the nail.

      Focusing on how many meals one may or may not have shared with “evangelicals, conservative Catholics, or conservative Jews” in the course of getting to the conclusion that the great majority of religious True Believers are whackjobs and not to be relied upon for the exercise of the franchise, much less political office, is wonderfully pointless, don’tcha think?

      MODERATION NOTE: some colorful adjectives. the definition of “whackjob” is “A crazy, possibly dangerous, person.” It is inappropriate to refer to large groups of people in this way (or individuals participating in this blog, or an individual based solely upon their personal ideas or beliefs). Some may qualify for the adjective, but your “great majority” is insupported and insulting. “Yutz” is defined as “a person variously regarded as ineffectual, foolish, disagreeable, contemptible, etc.” Less objectionable than wackjob, but equally unnecessary. Please clean it up. Obscure yiddish insults that few understand are preferred over obviously insulting and and inflammatory words, but still unnecessary and adding nothing to your arguments.

      • I don’t much agree with your delivery Rich, but i find the content of your posts infinitely interesting.

        You may have missed your calling in life, (or maybe you didn’t?) which might have been as a radio jock, possibly at the ‘drive-time’ slot, stirring-up the citizenry as they frustratingly crawl through the afternoon traffic.

        My wish is that you tone it down just a tad so as we can continue enjoying your dissertations. I couldn’t stand anyone being sin-binned before Derecho64 :)

      • Rich,

        Considering that few western countries, and even fewer non-Islamic non-western countries are run by any kind of religious types, and that even fewer countries in the world are in very good shape economically or otherwise right now, I fail to see where you can categorically state how bad the religious types are!!!

        Y’all have royally screwed up the world, AGAIN, and are simply looking for scapegoats!!

      • I and my sociopolitical allies have “royally screwed up the world,” you say? Just where in the world has laissez-faire non-aggression principle libertarian civil government been able to operate without the poisonous effects of statism, whether nominally secular or explicitly religious, that we could be said to have “screwed up” anything?

        The fact that libertarians work toward a maximum of protection for individual rights is due to our concerted observations that it has been in such polities where there have been such protections of individual rights – to life, to liberty, and to property – there’s been the direct opposite of “screwed up.”

        The greater the protection of individual rights, in fact, the less “screwed up” things always are.

        Unless, of course, you define “screwed up” as circumstances inhibiting both kleptocrats and religious whackjobs.

        As for my ability to “categorically state how bad the religious types are,” I suppose it comes of having studied the history of religious whackjobbery in America since the time of Christopher Columbus. Ever look into how cold breakfast cereals got to be popular in these United States?

        Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the American model of the enterprising religious whackjob – and medical quack – par excellence.

        The monumental stupidity, cupidity, malevolence, blind allegiance to error, and other traits of faith among American religious whackjobs is a never-ending field of study and source of amusement. One can completely plumb the depths of their malodorous “bad” character about as readily as the Pacific Ocean can be dippered dry with a teacup.

      • Re Kellogg, there is a book on this “Road To Wellville” and a really funny movie of the same name starring Anthony Hopkins as Kellogg.

      • T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novel (The Road to Wellville, 1993) was a fictional treatment of Dr. Kellog’s sanitarium in Battle Creek. I got interested in Dr. Kellog, Mr. Post, Sylvester Graham, and the rest of those loonies a bit earlier than that by way The Destroying Angel: Sex, Fitness & Food in the Legacy of Degeneracy Theory, Graham Crackers, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes & American Health History (1985) by Dr. John Money.

        Never knock being on Prometheus Books‘ mailing list.

        I’ve seen only a bit of the film, and read nothing of Mr. Boyle’s novel – but Dr. Money’s history of these whackjobs is absolutely delightful all by itself.

      • Rich,

        considering few religious types are controlling any countries, outside of a particular religion not in control in the West, I would say you non-religious types have a lot to answer for!!

      • Nah. Who says that socialists are not religious? They’re certainly not sane.

        I keep trying to quote Kipling’s “Mcdonough’s Song,” especially the portion reading:

        Whatsoever, for any cause,
        Seeketh to take or give,
        Power above or beyond the Laws,
        Suffer it not to live!
        Holy State or Holy King—
        Or Holy People’s Will—
        Have no truck with the senseless thing….

        …but Dr. Curry seems to take exception to Mr. Kipling’s final line in that stanza.

        Just for that I’m not gonna grace this Web page with inspiring quotes from The Turner Diaries.

  7. If Jesus wanted his followers to believe in climate change he would have said something about it.

    He didn’t.

    The disciples wanted Jesus to start a political movement and Jesus said NO to this. He said “render unto Caesar what is due to Caesar”.

    • Jack Hughes

      That’s immensely funny, no offense.

      I just googled “New Testament quotes weather,” to see if I could find any evidence for your claim; here’s what the first site that came up (http://www.worldofquotes.com/author/Bible/13/index.html) said, and my (possible?) interpretation of each quote’s place in the climate debate:

      “For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. “ For those who say humans can’t affect the climate, here’s the biblical reply.
      “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1]. “ With regard to Uncertainty.

      “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” Hosea sound alarmist to you? And so prophetic.

      Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Source: Matthew (ch. VII, v. 20) seems apropos of CO2 emissions somehow.

      Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. Source: Proverbs (ch. XXVI, v. 27) seems even more apropos.

      Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Source: Wisdom of Solomon (ch. II, v. 8) which, they’ll do faster with higher CO2.

      “And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedest the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. “ Source: Exodus (ch. II, v. 14) Seems to have resonances, for either side.

      “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. “ Source: Psalms (ch. CXLVI, v. 3) .. or in the oil companies?

      “And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed: And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.” Source: Isaiah (ch. XXI, v. 7-9) Alarmism, or prudent watchfulness?

      “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. “ Source: I Timothy (ch. V, v. 13) seems relevant?

      So, Jack, I’m not sure Christians would be convinced by your argument, and I’m one of the people who thinks it would be best if you’re right.

      Maybe if you framed it differently?

      • Now please explain these passages as to how they impact on humans controlling the weather and/or climate??

    • David L. Hagen

      Jack Hughes
      Perhaps you did not recognize Jesus’ promise of creating his own complete “climate change”. See 2 Peter 3:13 NIV

      in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

  8. I am nor conservative politically nor religiously, but I agree with Cal Beisner and the stated objectives of the Cornwall Alliance.

    With deep regret, I conclude that the Cornwall Alliance has a better grasp of climate science than does the US National Academy of Science, the UK Royal Society, Nature, Science, PNAS, and the UN’s IPCC.

    What a sad, sad day for government science!

    With deep regrets,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  9. Given the demonstrated political proclivities of the religious True Believer in these United States over the past century and more, it is mendacious for the proponents of reasoned adherence to objective reality not to treat them with hostility and contempt.

    There are certainly reasons for temporizing, of course, but only in the sense that one soothingly says “Nice doggy! Nice doggy!” in the presence of a savage dog while looking around in search of a brick with which to bash the beast.

    When dealing with the religious types, there is never more than very temporary, commonly illusory, value in a “go along to get along” approach to dealing with them. Those of the religious right who have engaged in political activity since before the nation began as such have tended strongly to become emboldened and even more vicious in their violations of individual rights by even the most tenuous appearance of validation or endorsement.

    I tend not to rely exclusively upon my own personal professional experience in the regard. Yeah, I’ve trained and practiced in Roman Catholic hospitals, and I’ve worked in concert with both doctors and nurses who have been practicing members of Catholic religious orders. Some work with Protestant “Born Again” heretics, too. Positive though that personal experience has been over the decades, it is not truly reflective of how modern American religious believers have tended to behave in the political sphere.

    Professional standards of ethical conduct in health care tend to provide the religious with a structure that protects them as well as their patients and their colleagues, limiting their ability to impose themselves noxiously upon their neighbors and thereby arguably relieving them of many responsibilities their peculiarities of faith might otherwise impose upon them. Standards of care and comportment give ’em a way to bottle up their irrationalities and function in spite of their ghostly bigotries.

    The “Some of my best friends are religious whackjobs” line doesn’t work. Can’t. The malice masquerading in this population as “concern” manifests chiefly as a distal phenomenon in American religious political activists.

    The key, of course, is in the fact that they seek to impose their standards of personal and economic conduct upon other people by way of political action.

    It’s not the way that they do it, or their ostensible reasons for doing it, but rather the fact that they do it at all.

    To quote C.S. Lewis, a Christian religious apologist currently popular with (though sure as hell not much read by) the American political right:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

    Those of us who share a libertarian disposition respect the rights of our neighbors to go along to hell in their own handbaskets, and we recognize that all political action comes explicitly with officers of civil government enforcing political determinations upon the recalcitrant with deadly force.

    A zoning code violation can lead to somebody getting shot between the eyes by a police sniper.

    The collectivist enemies of individual rights, social comity, and good civil order who make up the political left are supposedly “secular” (though their treatment of autonomous individual human beings as if they were members of some kind of hive-dwelling insect species sure isn’t predicated upon anything but a kind of religious faith, is it?).

    You grind down through the socialists’ velvet glove, and you find the iron fist pretty fast. The collective – “humanity” or “society” or some other fantasy of aggregate gloriosity – is what they fixate upon, and little old you are less than a shed skin cell.

    Heck, in their way of thinking, you are way better off dead. With all your worldly goods confiscated by the government to “spread the wealth around,” natch.

    But when you get right down to it, the politically motivated religious True Believer regards you effectively the same way. Especially if you’re a sinner, and on your way either to purgatory or to perdition. Better that you’re no longer walking around among the church militant (or however the Protestants term the living-and-breathing) to think nasty sinful thoughts and maybe speak ungodly words to those who might be led astray.

    From my perspective, the religious political whackjob (whatever his denomination) is a threat to government limited to function – under the rule of law – for the protection of individual rights.

    There being no other legitimate reason for the existence of civil government, any such threat to this essential quality of American civil society requires definition and address.

    Chiefly in the form of counter-attack.

    Any further expressions of curiosity gladly received.

    • “I tend not to rely exclusively upon my own personal professional experience in the regard.”

      Hmmm. Tell us just WHAT you ARE relying on then. It ain’t the Bible, for sure :-)

      • At 8:04 PM on 1 January, in response to my statement to the effect that “I tend not to rely exclusively upon my own personal professional experience in the regard,JAE had posted:

        Hmmm. Tell us just WHAT you ARE relying on then. It ain’t the Bible, for sure.

        Obtuse, ain’tcha? Let me pound it home.

        No matter what an individual physician’s personal clinical experience might be, there is a conditioned reluctance to broadly generalize from his case load to characterize all presentations of any complaint or pathology. Thus my own personal experience of religious whackjobs in the medical and nursing professions – “born-again Christians,” members of Roman Catholic religious orders, Shiite and Sunni Muslims (don’t know as I’ve ever met any Alawites), high-church Episocopalians and low-church Southern Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans and witnessing-in-tongues Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists and Mormons and Uncle Tom Cobley and all – cannot be considered sufficient to an epidemiologic assessment of these True Believer types. For that, I’ve got to dig into the published literature, with due consideration for levels of reliability in each source.

        You got any better way of going about the process, or are you just blanking out and playing the old “Use the Force” gambit?

        Beyond the ample evidence for hostility to religious whackjobs derived from this study, of course, there’s also Heinlein’s observation:

        The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both.

      • You may have some good points to make, but you obscure them with rhetorical incontinence and bile.

      • Aw, TomFP. Have you got any point to make?

        Some years ago, when receiving the Murray N. Rothbard Medal of Freedom, economist Walter Block recalled the late Dr. Rothbard thus:

        When asked what was the source of his prodigious scholarly and popular output, he would reply: “Hatred is my muse.” He would read something, say by a Marxist, Keynesian, or Chicagoite, become infused with disgust, and swear a mighty oath that this particular bit of idiocy would no longer stand, at least without a reaction from him. ,[emphasis added]

        In public discourse, I’m not up to Dr. Rothbard’s level, and I’m not one little bit as kindly as is Dr. Block (whose Defending the Undefendable I heartily recommend). But I can sure as hell get behind that “Hatred is my muse” line.

        Extremely Sicilian in his sentiments, was old Murray.

        When proposals voiced by aggressors bent upon the violation of inoffensive, innocent folks’ rights are appreciated, how the hell else is a reasonable, honorable, decent human being supposed to respond?

        “Bile,” hell. Napalm.

      • “Have you got any point to make?”

        you just made it.

      • “For that, I’ve got to dig into the published literature, with due consideration for levels of reliability in each source. ”

        LOL. Still nothing but rants. No references or confirmation. Sorry you are in such misery. Christ could help with that.

      • Look, JAE, if you’re honestly looking for a review of the literature in my personal library, you’re gonna have to come up with a subpoena duces tecum. That’s what the members of the plaintiff’s bar will do when uttering interrogatories directed at physicians they’re suing for alleged medical malpractice, in order to establish the defendant’s fund of knowledge in pursuit of presentations alleging dereliction of duty in deviation from prevailing standard-of-care.

        What, you don’t think I’ve kept up with those risk mitigation courses in CME sessions for nothing, do ya?

        Even if I were to cram a bunch of titles into this “comments” box, you wouldn’t make any kind of honest effort to address the known excesses of politically active religious whackjobs using political muscle to hound their countrymen and other innocent victims into poverty, prison, and death for the sake of some fantastical notion of what the Great Sky Pixie demands of mankind.

        All I’ve really got to do is respond: “Prohibition” and “the War on (Some) Drugs” and I’ve pretty much capsule-summarized the vicious bloodiness of the politically active Christian religious idiot in these United States, haven’t I?

        Your closing religious whackjob appeal to the ineffable (“Christ could help with that,” whatever in hell your smarming pretense of sympathy is supposed to imply “that” might be) is just flies on that dung heap of yours.

        Thus the proper tool to address you isn’t a reading list. It’s a manure fork.

      • Manure fork??? Still NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE FROM YOU. JUST RANTS!! Who do you think you are, with all your pronouncements? You certainly don’t sound like a prophet, and you certainly don’t sound like a scientist. WTF, BRO???

      • Just sit tight and compost, JAE. As an old farm boy, I’ve scraped the likes of you off my boots often enough to know how to handle you.

      • Usually, on this blog, when some narcissistic bucket of bile like Rich shows up and starts gobbing off, we at least learn where he stands on climate – with this clown, I haven’t a clue.

      • Tom,
        Rich *cannot* be a ‘warmist’.

        I’ll hang up my skeptical boots if he is.

      • Why is it when I read these comments by Rich Matarese I am reminded of Alec Baldwin in Malice?

      • David L. Hagen

        Re: faith/reason “one cannot have both.” What if you could? May I encourage you to read works by Christian intellectuals who have had both:
        C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity
        Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, He Is There and He Is Not Silent
        Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, Saving Leonardo
        Henry “Fritz” Schaeffer III, Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?
        William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity
        G.K. Chesterton
        See LeadershipU etc.

      • The human capacity for doublethink is quite unparalleled.

      • +1

      • David,
        Rich lost his reason and faith long ago.

      • The science and practice of Medicine is separated from the Post-Normal Science of Climate Change by an unbridgeable chasm: falsifiability.

      • Sorry for you Rich, but you are obviously on a very hateful rant that leads to nowhere. You know, of course, that you cannot prove ANY of your hateful propositions. You don’t even know how to interpret C.S. Lewis, for crying out loud! I will pray for you, though!

      • Another wonderful comment from Rich:

        “You got any better way of going about the process, or are you just blanking out and playing the old “Use the Force” gambit? What “process” are you talking about? That statement probably violates ALL of the precepts that Judith has outlined! WTF?

      • Whee! I mention economist Murray Rothbard’s comment to the effect that “Hatred is my muse,” and from this guy we get the old odor of sanctity decrying my allegedly “hateful propositions.”

        Er, “hateful” precisely how, sonny? Against whose rights – to life, to liberty, or to property – have I advocated trespass?

        My opposition in this forum is to political action violating other people’s rights, including such actions as have been undertaken by whackjobs claiming religious motivation, up to and including heartfelt conversations with the Great Sky Pixie.

        I have similar regard for the thieving violence of the purportedly secular fascisti on the political left. What’s that line from “Macdonough’s Song”?

        Whether The People be led by The Lord,
        Or lured by the loudest throat:
        If it be quicker to die by the sword
        Or cheaper to die by vote–
        These are things we have dealt with once,
        (And they will not rise from their grave)
        For Holy People, however it runs,
        Endeth in wholly Slave.

        Oh, yeah. On climate, I held (back in the late ’70s) that the AGW pseudoscientists had overstated the temperature forcing effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide by at least three orders of magnitude. Did any of you people out there take note at the time that Hansen had been studying the atmosphere of Venus and cement-headedly applying the greenhouse effect to the planet Earth without adequate corrections?

        These “Cargo Cult Science” practitioners had failed to error-check their premises, fell in with the professional liars in Mordor-on-the-Potomac, and grew their embarrassing blunder into the greatest fraud in the history of humankind.

        Insofar as I’ve been able to determine, we’d been experiencing a slow and more-or-less consistent global temperature rebound from the conclusion of the Little Ice Age. Recent studies of the sun seem to indicate that we’re about to drop back again into the cold for another decade or three.

        If the “man-made global warming” hypothesis weren’t purest bullpuckey, we might could use some of that heat-trapping in the next twenty years or so. Pity it can’t happen.

        Anthropogenic increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are beyond dispute (radioisotope analyses, y’know), but the effect is just about squat. In addition, the instrumental error in the historical temperature databases – compounded by the failure to acknowledge that a bunch of those Stevenson screens had been “sited next to a lamp” over the decades (and the deliberate duplicity of the “climatologists” doctoring the datasets to make colder, higher-latitude and higher-altitude land surface station thermometers “disappear”) – has been such that what little global temperature change as has taken place since about 1850 really might not be reliably measurable.

        It’s kinda like trying to determine the progress of pathologies in a multidecadal public health assessment like the Framingham study after a coterie of flaming frauds had taken over the only records and systematically re-wrote ’em to fudge the numbers on plasma lipids, blood pressure recordings, EKGs, and suchlike.

        I strongly suspect that the field of “climatology” might have been so thoroughly screwed up by the AGW fraudsters that it will take a good decade and more for the few honest ones to hose the place out.

        More time will be required if steps are not taken to get rid of the AGW cabal presently squatting in the academic posts and at government centers of “research” to continue their desperate duplicities.

        Anybody else got experience in trauma surgery? Think “debridement.”

        Howzzat do ya, Tom?

      • From this I dimly discern that Rick shares my contempt for CAGW theory. My God, he’s got me turning Believer!

      • Experience of “debridement.” As it happens, I have attended a handful of oral/maxillofacial surgeries, all of which involved debridement, one of which to the extent of flapping the patient’s entire face to permit maxillary advancement/mandibular retrusion – colloquially known in orthognathic circles as a “bimax”.

        As I recall, it was an intriguing exercise, done with great skill by a very knowledgeable adult, who used precise, sharp instruments, each one suited perfectly to the task at hand. Not at all like your rhetoric….

      • I spent some months in the training years at specialty hospitals in New York City, a fair amount of the time including preoperative work-ups and subsequent follow-up in head-and-neck cancer cases requiring what the eager ENT residents and surgical oncology fellows used to call “commando procedures.”

        Bimaxillary orthognathic procedures are way beyond “trivial,” but they’re elective, and I can’t conceive that there’s much debridement of devitalized or necrotic tissue involved. Mobilizing skin flaps and such involves dissection, sure. But debridement?

        It’s when the surgeons were going in after the relatively rare early-diagnosed and therefore resectable carcinomata in the paranasal sinuses that I used to be most impressed. The radiation oncology people have been handling most of those cases lately.

        Since then I’ve had much reason to call the local ENT surgeons into the Emergency Department for the repair of facial lacerations as well as in the management of injuries to the ears, the nose, and the neck in trauma cases. There are never enough full-time plastic surgeons anywhere in flyover country, and the ability of the ENT guys to get in and out of places where cosmesis is critical and malignancies are horrible makes them hellacious plastic techniques people.

        We tend too much to think of them as “deep anatomy” guys, and don’t put enough attention on the fact that they’re extremely “good hands” surgeons with the skin hooks and the fine-toothed pickups, too.

        As for my rhetoric, anent the power-lusting religious whackjob what makes you think that anything but blunt dissection is justified?

      • I’m just using the terminology used by the surgeons. They spoke of dissection when detaching soft tissue temporarily from bone, and debridement when removing and discarding any tissue still adhering to exposed bone – perhaps the distinction was between tissue that was to be retained/discarded. A fine distinction – but then science – and life, have lots of those.

        Anyway, isn’t it nice to discourse civilly?

      • Tom,
        You are referring to flap undermining.

        Debridement is removal of dead non-viable tissue.

      • I’ve always enjoyed watching (and assisting) the cutters mobilizing skin flaps and rotating ’em into position to ameliorate defects. Their ready familiarity with the anatomy is a delight. I’m still occasionally surprised to learn what the rich facial vasculature lets the head-and-neck and ENT guys get away with.

      • Thanks, Shub, I stand corrected, but as I explained earlier I am only using it in the way the surgeons I observed were using it – removal of tissue to be discarded, vs temporary dissection/flapping. But my point, which you may have missed, is that both debridement and dissection are performed with great skill, and care in the choice and use of instruments – characteristics notably absent from RM’s rhetorical doughnut-chucking*)

        *trans: Aust, colloq., “to show off by driving a powerful car in circles with the wheels spinning, creating a lot of noise and smoke, but going nowhere.”

      • And by the way, this was some flap. The crown of the patient’s scalp was resting on his sternum while the osteotomies were performed.

    • @Ric –
      You say – It’s not the way that they do it, or their ostensible reasons for doing it, but rather the fact that they do it at all.

      So do the atheists and the Buddhists and the Muslims – and every other group, whether religious, political or secular, right, left – or libertarian. I suspect you do that as well.

      Not that I necessarily disagree with your general line of thought. If you take just one word out of this sentence, we’d be in agreement –
      From my perspective, the religious political whackjob (whatever his denomination) is a threat to government limited to function – under the rule of law – for the protection of individual rights.

      Not all whackjobs are religious. In fact, I believe that particular group is a minority.

      Have a good weekend anyway. :-)

    • Rich,

      Thank you for smearing me with the same brush that you smear leftist religious types. You apparently feel that if someone isn’t an extremist Libertarian they are not altogether sane and wish to have control of others lives. You would be wrong. There are many fundamentalist , evangelical, plain Christians that would PRAY for you to change but would not vote for one law to MAKE you change much less use force. You are an excellent example of someone who has formed their opinions with limited experience and cannot conceive of the larger world out there. Try opening your ears and eyes and taking yourself out of your comfort zone. There really is a larger world out there.

      • Hey, if you feel that the shoe fits, who am I to dispute you? Whether “leftist” or rightist, explicitly religious or nominally secular, authoritarians are odious. What’s the problem with saying so?

        But I do love your blank supposition about my “limited experience” meaning that I “cannot conceive of the larger world out there.” Hilarious. The epic hero Gilgamesh (who was supposed to have ruled Uruk for 126 years) didn’t live a life long enough to “experience” sufficient of reality to apprehend your wonderful “larger world out there.” Anybody who claims to have achieved such definitive and authoritative knowledge of Life, the Universe, and Everything on the basis of his personal “experience” is simply blowing it out his distalmost alimentary sphincter.

        I’m prepared to contend that anyone who “isn’t an extremist Libertarian” (why the capital-L?) is not only insane but profoundly immoral. Would you care to argue the opposing viewpoint?

        Find a simulacrum of sanity in the premise that one person can live the life of another person – usurping utterly that person’s volition, his material substance, even his internal mental processes.

        Heck, that’s the flip side laissez-faire.

        Either we naked killer apes deal with each other as sapient moral agents or there’s the imposition of what the Enlightenment philosophers termed “the state of war.”

        On the libertarian side, you’ve got civil society – a uniformly unalloyed good. Any taint of authoritarianism introduced thereunto isn’t a beneficial tempering influence, but rather a degrading, debilitating, hideously immoral viciousness that only an insane person or a criminal could countenance, much less advocate.

        If Dr. Curry weren’t so delicate in her sensibilities, I might go beyond analogies to opening eyes and ears and abjure you to unwedge another portion of your own anatomy.

      • I appreciate your consideration of my delicate sensibilities

  10. Harold H Doiron

    I am a committed Christian who probably needs to be more evangelical. I like this Climate, Etc. website for its scientific discussions. Certainly, climate change scientists have enough to worry about without wasting time blogging about what evangelicals think and postulating theories on why they think it. Let the Theologians worry about this topic and let’s get back to science.

    And by the way Dr. Curry, I also recommend ” The Language of God” by Francis Collins previously mentioned by you in this thread. Dr. Collins, PhD, MD; earned his PhD in Quantum Physics at Yale, then became a Medical Doctor, and then led the US Government’s successful efforts to sequence the Human Genome. His long struggle with the question “How can a scientist believe in God?” parallels my own long struggle with this question, as well as, my conclusions. However, in addition to understanding the Physics of the evolution of our universe, Dr. Collins had the additional insight of also understanding Biology, Physiology, and DNA and how they fit within the evolution of life in our universe. The Earth’s Climate Change is part of the evolution of our universe….I urge you all to read Dr. Collins’ excellent book. If you are going to model climate change, then it wouldn’t hurt to get a better understanding of the Big Picture that your model must operate within, and where you feel comfortable drawing the boundaries of your model in order to have valid, high-confidence, boundary conditions.

  11. Judith,
    The evangelical commumities are as diverse as the “climate skeptic/alarmist communities,” and I don’t think the NYT does justice that diversity. Although I’m a “lukewarmer” climate skeptic and a religious skeptic, I have great respect for much of the religious community including the “emerging church” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_church
    which begaan as an evangelical movement. I spent three years participating on the “Jesus Creed” blog http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/
    where I found blogmeister Professor Scott McKnight and most of the posters there good folk open to reason and to science.
    As a Unitarian Universalist humanist, I sadly find some of my religious and politically liberal friends to be as closed-minded on “global warming/climate change” (they read the NYT/Washington Post) as the most close minded religious or political conservative when it comes trying to understand other points of view such as the varieties of religious experience or the role of government in creating a just society and level playing field. One can agree to disagree without being an attack dog; in fact, communication requires some empathy of where the other is coming from. While I think parts of the IPCC/hockey team pronouncements and parts of organized religion pronouncements are an affront to science and reason, I don’t begin a conversation with those accusations. Call me Pollyana, but I believe in the big tent called humanity and always trying to find common ground without forsaking reason and science. Let’s try and bring the religious conservatives inside the tent.

  12. I know a lot of evangelical christians, and I don’t know any two who think exactly alike, not on religious topics, let alone (especially) on political topics. To try to lump a very large chunk of the world’s population into some kind of “unified political force” is one really big fat strawman!

  13. I would like to echo the points made above. There is no more an “evangelical” position on the environment than there is on any other issue. There is a great diversity of views – even within the same congregation let alone the same denomination. Within my own congregation we have one person who is regularly lecturing etc from a pro-global warming viewpoint, and one of the leading people in the town from the “skeptical” side. They worship side-by-side — and I think either of them would be aghast if someone said that their congregation was pro-either side.

    Christians of course, have their own theology around creation – who did it, why and what responsibilities that gives us – but that is is a different matter altogether.

  14. At 7:52 PM on 1 January, Bart R jumps on Mencken’s “I believe” article (1930) without making any substantive point, but including – with magnificent willful stupidity – the following statement:

    So too in government, which by extending the abilities of individuals through self-evident advantages of social order grants liberties impossible in solitary efforts, more economically, more efficiently, and to greatest possible effect, one sees the only outcome of opposing government is the tyranny of the strong over the undefended weak, to the detriment of all.

    Oh, how nice. So civil government “grants liberties,” does it?

    Er, precisely how? I seem to recall that we’ve got the example of a state legislature enacting a statute making pi equal to 3.000, but no matter how vigorously the bureaucrats and popularity-contest-winners in our great republic and the several states thereof have sweated, none of them has yet managed a government that “grants liberties.”

    They’re great at stealing stuff. Wonderful at conscription and forced labor and all sorts of other direct violations of individuals’ liberties. They’ve conferred privileges and immunities upon favored persons and groups – but that’s always accomplished by depriving competitors or customers of the ability to exercise their liberties. Statutory and regulatory restraint of trade, “protective” (more precisely “screw-the-consumer”) tariffs, occupational licensing, all that sort of tyranny of the politically connected stuff.

    Jeez, I love critters like Bart R. If you’ve got to have enemies attacking freedom of thought and speech in fora like this one, and defending government thuggery in the violation of human rights, it’s always best to have really flagrant enemies who keep flaunting their pure, festering evil for all the world to see.

    And this Bart R actually thinks he’s showing himself to be all noble and selfless and wonderful, too. Whee!

    Look, folks, there is never anything except the purely incidental that is “economically” or “efficiently” valuable in anything done by the officers of civil government when it comes to warping and twisting and perverting purposeful productive human action. All that any government goon can ever do is to turn people from their own focused attention upon matters proximally within their interests, responsibilities, and capabilities to ends determined to be to the political advantage of the particular gang of thugs currently clutching precariously at the command of government power.

    Not surprisingly, this yields us unending inefficiencies and economic catastrophe. To paraphrase Michael Crichton’s 2003 dismissal of the climate fraudsters’ “consensus science,”

    If it’s political, it isn’t economic. And if it’s economic, it isn’t political. Period.


    • David L. Hagen

      Rich – lay off the ad hom “willful stupidity”

    • Sir, you are an anarchist, not a libertarian. You stand for nothing that I can discern.

      • Tsk. The endless cement-headed effort on the part of power-tripping government worshipers to conflate the libertarian position (civil government hammered down into safe restraint under restrictive rule of law) with anarchy (“It’s not the law – it’s just a good idea!”).

        Not that I mind anarchy, which is really nothing more than the absence of formal government. Heck, most of your life is conducted in the absence of formal government.

        Or does Officer Friendly superintend the preparation of your breakfast, JAE, as well as the fulfillment of your marital obligations and the color of your skivvies?

      • Actually Rich, Officer Friendly in the guise of the FDA and numerous other bodies DOES oversee my breakfast unleesss I manage to grow my own without being noticed!! Friends of mine have to have their pet chickens inspected! What appliances or power do you use that isn’t touched by regulation. Can you have an open fire in your back yard??

        Marital duties? What gubmint doesn’t pass on condoms, birth control drugs etc. How about any other “items”? In the US it is still illegal for multiple marriage and inter species marriage. There are regulations on allowed dyes for material and on the actual material.

        Please tell me an area of our lives that the gubmint does NOT impact??

        For a Libertarian you appear to be clueless as to the actual penetration into private lives the gubmint has actually managed.

      • It’s more the U.S. Department of Agriculture that unlawfully (bear in mind Dr. Kissinger’s not-at-all-joking admission) overreaches to control your breakfast. The incompetent wastoids in Rockville have their fantasies of puppet mastery, but they’re not quite where they’ve lusted to be throughout my long life.

        It’s wonderful that you should inadvertently make the precise opposite point for which you seemed to have been striving. In their overcontrolling “Pass a law!” stupidity, the officers of civil government (both elected and appointed) strive continuously by statute and regulation to command behavior and other aspects of the private citizen’s rights to ends and in extents which are simply impossible of attainment.

        They can “Pass a law!” to criminalize polygamy and polyandry, sure. But can they prevent such arrangements for living? Prosecutions for such “offenses” against worthless laws are restricted almost entirely to the sorts of actions taken by government thugs when they can’t nail one of their victims except on a proverbial technicality.

        You know. The way they “got” Al Capone on supposed violations of the utterly unconstitutional “income” tax laws, having failed completely to protect the public by deterring the man’s direct and indirect initiation of bombings, arson, extortion, and murder after murder after massacre.

        Jeez, that kind of Officer Friendly performance gives me so much confidence whenever I enter a “Gun-Free” zone.

        Though I’m not a pragmatist, I can’t help but observe that in practical reality, the overweening goons of civil government are not inadvertent in all their biting-off-more-than-they-can-chew flaming idiocy. They appear to have been doing this deliberately, and now we see our Mombasa Messiah – by way of his unconstitutional Environmental Protection Agency – claiming that his imposition of higher taxation and “regulation” upon the American people to punish them for directly or indirectly causing carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere will prevent global climate catastrophe.

        Now, if that ain’t the most abjectly insane – or just plain fascist – disconnect with objective reality one can cite, I’d like to see somebody come up with something more rabid-squirrel in character without resorting to the history of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party or the Khmer Rouge.

    • Rich Matarese

      Hilarity ensues; I get to be magnificently beloved critter again so early in 2011, and with so little investment. Though noble, selfless and wonderful are a bit over the top, Rich. Bart’s in it for Bart.

      To be fair, one was not jumping on poor old H. L. Mencken’s bones, but on those who read without understanding, or cite with malice to sew mischief.

      Can it be that so erudite a wordsmith misses every substantive salient within so short a response?

      Indeed, by the nature and need of a respectful respondent to answer what was offered, one by necessity ought avoid substantive (therefore new) points except by extension of the subordinate connections one makes to the original.

      Can’t very well address an original point with non sequitur.

      Your original argument itself so infirm, it was not easy to find enough substance in it Rich to afford my reply substantive qualities, but you err when you claim I did not do so. The substantive claim is that religious observation and government in society and in thought can be rationally shown to be better than their negation upon the most elementary examination, and that Mencken’s conclusions in ignorance of these conclusions are therefore false.

      To question the obvious inherent advantages of government makes trivial the discourse, barely worth addressing except for the sake of small children and imbeciles.

      So, since you ask, build precisely so many libraries and hospitals as governments make possible, so many schools and even cities, people them with so diverse, vital and prepared a workforce, empower so many great or good works out of so little raw material, display so obvious and inherent advantages as come out of the simple mechanism of civil government, and then maybe you’ll have created conditions to debate the merit of your flabby little libertarianish lies.

      Indeed, wasn’t the example you seem to recall of the Indianna Pi Bill (never enacted due to the intervention of a mathematician, but the best-known of the various Pi urban legends) just another case of a crank physician who believed he was smarter than everyone else, Rich? As it is more than a century out-of-date, it also comes out of a time of such small government as would make any modern libertarian green with envy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill)

      While I’m far more libertarian in my politics than anything else, it’s a sorry day for libertarians when we find themselves defined by the scummy pigeonhole of prejudice, ignorance and discord you’re spewing about us here.

      Great at stealing stuff? Absolutely, inept governments have theft (and violence) down to an art at its highest point, except compared to mobs.

      Denying that the balance of security against theft and violence weighs heavily in favor of the argument for a well-regulated and well-watched government is pure wilful deception (which also bad governments are pretty good at, but nowhere near so as bloggers) or dimwitted delusion.

      Those who would surrender their liberty for security deserve neither; those who wish to have either liberty or security have the duty to maintain both.

      What conscription, enforced labor, or direct violation of rights have you observed that you have not had the guts to defy, when your government has done it, is in America on the shoulders of every American who does not stand up and rail against it, not on some vague government bureaucrat. If you see these things in a democracy, it’s only a democracy while you do something about it. You’re only a libertarian while you act and speak up.

      They’ve conferred privileges and immunities upon favored persons and groups – but that’s always accomplished by depriving competitors or customers of the ability to exercise their liberties. Statutory and regulatory restraint of trade, “protective” (more precisely “screw-the-consumer”) tariffs, occupational licensing, all that sort of tyranny of the politically connected stuff.

      Well said, Rich. Commendable sentiments. This much we agree on entirely.

      Sad that you can’t turn your focused attention to these matters within your own interests, responsibilities and capabilities, and leave off the over-extended nonsense you so transparently have no real grasp of, as you so frequently and easily demonstrate.

  15. At 9:02 PM on 1 January, David L. Hagen demonstrates that he’s not reading Watts Up With That by posting:

    Rich – lay off the ad hom “willful stupidity”

    I’ve got to wonder how any alleged adult with the ability to post online could succumb – as so bloody many constantly do – to the blankly stupid use of the expression “ad hominem” (in whatever variation) when what they really mean to say is “nasty words.”

    The brain-dead and politically correct blather about “ad hominem abuse” aside (we don’t call it “Wiki-bloody-pedia” for no good reason, y’know), the logical fallacy of argumentum ad hominem is marked by attacking the position of a disputant not on the basis of anything pertinent to that position as articulated but rather to some characteristic (real or imagined) of the disputant which is extrinsic to the argument he is voicing.

    Kinda like: “You have freckles and red hair, and therefore nobody should pay any attention whatsoever to what you say about tanning beds and the risks of malignant melanoma.”

    To which the proper response, of course, is the equivalent of taking the person offering nothing else but this as sufficient rebuttal out behind the building, beating him until cerebrospinal fluid dribbles from his nostrils, and then hunting down all his progeny to sterilize them and thereby prevent further propagation of his genes.

    The incidental insult is not “ad hom,” and has never been. It may be impolite, it may be disrespectful, it may be inflammatory, and it is commonly contrary to those usages which serve the prissy and the whey-mouthed in lieu of plain goddam sincerity.

    But to call manifestly obvious stupidity “stupidity” is nothing, more or less, than calling malignant metaplasia “cancerous.”

    • +1 Rich.

    • David L. Hagen

      May we ask the fount of wisdom to expound with scientific discourse on the topic at hand. In particular:
      Evangelicals seek to:
      1) care for the poor –
      by encouraging use of inexpensive fuel to rapidly develop
      (as US rapidly developed by increasing inexpensive fuel at 9%/year for 80 years;
      2) be good stewards of the environment;
      which in turn needs productive economy and fuel.
      3) Cost effectively transition to renewable fuel and energy.

      How best can we do this without foisting dictatorial government on people with major harm to our economy and the poor?

      • David L Hagen

        Loy sof different people who are NOT evangelicals also seek to “1) care for the poor –
        by encouraging use of inexpensive fuel to rapidly develop
        (as US rapidly developed by increasing inexpensive fuel at 9%/year for 80 years;
        2) be good stewards of the environment;
        which in turn needs productive economy and fuel.
        3) Cost effectively transition to renewable fuel and energy.”

        Why use the word ‘Evangelical’ in this when your question is just as valid without?

      • David L. Hagen

        Thanks Louise
        This was to focus attention on the post topic on the positive concerns Evangelicals actually hold (in contrast to numerous fact free rants against religion, strawman and red herring arguments).

        The Cornwall Alliance shows how environmentalists’ proposed “cures” (e.g., cap and trade, eliminatinghttp://judithcurry.com/2011/01/01/evangelicals-and-environmentalism/#comment-27109 coal etc) are very harmful and often deadly to the poor, though officially taken out of nominal concern for the poor. See also the Manhattan Declaration stating Evangelical’s support for life and the poor.
        For evangelical concerns over environmentalism, see Chuck Colson on Breakpoint.org regarding environmentalists.
        See my post below for several examples.

      • Any group that uses Monckton as a source for credible science is *in*credible, IMNSHO.

      • That certain of the religious whackjobs undertake good works which result in the alleviation of temporal suffering is not to be disputed. Like “Liberals” of charitable inclination, they perceive others’ distress and dispose their own resources – time, money, materials, effort – to succor those whom they consider worthy of rescue.

        With some notable exceptions (because what the religious whackjob commonly conceives to be beneficial proves in fact to be deleterious), I’ve got no objections. In the words of the late Leonard E. Read, “Anything That’s Peaceful.” I’m foursquare in favor of each man making his separate way to hell in his own handbasket.

        Those religious whackjob good intentions make perfectly satisfactory paving material along that road, right?

        However, also like the “Liberal,” the politically active religious whackjob seeks not to do charitable good works with his own resources, but instead to command other people in his polity to “spread the wealth around” (don’tcha just love our left-handed spawn of a Mombasa Messiah for inadvertently making his viciousness so clear?) as if they had some kind of lawful right to do so.

        That in addition to the religious whackjob’s demonstrated proclivity to criminalize and and otherwise bloodily punish those of his neighbors’ actions which said whackjob conceives somehow to violate the ineffable taken-entirely-on-faith will of the whackjob’s Great Sky Pixie.

        In addition to the poisonous imposition of religious whackjob ideas upon their inoffensive fellow citizens, however, I freely join with religiously-inclined fellow libertarians to observe that it is when the religious True Believers focus upon commanding the police power in civil government, it degrades the religionists.

        Conceive, if you will, that the “wall of separation” between church and state in America was constructed and has been sustained not simply to keep the religious whackjobs from sending tax-funded armed thugs against heretics and unbelievers but also to keep grasping power-drunken secular politicians from screwing around in matters of conscience among the citizenry.

        The Founders took the wise actions on which they had decided because they had a really sound grasp upon the destructive effects – in both directions – of mingling civil government and spiritual beliefs.

      • Rich,

        “Conceive, if you will, that the “wall of separation” between church and state in America was constructed and has been sustained not simply to keep the religious whackjobs from sending tax-funded armed thugs against heretics and unbelievers but also to keep grasping power-drunken secular politicians from screwing around in matters of conscience among the citizenry.”

        You should have quit while you were ahead, but then, you never allowed yourself to get ahead. Please show me in the Constitution or Bill of Rights where this fabled separation of Church and State is actually implemented.

        I do seem to remember one particularly powerful phrase including “Congress shall pass no law”. Can you actually comprehend what you read or do you simply depend on the propaganda that fits your biases?? There has never been a wall that wasn’t illegally implemented. All there ever was is a specific prohibition against CONGRESS to PASS LAWS messing with religion.

        Come on Rich, put on your big boy pants and move with us into reality.

      • Tsk. You’re on the Web, kuhncat, and you can’t enter the phrase “wall of separation” into a search engine to learn that the expression comes from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association (1 January 1802)? Doubtless, Dr. Curry would be upset if I called you a lazy slob, so I won’t.

        Oh, yeah. The precise phrase for which you’d groped is “Congress shall make no law…” (Amendment 1, U.S. Constitution). The “wall of separation” policy developed as an unavoidable consequence of this prohibition of “an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” at the federal level.

        Try approaching such of the Founders’ commentary as you can access – if you care to try – on the issues of civil government and constitutional law in what the educated religious whackjobs refer to as “exegesis.” Or are you so bereft of grounding in American history and political thought that you haven’t the capability to attain a fund of knowledge in this area?

        Might I recommend to you something like the Knowledge Products presentations on political thought with the hope that you’re not as completely impervious as you keep trying to prove you are?

      • David L. Hagen

        I’m all for care for the poor, an evangelical virtue to be sure.. however, it seems some are misled.

        1) Inexpensive fuel is only so in a rob Peter to pay Paul way in America. Those who benefit most from the low price of fuel are hardly the poor, who in most cases share a clearly disproportionate burden of often regressive taxes to pay for the marginal price decreases of fuel and vehicles. For the sake of brevity, I’ll refer the reader to whatever of fifty state taxes in whatever decade they choose from the past eight to furnish detailed evidence for themselves.

        David, you speak of a period of 80 years, which corresponds well to the start of activities like the veto of public transit in Detroit by the automobile manufacturers who threatened to pull out of the city if it did not curtail its bus and like plans.. and then went ahead and imported cheap labor from Windsor using Detroit’s infrastructure of bridges and tunnels. See what you get for placing your trust in the son of Henr.. er, of man.

        2) Uh.. good stewards of the environment need productive economy and fuel!? Perchance you could expand on that thought, as it appears on its face dubious as regards understanding the common definitions of good, stewardship and environment.

        While there’s no absolute need for a productive economy to be at odds with a well-husbanded environment, the economy we have and rate of use of some fuels ill meet that challenge, if we cannot conserve a steady balance even of the components of air and sea water.

        3) Well who can argue with cost effectiveness? An eye to the bottom line is an evangelical virtue to be sure. After all, didn’t Jesus himself welcome the moneychangers into the temple, and bid them do their accounting and lending openly in the name of His heavenly Father? Oh wait. No, no, I believe He is said to have done the opposite, to have fashioned whips out of cords and driven them out.

        Maybe this might not be so much a Christian belief as one that comforts those who don’t want to pay their fair share for the benefits they get, so long as some mealy-mouthed pharisee will comfort them with platitudes in mockery of scripture and of wisdom?

        Er, if one’s to get all biblical.

      • David,
        You should not come to a discussion about religious ideals of Christians completely unarmed.

  16. Dr. Curry, I am not certain that someone’s point of view on religion must affect their view of climate science. For some reason unknown to me, it is clear you are interested in the possibility some connection may exist.

    May I suggest you clearly define your terms? There is a difference between conservative Christians and evangelicals. C.S. Lewis was a socialist evangelical. Charles Colson is a conservative evangelical. Rick Warren is a middle of the road evangelical.

    In 2008 and 2009, Pastor Warren said a few things in support of government policy changes to fight global warming. He has not said anything since Climategate. I do not know if he has become more skeptical because of the scandal or not.

    Dr. Gushee is not grounded in the conservative Christian tradition and cannot represent it. The way he derisively describes conservative Christians is not helpful to furthering understanding. His views only serve to reinforce tribalism. If you really want to understand the possible interplay between science and the faith of conservative Christians, ask Dr. Spencer to write a guest post on the subject.

  17. Rich,

    Thank you for answering my question. Since you are a medical scientist, I am intrigued by this statement:

    “I tend not to rely exclusively upon my own personal professional experience in the regard. Yeah, I’ve trained and practiced in Roman Catholic hospitals, and I’ve worked in concert with both doctors and nurses who have been practicing members of Catholic religious orders. Some work with Protestant “Born Again” heretics, too. Positive though that personal experience has been over the decades, it is not truly reflective of how modern American religious believers have tended to behave in the political sphere.”

    Suppose the Journal of the American Medical Association said, “virtually everyone is left-handed” but in your practice you find over a period of years that only about 1 in 10 people are left-handed. While certainly not definitive, wouldn’t that cause you to question JAMA?

    If you think my analogy has merit, why do you apparently disregard your positive person experiences with religious evangelicals and others in favor of the caricatures painted by the NYT?


    • Mike Smith seems to expect that an average American physician conceives the AMA (and its flagship publication, JAMA) to be so intrinsically reliable and trustworthy that one of us would ever receive uncritically anything published in that journal which was at variance with our own clinical perceptions.

      Jeez, Mike, but that is a truly ghodawful analogy. The AMA has been losing membership ever since I can remember, chiefly because increasing numbers of medical practitioners have become convinced that the Association’s “leadership” gives not a genuine damn for our profession in aggregate or our individual needs and desires in particular.

      And the JAMA editorial board has been bamboozled (or arm-twisted) into publishing misleading stuff on enough occasions to have long since engendered a healthy skepticism about its “authoritative” character. Pretty much the same with a lot of other “high impact” periodicals in the profession. The New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet have gotten tripped more than a few times, particularly as left-fascist politics have poisoned the Massachusetts Medical Society responsible for the former publication, and “pal review” sneaks around in lieu of peer review.

      I’m a primary care grunt with lifelong experience in private practice. I’m not sufficiently divorced from reality to be an academician.

      I tend to “disregard [my] positive person[al] experiences with religious evangelicals and others in favor of” a more thoroughgoing appreciation of their individual and aggregate actions on the political scene because – as I’d said – the standards of professional conduct within which physicians and other health care professionals function provide these religious whackjobs with a structured setting in which their nutcase proclivities are constrained.

      They can thereby sustain the presentation of reasoned and reasonable comportment. Those who do not tend neither to be selected for training nor survive the training process. Moreover, they are subjected at all times throughout their professional careers to the scrutiny of colleagues working with them. If they demonstrate their religious bigotries and other deleterious peculiarities too readily, they get run out of the workplace.

      Think of the evaluation of religious fanatics while in media res as medical practitioners as if you were trying to assess the stability of a knee strapped snugly into an articulated brace. The limb therein is so thoroughly splinted and thereby constrained against abnormal motion that you can’t really tell much at all about the integrity of the joint’s structures, can you?

      When aspiring to political power, and particularly while exercising such power, they are more “free range,” and therefore their malignancy is much more reliably observed.

      I tend to hear much from religious whackjobs on the political right about their high regard for the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers, but there is a dearth of real scholarship there, and manifestly little genuine understanding of the thoughts expressed by the men who were truly responsible for the political processes that resulted in the American Revolution.

      For example, there so little actual appreciation among the American religious right of Thomas Paine – who was condemned by progressive Republican icon Theodore Roosevelt as “that dirty little atheist” – that they evince only the most tenuous familiarity with his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, my emphasis upon their refusal to acknowledge his early (and quite brilliant) distinction between the institutions of society and government:

      SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.


      Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

      Given Paine’s influence as a voice expressing the sentiments prevailing among the American colonists in the run-up to independence and the long, bloody war fought to achieve that end, for any “religious right” whackjob to whine that any libertarian is “an anarchist” for expressing precisely the same caveats published by Thomas Paine ought to be enough of an indication of just how alien these people are to both the history of this nation and to the principles of limited government under the rule of law.

      Just because some of them are paddling at the moment in the proper direction doesn’t mean that I ever want them steering the canoe.

  18. Francis Schaeffer was one of the leading evangelical philosophers of the 20th century. If you want to know what evangelicals think about environmental issues, read his book Pollution and the Death of Man. You can find it on Amazon.

  19. I have trouble taking anyone seriously who starts off his participation in a thread with “If you’re going to go censoringly prissy and pale around the gills when dealing with the malignant idiocies of the religious right, you can do it without my participation,” then goes on one stemwindingly, mindnumbingly obtuse rant after another.

    Oh, and “ad hominem” applies quite well to these diatribes, for those who know what the term actually means. Unless of course “malignant idiocies of the religious right” etc. are analytical terms of art with which I am not familiar.

    I for one hope Dr. Curry is just away engaged in her real life, and not sanctioning this sophomoric, grad student style demagoguery.

    • Aw, GaryM seems to think that incidental insult qualifies as argumentum ad hominem and offers in support for this assertion…precisely nothing. Sheesh.

      Look, Gary, I’ll offer you some insight. Take it or leave it.

      Anybody who asserts that he should command the lives and other resources of the people around him is attempting to exert political power. Whether he does it by majority rule or by virtue of what Thomas Paine called “an armed Banditti,” he is bent upon compelling inoffensive other folk to action (or restraint from action) on the basis of his ability to do violence to them.

      Now, sometimes this kind of thing is going to be needful. In our society – since the mid-17th Century, for the American Revolution has its roots in the English Civil War – those who govern have to provide us common people with some kind of justification for their expropriatory and conscriptive activities.

      Commonly, they lie to us, but we expect and anticipate that we’re going to get the truth out them eventually. Us common folk are – bedraggled and abused and impoverished as our ruling parasites have made us – the source of sovereignity in our republic.

      And with the ‘Net giving us access to files like that “FOIA2009.zip” archive and all that stuff GaGa’d off SIPRNet flowing through Wikileaks, the concealment is getting mighty tenuous for those arrogant bastiches. FCC efforts to Big Brother the Internet notwithstanding, it looks as if the self-anointed political ruling class isn’t gonna be able to count on their bodyguard of lies as much as they’d been able to. So sad.

      But no good wind doesn’ t waft in something rotten along with it. As the professional corruptocrats are getting thrown or perp-walked out of public office, it looks as if we’re about to get ourselves yet another iteration of religious political whackjob infestation.

      This has happened before in American history, notably with the Second Great Awakening at the outset of the 19th Century and its political manifestation in the Whig Party, and in the populist takeover of the Democratic Party in the 1890s as that “Free Silver” inflation-pushing religious blowhard William Jennings Bryan and his glassy-eyed idiot followers displaced the “solid gold” limited-government Bourbon Democrats of Grover Cleveland.

      I’ve got some real concerns about this. The TEA Party crowd, for example, is far more “religious nutcase” in their sentiments than they are fiscally conservative libertarian Ron Paul supporters.

      Those of us on the libertarian side seek political influence for no reason other than to moderate and if possible eliminate the depredations and debilities inflicted upon the productive private sector of the national economy. At the same time, we’re interested in preserving and extending non-economic individual sovereignity as well, but we’re pretty much agreed that people deprived of the ability to get themselves a living and keep something more than a seventh (or less) of the value for which they work – instead of surrendering it to layer after layer of government thugs whose excuse is that they’re gonna “spread the wealth around” – the freedom to ogle porn and smoke dope doesn’t really mean much.

      The religious whackjobs, however…. Well, no matter what they claim to want, other folks’ freedom is not really on the list of their priorities. Particularly not “freedom from” the obligation to worship some form of the Great Sky Pixie.

      And every time we’ve ever gotten a religious Great Awakening manifest as a political movement, the nation has suffered badly in terms of economic freedoms. The religious whackjob just really doesn’t value life on earth as anything other than a kind of lead-up to the afterlife and the eschaton. The worst of them – and politically the worst always set the standard by which the other whackjobs comport themselves – are on the proverbial Mission From God.

      No matter what your most jaundiced estimates predict, it can quite effectively guaranteed that what they’re gonna do will be a helluva lot worse.

      I’ve no inclination at all to see people who claim converse with the All-Highest achieve the police power in America. They have never before exercised such power wisely or for the protection of individual rights, and I have zero expectation that they ever will.

    • Actually, Rich has cleaned it up substantially since the first snipped post, but he is still over the top. Since people have been responding to him overnite, it is too late for me to snip anything else. I will be on top of it today anyways. Rich has an interesting perspective, we’ll see he can tone it down and become an engaging participant here; alternatively, I’ll snip his posts and eventually he will give up.

      • I think he has simply hijacked the thread. His position is simply that all government is bad but the religious right is the worst of all. This topic is presently being debated in hundreds of political blogs, but it is not related to the posted topic, nor even to the overall topic of this blog.

        I had a similar experience recently in my climatechangedebate.org Yahoo! group, when someone introduced the topic of abortion. When this happens my policy is simply to declare an issue off topic and ban people who continue to pursue it. You may be less autocratic. Perhaps you should rename the post “Matarese’s rant” and let it go at that.

        Because it is a rant (and he is clearly in love with his adjective laden voice) it is drawing mostly rhetorical responses. This is fun and the style is interesting but there is no substance, and what there is is not related to the climate change issue.

      • As long as this doesn’t migrate to the technical threads and the language isn’t too over the top and he doesn’t insult the commenters personally and specifically, I’ll let it go and see how it plays out.

      • Just curious: Specific insulting words are banned as long as they are directed at individuals, but they are OK as long as you direct them at entire groups of people? So as long as we don’t criticize commenters personally, is it OK to refer to the “stupid,” “ignorant,” “whackjob” Muslims, Bhuddists, Hindus, et al.? How about Hispanics, Blacks or women? Maybe the disabled?

        Just askin’.

        There is only one kind of ignorant bigotry still considered acceptable in “polite” (read liberal) discourse.

        Not to mention, this overwrought comment seemed kinda sorta personal and specific to a particular commenter: “Your closing religious whackjob appeal to the ineffable (“Christ could help with that,” whatever in hell your smarming pretense of sympathy is supposed to imply ‘that’ might be) is just flies on that dung heap of yours. ”

        As for his having an “interesting perspective,” other than stating “government bad – liberty good – christians are stupid” about fifty different ways, I can’t seem to find anything really of merit from him about the topic of this post. For every sentence of exposition of libertarian thought, we get six or seven paragraphs of bile and hot air. It’s like reading a libertarian Cornell West.

        This guy makes the commenters at Real Climate seem downright genteel.

      • I am trying to ban “stupid”. Ignorant is legitimate word to use. The “whackjob” has pretty much become meaningless. I am giving it a try and see where this goes, lets see if it gets better. I am trying to moderate the comments as they come in.

      • Your censoring inclinations are duly noted.

        Anybody who predicates advocacy or action upon what he claims to be “divine inspiration” is arguing his position on the basis of the proverbial Mission From God, what I have already characterized as “an appeal to the ineffable.”

        There’s no way to error-check divine afflatus, no way to verifiably support such an approach to any situation. How the hell else can someone claiming such motivation or justification be characterized except as a whackjob?

        The fact that my “bile and hot air” displeases you – for your own purely subjective reasons – is also duly noted. Of course, I note as well that you don’t refute one damned bit of it.

        Christians and other religiously motivated people tend with high reliability to be willfully stupid. See that draw from Tertullian I’d posted earlier. Like religious whackjobs of other denominations, Christians – when you drill down through the fluff and hit their fundamentals – actually glory in conscious acknowledgment that their thoughts and actions are really based upon what they actively accept to be without susceptibility to proof.

        On the matter of the AGW fraud, this gives me continuously to question why so many of those on the American religious right reject the idiot premise that the purposeful combustion of fossil fuels has caused (or ever could cause) significant adverse global – not local or regional but planet-wide – climate change.

        It may be that they’re simply in a sort of knee-jerk averse response to their rivals on the political left, and I suspect that’s the case. This makes them very much the wrong kinds of allies, and at best very unreliable co-belligerents.

      • Do you actually believe that the view you describe is really relevant when the discussion is climate change?? It seems to me that there is only a VERY small percentage of people who reject all reason or logic on the subject because of their religious/superstitious perspectives. I write in this way to demonstrate that I think all religions have minimal factual basis, but I also have not really scene that as a problem on the subject of climate change

      • Yeah, I certainly do think that the views I’ve expressed about politically active American Christian religious whackjobs is “really relevant” to the processes through which we kill off the AGW fraud, putting an end to its destructive effects.

        It’s never that these whackjobs “reject all reason or logic on the subject because of their religious/superstitious perspectives” but rather that their fundamental reasons for doing anything in the political sphere are pervasively and perniciously influenced by their Great Sky Pixie irrationalities. They’re always susceptible to an appeal to whatever in hell they conceive to be their most deeply held articles of faith, and that makes ’em unreliably slippery customers in the great marketplace of ideas.

        What’s got to be understood is that no religion has any factual basis. Damnit, but that’s what makes them religions.

        A great many Americans profess Christianity as their religious denomination simply because they’re expected to put down something in that slot when filling out their papers. Ever since the era of the American Revolution – when it was beaucoup politically incorrect to admit that one was an atheist – a substantial number of the Founders were nominally Church of England (later Episcopalians) but were in practice and thought deists.

        Which is to say “atheists” with a beard.

        Prior to the Second Great Awakening (ca. 1800), the Protestant witch-doctors of America were all in a dither about the fact that their fuddy-duddy jobs were on the verge of being either ignored (or laughed) out of existence.

        It’s something of a national catastrophe that they weren’t so obliterated. The political manifestation of the Second Great Awakening was the Whig Party, and it can robustly be argued that Henry Clay’s Whig “American System” of protectionism, pork spending, and currency debauchment was the real cause of the War of Northern Aggression.

        Abraham Lincoln rose to national political prominence as “a good Clay Whig,” and it should not escape attention that the highly publicized supposed opening shots of the southern states’ rejection of federal pillage were aimed at a customs facility in Charleston Harbor, where the Lincoln Administration was insisting upon collection of the Republicans’ nosebleed-high Morrill Tariff of 1861.

        Better the Evangelicals should have subsided into apathy and apoptosis.

        All recent and ongoing tendencies among the American populace to lapse from adherence to organized religion have provided, in my opinion, signs of improving health in the body politic.

      • Rob, my viewpoints expressed here – including those immediately above – are most certainly relevant to any discussion of”climate change” when it is understood that there has been abso-goddam-lutely no valid (factually supported) scientific case yet made that human action in terms of fossil fuels combustion has had (or could ever have) any substantial adverse effect upon the global climate.

        To whatever extent the warmists have striven to foist the concept of “man-made climate disruption” upon humanity at large and the people of these United States in particular, they have slimed into this effort by way of of incompetence in their nominal disciplines (blundering), outright theft of value by deceit (the studied perpetration of fraud), and/or quasireligious ‘viro fanaticism (“Gaia-worship” and suchlike mystic hoodoo).

        The motivations of the religious whackjobs on the American political right – largely in kneejerk opposition to the almost entirely left-wing swarm of thugs and thieves pushing the AGW scam – aren’t all that much different, though there’s a good deal less worldly cupidity among the Red State fellahin than we find in the ranks of the carbon-trading, grant-application-confabulating, windmill-peddling warmist bunco artists.

        And it’s not that “religions have minimal factual basis,” Rob. Just like the AGW fraud, they have no factual basis.

      • Nope. Not that “all government is bad” but rather that all government which does not serve the end of deterring violation of individual rights to life, liberty, and property is bad.

        And you weren’t aware that this topic was being debated long before any such thing as a Web log ever existed?

        Tsk. You’re yet another barely functional illiterate who’s innocent as the beasts that perish when it comes to the history of public discourse on the relationship between human beings and that agency in civil society we call government. Were do we start with you, David? The Levellers? Or John Locke’s Two Treatises? I’m not sure you’re up to Cato’s Letters yet.

        It is only with regard to the political impact of the “Evangelicals and environmentalism” upon civil society that there can be any discussion, no? If the religious whackjobs keep their insanities in petto and take upon them no action infringing the rights of their neighbors, what reason is there for anyone in the sciences or such public fora as this one to pay any friggin’ attention to them?

        So when we discuss matters political we pretty much have to discuss the nature of civil government and this agency’s proper role in the affairs of humankind.

        Your whining effort to dismiss my discussion of this subject as nothing more than “all government is bad” is a wonderful example of evasion. It can safely be inferred that you favor empowering agents of civil government to breach individual human rights as a matter of policy, with that institution escaping the constraints imposed by rule of law in order to work compulsion and destruction to purposes which you – for whatever reason – seem to find personally pleasing.

        So what kind of blank check drawn on other people’s bank accounts are you grasping for, David?

        Moderation note: I am allowing “whackjob” and generic yiddish insults (for now anyways) since occasionally you make good points and others seem to find your comments interesting or entertaining. Don’t insult individual commenters, that is way out of bounds.

      • Religious fundamentialists have the huge advantage of ‘Absolute Certainity’. They believe that the positions they support have god on their side, their conclusions are unquestionable, unimpeachable, absolute. The religious believe thay are doing the work of their god, they have something that messy-many sided-reason can never have, ‘Absolute Certainity’.

        We poor fools who try to use logic, debate, experimentation to inform our worldview can never be 100% certain of anything. We know that once in awhile ‘The Black Swan’ question arises and that something rare, extreme and unpredictable can happen that changes our worldview. We poor fools hold ideas to be true until some new information comes long that refutes those old ideas and we subsequently form new views. We who believe in reason use: thesis + antithesis = synthesis to constantly inform and evole our worldview. Our ideas and ideals resemble Sideshow Bob’s hair, the ‘Absolute Certainity’ folks sport a more Pat Boone look.

        What a huge advantage the religious have in the marketplace of minds. The religious can offer easy answers, the reasonable offer difficult choices. Little wonder that as education standards drop, as the rich get richer and times get tougher that fundamentist religions are growing in popularity and influence. To a poor fool like me all this uneditable belief sounds like a flim-flam designed to bilk the weak of their meager means. Often a fool like me reasons that actions have reactions [another unfortunate feature of logic] and that one day the growing darkness of ‘Absolute Certainity’ will be replaced again by the malliable mind of reason.

      • Bob, when somebody writes something like “We who believe in reason use: thesis + antithesis = synthesis to constantly inform and evolve our worldview,” I get irritable twitching in my thumbs and my mind’s eye pictures purely Sicilian visions of perverse uses for quick-setting concrete and fishing excursions on the Delaware Bay.

        I have qualms about employing the dialectic (including the three-fold Hegellian dialectic) because neither thesis nor antithesis are genuinely tested against objective reality, and the synthesis derived from matching the former against the latter is liable to fatal “poisoning” by way of bloody nonsense. In the dialogue, what assurance does anybody have that either proponent or opponent knows what the hell he’s talking about?

        Take it down to a “corridor consult” just down the hall from the patient’s room. Quietly despite their heat, two different doctors are debating the implications of diagnostic findings on that patient’s case, and what courses of action to take in both further diagnostic evaluation and treatment interventions. They dicker back and forth until finally some “synthesis” of opinion is achieved.

        What says that either of these guys is right? Or that the synthesis arrived upon by way of this dialectic is of greater validity than the “thesis” brought into the conversation by one of them – who had been induced by his colleague to go along with something of the “antithesis”?

        What will secure the optimal outcome for the patient in this case is going to be the doctors’ conjoint admission that both of them could be wrong, and that both of them are open to a re-evaluation of their diagnoses and treatment decisions on the basis of what objective reality smacks them with.

        I dunno about “Sideshow Bob’s hair” (having comfortably succumbed to the inescapable familial male pattern baldness so common among us sons of il Mezzogiorno back in my twenties), but “messy-many sided-reason” of the dialectic variety has never struck me as any kind of desirable alternative to the religious whackjobs’ “‘Absolute Certainity’.

        Can “the malleable mind of reason” be of any value when it succumbs so readily to disconnection from the phenomenal universe?

  20. Warning: No related to the thread.
    Feel free to delete.

    Just thought I’d give you a head’s up about Curry’ed Tripe and other recipes.


    • I know, Cedric. Pathetic, isn’t it?

    • Latimer Alder

      They really are wetting their knickers over there about this blog. A whole ‘issue’ devoted to it. And it looks like the author (Mike Kaulbars FCD*) spent most of his Christmas putting it together. Saddo.

      Good for us..even the most controversial contributors! When the ‘opposition’ start running around like headless chickens and bleating about how awful we are then I conclude two things

      1. They are frightened that growing interest and momentum here will overwhelm them

      2. They think they have nothing left in their locker to fire back, so are holding hands together and whistling (or on this particular thread perhaps singing hymns :-) ) to keep their spirits up and pray for some miracle.

      Yet another sign that the Warmist hegemony is failing and disintegrating.

      * Kaulbars has given himself the ‘qualification’ FCD’ which apparently stands for ‘Friend of Charles Darwin’. To qualify, you just fill in a form and voila, tis done. Here’s the explanation of this prestigious award taken from theit website:

      ‘Membership of the Friends of Charles Darwin entitles you to append the letters FCD (Friend of Charles Darwin) to your name. Why waste three or four years of your life drinking beer at university, when you can have a valuable three-letter qualification right now?’

      I leave others to ponder whether this qualification ranks haigher than becoming an Elder of the Church of Climatology – with all the rank and privelege that entails.

      LA (FATFC)

    • randomengineer

      Dr Curry has managed to create something unique in the climate blogosphere, which is the anti-echo chamber. Your piece translates to “How dare she ask hard questions regarding what we know and don’t know in front of the skeptics!” It’s not the questions she’s asking. It’s that she dares to do so in full view. That it riles you is revealing. My guess is that in a full-on intellectual cage match she’d stomp your left hemisphere.

      Just sayin’.

  21. LOL!

    Now, strictly speaking for myself here but I wouldn’t be very offended by anything coming from someone who calls them self “greenfyre”.

    I file people like this under the category called: “Those with transparent personal issues who use the climate change debate as a proxy for dealing with them”

    See: Craven, Greg
    Haynes, Anna
    Romm, Joseph
    Jensen, Derrick

  22. So the best you can do to reply to the piece is an appeal to ridicule logic fail and some playground giggling?

    Let me know if any adults have something to say.

    • Latimer Alder

      Since your own website seems to have little to say other than

      ‘Judith Curry is a bad person and talks to sceptics and I won’t send her a Christmas card any more so there and then she’ll be sorry’ but at considerable length. And the few comments there say little more

      ..it is difficult to know how else to respond.

      Please make some substantive points and we’ll be happy to debate. But browse around a bit first to see what has already been covered. Ciao

      LA (FATFC)

      • A shorter way to say all that is “I didn’t read it so I’ make things up.” Pretty juvenile frankly.

        Out of respect to Ms Curry & this thread, IF you ever do read it AND have anything of actual substance to say you should post it to the piece itself, citing specifically that which you are critiquing and constructing a logical argument.

      • Actually, I did read it – and it’s just juvenile potty talk with no real purpose other than showing how nasty you can be.

        If you were an adult, you’d have brought your comments here where they could be examined in the light of public scrutiny. But cockroaches don’t like light, do they.

        I won’t be going back. I wouldn’t want to contribute to the success of your blog by increasing your traffic numbers.

      • So you think a website available to anyone who can use a browser is not “in the light of public scrutiny.”?

        And please quote this alleged “juvenile potty talk” which you supposedly read.

        And I suppose saying nothing of substance, calling me names etc is supposed to be some sort of substitute for actual intelligent, relevant commentary … how exactly?

      • Given your restrictive blog “rules” there’s no light over there. BTDT – and been banned from better places.

        Oh yeah – potty talk – read your own writing. No substance, just horse puckey.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “Actually, I did read it – and it’s just juvenile potty talk with no real purpose other than showing how nasty you can be. ”

        Completely agree.

        My first response was “Holy juvenile ex-frat boys, Batman!”

      • Latimer Alder

        My contribution to his blog was moved to Greenfyre’s ‘Dunce’s Corner’.

        I suppose I will have to live with both the shame and humiliation, but I think my shoulders are broad enough – with all your help – to withstand it. :-)

        Here is the offending piece, exactly as posted:


        Seems to me that you guys are really terrified of Judith and the posters ate ClimateEtc. You spend enough energy and effort slagging it off

        But its the only blog around where the Alarmists and Sceptics come together without intrusive ‘party-based’ moderation and where the issues can really get a good airing.
        We’ve recently covered (inter alia) the Radiative Transfer model, Judith’s submission (and follow up) to Congress, the validation and verification (or not) of climate models, forcings and feedbacks.

        Lots of good tekkie stuff to get stuck into – and some more discursive stuff as well.

        I commend it to you all’

        Please be the judges of exactly which AGW shibboleth(s) I have broken, as its not at all obvious to me. Perhaps those who are self-appointed FCDs (Friends of Charles Darwin) swear some strange oath of fealty that I have broken.

      • The reason is clearly posted where your comment had been. Does basic literacy also defeat you?

        Essentially the reason is that rather than respond with anything of substance you engage in cheap theatrics and irrelevant ad hominems. Your response to this is more cheap theatrics and irrelevant ad hominems?

      • Latimer Alder

        Well, as the worst you could say about me was that you didn’t think I had read your post..(I had but found little of substance in it), and that was sufficient to move me to Dunce’s Corner, I wonder what substantive point you feel was being made by the remarks below – which are still proudly displayed on your main blog:

        ‘She opens her mouth only to cram both feet in there. I’ve read it twice already and I can’t believe that it could all go so horribly bad.
        Spectacular immolation barely covers it.

        The woman’s a wierdo.
        Horrible to say but she’s off with the fairies’

        As to ad hom attacks, it is your own self-description from your own website where you claim the ‘qualification’ FCD, with a link to its provenance. If you don’t want people to read the stuff and draw their own conclusions, then you shouldn’t put it up there. Simples!

        PS – yes I do believe in evolution. My old university flatmate was one of Dawkins’ first research students and ‘The Selfish Gene’ makes a lot of sense to me. I am not a creationist, have never met a creationist and outwith these blogs have never heard it discussed. But I do not go around calling myself ‘FCD’ for that reason.

    • greenfyre, your entire post on Dr. Curry and this blog was an appeal to ridicule. You did not treat her with any respect or attempt to answer any of the points of science being discussed here.

    • Well, there was a certain cleverness to the greenfrye piece, and clearly a lot of effort went into preparing it. However, I don’t think the adults over here will have anything to say about your piece, since it doesn’t seem to be targeted at adults. I’m curious, why are blogospheric posts about me (carefully selected posts that attempt to ridicule me, ignoring the many others that find my contributions to be of value) worthy of such detailed attention? And why wouldn’t you read and comment on what I actually have to say over at Climate Etc.? For a start, read the “editors choice” selections on the greatest “hits” thread

      • Since this discussion is about the post “Curry’ed Tripe and other recipes” and not the piece above, I have moved a copy of your comment to there & replied to it.

        My apologies for the extent to which this has already distracted this comment thread from the post above, it was not my intent.

      • greenfyre, listen to yourself, just once. You are not interested in open dialogue. What are you really afraid of? Let the opinions stand. Why your inpulse to censor? Are you a card carrying member of the fire brigade (a.k.a rapid response censor machine)? Roll with the punches young man, cause you are not going to get your way. Unruly teenagers rarely do.

      • Insomuch as there has been no censorship, no evidence of any attempt at dialogue by any of you, nothing but vague accusations that have no basis in reality (just like your own comment) I fail to see what “punches” you could be referring to.

        Hint #1 People flailing at their own fantasies and projections does not constitute “punches”; it is self-delusional shadow boxing;

        Hint #2 As part of constructing a logical argument you should make reference to specifics which you should cite. If you are ever able to do so you are more than welcome to post a comment on my blog.

      • Greenfyre, What specifically are you referring to, and where are your citations?

      • Has no one explained this for you? Oh dear, that must make the internet a confusing place for you.

        i) In a comment thread a reply is understood to refer to the comment that it is replying to;

        ii) When the reply uses the same language in referencing that comment, such as “censorship” and “open dialogue”, it is generally understood a) to refer to those parts of the comment where those words appear, and b) those specific references constitute citation;

        iii) When trying to be clever and making implied accusations of hypocrisy or inconsistency it is generally a good idea to be sure that these have in fact occurred, because otherwise you wind up just looking foolish.

        There, that should help make the internet a lot less bewildering for you.

      • Don’t patronise me.
        You’ll find that you’ll get a lot further in life if you learn some other skills besides the art of ridicule.

      • Oh sorry, I’ve just realised – the subtle put-down in my previous post was far too subtle for you.

      • GreenFyre burns hot,
        But why so not the climate?

      • Burning, burning, bright.
        Like a fire in the night.
        Stalking, stalking. Pray.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        I’m not much good at Haiku, but inspired by your poetic musings…

        GreenFyre, old Squire, your name’s spelt archaic,
        May I enquire did you make a mistaic?
        Or is it a reference to Tolkein at all?
        As you do come across as a bit of a Troll.

      • Under normal circumstances I would, but when I kindly asked you to introspect, you chose your usual arrogant tone. You seem to have the juvenile personality traits of Mann and Schmidt. It would be fruitless, I am sure.

      • No – your intent was to draw traffic to your blog. With any luck at all your readership will dwindle to zero by the end of the week.

      • Here’s a place where this kind of talk should be settled:


      • Since this is a discussion thread, it is fine to bring up whatever, but this would have been better placed on either the greatest hits or new years resolution threads (which are more open and less topical than this thread). I have made a brief statement over at your blog, I don’t intend to say anything more over there, if you would like to engage in discussion with me on this, Climate Etc. will host such a discussion (on this thread or one of the the others). If you would like to spend time over here, I will even start a need thread so people can discuss your post in more detail.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Dr Curry:

        I was disappointed to read that you had posted at the ‘greenfyre’ blog. Please do not demean yurself in such a manner again. There are several such ‘hate blogs’ and they benefit from an appearance of influence which is obtained by responses from those whom they attack, so it is best to ignore them. None are worthy of consideration; and they absolutey do not merit any consideration by you.


      • Richard, i had never heard of Greenfyre before this, and will pay no attention to it in the future. FYI, 11 people clicked Climate Etc. link from the greenfyre website, probably a majority of his blog hits.

      • Check it or not as amuses you, but at least I thought it simple courtesy to advise you that I have replied to this comment.

      • Greenfyre’s was one of the few places that actually took the time to critique in detail the ridiculous “450 papers that disprove global warming” meme that was popular at places like WUWT about a year ago.

        If someone doesn’t take the time to respond to talking points like these, they go unchallenged.

      • Which blogs find your “contributions to be of value”? Certainly the anti-science, denier blogs do – but all (?) of the credible blogs have rubbished your “contribution”:

        “a conduit for false statements” … “Curry abandons science” … “The list of reliable sources in climatology just got a bit shorter.”

        Presumably, Dr Romm, Dr Schmidt, Dr Lambert, et al are not “adults” by your definition? Of course, your playground insult would have more sting if you ever rebutted the multiple critiques of your accusations and insinuations.

        Pointing out that lots of cranks are attracted to your blog doesn’t really improve your credibility. Quite the opposite – you are known by the company you keep… and you’re not keeping good company.

      • The good Drs Romm, Schmidt and Lambert are, as I understand, quite welcome to post here should they wish to do so.
        I don’t believe they need your permission, whoever you are.

    • I am strangely encouraged by this curious epsiode as it has reinforced to me the reasons why I have taken up camp here as a lurker seeking to learn. I have always been put off by the type of partisan exchange that is typified by Greenfyre’s pathetic posting at his blog. They just blow smoke up each others’ backsides over there. The beauty of this place is that both sides of the argument come together in reasonably polite discourse and the issues are discussed in a largely adult way. Moreover, the delineation between science and politcs is usually very clear which makes it easier to sort the wheat from the chaff. The fact that somebody should have spent such an amount of time to mount a nasty written attack on Judith shows to me that at least one side of the argument is becoming concerned that she may be starting to corner the market for the great silent majority. We just need a similar ad hom attack by someone from the ‘denier blogosphere’ and my theory will be complete. Finally, I am greatly encouraged by the Climate etc denizens from both sides rallying to Judith’s support. It almost smacks of teamwork….even you D64 :) Regards, Rob.

      • Greenfyre’s pathetic posting

        Indeed? perhaps you could direct me to where anyone has documented (that’s “documented”, not “claims”) errors in the piece. It seems the people here have been so busy congratulating one another about having refuted it that they forgot to actually refute it.

        I look forward to being directed to this cogent, fact based refutation of my work which must certainly exist; surely all of this mutual fawning can’t be pure self-delusion, can it?

      • greenfyre, it does not have to have errors to be pathetic. It only has to have opinions which are unsupportable, show an unwillingness to learn and generally not add anything of value to the climate discussion.

        Why spend your time on it?

      • What opinions do I give that are unsupportable?

        How do I show an unwillingness to learn?

        Nothing of value? I don’t know … there is some value to demonstrating yet again how Deniers don’t read what they pretend to critique & then try to fake their way when they are called on it. Granted they are so transparent that it is about as challenging as clubbing a plush toy, but it is amusing to see them make even more lame excuses and generally flail about.

      • What opinions do I give that are unsupportable?

        How do I show an unwillingness to learn?

        Nothing of value? I don’t know … there is some value to demonstrating yet again how Deniers don’t read what they pretend to critique & then try to fake their way when they are called on it. Granted they are so transparent that it is about as challenging as clubbing a plush toy, but it is amusing to see them make even more lame excuses and generally flail about.


      • Apologies for the double posting, some sort of browser glitch repeated my earlier text in what was supposed to be a PS, viz

        PS You have made a claim, and as per this sites Code of Conduct you are obliged to substantiate it or be in violation of them.

      • Looks like you broke a few too, just above.

        ‘lame excuses’
        ‘flail about’

        Not really intended to engender calm rational debate is it?

      • They are certainly not euphemisms, that is true … perhaps you could get things back on track by showing that they have been used inaccurately, and if you can’t, perhaps you would care to ponder that.

        I can’t help but notice a penchant for the red herring logic fail of quibbling that a word is felt to be offensive while ignoring the fact that it was used correctly.

        Tell me, when a Dr gives a diagnosis of cancer should one:

        i) quibble that it is an ugly word and we want her to use some less accurate, preferably misleading term?
        ii) first determine whether the diagnosis is correct?
        iii) if the diagnosis is correct, deal with the disease?

      • Do carry on reinforcing my point for me…

  23. Since Rich Matarese showed up there’s been a “Derechly silence”. Is this a bandwidth issue? Perhaps there’s only room for one pimply fifth-former at a time? I’m not sure I didn’t prefer the last one – and this one seems to be on my side!

    • As if any American knows or cares what the hell a “fifth-former” ever was or could be. There is among the purblind idiots of this planet a wonderful despair that drives them to twitch and grimace and make snotty halfwit remarks about people who demonstrate a more focused attention upon the realm of ideas than these pitiful schlumps could ever attain.

      Mundanes. Ah, well. I suppose we need ’em for breeding stock.

      Moderation note: Rich this is not useful. So far your phrase “twitch and grimace and make snotty halfwit remarks about people” seems self referential. I know you can do better than this.

      • As if any American knows or cares what the hell a “fifth-former”ever was or could be.

        Really? Why not? Lots of us have talked with Britons and caught on to the fact that a “form” is the same as or something like what we call a “grade” of school. This is not a low-probability event. I grew up in a neighborhood with three Britons (in three different families) who had no special reason for being there. The most distant of them lived about 100 yards from my house. The other two were right across the street.

      • The terms and other usages of Brit-think in education were replaced in these United States something like a century and a half ago, when the educationalists (notably Horace Mann) began the imposition of the Prussian model of government schooling. I know perfectly well what a “fifth-former” is supposed to be, if only by way of popular fiction read for amusement. I simply scorn the affected preciousnesses of TomFP.

    • Rich is interesting. Voluminous and wrong, but interesting.

  24. Latimer Alder

    Fifth former = school student of around 16 years old.

    I couldn’t translate the rest of your contribution into really understandable British English. But I think it was an assertion on your part of superior intellect than the ‘pitiful schlumps’ (translation please – no Brit would know or care what a ‘schlump’ is) that you seem to despise.

    Our acquaintance has so far been too short to judge whether your confidence in your own abilities will be justified. But initial indications are ‘not universally favourable’. Time will tell………

    • Yeah, I had some idea that the “fifth-former” crack was a half-fast snark about puerility. Over here, the term in most widespread use is “sophomoric.”

      As for use of the word “schlump,” haven’t you ever heard of “Dress British, think Yiddish”? Expressions in the Sicilian and Neapolitan dialects of my younger years, while familiar to even the most hapless Amerigan’ along the East Coast, tend to roll right over the stony skulls of critters west and north of the Appalachians, but the influence of the mid-Atlantic region’s Jewish writers and comedians over the course of the past century is so pervasive that Yiddish expressions of ridicule and scorn are well understood by any but the most opaque and nyekulturny speakers of the American language.

      Besides, for some strange reason, Southern Italians and European Jewish immigrant populations in God’s Country always seem to have gotten along particularly well. Possibly because we share the number-one and number-two rankings in incidence of cholelithiasis. I won’t succumb to the popular stereotype about how they do the accounting while we do the collecting.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘haven’t you ever heard of “Dress British, think Yiddish”?

        Nope. Fraid not. Nor do I have the faintest idea what sophomoric, fraternity house, phi beta zeta, sorority, Prom Queen or grade school actually mean, Even though they are frequently used in imported American TV shows.

        The point at issue here is that is supposed to be a Global problem (if there is indeed a problem at all), and though we all speak some form of dialect of English, the nuances and subtleties vary between those dialects. For example, my partner speaks Irish English and there’s times to be sure so it is at all at all begorrah when I can’t understand a word she says. While I of course speak entirely correct British English without a trace of irony.

        To be best understood it is wise to stick to neutral English with few localisms. Least that’s what me old mucker Delboy tells me lovelyjubbly innit?

      • Spot on (I’m a Lancashire Lass myself and him indoors is Glaswegian – sometimes we need an interpreter)

        and what the hell is all this ‘jumping the shark’ supposed to mean?

        Is that an Americanism or did I miss something in a past life?

      • Louise,

        The last time I was up in your part of the world, I needed an interpreter. ;-)

        To answer your question: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_the_shark

      • Ahh…so that’s what it means!! LOL, I did wonder.

      • randomengineer

        Americanism. Refers to a particularly inane “happy days” tv show episode where the character Fonzie jumps over a shark, which in retrospect signaled the point of the show’s decline.

        Google is your friend.

      • Yeah Lou it took me a while to figure out this “jump the shark” term.

        It comes from the once popular Happy Days tv show. Late in the shows life, there was an episode where the Fonz used water skis to jump over a shark in a tank.
        The episode was so lame it never recovered after that.
        So essentially, jumping the shark means you’re on a slippery slope to irrelevance.

      • Latimer, I always thought that irony was in the water around here ;-)
        It’s gert lush around my way, btw

  25. Rich Matarese:
    Your ability to infuriate and inflame is considerable. Your capacity to persuade, convince and convert is negligible. Your posts are repetitive, tedious and mind-numbing.

    My opinion.

    • On a matter as subjective as the proclivities of people to act on the basis of interpretations of holy writ (and alleged direct converse with the “Hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin“), the amenability of the religious whackjob to polite reasoned argument is, ab ovo, nil.

      Their fundamental premises are anti-logical. Tertullian’s “credibile est, quia ineptum est” (commonly misquoted as “credo quia absurdum“) puts the Christian religionists’ prideful cement-headedness efficiently into focus.

      You don’t reason with people who have explicitly abjured reason and fixate senselessly on “faith” with the utterly obtuse dismissal of evidence contrary to their beliefs. For the same reason, those of us skeptical of the similarly religious whackjob political power grope of the AGW charlatans and their ‘viro cultist followers really ought not to gladly welcome the religious right as good buddies simply because – for their own insane and idiot reasons – they are coincidentally opposed to the “progressives” and other leftist fascisti who have been pushing the fraud of “man-made global warming” as their most recent way to promotion and pay.

      That being the case, I tend to the Menckenian “stirring up the animals” route of address. There are no falsehoods in expressions of contempt and condemnation uttered along this path. No need for ’em. The proclivities of the religious political right – even among the most craftily sneaky Apollonian-seeming “respectable” practitioners of this anti-sanity – are as thoroughly bughouse as those of a rabid squirrel.

      It’s like maintaining a high clinical index of suspicion in the diagnosis of malignant disease. The killer pathology is commonly not obvious. (With the religious whackjobs, it’s because in the modern era they’ve learned that the open profession of their Great Sky Pixie inspirations gets ’em the loonie bin treatment.) The only way to find the metaplasia is to keep on slicing specimen and getting your cuts under the microscope.

    • randomengineer

      He’s saying that the left wing’s desire to (ab)use issues to control everyone is equally matched by the religious right. See this:


      Do read the text. You will need this.

      This gives you a basic idea of where he’s coming from. The goal of BOTH the far left and the far right is statism. Both will disavow any relationship to the other, but it’s there.

      Why Rich didn’t use the graphic in the first place is a mystery.

      Essentially since the goal is statism the left will (ab)use AGW to impose their order whereas the right may reject AGW but the result for the man in the street isn’t necessarily any different.

      As such what he’s saying is sensible and NEEDS to be discussed.

      • Another way of looking at this the four corners of a (four-sided) diamond: right and left at opposite points, and libertarianism and populism at the perpendicular opposite points. This puts an interesting framework on the political and moral debate over climate change. If someone wants to attempt to write a guest post on the broader political philosphical issues surrounding climate change, it would be most welcome (someone with knowledge of the scholarly and historical literature on this topic).

      • randomengineer

        Have you considered contacting Dr Pournelle?

        jerryp AT jerrypournelle DOT com

        He’s well aware of the climate debate (and a skeptic of sorts.)

      • Hardly “of sorts.” Dr. Pournelle is a skeptic, period. His online daybook is worth regular monitoring, and a specific site search using Google will help to aggregate considerations Dr. Pournelle has undertaken on the subject of “global warming.”

      • Going from a 1-D axis to a 2-D area is an improvement, but the scope of political belief is N-dimensional.

      • randomengineer

        A 2D framework is a good starting position to at least get a handle on some of the vectors, i.e. a commonly agreed way to describe them. Define the initial problem space, then the terms, then let the space grow accordingly.

        Eventually a full theory will develop that includes mu-Bosons and Morons and Peons.

      • I believe the attempt is misguided as well as inaccurate. Left vs. right sounds simple enough, until you are forced to define your terms and find there is significant disagreement in defining each term. It seems to me that libertarian vs. populism is even a more incorrect definition of the poles since there is actually so much overlap in those positions/valuse systems.

        What again is the value of trying to group people into a category? Say like “denialist”. IMO it causes problems vs. creating solutions.

      • Indeed, Libertarianism is orthogonal to the regular political spectrum in the following sense. Both Democrats and Republicans believe in using government power (in ever increasing amounts) to solve social problems, they just disagree on the methods, and in some cases on the problems. Libertarians oppose the overall approach.

        By ever increasing amounts I mean that there are a huge number of new laws and regulations passed every year and few are ever repealed, so the burden of rules is ever increasing. 50,000 pages or more every year at the US federal level. Untold thousands of people are employed full time in making more rules. To what end?

      • I’m less a fan of Dr. Pournelle’s diagram and his bases for the model he had devised than I am of the late David Nolan’s (see here for an example), which explains with greater discrimination the differences among “Liberals,” conservatives, authoritarians, and libertarians.

        Nolan’s model also subsumes the “left-right” one-dimensional political spectrum with satisfactory value. Dr. Pournelle’s does not.

      • randomengineer

        Dr. Pournelle’s explains tendency to statism better, which is why I chose to link to that one as opposed to Nolan’s. Your central point was relative to statism.

      • Dr. Pournelle is – and has always been – a statist. His academic credentials and his experience in civil government as well as the fiction he’s written over the past four decades support and explain this determination. It comes as no surprise that his “Pournelle Diagram” serves as an apologia for statism, manifesting his long-held disdain for what he has characterized as “the anti-statist end of the scale.”

        Pournelle’s axes (“Attitude toward the State,” and “Attitude toward planned social progress”) are fundamentally flawed simply because they fail to admit of the individual’s attitude toward personal choice. His focus is on civil government without any real consideration of what the legitimate purpose of civil government might be.

        By contrast, Nolan’s assessment analyzes according to the respondent’s attitudes toward the economic choices made by participants in society – production, consumption, truck and barter – which affect the material well-being of other people, then matches those preferences against “personal freedom” choices, each of which – in the words of Thomas Jefferson – “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

        To Dr. Pournelle, “statism” is an unconsidered given. To him, the absence of the state from any aspect of life is a contemptible impracticability, and any sort of “hands-off” dismissal of government thugs when it comes to “planned social progress” is simply chaos.

        Dr. Pournelle seems to have always held that those who govern are intrinsically wiser and more knowing and better able to dispose of our lives and properties and efforts than are those of us who have neither interest in nor aptitude for attaining positions of government power.

        Big knowledge problem screw-ups has Dr. Pournelle.

  26. Both of these groups survive by donations.
    Evangelicals are very smart in evolving with society changes. Music calms the “savage beast” approach works real well in generating emotions to the selected songs played and the messenge that is being preached.
    Environmentalists I have no use for. Many laws have been generated so that only the rich can play in the structure building game. Many a bottle or present have gone to a civil servant to stay on their good side.

  27. Rich,

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
    which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail
    to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is
    contempt prior to investigation.”

    • No dice. Haven’t I made it clear that my personal contempt for the politically active religious whackj0bs of the American right is the result of not simply personal experience of these deformed critters, but also studied examination of their impairments of civil government under rule of law throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries?

      I started out as a good, priest-besotted Roman Catholic parochial schoolboy and was obliged to minor in Curia-approved theology and philosophy as an undergraduate. Heck, I ought to be a well-sharpened advocate of Holy Mother Church. Instead I went the George Carlin route and – hewing to intellectual integrity rather than their pervasive appeals to the ineffable – I “lost the faith.” Also any respect for religious whackjobs when their unsane idiosyncracies lead them to the political imposition – through threatened or actual violence – upon the rights of their neighbors.

      Look, I figure that your peculiar personal debilitation leads you to really, really wish that my hostility toward religious whackjobs was borne of “contempt prior to investigation,” but like any reliance you may place on divine afflatus, you’re laying out your factory in Fantasyland.

    • Rich,

      I was also an arrogant atheist most of my life. Why?

      My stepmother was an evangelist preacher and we moved across the country “saving souls.” I lived in trailer parks in my youth.

      I became as mean and as arrogant as anyone on the surface of planet Earth.

      Finally, in 1996, I realized that my life was miserable because I was unwilling to accept that I personally am controlled by “Cause and Effect”, just like everything else in the universe.

      If you are happy living in the ego cage, please feel free to continue. If not, you might want to look into techniques to escape the ego cage.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

      • The “also” is considered stricken.

        There are entirely too damned many schlumps who are so lacking in any sense of personal effectuality (and therefore responsibility for the decisions they make) that they percolate a hatred of anyone who recognizes that he is – like it or not – his own “cause and effect,” and the choices he makes bear powerfully on his life and the lives of people all around him.

        Your noise about “the ego cage” isn’t really anything more than the whine of somebody who has surrendered his own control to some kind of undefined “Cause and Effect” (and, ooh, do I take note of your use of those capital letters!) in a dead-from-the-neck-up effort to slough personal responsibility.

        Hey, if that’s your fantasy, go right ahead and indulge. Somebody hauls your butt into a court of law over your own personal failure to exercise due diligence in maintaining the sidewalk in front of your house (f’rinstance) and hits you for both compensatory and punitive monetary damages, I’m gonna be real interested in how a petit jury receives your “I personally am controlled by ‘Cause and Effect’, just like everything else in the universe”> line of bullpuckey.

        Would that constitute a “diminished capacity” defense, I wonder?

      • Quite right Rich.

        The hands you are in are your very own.

        That realization scares most people, so they subscribe instead, and afterwards busy themselves with mental contortions to convince themselves that the pseudo-reality they have painted themselves into a corner with is big enough for the full expansion of their need for expression.

        With all sorts of strange results.

    • Please accept my apology and strike the word also from the first sentence in my post above.

      Best wishes,
      Oliver K. Manuel

  28. Judith, I can’t understand your impulse to moderate anything Rich writes. It is only words. I personally think he is a gifted writer, the libertarian Christopher Hitchins, if you will.

    • I’d think that if you wanted “the libertarian Christopher Hitchens,” you wouldn’t have to look much further than George H. Smith, the author of Atheism: The Case Against God (1974).

      Though he’s not as active online as I’d like him to be, he’s spent the past forty years or so publishing on a broad range of subjects, including overall editorial responsibilities and scripting for Knowledge Products. I’m most familiar with his work on their “Political Thought” series of presentations.

      I’ve read a bit of Hitchens’ work, and I strongly prefer Mr. Smith’s stuff.

  29. People are people! The various entries above have more to do with personal perceptions than any one little slice of the Chrisitan pie. Now, imagine that Jews and Muslims are as varied as Christians and that the same is true of Buddists, Shintoists, Hindus and every other group of “religious” and “anti-religious” people on the planet. What do we have? We have a world filled with people who are not real sure about the way “life” and the “universe” work. To compensate… ta’daaa & wa’laaa.. we have “Religions-Etc.”

    May I suggest that we need to step back a little from the microscopes and consider humanity, in all its complexity and variety, from a better vantage point than these little, stained snips of cults on a glass slide? The only thing more complicated than the weather on planet Earth is the “carbon units infesting it”.

    • Pascvaks +1

    • randomengineer

      And now you know why the answer to the grand question is “42.”

    • Yes, different people get their ‘kicks’ in different ways, but the real reason is probably our basic, biological motivational mechanism. This is the ‘reward centre’ built into all our brains.
      This reward centre, once triggered, injects our brains with extra doses of powerful neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. The effect is what’s colloquially known as a ‘high’. We’ve all felt the effects, to a greater or lesser extent, due to, for example, sexual orgasm, falling in love, running a marathon, ‘loving’ the deity of our choice (strongly religious), snorting coke, etc. etc .. the list is very long. The problem is, this ‘high’, together with our efforts to attain it, is strongly associated with lack of reason, logic and rationality – which is a direct result of the neurological effect.
      The point is, this mechanism is an intimate part of all of us. We can all be illogical, irrational, unreasoning, etc at various times, and all for the same basic reason. We’re all human animals. It’s just that we’re triggered by different things.
      Personally, I would hate to live in a world where nobody exhibited such human ‘failings’ and quirks, and everyone thought the same. It would, I reckon, be frightfully boring. And, for that reason, evolution will see to it that such a world can never exist.

  30. Dr. Curry,
    Thank you for this post. The interview of Cal Beisner was very good. His mention of the doctrine of depravity of man put him more in the main stream traditional Christianity. I was not familiar with Beisner before this post, so I thank you for this information.

  31. You’ve done it again. The first time you had it as “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science”. Now you have them resisting climate change.

    Its not any of these. They just do not believe in the AGW hypothesis because, unlike many other climate science propositions, they think its not well evidenced. They are not resistant to climate change either, they know its happening, they are all in favor of intelligent behavior in the face of it, they just do not think that reducing CO2 emissions is intelligent behavior.

    Why is this so hard to understand? It is one of the completely mysterious things about the AGW movement, that it keeps denying in the face of all the evidence that rational informed skepticism is possible. And so it goes off down these rat holes of religion, politics, all kinds of nonsense in order to avoid at any cost debating the evidence with skeptics. Faking statistics, refusing to publish code and data.

    For goodness’ sake, put effort where it will do some good, and get some of the raw data published, instead of giving people a forum to harangue each other about their religious or political prejudices. Start with Dr Thompson’s ice core data. How long have we been waiting for that?

  32. I do not understand why some here seem to think that the pursuit of science and a belief in God are hostile to one another. Many of the world’s greatest scientists have been devout Christians- Max Planck, Arthur Compton, Robert Millikan, just to name of few in the 20th century.

    Perhaps you think science and creationism is the sticking point? If so, I encourage you to read the book “God and the Astronomers” by Robert Jastrow. I cannot say Jastrow was a believer, but the book is about the discovery of the Big Bang. If you know anything about physics, if there is a Big Bang, there has to be a Big Banger. Jastrow was honest in his assessment of that fact. I highly recommend the book to everyone.

  33. Is there a correlation between level of education and belief in either/both religion and AGW?

    I know that there are very many highly educated skeptics (many post here) and also highly educated evangelical Christians and that these are not necessarily the same people but I wondered whether this discussion of evangelical Christians’ view of AGW is as valid as discussing level of tertiary education and AGW?

    • randomengineer


      Yes, have a look at the last thread on this, I’d posted some links to PEW polls that have things to say re educational levels vs belief.

  34. I came out of parochial school with a great, festering anger towards religion, particularly Christianity and even more so Catholicism. In the decades since I have made my peace with religion. Meeting many decent religious people helped of course.

    Whether there is a Great Hoo-Hoo in the Sky or not, religion is part of our human heritage, even our DNA I would argue. It’s not going away anytime soon. Though it is clearly a mixed blessing, I would also argue that it has been a far more positive force than negative in civilizing humanity.

    In “A History of Western Philosophy” Bertrand Russell, no friend of Christianity, acknowledges and even defends the huge contributions of Judaism and Christianity to Western Civilization.

    A Christian musician friend once told the story of how she was coming out of the San Francisco Opera after a performance of Bach and she overheard one woman say to another, “Think how much greater his music would have been if he hadn’t been composing for the church!”

    My friend smiled. Bach of course was a deeply religious man and his faith informed his work.

  35. ” If you know anything about physics, if there is a Big Bang, there has to be a Big Banger.”

    Yes! But there are still a lot of people that seem to think everything was created from nothing. And they won’t admit that that is even more a leap of faith than to believe in God!

    • The key point is that so many people are willing to explain to others that they “know” the true nature of “God” in spite of a complete lack of accurate information to support their conclusions. People who strongly believe in these superstitions frequently are willing to try to force others to adapt to their views.

    • Jae,
      If you get a chance, read Jastrow’s book. If you don’t like it, I will give you double your money-back. It is a short book and the story is well-told. Jastrow worked for NASA and was the leader of GISS.

  36. I will keep this very short since it seems such a simple topic when examined objectively.

    Simply stated- Religion = superstition. That is not to say all superstitions are bad or harmful, but they are not generally based upon facts but upon opinions and faith.

    When it comes to the issue of potential climate change much of the discussion is also based upon less than factual positions. Overall, you rarely hear those who are concerned about rising CO2 levels suggest controlling the human population as a means of moderating CO2. Why, (IMO) it is because so many humans support superstitions/religions that promote the notion of “be fruitful and multiply”. True environmentalist would be shouting for human population control until such time as more humans were needed (when humans are moving off planet)

    • > Overall, you rarely hear those who are concerned about rising CO2 levels suggest controlling the human population as a means of moderating CO2.

      Really? Such a stance is “rare”?

      • Yes- I very rarely hear anyone strongly advocating population control as a means of environmental maintence. Do you read much about the UN pushing population growth limitations or cap and trade on population?

      • The Wikipedia entry on climate change mitigation lists at least four references to groups tying population growth and/or control to global warming.

      • See also the links in this post by David Hagen.

      • But don’t you agree that these are not considered mainstream positions for climate control? You read about controlling GHG’s not population

      • Ask the Chinese about enforced population control, and about dustbins littered with dead newborns.
        A high birthrate has always been our answer to high infant mortality since the dawn of humankind. Just because that particular problem has largely disappeared in developed countries in recent decades, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to continue to be a fact of life in developing countries for a considerable time to come.
        The only reasonable way to change this is to raise the living standards in developing nations – and impoverishing developed nations is not the way to achieve that.

    • I think of myself as a true environmentalists and I am calling for increased investment in nuclear power (something us greenies are frequently accused of resisting) and I am also calling for a reduction in the global population.

      There is a very high correlation between the level of tertiary education in women and number of children. Educating girls in developing countries should be a priority for overseas aid along with investment in infrastructure to facilitate economic growth.

      • Your support of modern nuclear power generation seems very wise (imo).

        Waiting until women are educated worldwide to control population may be the only solution. Unfortunately, the earth’s population will probably be over 10B by that time.

      • Louise writes “There is a very high correlation between the level of tertiary education in women and number of children.”

        I heard an idea a long time ago, that if all the aid that money rich countries contribute to poor ones, were to be put into educating women, (NOT men), and nothing else, then most of the world’s problems would be solved in a couple of generations. Unfortunately, this idea is, politically, impossible to implement.

      • Actually weapons sales to the Saudi’s was tied to universal education of woman 30 years ago.

        The current fertility rate estimated by the CIA in 2010 for Saudi Arabia is 2.35/woman down from a fertility rate of 7 in 1980.

        Egypt and Kuwait have experienced similar drops in fertility rate.

        Of course we don’t give aid or sell guns to everyone.

        Education also is somewhat dependent on having a functioning government to begin with.

      • So is your cure for overpopulation mass extermination or forced sterilisation?

        I’ve put forward my idea – educate the girls. What’s your alternative?

      • In truth, I do not have a elegant solution. I would like to see the UN publicizing countries current rates of population growth and criticizing those countries who’s populations grow. China actually implemented a reasonable solution, but that one is not able to be implemented worldwide.

      • You think China’s solution was reasonable?

        Girl babies routinely aborted, killed at birth or abandoned? THAT’S reasonable?

      • I did not write it was perfect, but it was reasonable FOR CHINA. I write that based upon where China was at the time and their culture. It did not meet your values, but it was effective in changing behavior rapidly

      • David L. Hagen

        Thanks for raising this critical issue of life vs death. This is at the heart of the issues Evangelicals have with environmentalism. Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint highlights how environmentalists call for “culling the human herd”, and forced abortion to preserve “mother earth”. He finds the “Chinese policy was an inhumane, brutal, and totalitarian effort”. Conversely, the “Manhattan Declaration” by Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians “speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty”.
        The USA was founded on appeal to transcendent law:

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

        See its organic law: U.S.C. The Declaration of Independence – 1776 In practice, environmentalism directly destroys this foundation, placing nature above ‘unalienable rights’.

      • David L Hagen – thanks for your comments

        I don’t believe for a moment that environmentalism places nature above ‘unalienable’ rights. You may quote a bloke that says environmentalists are calling for culling the human herd – doesn’t make it true though.

        I think lack of concern for the health of the globe is a much greater threat long term. I think religions that restrict education of girls and prohibit the use of contraception do immense damage to individuals here and now.

        No environmentalist wants a return to humans living in caves as hunter gatherers – that’s a typical skeptic meme. China is the world’s biggest investors in green technology – not because they’re committed environmentalists but because it is cost effective.

        [and I don’t give a stuff about any US declarations]

      • Latimer Alder

        Show me how ‘green technology’ is cost effective in UK/Europe without limiting our flexibility and hugely taxing the public, and I’ll be with you 100%.

        But all the ‘green technology’ we have ever used is extremely expensive and doesn’t work very well. Why is it different in China.

      • That’s a whole other discussion that probably requires a thread of its own.

        In relying to David, I was answering the post that implied evangelists = good for people, environmentalists = bad for people.

        As I said elsewhere, just as all evangelists don’t fit the stereotype of gun toting, homosexual hating, red necks, not all environmentalists fit the marxist, anti-business, anti-nuclear, vegan stereotype that think we should go back to living in caves.

        [and I’ve no idea what the hell the US declaration of independance has to do with the price of fish]

      • David L. Hagen

        I agree on upholding unalienable rights, and on not returning humans to cavedwelling hunter gatherers.
        Apologies for URL error. For quotes, see Colson Human Sacrifice for Gaia

        Diane Francis calls a “simple” and “dramatic” fix of a “A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy” so that b 2075, there would be 3.43 billion humans on the planet. (otherwise reaching 9 billion by 2050 etc). See: The Real Inconvenient Truth Diane Francis | Financial Post | December 8, 2009

        In “Culling the Herd” Colson cites James Lovelock “the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 percent.” http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/9943
        See Lovelock interview “One Last Chance to Save Mankind,” New Scientist, 23 January 2009.
        To cull = “to reduce the size of a herd by killing the weaker members.”

        Without unalienable rights from the Creator, any populist who can control the military can “eliminate” those he objects to for any/no reason. e.g., more than 100 million were killed by their own governments during the 20th century where “unalienable rights” were overridden. See The Black Book of Communism.

        Radical environmentalism is calling for >> 90% “reductions”. See the Georgia Guidestones which require: “Maintain humanity under 500 million in perpetual balance with nature.”

      • The folks you quote are as influential and representative of mainstream environmentalists as Kim Jong Il.

        I could refer to evangelical Christians who believe the destruction of the earth by man is essential prior to the rapture (http://the-end.com/2008GodsFinalWitness/?gclid=CKuArcyynKYCFVAf4QodJVZ5Yw) but I don’t think those guys represent the majority of evangelists either.

        You should learn to be more discriminating and less believing of the stereotypes you read about (unless you’re quite happy to believe in six impossible things before breakfast).

      • David L. Hagen

        You may claim this is unrepresentative. However, the Eugenics movement, China’s One Child policy, and today’s “CAGW” environmentalism all have a common thread. Numerous examples could be found if you look for them.

      • I DO claim it is unrepresentative.

        I am an environmentalist. I believe we should be doing something about reducing the population of humans on this planet. I believe we should be doing this by the most effective and humane method that we have access to and that is by educating women and girls.

        For you to lump all environmentalists together with the eugenics movement and China’s one child policy just makes you appear to be a bigot. I’m sure you aren’t one but that’s what your posts imply.

        I could make very similar posts to yours that state that evangelists are homosexual hating, racist, gun-toting, red necks and I could no doubt link to very many web articles to prove my point. I have not done so because I recognise that this is a stereotype that is unlikley to be true. Do you think it is possible that some of your views of environmentalists could be equally false?

      • Louise –
        I am, by definition, an environmentalist (check my website). And while I hate to pop your bubble, there are absolutely some environmentalists – and organizations – that would cheer if most of the world’s population suddenly drowned themselves. As a long distance hiker, I run into the type more often than I care for. My trail rabbi, in fact, is one of them. I’m not.

        I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but I’ll leave you with a couple quotes that showed up on this blog within the last week or so –

        “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford

        My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with its full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” — Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

        “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” — Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

        “The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.” — Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point

        Don’t give up on environmentalism, but be careful of the brand you associate yourself with.

      • Interesting question – at what point does utterly trashing “nature” make human rights – even humanity as a species – impossible? Is there such a point, David?

      • David L. Hagen

        Re Inalienable rights vs nature.
        Yes. If you destroy your food and water supplies, you starve yourself. By definition, that destroys your own “right to life”. e.g. when the Easter Islanders cut down the palm trees essential to their survival. Easter Island
        The false dichotomy today is assuming that earth can only support 500 million. There are numerous solutions available by seeking wisdom and insight on how to provide for people. Jer. 33:3

        See NW India’s impending water catastrophe: NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India’s Vanishing Water

        “If measures are not taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output and severe shortages of potable water,”

        Will there be the foresight, political will and focused effort to solve this? Environmentalism advocates “reducing” this excess population. Evangelists say there is a solution. e.g. some macro solutions are to use solar thermal power to desalinate sea water and pump it inland for irrigation, together with efficient water usage and rainwater harvesting. Production at that scale can be made cost effective.

      • A very simple question(s)-
        1. do you believe there is an upper limit on the human population that planet earth can support?

        2. do you believe that “God” will protect humanity from over populating the earth?

        In response to your post- the Chinese actions regarding population control were certainly totalitarian, that is there system of government. You wrote it was “inhumane” which I would say is incorrect since it was more humane to take the actions that they did, since those actions were in the long term best interests of the population.

      • David L. Hagen

        Rob re “it is more humane to take the actions they did”
        See Colson: Like Pigs in a Slaughterhouse Forced Abortion in China

        she was taken to a hospital, where she found dozens of other women who had just undergone forced abortions. Some were crying, some were screaming, and one was rolling around the floor in agony. They were, Wujian said, “just like pigs in the slaughterhouse.” . . .Since the injection had not worked, the doctors opted for a surgical procedure that is simply too gruesome for me to describe on the air.”

        This is your standard of “humane”?

        I find this to be the most destructive possible breach of one’s ‘unalienable” right to life. This is the foundational objection Evangelicals have to “environmentalism”.

      • I notice that you failed to answer my questions to you, but ask me a question in return.

        In answer to your question, the Chinese methods were designed to be harsh so as to have the desired effect. I would not have supported that approach, but rather a massive life long tax on anyone who had more children than was lawful.

      • a massive life long tax on anyone who had more children than was lawful.

        Europe, North America, Russian and Japan all achieved ‘replacement’ fertility rates a full 10 years before the Chinese without resorting to ‘forced’ anything.

        The largest age demographic in the US is 45-54 year olds at 44 million. 35-44 years old are 41 million. 25-34 yr old are 41 million. 0-9 years old are 41 million.

        In the EU there are 62 million 45-54 year olds compared to 47 million 0-9 year olds.

        In the developed world people having ‘more then replacement’ children hasn’t been a widespread practice for 40 years. A few have more than their fair share which is offset by those that voluntarily have one or none.

        In the developing world there is nothing to tax.

      • and your suggested method to control birth rates? (other than Louise’s approach which while effective, will take many decades)

      • Precisely. And that’s despite the fact that child benefits in the UK makes people who stay at home and have lots of children better off than those who go out to work.
        Imposing taxes on people will simply lead to more corruption, injustice and outright crime.
        Another factor which is hardly mentioned is that it would only take a few generations of substantially lower than replacement birthrate for a population to collapse completely.

      • How about, as a rather provocative suggestion, linking international aid to birth control?

      • Birth control in countries that do not have educated women is usually controlled by men. Many husbands refuse to use condoms due to the perceived detrimental impact on their enjoyment.

        Educating girls will be cheaper in the long run because they will ensure the economic growth of the country sooo much quicker.

      • That sounds very reasonable if it could actually be implemented. I would estimate that such a proposal ould be generally rejected…….especially by less developed nation states……with populations tied to a particular superstition/religion

      • Richard S Courtney


        Concerning population reduction you say;
        “I’ve put forward my idea – educate the girls. What’s your alternative?”

        Actually, there is only one way that is known to reduce population growth other than starvation. It is provision of affluence.

        And the reasons why affluence reducs population growth are well known.


      • Richard Courtney- I have not read anything from you that contradicts that religions = superstitions. You never explained how your religious beliefs are any different than those of someone who believes in Zeus, (which I assume you agree does not exists). If you can not understand that humans emotional feeling about a topic does not equal evidence of truth, then there is little hope for any rational discussion with you. Have fun with your superstitious beliefs

      • randomengineer

        There is a very high correlation between the level of tertiary education in women and number of children.

        Only in western society, and interestingly enough this is especially true where taxes are the most oppressive. As such this appears to be less of a matter of “education” than simply choosing to have a life or have children (in the EU, you really can’t do both unless you’re well off.)

      • Not only in Western society and nothing to do with taxes.

        In India, the higher educated women have fewer children. It’s not about taxes, it’s about women feeling that they are empowered to do something with their lives other than be a mother. If you are a woman of no education living in a world dominated by men then you have absolutely no say in your own life. Your father chooses who to marry you to and your husband decides the rest of your life, including who your daughters are married to.

        Women with education can and do start up their own companies, market gardens or market stalls to begin with but these can then grow until they employ other women. This is happening in parts of Africa and certainly in India.

        Education empowers – that’s why some Islamic extremists want it banned for women (e.g. Taliban).

      • Louise- look at the Indian data more closely. In India, educated muslim women contiue to have very high birth rates. This is advocated both for religious and political reasons

      • randomengineer

        Certainly education plays a part, but I think there’s misplaced emphasis on this. Societal acceptance of the equality (value?) of women in the workplace correlates with the spread of useful information and necessity; this is not necessarily fungible with a notion of “education.” In the western world much of the modern impetus appears to be the war effort in WWII; in the US we had the “Rosie the riveter” icon whilst in the UK QEII was an ambulance driver.

        Education may be what supports the notion of equal value but it’s not the driver. Where it concerns children look at EU tax rates vs US tax rates. EU birthrates are at 1.1 to 1.7 whereas the US is still skirting somewhere just north of replacement level.

      • Latimer Alder

        Glad you overcame your dislike of this blog, despite earlier claiming that the topic ‘did not belong on this board’.

        And I largely agree with you on the points you make above.

      • The topic of what evangelistic Christians think about AGW is not one I’ve bothered to address. Like most blogs, conversations wander (and wonder) around quite a bit.

        I’m a ‘greenie’ (you might have guessed) and I no more fit the stereotype of ‘socialist/marxist, anti-nuclear, anti-business, vegan’ frequently trotted out than I expect most evangelical Christians fit that of ‘gun toting, homosexual hating red neck’.

        Discussion of population control as a part of controlling CO2 emissions is relevant. Discussion of religion is not unless it is about the lack of birth control or refusal to educate girls as enforced by some of them.

  37. I think that humans created religion because they are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Uncertainty in our private lives can be a huge cause of stress.

    Humans created religion to give them the answers to questions that they had no answer to. Why does the sun rise each day (will it come up again tomorrow)? Why does it get colder in winter (will it eventually get warmer again)? Will my crops/hunting be succesful (what will I eat tomorrow)? What will happen when I die (will I go to a better place)?

    Science has replaced the absolute need for religion for many.

    • randomengineer

      Humans created religion to give them the answers to questions that they had no answer to.

      This seems overly simple. Morals and ethics appear to be emergent properties of sentience, and religious thought (a framework) is probably a necessary component thereof. The pope recently (within the last 15 years?) decreed that evolution of “lower lifeforms” was real but that man was a special case. If you accept evolution as describing reality then you’re still left with the conundrum of where morals and ethics derived from. “Emergent property” is rather vague. Anyway religion appears to be the mechanism by which hominids could make sense of *anything* rather than an invention. This would make Huxley (above) correct in that religion appears innate.

      Some of us in the modern world by virtue of science have been able to peek at the underlying truths of nature and have realised the limits of religion, but even so we’re still mired yet. Accepting science requires rejecting our innate prejudices, a form of unlearning.

      Where this concerns climate change should be obvious. Note that some of this “unlearning” is superficial; note the Crichton essay re AGW = religion as well as the accusations by some of the christians that many AGW advocates are practising an alternate religion. Given my dubiousness re christians in general I’d normally reject their claims by default, but there *is* some merit to that argument, sadly enough. As per Crichton, many AGW advocates aren’t REALLY buying the science; they’re choosing a different belief system.

      I applaud Dr Curry for allowing the discussion of this stuff.

      • RE: Thanks for the mention.

        Yes, religions provide more than answers for difficult questions. They provide a moral framework, social cohesion, and support for stages of life. There have been no great civilizations without religion. Communist societies attempted to do away with religion, but ended up replacing religion with degraded forms of it based on an iconography of Marx and Lenin et al.

        For several years I attended a very liberal Episcopalian church where maybe one in five actually believed in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. (About 98%, however, did believe in Barack Obama and global warming.)

        So far as I could tell, no one came to that church for answers, but it was a warm social world that provided charity, celebrated births, marriages and funerals, and its members attempted to be more loving and kind to each other and in their lives. By the historical standards of Christianity, it really wasn’t a Christian church, but it was still performing much of the function of a church in human society.

    • Alas, by becoming itself a religion. However, unlike other religions in which man strives to seek God and the Judaeo-Christian faith in which God seeks out man, science turned into religion is a man-made construct with all its limitations.

      Science when it sticks to science by contrast is a wondrous thing evoking the profoundest awe at the intricacies of the universe God created many billions of years ago and allowed to evolve whilst giving us the privilege of glimpsing its marvels.

  38. Yet the grasses glow;
    Seed the germ and bake the bread.
    Red anemone.

  39. Religion does have a place in putting moral and values into a self-destructive race.
    If not, “I’d a shot me neighbor lonnnng ago”.

  40. Rich Matarese:

    Throughout this thread you have used the following terms:
    o Whackjob
    o Political whackjob
    o Religious whackjob
    o Religious political whackjob
    o Power-lusting religious whackjob
    o Religious whackjobbery
    o Politically active religious whackjobs
    o “Religious right” whackjob

    The references are unclear. Do they all have the same meaning or do they exist along some continuum of “whackjobbery?” If so, which is the most extreme? The least? Perhaps they are synonyms and interchangeable? Please define your terms.

    If your use is meant as a smear, a slur or an insult, such connotation has been lost through overuse.

  41. I wanna be Rich when I grow up.

  42. The description of happiness I like best is (not sure who originated this, might even have been me):

    “Happiness comes not from getting what you want, but rather from wanting what you’ve got”.

  43. Hi Judith,

    The subject of these threads is something I’m very interested in (and have some expertise in!) but I’m not sure that either one has succeeded (yet) in generating more heat than light.

    Some more or less connected thoughts:
    – if we are interested in how a response to climate change is going to be worked out then clearly understanding how different groups respond to such evidence as is offered is important – so I think it makes sense to have these threads on your site;
    – having said that, the level of understanding shown in the comments of what a Christian perspective might entail is pretty poor (a cultural problem as much as an individual problem – western culture has a significant blind-spot when it comes to Christianity, for historical reasons that I need not go into here). It makes some sense to concentrate on the evangelical side when talking about the US political scene, but worldwide that form of Christianity is a minority form – and not very interesting politically;
    – I suspect the most interesting conversation would be around issues of ‘seeking truth’, that is, how and in what way might a Christian be persuaded that AGW is true enough in terms of their own theology to be worth acting on – and that would necessitate engaging with things like the Cornwall Alliance’s theology (which I wasn’t aware of before, but am mostly sympathetic to);
    – that conversation would also have to go the other way, and allow theologians to point out where the scientists are over-stepping the mark intellectually, eg through being ignorant of their metaphysical assumptions, or by simply failing to live up to their own highest standards (eg Climategate).

    It’s a conversation I’m very interested in – and I think it’s appropriate to be engaging with it here!

    If you’re interested, my overall perspective on science can be explored from this old post of mine.

    • Sam, thanks for your post. I agree that its a dialogue that needs to be had to understand the sociology and politics surrounding climate change and what we might do about it. How to frame the dialogue isn’t straightforward. The way these blogospheric discussions go, in my experience, is that you need to exchange hot air first, then people can get down to some more serious exchange and debate. Lets see if that can happen here.

      • Judith – framing the debate around evangelical christianity is as valid as framing it around gender.

        USA is not the be all and end all of the climate change debate. An interesting discussion would be why there is quite so much skepticism in USA compared to other parts of the world.

        This is probably the reason why you think there is a link between evangelical Christianity and skepticism. American style evangelism doesn’t happen much elsewhere so when you see the AGW skepticism that you see in the US, you’re equating it with evangelism when in fact it could be much deeper in the American psyche.

        Perhaps the tendency to evangelicism and the tendency to skepticism are both artefacts of a particular US character rather than one being the cause of the other.

      • Louise,

        Actually, skepticism in Europe is growing rapidly. They are quickly catching up with the US. See these articles




        No US science organization has put out a statement as skeptical as the one produced by the Polish Academy of Sciences.

      • Louise: Likewise, evangelical Christianity is hardly limited to America or an American style unless one is making very artificial distinctions.

        Evangelical Christianity is overtaking Roman Catholicism in Latin America. Evangelical Christianity or evangelical-flavored Christianity is growing rapidly in Africa. EC is the only Christianity holding its own in Europe. All of these have much more in common with each other than with liberal mainstream Protestantism.

        Also, I don’ t think Dr. Curry is framing the debate around evangelical Christianity as she is exploring that facet of the debate.

      • Louise, the reasons for so much skepticism in the US vs the ROW, is that a lot more people in the US are not as naive as your average greenie. I don’t mean that pejoratively, but if were able to fully grasp the mathematical and statistical concepts and data that underlie the dominant arguments favoring CAGW, you to might be a skeptic.

    • It makes some sense to concentrate on the evangelical side when talking about the US political scene, but worldwide that form of Christianity is a minority form – and not very interesting politically;

      Sam: Every denomination of Christianity is a minority form next to Roman Catholicism. However, I would note that evangelical Christianity is the most dynamic form of Christianity today. Whereas most mainstream churches are losing members and influence, evangelical Christianity is growing worldwide.

      I think it’s a mistake to ignore evangelicals if one wishes to come to grips with Christianity in today’s world.

      • Huxley – my point in saying ‘not very interesting politically’ could have been better phrased. I mean that there isn’t much specifically evangelical political thought (as distinct from, say, Reformed or Lutheran or Anabaptist political thought). Yes there are groups which self-identify as evangelical, and yes they have political influence, especially in the US, but I’m not aware of there being a sustained intellectual tradition in evangelicalism that addresses political questions, in the way that Catholic theology does. See Mark Noll’s ‘The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind’ for a more thoroughly argued case: “The scandal of the evangelical mind seems to be that no mind arises from evangelicalism. Evangelicals who believe that God desires to be worshiped with thought as well as activity may well remain evangelicals, but they will find intellectual depth – a way of praising God through the mind – in ideas developed by confessional or mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, or perhaps even the Eastern Orthodox. That conclusion may be the only responsible one to reach after considering the history sketched in this book. Even if it leaves evangelical intellectuals trapped in personal dissonance and the evangelical tradition doomed to intellectual superficiality (or worse), the recent past seems to point in no other direction.”

      • PS, I should add that saying evangelical Christianity is the most ‘dynamic’ is – to put it mildly – a moot point!

    • “It makes some sense to concentrate on the evangelical side when talking about the US political scene, but worldwide that form of Christianity is a minority form – and not very interesting politically;”

      I’m not so sure that’s true:


  44. Bill DiPuccio

    I took my M.A. from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)–one of the Meccas of Evangelical higher education. I was also a weather forecaster for the US Navy and a science teacher. Though I am no longer an Evangelical in terms of affiliation (I migrated to Eastern Orthodoxy several years ago), I have seen a wide spectrum of opinions within Evangelicalism on environmental issues.

    In order to understand the resistance it might help to consider some of the philosophical roots of Evangelicalism (the topic of my doctoral work, in part). The Evangelical tradition is beholden to British Empiricism and the scientific philosophy which emerged from it: Scottish Common Sense Realism. In brief, this philosophy maintained that the material world is made intuitively intelligible through the senses. This concept was then analogously applied to the interpretation of Scripture (i.e., Scripture is to theologian as nature is to the scientist–his source of data).

    The scientific resistance, in my view, is due to the failure of the AGW-CO2 hypothesis to generate convincing, hard physical evidence which proves that CO2 is the cause of warming (cf. Roy Spencer’s cause and effect dilemma). That’s where the Empiricism comes into play. Too much of theory is locked up in computer models which are not only esoteric, but actually constitute a hypothesis rather than experimental evidence. And, as we have all seen with weather forecasts and seasonal climate outlooks, they are often wrong.

    On the religious side, there was a deeply entrenched historical belief in Evangelicalism that humans are appointed to “subdue the earth” (Genesis). The idea that human dominion could destroy (parts of) the earth was a foreign concept until recently. And though this concept has been embraced by environmentally minded Evangelicals, I think there is still a great deal of resistance to it when there is an absence of compelling scientific evidence (as with the AGW-CO2 hypothesis).

    To put it another way, the Evangelical environmentalist has adopted an a priori belief that the earth is inherently fragile and that there exists an equilibrium in nature that can be destroyed by human mismanagement.

    This is contrary to the historical Evangelical belief, still held by many in my view, that the earth is fundamentally resilient and humans are appointed by God to subdue it and wisely cultivate it.

    There are, of course, a spectrum of views among Evangelicals, but sometimes it helps to define the endpoints.

    • You summarized “Christian” environmental positions as :

      “the Evangelical environmentalist has adopted an a priori belief that the earth is inherently fragile and that there exists an equilibrium in nature that can be destroyed by human mismanagement.
      This is contrary to the historical Evangelical belief, still held by many in my view, that the earth is fundamentally resilient and humans are appointed by God to subdue it and wisely cultivate it. “

      Regardless of the reasons for a person’s action, it is their actions that really matter. Regardless of some humans holding a superstitious belief “that the earth is fundamentally resilient and humans are appointed by God to subdue it and wisely cultivate it”; in fact the earth is a complex system and governed by the laws of nature….in this case cause and effect. Ultimately, if humans do not control their actions within a limited environment, the environment will no longer be one advantageous to support the growth of that human population. At that point, the human population will be negatively effected.

    • Bill, thanks for posting here. For the benefit of others not familiar with Wheaton College, it is my impression that it is the Harvard of Evangelical education (p.s. I grew up about 10 miles from Wheaton College).

    • Bill,
      Nice post. I thought you were fair in your assessments. Francis Schaeffer’s book “Pollution and the Death of Man” builds on the doctrine of man’s stewardship of the earth. Certainly, mankind has to take care not to overhunt species to extinction or foul the air and water. And the possibility of dangerous global warming from CO2 cannot be rejected out of hand (although Schaeffer wrote before the theory of global warming had made the news).

      I tend to think the earth is resilient, but this view does not emanate from any theological doctrine but from the realization that we have already done a great deal to the planet and the planet has bounced back very well. For example, air pollution when I was a child was much worse than it is at present (at least in southern California). And I understand London in the 1800s was much worse than now. The atmosphere has shown some kind of cleansing process at work.

      The IPCC promotes the theory that atmospheric CO2 will stay in the atmosphere much longer than other pollutants. I do not think the science (our knowledge of the carbon cycle) supports this at all. We know much of the CO2 mankind has put in the atmosphere has already gone into carbon sinks.

      This is not to say AGW might not be dangerous, but if it is dangerous it will be on completely different timescales than that being promoted by James Hansen (who told Barack Obama two years ago that he had four years to save the planet).

      • The IPCC promotes the theory that atmospheric CO2 will stay in the atmosphere much longer than other pollutants. I do not think the science (our knowledge of the carbon cycle) supports this at all. We know much of the CO2 mankind has put in the atmosphere has already gone into carbon sinks.

        The carbon cycle is the entire reason why know CO2 will stay in the atmosphere. The important word in the phrase is cycle. As carbon leaves the atmosphere, it can dissipate or sink. Sinks release over the years as the ocean, tree, soil exchanges, etc. The difference between now and 200 years ago is that stored carbon is being re-introduced into the cycle unnaturally.

    • The scientific resistance, in my view, is due to the failure of the AGW-CO2 hypothesis to generate convincing, hard physical evidence which proves that CO2 is the cause of warming (cf. Roy Spencer’s cause and effect dilemma). That’s where the Empiricism comes into play. Too much of theory is locked up in computer models which are not only esoteric, but actually constitute a hypothesis rather than experimental evidence. And, as we have all seen with weather forecasts and seasonal climate outlooks, they are often wrong.

      The “evidence” isn’t “locked up” in computer models. That’s not really what the argument is. The reason the mainstream scientists see human emissions as causing the world to warm and predict that it will continue is based on the fingerprints we leave behind. While none of these fingerprints are empirical proof that humans can or will cause warming, the amount of the evidence in correlation with the physics and radiative transfer knowledge and the TOA – surface change in energy balance over the past 50 years at specific wavelengths. The case for reducing emissions is based on a priori knowledge, Bayesian probability, human reasoning, and the fact that the longer we wait, the more difficult action becomes and the more people suffer. So, although I appreciate the look into Evangelical thought, I fail to see how these ideas differ from any other person who demands empirical proof of something knowing empirical cannot be shown, until it is much too late. And if empiricism is the demand, there just will not be any agreement anytime soon. This is where the argument becomes more about convincing others of our values. Do you like the risk? Which risk do you want? Or don’t you want one? How do you gamble? Do you bet the best probability? Or do you put all your money on a single space on the roulette wheel?

      Unfortunately, since we’ve been dumping all our stored carbon back into the carbon cycle and continue to do so unabated, we can’t leave the casino.

  45. I realize that the title of this post is “Evangelicals and environmentalism” which has most posters boxing the two groups as “Christian right-wing (adj. here)” vs. “left-wing commie (adj. here)” (Rich has a few), but I would like to learn how the other mainstream religions, Judaism, Islam, etc fare, e.g. “Judaism and environmentalism”. I wonder if PC etiquette will have an influence on the descriptive language used.

  46. People are just as complicated as the weather, as I’ve said before, and to “really” understand them (in a modern kind of way) we need a computer model or six (which we really don’t have at the moment) to run on some neet supercomputers and waste a lot of time and energy to get some 98% percentile probabilities. It may seem prudent to some to do such work on one or two well known groups first, but that would be much like local weather prognostication and really not too neat. So to be neat, and keen, and truely wasteful of energy and time, why not go for the gusto and do worldwide simulation and see what we get? We’ll really never know what we’re going to get until we do. Right? Heck, we may even be able to forecast what people are going to be like and think a hundred years from now. Ok? Let’s do it! Oh, yes, whould someone like to go to China and ask them for a nice big grant? A few billions otta’ do it. Well, you know, to get things organized for the first year or two.

  47. Too far from center is not good. Pick any direction you like. Evangelicals are getting time on this and other blogs probably due to Roy Spencer. Based on the attack the messenger comments made by, (I would say Ad Hom, normally even though I know ad hominem is more correct and that argumentum ad hominem pretty much nails the Latin lesson ) a few scientists with views differing from Dr. Spencer, religion does seem to be a problem with those that truly understand the universe. The environmental movement in many cases reminds me of a religious movement. Passion is getting in the way of rational debate. Holier than thou is not restricted to religious believers.

  48. Have any of you read E.O. Wilson’s book “The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth”. http://www.amazon.com/Creation-Appeal-Save-Life-Earth/dp/0393330486/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1294011100&sr=1-7

    “With his usual eloquence, patience and humor, Wilson, our modern-day Thoreau, adds his thoughts to the ongoing conversation between science and religion. Couched in the form of letters to a Southern Baptist pastor, the Pulitzer Prize–winning entomologist pleads for the salvation of biodiversity, arguing that both secular humanists like himself and believers in God acknowledge the glory of nature and can work together to save it.”

    E.O. Wilson’s Wikipedia page is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._O._Wilson

    • Most of the arguments that are promulgated here have been summarised by Nalimov 1980.He was the assistant director to Komolgorov .It is said that we cannot understand the mathematics of Komolgorov,the statistics of Gnedenko,without the philisophical implications of Nalimov.

      Here he summarises in asingle monologue.


    • Interesting fellow. I will have to put that on my list.

    • Wilson is a great thinker, a great “American” thinker. He is not alone in the world. There are a few billions of Wilsons. His claim that “Men would rather believe than know” is not one I share. Regarding his position that religion is a human trait, I agree; for religions seek to answer all the big questions that science can’t and for that very reason it is a permanent fixture in our nature. We demand answers to everything, and because there are so few that we know to be ‘true’, we are left with faith and belief to fill in all the blanks in our lives. Can we do more to “save the environment”? You bet! Does anyone have the answer as to how? No way! Wilson can help each of us (in the West) find some answers. Are these answers we ‘find’ Wilson’s answers? Maybe a few. What about the rest of our questions? We’ll have to read what someone else says or writes. And we’ll definitely have to do our own thinking too. Life’s a beach. The answers that are written in the sand don’t last very long. And there aren’t that many anyway.

  49. Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

    Interesting thread.

    I would suggest that posters who want to discuss Dr. Gushee’s views should spend some time reading chapter 4, “Climate Care and the Climate Change Debate,” which appears in Gushee’s 2008 book _The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center_. This chapter begins by discussing the debate he did with Cal Beisner. I’ve provided a link to the rather fulsome Google Books excerpt below.

    I think it’s fair to say that Gushee begins this chapter by expressing contempt, if not for Beisner himself, then for the views he represents. Like most climate alarmists, Gushee (at least at the time he wrote this book) appears to have been incapable of seriously questioning the “consensus” view. His chapter begins this way:

    “In October 2006 I engaged in a lengthy face-to-face debate with E. Calvin Beisner of Knox Theological Seminary on the issue of climate change. I knew enough about Beisner’s ideology, theology, and handling of date to know that he was a formidable adversary and also a cunning one. While the mainstream debate about human-induced climate change was already over by the time of our encounter, it is still not quite over in the evangelical community.”

    Gushee goes on to deliver a substantial litany in which he harshly criticizes evangelicals for failing to accept the “consensus” view, and in which he expresses the view that theology is at the root of their “revanchism.” He also provides a long list of “consensus” claims about current and future impacts of man-made warming. He seems utterly oblivious to the fact that most of these claims are matters of scientific contestation.

    Regardless of what readers of this blog ultimately believe about religion or about climate change or about the relationship between the two, I think they should all read this chapter (or at least the pages that are supplied in Google Books).

    My own view is that Gushee and his evangelical supporters ought to consider whether their criticisms of evangelical views on climate change–namely that these views are driven by ideology–should be turned around. There is a verse in the New Testament about specks and logs in eyes. I think that Dr. Gushee has a fairly big logging project in front of him, and it’s much closer to him than he may imagine.


    • Bill DiPuccio

      Since the 1980’s (if not before) Evangelical intellectuals have entered the mainstream of academia in a self-conscious desire to gain intellectual respectability–which they have generally succeeded in doing.

      Gushee’s disdain for those Evangelicals who refuse to accept the consensus sounds very much like the intelligentsia’s rejection of the historical sub-culture that once insulated them.

      However, this sub-culture should not be interpreted as a refusal to engage culture, nor is it the fortress mentality that characterizes fundamentalism. In fact, I have heard some fundamentalists say that they reject Evangelicalism because it “compromises” with the culture.

  50. Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

    Judith, it’s good you mentioned E.O. Wilson. He’s a former evangelical himself. I have not read his book but did listen to his very informative interview with on WBUR a few years ago. Here is the link: http://www.onpointradio.org/2006/08/the-creation

    It would be instructive to listen to this interview and read the chapter by Gushee side-by-side. What comes out very clearly (to me, at least), is that both men see evangelicals as intellectual and moral children, who are seriously in need of correction and instruction. It should not be surprising that this attitude evokes sympathy from some quarters and distrust from others.

    • Craig Loehle

      It is my impression that EO Wilson tries to find the source of “good” (values) in nature to replace the good (“god”) that religious people seek. The problem is that nature has no values. People often value pastoral (ie cultivated) landscapes above wild ones, and the valuation of rare spiders and slugs is a distinctly modern (and not universal) “virtue”.

      • Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

        Ken Smith (from North Dakota)

        Craig: your point is exactly right.

        Human options are really quite limited when we decide from where we are going to get our moral principles. Plato, the great Greek metaphysician, was inspired by mathematical perfections and argued that our truths are ultimately derived from a nonphysical world. Aristotle, the first great Greek biologist, was awed by the wonders of nature (like E.O. Wilson) and insisted that real knowledge comes from the physical world. Subsequent epistemology, at least in the West, is basically a complicated interplay between these two basic orientations.

        The Western intellectual traditions was shaped by both emphases. Indeed, you can find aspects of Plato in Aristotle and vice verse. But a significant strand of the European Enlightenment adopted a physical monism, banishing metaphysics as a meaningful category of reality. E.O. Wilson’s work is (when it goes beyond his fascinating empirical work in insectolology, etc.), fundamentally a philosophical effort to manufacture an artificial metaphysics, because he realizes (rightly) that life and knowledge is incomplete and unsatisfying without it.

        Wilson appears generous in inviting evangelicals to join him in his pursuit of a new metaphysics. But I think they should be suspicious.

        His deal for evangelicals is essentially this: “Abandon all that you have invested in transcendent theological knowledge and recognize that the physical world is the only reality. If you can’t quite do that, then I’ll let you roll over your shares that were issued from the bank of Revelation, and give you equivalent shares issued from the bank of scientism. I thus invite you to become small shareholders in a new enterprise that we will build together. We will call it consilience, or some such. Together, we will all live off of the interest. It will be a beautiful world, safe from the apocalypse.”

  51. Richard S Courtney

    I have not commented on the subject of this thread here until now because I wanted to see how the discussion developed. We all have prejudices and there is nothing wrong with that so long as we each recognise them and take positive action to overcome their effects. So, I lay out my position before giving my opinions on the debate.

    Like CS Lewis, I am an Engish, socialist, evangelical Christian. As an Accredited Methodist Preacher I am probably one of the few to post on this thread who has today fulfilled my duty to conduct Worship in a Church today. But I have obtained all my financial income throughout my adult life from the practice of science. From that perspective, I provide my views of the above debate.

    Bill DiPuccio provides an excellent summary of evangelical cristianity and its development at January 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    And I fail to understand why some posters do not recognise the simple truth that Ron Cram states at January 2, 2011 at 10:59 am when he writes:

    “I do not understand why some here seem to think that the pursuit of science and a belief in God are hostile to one another. Many of the world’s greatest scientists have been devout Christians- Max Planck, Arthur Compton, Robert Millikan, just to name of few in the 20th century.”

    Hence, I agree with Harold H Doiron who writes at January 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm saying;

    “I am a committed Christian who probably needs to be more evangelical. I like this Climate, Etc. website for its scientific discussions. Certainly, climate change scientists have enough to worry about without wasting time blogging about what evangelicals think and postulating theories on why they think it. Let the Theologians worry about this topic and let’s get back to science.“

    And I share the experience of JAE who says at January 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm ;

    “I know a lot of evangelical christians, and I don’t know any two who think exactly alike, not on religious topics, let alone (especially) on political topics. To try to lump a very large chunk of the world’s population into some kind of “unified political force” is one really big fat strawman!”

    But some posters here express extreme bigottry and ignorance of the matters on which they choose to pontificate. Of these, Rich Matarese is clearly the most extreme, and he has my deepest sympathy for whatever causes his bile and hatred. Perhaps most shocking are his statements at January 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm saying;

    “The key, of course, is in the fact that they seek to impose their standards of personal and economic conduct upon other people by way of political action.
    It’s not the way that they do it, or their ostensible reasons for doing it, but rather the fact that they do it at all.“

    Simply, he asserts that people of a religious persuasion he does not like should have their democratic rights removed. For, surely, every individual votes according to conscience (i.e. “standards of moral conduct”) and economic desires.

    And I deplore that , Rich Matarese had support from some others for his views.

    Perhaps that is because they share the delusion of Rob Starkey which he states at January 2, 2011 at 11:30 am when he writes:

    “Simply stated- Religion = superstition”

    No! Absolutely not!

    Religion is a coherent set of beliefs (which Christians call doctrines) based on an accepted set of tenets.

    Superstition consists of incoherent beliefs that have no basis in agreed tenets. It is usually a rsponse to irrational fear and takes many forms; e.g. the superstitious belief that it is bad luck to walk on the joints of paving slabs.

    And superstition may be held by people of religious faith and by people with no religious faith. Indeed, it seems that people have a need for beliefs so superstition is strongest in those with no religious faith. Indeed, Rich Matarese and Louise (among others) profess no religious faith but repeatedly demonstrate superstitions in their posts to this thread.

    Hence, for me personally, the view I associate most with is that of michel who writes at January 2, 2011 at 10:53 am ;

    “You’ve done it again. The first time you had it as “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science”. Now you have them resisting climate change.

    Its not any of these. They just do not believe in the AGW hypothesis because, unlike many other climate science propositions, they think its not well evidenced. They are not resistant to climate change either, they know its happening, they are all in favor of intelligent behavior in the face of it, they just do not think that reducing CO2 emissions is intelligent behavior.

    Why is this so hard to understand? It is one of the completely mysterious things about the AGW movement, that it keeps denying in the face of all the evidence that rational informed skepticism is possible. And so it goes off down these rat holes of religion, politics, all kinds of nonsense in order to avoid at any cost debating the evidence with skeptics. Faking statistics, refusing to publish code and data. “


    PS Please remember that Christianity is not the only religion, and religion encompasses many belief systems that are not theistic. Islam, Bhuddism and Marxist-Leninism are a few examples on non-Christian religions.

    • Bill DiPuccio

      Excellent comments Richard. In his book, “God and the Astronomers”, Robert Jastrow shows how bias against religion actually inhibited the development of cosmology (the Big Bang sounded too much like Genesis). In the end, it was the astronomers who had to learn from the theologians.

      I do not see why religion (and philosophy) should be incompatible with science. The former addresses questions of meaning (“why?”), the latter addresses questions of cause and effect (“how?”). Yes, this is an oversimplification, but it does grasp the larger picture.

      Science is a tool we use to explore the physical universe (matter and energy). It is not designed to answer questions of aesthetics, morality, or existential meaning. Scientism on the other hand is the belief that science is the only method for understanding reality. But this is a philosophical commitment, not the product of the scientific method. It is a form of reductionism and those that maintain it often do so with blind zeal.

      What bothers me most is the lack of humility (on both sides). Humility is the mother of all moral virtues and science cannot advance without it. As a scientist you must have the humility to admit that, despite all your research, you may be wrong. Every scientist struggles with this and those that are wise have learned not to become too emotionally invested in their theories.

      The arrogance of the Newtonians (18th-19th century) is a lesson in humility. They were certain (with good reason) that Newton had discovered the secrets of the physical universe and read the very mind of God. Then along came Einstein. Perhaps someone will overturn his paradigm as well.

      Science is (or ought to be) a humble endeavor.

      • I do not see why religion (and philosophy) should be incompatible with science. The former addresses questions of meaning (“why?”), the latter addresses questions of cause and effect (“how?”).

        Bill –
        There is no reason. Gotta remember that until recent times ALL of the natural philosophers (read: scientists) were priests, monks or other religious orders. Newton, Kepler, Mendel, etc were all trained first as religious orders, THEN became “natural philosophers”.

        The very word “scientist” did not exist until the 1840’s. And when introduced, it was not well received by those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.

        The idea of a “war between science and religion” didn’t show up until the 1870’s. And then was nothing more than the rantings of two men who were pushing a particular political viewpoint. But, like a weed, it grew.

        Even today, many scientists are also of religious orders. The divide is artificial, the fiction maintained for reasons unknown.

    • Mr. Courtney,
      It is appropriate to refer to CS Lewis in this issue. I think he would have been unsurprised to see the behavior of the extremist atheists.
      I would commend to you another British writer from the period a bit earlier than CS Lewis: GK Chesterton. His analysis on the eugenics movement that grew out of evolutionary biology is insightful, predicted problems with Germany, and parallels the climate science issue of today in a chilling fashion.

      • David L. Hagen

        Thanks Hunter
        G. K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils,
        is available via ManyBooks

        Reviewed by Dale Ahlquist in Lecture XXXVI Eugenics and Other Evils http://www.chesterton.org/discover/lectures/36eugenics.html

        Chesterton details the “creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics.”

        Dale Ahlquist notes:

        Why don’t we hear of this connection between Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and Eugenics? Two words: Adolf Hitler. He officially instituted Eugenics, leading an entire country in carrying out its principles, not only to breed what he believed to be a superior race but to eliminate everyone whom he considered to be inferior.
        Eugenics and abortion is about the tyranny of the elite deciding who shall live and who shall die. . . .Eugenics is also about the tyranny of science.

        The primary objection is that environmentalism establishes its goal of “saving nature” over people, and then imposes coercive dictatorial methods of forced abortion, mandatory regulations and severe carbon taxation to achieve its ends. This directly destroys the constitutional protections of democratic republics set up to preserve unalienable rights of the weak, including the unborn, the elderly and religious minorities.

      • David,
        What is particularly interesting in Chesterton’s book on Eugenics is how he shows it to be a symptom of a larger corruption in the body politic.
        He describes in chilling detail how a dysfunctional oligarchic system falls into a ‘governing anarchy’, incapable of controlling its desire to impose endless permutations of regulations and laws.
        Chesterton would have found our West amazing, as well as sad.

      • Hunter, surely the point is Chesterton wouldn’t have been amazed at all? He is, after all, credited with “when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.”

        Incidentally, if you haven’t read “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”, try and get it. It was written in 1904, when peace and prosperity had reigned in Britain for so long that “progressives” were starting to think that national government was superfluous. Chesterton’s Britain, set in 1984 (!), is ruled by miniature monarchies, formed around the existing boroughs, and who elect their kings annually. Kings, and their retinue, are meant to understand that their function is to “run the trains on time”, and do a bit of ceremonial poncing about, not indulge in statecraft. GKC’s Napoleon doesn’t “get” this, and starts behaving like a real king.

        It reads poignantly in view of what happened in 1914, and then in 1939, to say nothing of the almost perpetual low-grade warfare since WW2 in much of the post-colonial world. But ironically, by 1984, when his novel is set and when the collapse of communism was well advanced – and right about the time when global warming was being cranked up – I would say western progressives had once again been living in personal safety for so long that they had forgotten what a real threat felt like. And a progressive is at his most dangerous when he is personally safe. He starts to fret like a caged monkey and, not being a monkey, has no tail to chew to displace his angst. So he starts despising his unthreatened existence, and those to whom he owes it, and he starts dreaming up threats (to which he has the answer – it’s always easier to dream up the answer when you were the guy that dreamed up the threat!) to fill the void. Which is how we got Eugenics, DDT-phobia, Y2K, BSE, global winter, and finally – or perhaps latterly, since I doubt this will be the last fabricated scare – CAGW.

        I think GKC would have found the CAGW craze lamentably familiar, not been at all amazing!

      • TomFP,
        I look forward to finding these books of his.
        Secular extremists have been busy editing our history, I am afraid.
        The piercing gaze of a Chesterton should not be obscure. The rise and fall of eugenics should be a cautionary tale taught in every school.
        But it is clear that critical thinking is not a convenient skill in today’s world.

    • In response to my earlier remarks about politically active religious whackjobs:

      “The key, of course, is in the fact that they seek to impose their standards of personal and economic conduct upon other people by way of political action.

      “It’s not the way that they do it, or their ostensible reasons for doing it, but rather the fact that they do it at all.“

      …Mr. Courtney writes:

      Simply, he asserts that people of a religious persuasion he does not like should have their democratic rights removed. For, surely, every individual votes according to conscience (i.e. “standards of moral conduct”) and economic desires.


      No pun intended, Mr. Courtney, but you’re goddam right they should. Just what the hell kind of specious “rights” has a majority to violate the real rights of any minority?

      Let’s see…. Mr. Courtney is openly inferring that his “people of a religious persuasion” have some kind of “democratic rights” to enforce their “standards of moral conduct” (anent which deeds, words, or thoughts Mr. Courtney wonderfully blanks out) upon their neighbors.

      That means Mr. Courtney‘s “people of a religious persuasion” have put themselves in a state of open warfare against those folks whose “standards of moral conduct” (unspecified) offend their Great Sky Pixie religious whackjob sensibilities.

      Does that mean, Mr. Courtney, that those of us who have had a surfeit of the viciousness demonstrated by your “people of a religious persuasion” can now shoot them to death by musketry?

      ‘Cause what you’re advocating, Mr. Courtney, is the cessation of civil society and the initiation of civil war.

      The American Founders structured the U.S. Constitution to avoid (and even the machinating Hamiltonian conspirators publishing The Federalist Papers argued that the inbuilt protections would serve to prevent) majoritarian tyranny.

      And now you, Mr. Courtney, are trying to peddle the proposition that the imposition of a majoritarian tyranny is among the lawful “democratic rights” of your “people of a religious persuasion“?

      Remember that earlier Kipling quote I’d pulled?

      rder the guns and kill!

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rich Matarese:

        OK. So you assert that your opposition to Christians is such that we should be forbidden the same democratic and human rights as anybody else.

        You, Sir, are dangerous. History is repleat with examples of people like you, and all decent people – of religion and of no religion – oppose the evil you represent with every fibre of our being.

        Which comes first, your desire to “rder the guns and kill!“ or forcing those you have chosen to kill to wear coloured badges so we can be identified?


        MODERATION NOTE: Richard, i understand that Rich has provoked you. But this kind of language is not allowed, i am trying to keep up with Rich’s posts to censor them as needed.

      • Dangerous? Well, yeah, I should hope so, Mr. Courtney. To every tinpot Nehemiah Scudder-wannabee like you, I sure as hell ought to be.

        Look, Mr. Courtney, when you can come up with some explanation how you conjure religious whackjobs’ “democratic rights” to legitimately include violating nonbelievers’ rights to their own lives, liberties, and property, you get back to me.

        Until you do (and – guess what? – you can’t), I repeat: you are advocating the abolition of peaceful civil society to initiate civil war. If you aren’t evil – in every fiber of your cankered, shriveled, diddle-your-neighbor being – there’s no valid definition of the term.

        That line from Macdonough’s Song, of course, should have been:

        Order the guns and kill!

        Darn that “Insert” key.

        Moderation NOTE: Rich i have been very tolerant of your violations of blog policies. But i will not tolerate insults to individuals that comment here. In future, I will delete your entire post if you do this.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rich Matarase:

        Hate is most harmful to those who hate. I sincerely suggest that you seek help.


      • I agree with what I believe to be your religious views, but completely disagree with your generalizations of those that have these superstitions. The approach is unproductive. You would be more productive in getting others to accept the inaccuracy of their system of beliefs by continuing to ask “believers” for the evidence to support their belief system. When it all boils down to ultimately “faith without data” then over time people accept the evidence over tradition.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        I support your right to hold your views and to state them. I will continue to read and to consider what you write about them. But all I have read from you so far is that your views of these matters all boils down to ultimately “faith without data”.


      • Nah. For almost all religious whackjobs, “the inaccuracy of their system of beliefs” is what the vaporware vendors like to call “a feature, not a bug.” They’re perpetually wont to receive requests for “the evidence to support their belief system” as (glory, glory!) that persecution which sanctifies them with the simulacrum of martyrdom.

        What it “all boils down to” is nothing more than the fact that the religious True Believer has no real foothold in that phenomenal universe which is apprehensible (directly or by way of instrumentation) to objective and verifiable observation. They abdicate genuine responsibility to communicate by way of lucid reasoning.

        This being understood, no honest peaceable approach to these people can be productive. Either one simulates whatever profession of “faith” suits their whackjob fantasies or one makes plain to them that imposing their religious bigotries by way of the government’s police power will evoke that “appeal to heaven” in the best traditions of Dr. Locke’s Two Treatises, to wit:

        …where an appeal to the law, and constituted judges, lies open, but the remedy is denied by a manifest perverting of justice, and a barefaced wresting of the laws to protect or indemnify the violence or injuries of some men, or party of men, there it is hard to imagine any thing but a state of war: for wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer justice, it is still violence and injury, however coloured with the name, pretences, or forms of law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, war is made upon the sufferers, who having no appeal on earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such cases, an appeal to heaven.

      • Do you make up this sub-Hollywood tough guy blather, or do you just borrow it from the Bruce Willis movie you were watching when you had your last little trouser accident?

      • Ah, how nice. Just the most colorless of weak tea from TomFP. When he runs out of groping simulacra of reasoned disputation, he fumbles ineptly at pointless “fifth-former” Nyah-nyah-nyah.

        Er, Dr. Curry? You paying attention to this schmendrick and his ever-so-revealing response to a pull from the second of Locke’s Two Treatises?

        Not that I dislike Bruce Willis at all. Quoting from an interview he gave in February 2006:

        I’m sick of answering this f—ing question. I’m a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, I want less government intrusion. I want them to stop sh–ting on my money and your money and tax dollars that we give 50 percent of… every year. I want them to be fiscally responsible and I want these goddamn lobbyists out of Washington. Do that and I’ll say I’m a Republican… I hate the government, OK? I’m apolitical. Write that down. I’m not a Republican.

      • Bitter much?

      • Well, if you call a serum pH of 7.41 “bitter”….

        Nope. I’m just “stirring up the animals.”

        I’m obviously scoring on you, am I not?

      • Rich,
        No scores at all. You are not even in the game. Just a predictable windup, and I enjoy watching predictable.

      • Obviously your meds ran out around New Year’s eve.
        Perhaps you are snowed in?
        You are, to quote a phrase from LeCarre, a neverwuzzer.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Dr Curry:

        I respectfully disagree that my response to Rich Malese was improper.

        Rich Matarese had said – and he later repeated – that those whose belief he does not like (including me) should be killed. My response to that is wholly proper. And my response could be considered inadequate because I have not informed the authorities of his explicitly stated desires and hatred.

        The Unabomber was not unique and every country has organisations that attempt to monitor people who assert things like,
        “Order the guns and kill!”.


      • Richard, my point is not to bother to answer such things

      • Richard S Courtney

        Dr Curry:

        I am accepting your ruling to ignore the outrageous and disgraceful rantings of Rich Matarese, so I am not answering the misrepresentations in his latest rant. And I trust that others will ignore them, too.

        But I wonder what purpose is served by publishing words such as those he provides.


      • Richard, thanks for your understanding this. I am trying to avoid censorship, it is a fine line, still hoping that Rich Matarese can reform his posting style to eliminate the insults

      • Nah. Mr. Courtney, what I’d said was that your determination to pervert what you repeatedly claimed to have been the “democratic rights” of religious whackjobs to take command of the police powers of civil government and thereby engage those engines of lethal violent force in the punishment or suppression of unbelievers and heretics is evidence of your aggressive intention to invoke a state of civil war.

        What, you think you can tiptoe around this? Government is – always and in every wise – violent force. That is the single unique characteristic of this agency. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Under rule of law, government officers exercise by way of delegation the individual human being’s right to use lethal force in defense of life, liberty, and property. Acting as such, the officer of government can be said to have duties, but he has no rights to engage the police power, save as might any other private citizen.

        Invoking “democratic rights” as if that fantasy had any legitimacy, you demonstrate a damned strange notion that a majority vote sanctifies actions of government officers undertaken in criminal violation of the lives, liberties, and properties of people you – personally – hate and fear. And you hate and fear these people not because of any material injury done you or anybody else but simply because they act and speak peaceably in ways divergent from your own peculiar Great Sky Pixies religious whackjob insanity.

        Not so?

        Once you’ve made your position on that matter as clear as you’ve taken pains here to do, when someone speaks to the necessity of responding against you with lethal violence in self-defense, that’s supposed to be so awful-horrible-nasty that you should expect him to be prevented from voicing the observation?

        It appears that you’ve got zero familiarity with (and/or zero respect for) Dr. Locke’s previously mentioned Two Treatises or any similar expressions of thought on the subjects of civil society and the legitimate purposes of civil government.

        No wonder you’re an obliquely explicit advocate of throwing civil society into a state of civil war.

  52. Dr. Curry,

    Perhaps you already know, but I just learned that John Houghton, co-chair of the IPCC, is a Christian. I found this bit on his Wikipedia biography:

    ” John Houghton also applies a Christian perspective to his views, to emphasise the need for long term thinking. In 25 May 2001, in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge, he said:
    “ …why we should be concerned about climate change. It is a problem that is well downstream; many of us will not be much affected ourselves but it is going to affect our children and our grandchildren… It is our children and our grandchildren who will experience the impacts of climate change. I remember in 1990 when the first IPCC report came out, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher showed a lot of interest… one of the cabinet ministers asked me, “When’s all this going to happen?” I replied that in 20 or 30 years we can expect to see some large effects. “Oh” he said, “that’s OK, it’ll see me out”. But it won’t see his children or grandchildren out. Christians and other religious people believe that we’ve been put on the earth to look after it. Creation is not just important to us, we believe also it is important to God and that the rest of creation has an importance of its own… we are destroying forests, important forests. When I say “we” I mean “we” the human race of which we are part. We are party to the destruction, we allow it to happen, in fact it helps to make us richer. We really need to take our responsibility as ‘gardeners’ more seriously.[7]”

    I agree that we need to take our responsibility as gardeners seriously. This is the doctrine of man’s stewardship of the earth.

    What I found amusing was the conversation that took place in 1990. He said the catastrophe would happen in “20 or 30 years.” That was 20 years ago, or 21 now. As I look around, I still don’t see any catastrophe or any clear and imminent danger.

    • To mark the new year, there are a number of blogs that are looking at “failed” predictions (environmental, whatever). there were certainly some colossally failed predictions in the past. A prediction made 20 years is far enough in the past to have some idea as to whether the prediction has panned out or not. At the same time, our understanding and capability to make predictions in 2010 is much greater than in 1990, making a prediction made in 1990 not all that scientifically relevant. This is one of the challenges for a wicked problem.

      • With all due respect Dr Curry, many a important global decisions were made on the basis of those predictions from 20 years ago.

        The conjecture of AGW gained traction on the basis of those 20yr old predictions.

        What shall we do in 2030 if the Maldives are still there, if the ice is still present at the north pole, if the polar bears are not extinct etc etc?
        Shall we say “our understanding and capability (not to mention computing power) are much greater now” and continue along the same path?

        When is enough enough when it comes to failed predictions? When do we stop listening to the likes of Paul “no more England” Ehrlich or James “the West Side Highway will be under water” Hanson and so many others from Viner to Flannery to Karoly, all producing reports that end up on the desks of decision makers?

        Again no offence but what you stated is called a “cop out” where I come from and is highly unlike you.

      • The conclusions of the IPCC FAR in 1991 were actually quite modest. IMO they did not come close to justifying the UNFCCC treaty (in 1992), I thought I wrote about this somewhere but can’t find it. Houghton was rather over the top in his statements, they were not consistent with what the IPCC was saying (in fairness, 1990 was a year before the first assessment came out).

      • The ARs were/are not the only documents our policy makers rely on to make decisions. My post was about the (in)famous individuals who made well disseminated predictions.
        For example, here in Oz, the oft failed predictor Tim Flannery is appointed chairman of a climate change committee which recommends development policy to local councils who then go on to proclaim new by-laws and regulations which affect all of us living within those areas.
        So my question hasn’t been answered, when do we stop listening to failed individuals?

        p.s. Houghton had a good idea about what would be in the 91 report did he not? In fact it was published in 90 with a suplementary report in 92

      • AnyColourYouLike

        Have to say I agree. Many of the same voices who made the failed predictions are still churning out the press release alarm-pieces which get disseminated uncritically by the mainstream media.

        One would think such colossally well-publicised failures might breed a little humility and introspection…but no! Away they go, unshamedly aware that they have the ear of the MSM (though god knows why?), churning out their doom-laden predictions based on their now “superior” models. You couldn’t make it up!

      • indeed

        DRAFT March 29, 2006
        Spotlight on Global Temperature
        by James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Reto Ruedy, Ken Lo, David Lea and Martin Medina-Elizalde

        Early model predictions of global warming proved accurate,the Pacific Ocean seems charged for a potential super-El Nino, and global temperature is poised to reach record, perhaps dangerous, levels.

        SUPER EL NINO IN 2006-2007? We suggest that an El Nino is likely to originate in 2006 and that there is a good chance it will be a “super El Nino”, rivaling the 1983 and 1997-1998 El Ninos, which were successively labeled the “El Nino of the century” as they were of unprecedented strength in the previous 100 years (Fig. 1 of Fedorov and Philander 2000). Further, we argue that global warming causes an increase of such “super El Ninos”. Our rationale is based on interpretation of dominant mechanisms in the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) phenomenon, examination of historical SST data, and observed Pacific Ocean SST anomalies in February 2006.

      • From the Australian BoM historical El Nino records

        El Niño: 2006 – 07

        SOI: Weak
        SST: Weak

        Weak El Nino. Yet another failed prediction by his AGW holiness and his cabal

      • “One would think such colossally well-publicised failures might breed a little humility and introspection…”

        You might, but unless “colossally well-publicised failures ” start to breed a little scepticism in the general public, why should the catastrophists stop prophesying catastrophe? It has rewarded them in the past, and it continues to reward them. Why would they stop?

        Clearly, it’s the catastrophe that “sells”, not its scientific defensibility.

      • Sad but true

      • I agree, Tom. The claims that the US economy will be smashed back to the stone age if we put a price on carbon issues is catastrophism at its finest.

      • echo $comment | sed -e ‘s/issues/emissions/g’

      • Dr. Curry: I must side with the others.

        If Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen et al. were CEOs who bet their companies on their predictions, they would have lost their jobs and their companies would be out of business unless the boards of directors forced them out in time.

        Instead they continue to pull down large salaries in comfortable, prestigious positions while they continue to alarm the world and pressure governments to enforce their pet agendas. This makes no sense to me.

        I don’t mind that climate science is a young science and its scientists are learning and making mistakes.

        I do mind that climate scientists are unaccountable and when their predictions waste time and money on a large scale and disrupt people’s lives, they suffer no consequences at all. In fact it appears that their careers prosper.

        The incentives in climate science are almost entirely on the side of alarmism, which in a nutshell is why I don’t trust climate scientists and their advocates.

      • The official statements from the IPCC circa 1991 were couched reasonable well in the context of uncertainty. This is not to say that certain individual scientists were making alarmist statements at that time (public statements by scientists can be at odds with their scientific publication, and more extreme). The point is this. People usually aren’t naive enough to believe someone’s prediction 20 years hence. Scientists who make 20 year predictions without talking about uncertainties are fools at best (I will leave you to describe the “at worst”). This is why I keep harping on the topic of uncertainty. The scientists back in 1990 were right to warn the world of the risk of global warming from increasing greenhouse gases. The fact that we ended up with an international treaty (UNFCCC) in 1992 on this subject speaks more to politics than it does to people having actual confidence in a 20 year prediction.

      • Dr Curry you say…

        The scientists back in 1990 were right to warn the world of the risk of global warming from increasing greenhouse gases.

        Again with due respect, warn? warn? warn means their conjecture is done n dusted. How so in 1990?
        Would it not have been better/more correct if those same scientists made the public aware of their findings without the attached emotional, subjective descriptors?

        And what did they warn us of? If you live in a drought prone area, they warned of more severe droughts. If you’re in an area prone to floods, more severe floods. If in an area prone to tornados and hurricanes, more of the same only worse. In disease prone Africa, they warned of more disease.
        If however you lived in an area that didn’t usually experience weather extremes or diseases, you were warned of polar bear extinctions. It’s offensive to the max.

        No, they were not right to warn us. In fact, warning us was the first fundamental mistake they made, and they have been trying to recover from it ever since.
        Sadly, but luckily for us sceptics, their strategy of recovery has been yet more warnings’

        And what do they want now? Bigger and better supercomputers so as they can warn us some more.

      • “Again with due respect, warn?” I have to agree with Baa.

        Why, Judith?

        I have followed your blog since you started it, looking precisely for the justification for these warnings that you seem to take as a given. As far as I can see, they were no more justified in warning of warming than of cooling, or asteroid strike, etc etc. They chose to warn about warning, not because the science showed it was especially threatening, but because it sustained a quasi-scientific narrative which was personally rewarding. And not merely to warn, but to hector, and to belittle those who cast doubt on their theories.

        Let me ask you to please consider this: There WERE those who warned of the onset of natural cooling (I’m disregarding the “global winter” of Ehrlich et al). I remember them at the time. They weren’t many, compared to the catstrphic warmers, but so what? They were disregarded and ridiculed. Present evidence suggest they ought not to have been, does it not? So weren’t they “righter” to warn? Who was “right” to have warned about what, and why?

        Unless you can resolve, or at least address these issues, isn’t this just a case of “we were wrong, but we didn’t know we were wrong, so we were, er, right”? I have come to expect better from you.

        For an amusing look at this peculiar line of logic, as manifest in our former treasurer, Paul Keating, himself no slouch when it came to belittling his critics instead of refuting them:

      • As someone who has been labeled as a skeptic on the topic of global warming, I think it was correct for scientists to have “warned” that increasing concentrations of GHG’s in the atmosphere could lead to a warmer climate. That said, they should not have stated with any certainty that they knew the rate of that potential warming or the potential impact to specific areas.

        Long term, higher concentrations of atmospheric GHG will warm the climate. The debate is regarding the rate of that warming, and its impact to specific areas. Everything changes over time, and not all changes are bad.

      • Sir John Houghton said we have 7 years just recently ..
        June 2010. same fools?
        he was also comparing the decision with Pharoah and Joseph

      • In 20 years things will have changed. The changes will be greater than some predicted, less than others. and completely different than some believe today. The data upon which the predictions were made will be improved and future ones will probably be better. The key is to examine upon what information the prior predictions were made, and to adjust accordingly.

      • What you’re saying is reasonable and logical without doubt.
        However, are you also advocating that we continue to listen to the same failed prophets hoping that better data will improve their predictions?
        If so, why would we? Why wouldn’t we demand someone else look at the data? Why would we continue to give a platform to failures irregardless of improved/different data? Is there no one else among 6 billion people?

      • AnyColourYouLike


        We cross-posted, I’ve made much the same point above. Great minds and all that…;-)

      • actually I believe “failed prophets” historically were supposed to be put to death. In the case of climate change models, it is just business. If the person creating the model continues to be ineffective they should terminated (dismissed).

        I certainly do not support making any significant economic investment prior to a model being shown to be producing meaningful results

      • I second Baa’s comments – unfulfilled predictions:

        -have already occasioned the squandering of wealth;
        -ought to cast doubt on the credibility of subsequent predictions arising from “more, better and different” derivations of essentially similar methodology.

        Judith, since the number of catastrophic climate predictions that have reached maturity unfulfilled is practically endless, and fun though it is to laugh at them, might it not be useful to also create a list those which HAVE been fulfilled? This would keep the thread to the point, and above all – short.

      • And Judith:
        “making a prediction made in 1990 not all that scientifically relevant. ” Not sure what is meant by this, but I would submit that “REVIEWING, in 2011, a prediction made in 1990” is no more than Scientific Method demands.

      • What evidence is there that predictions made now about climate will be any more or less accurate than predictions made 20 and 30 and 100 years ago about the climate?

      • How about this one by Niwa.

        December 17, 2010
        La Niña conditions are likely to continue through to autumn of 2011 and then to ease. Such La Niña conditions have been indicated by NIWA since mid-2010.
        La Niña conditions tend to be associated with below-normal inflows into the main hydro-electricity generating lakes. The graphic below shows the range of total summer inflows (in terms of generation capacity in MW) for non-La Niña and La Niña years. In the summer of 2007/08, La Niña conditions prevailed, much as they do now, and the total inflow was almost exactly the median value indicated for La Niña years in Figure 1.
        As outlined in the NIWA seasonal climate outlook, there is a significant risk of below-normal inflows over the summer, especially for the South Island alpine region. The outlook states: seasonal rainfall is likely to be below normal in the western South Island [including the Southern Alps and the headwaters of the main South Island rivers]. River flows and soil moisture levels are very likely to be below normal in the west and south of the South Island.

        Two days later record rains started falling.


        Both forecasts the seasonal and hydrological had the effectof forcing the electricity spot market up around 200% between the 7th and 19th December,by the 25th they couldnt give away the contracts.

  53. “We really need to take our responsibility as ‘gardeners’ more seriously.[7]”

    Interesting quote. That thought should be creating some strange bedfellows. I was in Portland, Oregon a decade or so ago and saw a good number of classified ads for tree huggers. The wealthier environmentalists were hiring people off the street to chain themselves to trees. The plan worked pretty well. Timberland owners sold out and development started taking over. Had the environmentalists joined forces with the very large and somewhat wealthy hunting lobbies, much more pristine forest land would have been protected. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    I view catastrophic climate change predictions as an opportunity. I think hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are sexy. Then there are pretty celebrity people that have no clue of the hydrogen reality spouting off falsehoods. Remember Penn and Teller’s Dihydrogen Monoxide skit. Perhaps the “Whackjob” term is broader than many may think.

  54. “We really need to take our responsibility as ‘gardeners’ more seriously.[7]”

    What an amusingly ironic statement! What do gardeners do when a crop is ripe? Why, they HARVEST it, folks! And replant for next year.

    People that think you can actually preserve a dynamic ecosystem knows nothing about nature. If it is anything, Nature is a dynamo. Preservation (some misuse the word “conservation” for this) has lead to pestulance times ten! Bark beetles, fires, dwarf mistletoe, loss of important resources. Hopefully, the current demise of the idealistic, duplicitous “environmentalist” (because of the CAGW scam) will lead to some true progressive changes in the world.

  55. I had no idea about this.

    A take on Curry
    At Kloor’s and at Curry’s
    Attribution errors
    Beef with Curry
    Can’t think of any more amusing Curry jokes
    Confusionist Judith Curry goes ‘wicked’ and mangles the work of Martin Weitzman
    Curry, part 2: the papers
    Currygate, part 3: the key papers exposed
    Curry, part 4
    Currying confusion
    Curry jumps the shark
    Curry’s Hallowe’en Piece
    Duck Curry
    Favoring Curry
    Hey JC, JC, that’s not alright by me
    Hockey Stick fight at the RC Corral:
    How the mighty have fallen
    Judith Curry advocates for a climate change “Team B”
    Judith Curry: Born Beyond the Shark?
    Judith Curry goes from building bridges to burning them
    Judith Curry on anthropogenic versus natural causes of global warming
    Judith Curry on climate science: Introspection or circling the wagons?
    Judith Curry sticks her neck out
    JC does not understand the internet!
    Judith Curry abandons science
    Judith Curry and the hockey stick
    Judith Curry on ‘dogma’ and ideology
    Judith Curry plants her flag
    Lost in translation
    Maybe it ain’t an act
    More Curried leftovers
    My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay
    Round in circles with Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice?
    “(S)He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense“
    The curious incident of Judith Curry with the fringe
    The Judith Curry Debunking Room is open
    The paradox of Curry
    UnScientific American: In Lionizing Curry, a Lion Loses its Way
    Who’s being naive? Yet more from J. Curry
    Welcome to the blogosphere, Dr. Curry!
    Willard on Curry

    These are posts dismissing Dr Curry.

    Credit for the butterfly collection: greenfyre

    • Shub –
      One of the first lessons in combat – if you stick your head up, someone’s gonna shoot at it. Works for the Internet, too.

      If you think Rich Matarese is angry, greenfyre smokes him, but doesn’t have the guts to do it here or the intelligence to do it effectively. Be happy about that. Angry trolls are sometimes hard to get rid of – and they leave a bad smell behind when they go.

      • I would be far more impressed if you were able to intelligently show that I have made any errors I would welcome you posting an intelligent argument to that effect (citing specific evidence of course) on my blog.

        However, the playground name calling and juvenile insults would not be welcome.

    • I’ve read most of these. if there are one or more interesting or valid points in all of these posts, they are very hard to find. Interesting to see them all catalogued in one place. What I dont get is most of this is coming from people who are on the same general “side” as I am in terms of the basics of the science. Also, note that only two of the people that make these critical posts spend any time over here: Tobis and Verheggan (i give greenfyre credit for at least showing up here).

      • Look at it from a religious history perspective, or even that of communist politics of the past 100 years:
        The most vicious attacks are against those who claim to be of the faith, but question it.
        The treatment of Luther, a monk and committed Catholic, by the Church comes to mind. Trotsky vs. Stalin comes to mind as well.
        It is the ‘devils’ within that are most hated in general.

      • And why do you place any value on “showing up here”? Would it not make much more sense for you to refute any points that you can at the source where people can see it? to expose any errors or inaccuracies right at the source?

        Despite having posted comments at my blog you did no more than a sweeping dismissal of the points raised with no reference to anything specific or of any substance.

        We both know that a Freshman gets a well deserved F- for that kind answer. After several repetitions they are invited to rethink their life goals because clearly science is not going to be an option. I fail to see why I should cut you, a credentialed scientist, more slack than I ever did for any undergraduates.

        If I have erred, show it with facts and I will own it. If I haven’t erred, acknowledge it with grace. You owe yourself at least that much self-respect.

      • The main reason i started my own blog was to have some sort of control over the blogospheric discussions I get involved in. I didn’t register for your course, so your grade doesn’t mean anything to me. You have erred all over the place in your post, it simply isn’t worth my time to address the issues you raised.

      • That is your right of course; Lord knows I don’t have the time or interest to address the juvenile comments that make up the bulk of what of the Deniers have to say about me. It is mostly a playground gigglefest such as we see here in this thread; a complete waste of time.

        However, insomuch as my post and those that I cite raise substantive issues which we document, let’s neither of us pretend that you have ever addressed them; I certainly will not, nor will most others.

        Nor can any take seriously your claim that “You have erred all over the place …” when it is pretty clear you have not even read the piece and have not the slightest idea what it actually says.

        As for the undergraduate reference; I thought it fairly obvious that it was merely to make the point that to become a scientist one is required to learn particular methods and maintain certain minimal standards, and that in general most professionals try to keep those same standards in all contexts, whether or not they are being paid, graded, supervised or other.

        Among those standards I would also include the Code of Conduct you posted (Excellent find btw, thank you) such as ‘The Burden of Proof’ and ‘The Rebutttal.’

        You are the one who chose to publicly make quite a number of inaccurate, false and/or baseless claims. That was your choice. Now you are being called to account, a foreseeable consequence of that choics.

        Nor am I convinced that you are thinking trough your tactics. Consider for a moment exactly what your gratuitous dismissal of those critiques is implying about the authors … petty tyrants who obsess on trivialities? inarticulate or not very bright perhaps? and so on. Now think again who those people are.

        Bridge building?

        To their credit none that I know of have done more than document the facts of your public errors. That they do not always do so in the most charitable manner is not surprising given your responses and lack of them.

        Reply or not, to me or anyone, it actually doesn’t matter to me at all.

        However, I will persist in refusing to pretend that you have actually addressed anything when all you have done is another vacuous dismissal.

      • greenfyre,
        Just think: in using the term ‘denier’ to describe skeptics, you make yourself as sophisticated as a racist relying on ‘ni**er’ to describe people of color. And you use the term for precisely the same reason the old KKK uses it: to end discussion, to denigrate your opponents and to claim superiority. ‘Denier’ let’s you pretend you are dealing with unworthy people, beneath your contempt.
        You sophisticates have so much to be proud of.

      • Actually, the best way to handle trolls is to ignore them. Engaging them only gives them the attention they crave. And engaging them on their own territory where they control the rules is “really” giving them what they want.

    • They are not dismissing, they make specific observations about things she has said and/or done .

      If you feel any are inaccurate or unfair you should point out exactly how, citing evidence to support your contention, and post it to the appropriate site.

      Most of those sites are hosted by scientists who would welcome correction if you can show that they have truly erred, as would I.

      • greenfyre, would you kindly link me to your very first post about Dr Curry

      • Insomuch as there has only been one, and only two others that even mention her, I would have thought that it was pretty easy to find, but nonetheless
        here you go.

      • Lets try to keep the greenfyre discussion on the other thread (new years resolution). This discussion is off topic on a very active thread.

      • Yeah I’m not too savvy when it comes to the internet. Thnx, I got the article now.

        Just one more request. Would you kindly point me to the notification you might have given Dr Curry that you were/had written an extensive article about her at your website.
        Alternatively you may have emailed her, if so could you verify that please.

      • greenfyre

        Your response at the ‘new years resolution’ thread would be appreciated.

      • Don’t feed him baa. You’ll only flatter his ego and encourage him to clog up the thread with yet more mindless self aggrandisement.

  56. Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

    re.: “Billy Christian”

    If anyone needs more evidence that Prof. Gushee regards evangelicals (or at least sixty million of them) as children in dire need of correction and tutoring, this fifteen minute video is here for the watching:

    Gushee repeatedly refers to evangelicals as “Billy Christian,” and walks through various lessons that “Billy Christian” needs to learn in order to face up to the real world (as opposed, I presume, to the fake world in which “Billy Christians” mostly inhabit).

    One of the most common observations regarding Al Gore was his penchant for talking down to his audiences as if they were comprised of little children. Gore and Gushee are hardly the only people who do this–actually the same approach can be seen in many venues and probably all ideological persuasions.

    But it occurs to me that if these folks were willing to actually treat people who disagree with them as adults, things might go better. Come to think of it, such an approach might persuade them to do what Judith has been doing, which is actually listening and learning.

  57. I really think that it is only fair that if one is going to ask the opponent to define the other side, the least that can be done is to return the favor.
    Will there be a post of conservatives defining left leaning religionists and their positions on environmental / climate issues, and how their views shape their stands?
    Or maybe is it time to allow evangelicals and other conservatives to speak for themselves?

  58. I stopped reading the JREF forums when a flame war broke out about who was more atheist (huh?) and then the flame war when Randi declared he is a ‘global warming science is not strong enough’ to be settled.

    Took me a while to figure out that some of those skeptics have adopted ‘science’ as their religious belief system, to be defended against the infidels. There is a human need to find authority to follow and a need in a few to create that authority.

    I also realized atheists and Libertarian converts (not the same but just as annoying) go through an evangelical phase where they believe they have to convert the unwashed. I realized I was guilty of proselytizing, too. People don’t like getting beat around the head by the priests/imams/scientists with the authority book.

    Some defenders of consensus climate science appear to want to assume the duties of pastor of the blogoshpere – to manage the flock of cats with loud commands and academic debate techniques. If they had pastoring skills, they might be more effective.

    • Richard S Courtney

      Cecil Coupe:

      You say;
      “Took me a while to figure out that some of those skeptics have adopted ‘science’ as their religious belief system, to be defended against the infidels. There is a human need to find authority to follow and a need in a few to create that authority.”

      But science IS a religious belief system: i.e. it is a coherent set of beliefs based on accepted tenets.

      There is no essential difference between the tenets of Islam that
      “There is only one God, Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet”
      and the tenets of science that
      “The universe operates according to the Laws Of Physics and those Laws are the same throughout the entire space-time continuum”.

      Neither of those tenets is capable of proof or disproof. They are each accepted as a matter of faith.

      Islam develops and changes as theologians explore ideas built on one of those tenets
      science develops and changes as researchers explore ideas built on the other of those tenets.

      Importantly, those tenets are not mutually exclusive. Religions other than Islam are built on different tenets, but (as the above examples illustrate) the tenets of a true religion do not conflict with the tenets of science.

      Therefore, science can be – and is – conducted by practitioners of any religion. Indeed, the mathematics of modern science have their basis in Islamic thought, and the logic systems of modern science were developed from the practices of Christian theology. Some sciences (e.g. genetics) were intitiated by religious aesthetes (e.g. Friar Mendel working in his monastery garden).

      It is very recently that the atheistic religion of ‘humanism’ has proclaimed that science and religion are not compatible, but that claim is as false as their assertion that their atheism is not a religion.

      Agnosticism is a position of stated lack of commitment to a belief in the existence or non-existence of any deity. It is a rejection of belief (and, therefore, a rejection of religion) and is closest to the mindset of every true scientist who attempts to avoid belief in any ‘fact’ (while knowing the attempt is not possible of true fulfilment).

      Atheism is a belief in the non-existence of God. A belief in God lacks empirical support but a belief in the non-existence of God cannot obtain empirical support (a proof of a negative is physically impossible). Hence, atheism is a more extreme religious belief than adherence to any formal religion.

      People who share ideas tend to agregate for mutual support. This is politics, and it applies to all people including those with religious beliefs. And an agregation of people tends to throw up leaders and organisational structure. This is called party politics and is observable among religious believers as being organised religion.


      • Richard,

        I don’t agree that science can be described as a belief system, and would rather describe it as a philosophy – a search for the truth. More specifically, a system for seeking the objective truth, regardless of what the practitioner’s beliefs may be.

      • In that sense, it can be said that science is the antithesis of belief.

      • Peter,

        You say that science is the antithesis of belief. Most scientists who also happen to be Christians would disagree. They would science builds on belief. Belief is not mental assent to the irrational. Belief is trust. You exercise belief everyday of your life, perhaps not in God but in something. When you sit in a chair, you are trusting it to hold you up. Is your trust irrational? Not at all. It looks like a chair. It looks sturdy. Only a really skeptical person would examine all of the screws and fasteners which hold it together before sitting down.

        Trust in God is much like that. You do not have understand everything about how the world works to trust the One who made it. Once you have put your trust in Him, then it is interesting to study what kind of world He has made. Do you see? Science builds on faith.

      • Ron,

        I said that science and belief are not the same thing – not that they cannot co-exist.
        Scientists can believe in God, no problem – their beliefs and science are two separate parts of their lives and do not clash. They do not question God’s existence in a scientific sense, neither do they take their science upon faith.
        If a team of (true) scientists who fervently believe that the Moon is made of green cheese is tasked with scientifically establishing the truth of the matter, they will do so even though said truth is completely at odds with their belief. It’s the scientific method which allows them to do so.

      • Peter,
        You said that science is the antithesis of belief. Now you are saying they can co-exist in the same person. I understand your first proposition as a denial of your second.

        Not only can the two exist in the same person, often faith is the driving force in the scientific inquiry. For example, George Washington Carver was one scientist driven by his love for God. He prayed ( a paraphrase) “God, I cannot know all the wonders of your creation but I do make one request – Help me understand the peanut.” He firmly believed God answered his prayer and helped him make the discoveries he made.

        For some, science is built on belief in God.

      • Ron,

        “In that sense…”
        My two posts above were supposed to have been one, except that I hit ‘Submit’ prematurely.

      • Certainly post-normal science is of a very different species than the science you are are referring to?

      • hunter,

        I am referring to is normal science. I have read briefly of post-normal science but cannot recall any advancements it may provide to normal science.

      • Ron,
        I think ‘post-normal science’ rates up there with Lysenkoism and Eugenics for its potential.

      • hunter –
        I don’t know from “post-normal” science, but if it claims “certainty” or “final knowledge” in any way then it’s illogical and a matter of faith (i.e. – religion) . See my recent answer to A Lacis –

        My wife and I took a University level course re: “Philosophy of Science” together. She was considerably upset by the bottom line – “There is NO certainty and we can NEVER know anything beyond doubt.” Any other approach to the subject is hubris and rapidly converges with religion – with or without a God.

      • Jim,
        My take is that everything is testable, but it appears that in pn science as it is practiced, everything is subject to popular vote.
        That seems to run counter to normal science.

      • randomengineer

        Standard scientific practice involves experimentation, but in areas where this isn’t possible then scientific investigation by necessity morphs into a collection of circumstantial evidence. Generally this is what is meant by post-normal.

        And even then, this is temporary. What isn’t possible to experiment with using the technology of TODAY isn’t necessarily true of tomorrow.

      • And even then, this is temporary. What isn’t possible to experiment with using the technology of TODAY isn’t necessarily true of tomorrow.

        That’s true. BUT — this has been the progression for the last several hundred years and each new level of “We can now test what we couldn’t test yesterday” has NOT resolved all the questions. Rather, each new level has compounded the problem by raising more new questions than have been answered by the solutions to the “old” questions.

        I see no evidence that that situation has changed – or that it “will” change in the future. I don’t believe it has in climate science regardless of the expressions of “certainty” by — anyone.

        As you say – temporary. And therefore – uncertain.

        One can, of course, resort to the “engineering” solution – the use of Newtonian mechanics rather than quantum theory to build ones bridges. But that’s not science. And pretending it is, doesn’t make it so.

      • I don’t know. Science, logic, reason and faith are simply different tools, different approaches to understanding our universe. We will never be able to understand everything around us. I gotta go with Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Issac Newton, William Herschel, Charles Messier, Nikola Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, John Glen and many others. These are men of great scientific discovery who also maintained a belief in God. They effectively used all the tools of understanding to their advantage.

      • Science, logic, and reason – those are tools. Faith? Nope. Expressions of faith can only be considered dereliction of the duty to use any tools at all, to “go limp” in the face of the unknown and treat it as unknowable. All of those “men of great scientific discovery who also maintained a belief in God” had simply hit questions they could not answer by way of scrupulously dispassionate observation and analysis, whereupon they arrogantly (in a sort of “If I can’t figure it out, nobody can!” attitude) consigned these issues to Great Sky Pixie mystery.

        Faith is a cop-out. To call it a “tool” is to slide into the sort of usage of the term “tool” that Dr. Curry really doesn’t want us employing on her Web log.

      • I suspect all of those scientists would disagree with you.

      • They might even suggest that by ignoring faith, you are leaving one of your most valuable tools in the shed.

      • Let ’em disagree with me all they might like. To repeat: Faith is not a tool with which to analyze the phenomenal universe. It’s a cop-out, an abjuration of responsibility to employ conscious, considered, lucid mental effort.

        The difference between reason and faith is the difference between a doctor’s careful palpation and a rapist’s fumbling grope.

      • Louis Pasteur might suggest that the effective practice of medicine is not possible in the absence of faith. food for thought.

      • Irony, thy name is Richard Matarese.

      • Rich, I must admit I admire your writing style. Note that does not translate to always agreeing. I am curious Rich – are you a cause and effect guy? You agree, I suppose, that the universe is expanding, and this expansion was initiated by the big bang. How do you approach causation of the bang itself?

      • Insofar as my personal fund of knowledge goes, the “big bang” theory serves adequately to explain much about observed characteristics of the physical universe.

        Do I “believe” in it? Nope. As long as the theory holds, I’m willing to go with it. As soon as some cosmological explanation comes along that is better reconciled with the observations, I’m not so wedded – by faith – to the big bang as to be incapable of giving that new theory due consideration.

        Jeez, do you have any idea how much “absolute certainty” the average physician has to surrender to advances in medical knowledge in thirty or forty years of professional practice? Conceptual models of physiology and pathology my preceptors retailed as rock-solid when I was a youngster are now quaint quackaries recognized as having been utterly fatuous.

        Bob, I’m a “cause and effect” guy to the extent that the linkage works. You?

        Er, are you going somewhere with this? Or (in the previously quoted words of the Reverend Johnson from Blazing Saddles), “are we just jerking off?”

      • Rich, I am not going to any particular place with this. I am just reaching out to someone to help me understand my own inadequacies about pre-big bang. I am a cause and effect guy, but have a great deal of uncertainty of cause for the singularity. You know, the existence of God. I’ve read Hawking on this, but I am not satiated with his explanation.

      • randomengineer

        How do you approach causation of the bang itself?

        Interesting question, I suppose, if you’re 18. At that age the baiting attempt is laughably transparent with the obvious answer from the religious side being that a) god did this and b) science doesn’t know, therefore science and religion are equally inept.

        Get to age 25 and the argument dies: you realise that religion doesn’t and can’t predict anything but “more magic” while science in a given field languishes until newer better hardware comes along allowing for better experimentation leading to more complete theories. Today we know via string theory that a universe can be spun from another.

        Does this prove anything? Yes. Tomorrow (say 100 years hence) religion will be unable to preduct anything other than MORE MAGIC and science may have solved the big bang conundrum handily and gone on to many other puzzles.

      • Random, nothing of the sort. I am happy for you that you are engineer-certain about string theory. I for one, am not. Perhaps I am just stuck in the 18 year old stage. I lack the expected certainty of the engineer mind. Anyway, nice to see you are not a “lukewarmer”. Lukewarmers are like bisexuals, but eventually they both need to jump off the fence and pick a hole.

      • randomengineer

        Hi Bob, I *am* a lukewarmer. I reckon much of the prevailing theory including temp records is correct enough. I also reckon the IPCC is overstated and don’t buy into AGW panty wetting. It’s possible to grasp the underlying tenets and reach a different conclusion; there’s no need for ‘all or nothing.’ Your argument is reminscent of the far right’s view of centrists, people they see lacking the moral fibre to commit to full throttle conservatism. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that non-ideological thought is even possible. (Not saying this is you, just that I’ve seen multiple and equally unsuccessful variants of the same argument.)

        Re string theory which may well prove utterly wrong the interesting aspect is that a mathematical model can be constructed allowing for the creation of universes from others. That we can construct such a model says that this is the correct vector. The Wright brothers built a lot of models before they flew their device. No difference between models of math or those of balsa. Was the first balsa model they built the definitive answer? Of course not. But it pointed to the correct direction.

      • randomengineer

        These are men of great scientific discovery who also maintained a belief in God.

        Einstein certainly didn’t, although his wording intended for the understanding of the masses have been spun to make it appear thus.

        As for the others, never discount the effects of peer pressure and inertia. Living in an era where certain ostracism awaited those who professed non-religous (i.e. not standard issue) thought, professing to (still) have faith was crucial to both longevity and access.

        e.g. Galileo knew good and well that the earth went around the sun but at the end was reduced to saying what the church wanted him to say merely because not doing so was a great deal more painful and accomplished little: the book (Dialogue) was already out; the idea was already planted. Had his patron (Medici) actually been a vertebrate the episode would have played much differently. Medici though needed the very real cash and political support of the church a great deal more than the reverse: the church would have ruined him, and was looking for an excuse to do so anyway. (Of course, the fates are cruel; this was the last of the Medici influence anyway. C’est la vie.)

        Are you grasping the interplay of political reality vs professed faith?

        Likewise this business of claiming great faith of men who *had* to express faith due to expedience of the physical reality of the world they lived in seems dishonest.

        As for Galileo perhaps he did believe in god, but this belief may well be at the same abstract fuzzy agnostic level many professed believers have today. In the sciences the effect of religion is more about simple inertia than deep abiding faith in the evangelical sense you’re trying to portray it as.

      • When the story of Galileo’s quashing was told to me as a youngster, I sharply remembered the legendary mutter he grumbled under his breath after he’d been forced to recant:

        Eppur si muove!

        . “And yet, it moves!”

        Very Italian, let me tell ya.

      • “Einstein certainly didn’t, although his wording intended for the understanding of the masses have been spun to make it appear thus.”

        Einsteins views on God and the universe were certainly complex and evolved during his lifetime. It is difficult to spin this statement much though:
        “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”- Albert Einstein

        As to the other scientists I mentioned, their absolute faith in God can be clearly observed in their personal writings if one chooses to look. Newton wrote more on Biblical scripture than on physics or mathematics and his views were often contrary to the church of England, yet his faith in God was quite certain.

      • All of these scientists express in one form or another that reason and faith are but two sides of the same coin. One cannot achieve complete understanding in the absence of either. It is an interesting point of view and one that I am open to consider. This is a point of view that has been essentially lost in mainstream academia over the last 50 years.

      • If you wish to learn more about the extraordinary mind of Sir Isaac Newton including his personal thoughts on physics, mathematics, and God, you can find many of his original manuscripts here:

      • randomengineer

        Newton wrote more on Biblical scripture than on physics or mathematics and his views were often contrary to the church of England, yet his faith in God was quite certain.</i.

        Naively I'd assumed that mentioning that people are also products of their time was a given. In Newton's day EVERYBODY wrote more about god than anything else.

      • Naively I’d assumed that mentioning that people are also products of their time was a given. In Newton’s day EVERYBODY wrote more about god than anything else.

        You missed the point there. He wrote MUCH more about God. Even his physics and mathematics were about God.

        How could that be?

        When you can answer that, you’ll understand.
        Have a good week.

      • Jim,
        Thank you for you eloquent conclusion to my thoughts.

      • Do you have some sort of proof to back up that claim? Otherwise, I’d say it’s just a lot of bluster used to try to support one’s position.


      • Scott, if you’re talking about the “claim” that Newton was a devout and assiduous Christian, your implication that it is bluster is just that – bluster, and ignorant bluster at that.

        He was also an alchemist. He also “hid” his data and workings, and was not above passing off the insights of others as his own. He is an excellent example, but not of unalloyed scientific virtue.

        You could have googled him and discovered all this, and more.

      • Unfortunately, Jim Owen responded before I did so it wasn’t clear where my comment was addressed. My comment was addressed to randomengineer’s statement of:

        In Newton’s day EVERYBODY wrote more about god than anything else.

        Which I honestly think is just hot air unless someone has some sort of evidence. Heck, I’d even accept it if someone can show me that >50% of the people in that day wrote more about God than anything else.

        As for Newton, I’m well aware of the importance of religion to him and don’t buy into the insinuation of some here that it was peer pressure or just the norm of that day.


      • Scott, do some reading from the time. Few people then had books, but all who could bought, read and treasured a Bible. The novel was at best in its infancy (Defoe?), and provided no competition for diversion. And such novels as were available were expected to contain “improving” messages, such improvement being measured in godliness. Handel was writing oratorios like “Jephtha” and “Israel in Egypt” not because he was a God-botherer determined to inflict on his audiences improving, if obscure, tracts, but because those audiences could in fact be relied upon to know the stories, and enjoy seeing them depicted. Handel was meeting a demand.

        Likewise, few people could write fluently enough for publication, and those that could were almost bound to be products of an overwhelmingly ecclesiastical education system. Writers were used to various forms of state censorship which came and went as the Tudors were succeeded by the Stuarts, and to the fact that, all other considerations aside, the risk of official censure rose with the distance they strayed from piety. Anglican piety, at that – none of your foreign papist poison.

        Going forward nearly a century, we find Samuel Johnson ever fretting about whether he is devoting enough of his epistolary talent to matters of piety, even as he was creating, in a Herculean labour, the first English Dictionary. Johnson’s assumption, several decades after Newton, was that God, axiomatically, had a prior claim on his literary exertions. None of his contemporaries thought him odd – not for that, anyway.

      • TomFP,

        So are you agreeing with some others here that Newton was not actually a man of God but instead that appearance was just a facade established by the society of the time?


      • Scott –
        Not sure where this will show up cause the thread is a little confused, but –

        To answer your question – Newton was a man of God. Period. He would, however, have been considered a heretic by the standards of the time he lived in. His ideas and thought processes were not those of the “consensus”. IOW, in todays terms, he was a sceptic. If not that, then he would never have conceived his physics/mathematical concepts. The “consensus” has not been a creative animal at any time in history.

      • Scott, the man was a theologian! To be sure, he had unorthodox beliefs, but there seems to no evidence that they were not, nonetheless recognisably Christian, and that he was strongly intellectually, as well as spiritually aroused by them.

        If you are suggesting that nicking other people’s ideas is a disqualification for that calling, you are assuming that nicking other people’s ideas meant the same in 17th century England as it does today. It didn’t. The idea of intellectual property, or even bragging rights, was inchoate in those days. And in any case I was greatly simplifying his spat with Liebnitz over calculus. This was a time when the institutions and norms of public life that we perhaps take for granted were actually being forged. That’s what makes it, and Newton, interesting.

      • randomengineer

        Scott, Your argument is akin to saying that you beam Mozart from his time period to now and he still writes operas; mine is that you do so and he becomes the next Eddie Van Halen. People are products of their time period.

        Newton’s era was dominated by religious intolerance following the English civil war. It would be far more astonishing if Newton *wasn’t* writing tracts on religious belief and *not* having his thoughts dominated by the view of the day of god.

      • Random wrote:
        “Naively I’d assumed that mentioning that people are also products of their time was a given. In Newton’s day EVERYBODY wrote more about god than anything else.”

        This is a gross mischaracterization:

        Tesla and Pasteur expressed similar levels of faith but were products of the 19th century. They were scientific peers of Charles Darwin and both well aware of his work. Even Darwin rejected Atheism:

        Ultimately we all choose to believe what we want to believe. Lets not re-write history too hastily.

      • randomengineer

        Tesla and Pasteur expressed similar levels of faith but were products of the 19th century.

        Read the rest of my commentary on this thread on this. There’s such a thing as societal inertia. When the entire western world has been governed by the church for a millenium, society doesn’t exactly turn on a dime when secular government finally establishes itself. Even in Darwin’s day belief in god was common, expected, drummed into you from the time you were born, and essentially was as much of a “given” as the sun rising. It’s utterly astonishing that anyone could dispute this, yet here you are trying to make the case that in a world without gods there are your chosen science heroes who, against all possible odds, believed in gods, which of course informed their scientific endeavours. Amazing. Really, just incredible.

      • Random,
        Perhaps you live in a world without Gods. I don’t, and neither did Da Vinci, Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Tesla, Herschel, Messier, Einstein, John Glen, and thousands of other extraordinary scientists.

        The point is not, as you say they “believed in gods, which of course informed their scientific endeavours. ”
        The point is that they were able to conduct extraordinary science alongside a personal belief in God. That they found the practice of science and faith completely compatible. Even in some cases inseparable. I do respectfully realize that this concept may simply be beyond you grasp.

      • Random, we have had enough for now. let me just conclude that I will forever admire the mind of an engineer.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Peter 317:

        Thankyou for your posts that say (with explanation):
        “I don’t agree that science can be described as a belief system, and would rather describe it as a philosophy – a search for the truth. More specifically, a system for seeking the objective truth, regardless of what the practitioner’s beliefs may be.”

        OK. I think we have entered a misleading semantic argument. And I suspect that we have much agreement.

        I said;
        “Agnosticism is a position of stated lack of commitment to a belief in the existence or non-existence of any deity. It is a rejection of belief (and, therefore, a rejection of religion) and is closest to the mindset of every true scientist who attempts to avoid belief in any ‘fact’ (while knowing the attempt is not possible of true fulfilment).”

        Do you agree that?

        And I agree with Bill DiPuccio who wrote at January 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm:
        “I do not see why religion (and philosophy) should be incompatible with science. The former addresses questions of meaning (“why?”), the latter addresses questions of cause and effect (“how?”). Yes, this is an oversimplification, but it does grasp the larger picture.”

        Do you agree that. too?

        If so, then I think we have so much agreement that the difference between us is mute.


      • Richard,
        I used to be a strong believer is religion until religious politics became greater than bible teaching and infighting of replacing a minister was more important.
        I had a few suppressed questions that the bible could not answer and felt it was improper to go up to a minister to voice my concerns. Science was part of it but it still fell within reason.

        I created a far superior and efficient power system and found that the current science was not explaining why this system worked the way it should. So, I experimented and explored this new system and started applying to the planet as the motion generated was foreign to science.
        The more exploration, the more conflict with current science to a point that I dumped current science theories for actual physical evidence.
        So, I neither believe in religion or current science theories.
        Being in a whole different area really puts being ignored and shunned to a whole new level.

      • Oh Richard,
        I did find the answers to the questions I was seeking and far more than what I was expecting.

      • ‘philosophy’

        is a belief system.

  59. Richard,

    Your comparison that:
    ‘There is no essential difference between the tenets of Islam that
    “There is only one God, Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet”
    and the tenets of science that
    “The universe operates according to the Laws Of Physics and those Laws are the same throughout the entire space-time continuum”.’

    and that
    ‘Neither of those tenets is capable of proof or disproof.’
    may sound plausible, but is not so.

    The first is a conjecture awaiting its first factual evidence of support. The second is an understanding that has been formulated over several hundred years of observation and experiment still looking for its first exception to its apparent universality.
    They are each accepted as a matter of faith.

    • Mr. Lacis,
      The observed and experimentation over the several hundered years were incorrect and too broad in their boundaries in the experiments which tainted the results.
      Sometimes what is being observed is not ALL that is seen.

    • Hmm – then you’re not operating under the same philosophy of science as I am.

      You apparently assume that the laws of physics as manifest in this particular planetary system (Sol) are the same as those that operate in, for example, a planetary system in the Pleiades. While that may be true, it is still an unproven ” conjecture awaiting its first factual evidence of support. And, as you say, it is a matter of faith, not evidence.

      Therefore the statement ‘Neither of those tenets is capable of proof or disproof.’ will remain true. In order to escape the truth of that statement, the laws of physics in every part of the Universe, including the Pleiades system would have to be confirmed to operate exactly the same as the laws of physics in this (Sol) system . Until that time, your assumption is and will remain an article of faith.

      Just as “There is only one God, Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet” is and will remain an article of faith until Allah provides direct evidence of His existence.

      The probability of either of those happening is vanishingly small.

      There is no essential difference between the two. Both are unprovable at present and for any forseeable future.

      • randomengineer

        You apparently assume that the laws of physics as manifest in this particular planetary system (Sol) are the same as those that operate in, for example, a planetary system in the Pleiades.

        Ahhh, but science is about using what’s known to make predictions of natural phenomenon as a verification. Via science we have satellites detecting planetary systems well outside the solar system, and unamazingly, these systems all seem to be operating within the laws as we understand them. As such the evidence continues to point in the direction we think it does, which suggests that, barring magic, this trend will continue. Science is about successive approximation, where each step relies on the previous steps.

        Is it *possible* planetary systems in some obscure part of the universe operate via different laws? Yes. Is it likely? No, and every time we gather more data and make successful predictions it becomes even more unlikely. The success of successive approximation says this is correct enough.

        Religion, meanwhile, is about magic, and makes no prediction other than more magic.

        Predictive ability is the key.

      • The success of successive approximation says this is correct enough.

        So, as I pointed out in another post, science has reduced itself to engineering now?

        Until the laws in “every” planetary system in the universe are tested, then there is no absolute certainty. It only takes one exception to blow the theory out of the water. You can, of course, operate on the aproximation. But if you’re doing that and you run into the exception – it could kill you.

        Religion, meanwhile, is about magic, and makes no prediction other than more magic.

        To quote Heinlein – “One man’s magic is another’s science”

        I think there are those who would object to the word “magic” as related to religion. Especially since “magic” is expressly forbidden in both Christianity and Islam.

        The level of faith required for both science and religion is apparently converging.

      • Dunno as that’s a quote from Heinlein. In his “Notebooks of Lazarus Long” sections from Time Enough For Love (1973), he wrote:

        One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.

        Anybody who treats science with any sort of “level of faith” is really screwing with science, so much so as to void its efficacy.

        Heck, I marked the AGW fraudsters (and their confused wool ‘viro followers) as completely bereft of intellectual validity the moment they and their MSM chittering root-weevil yup-yups began trying to apply the term “skeptic” as a pejorative when referring to the critics of their fantastical brain-dead notion of anthropogenic carbon dioxide atmospheric temperature forcing.

        To whatever extent one may assess virtue in the sciences, skepticism is the sine qua non.

      • That seems to be the trick, Rich. The climate propagandists’ primary technique is to rip open chasms between climate scientists on the one side and their reasonably intelligent peers and colleagues in scientific and other walks of life (a.k.a the evil skeptics).

        JC understands this. One hopes her colleagues will come around too.

        It’s funny. In medicine, the basic thrust of ‘evidence-based medicine’ is the attempt to break away from hearsay, ‘consensus’ and experts’ opinions. In climate science, a la IPCC, the thrust is to derive consensus about evidence based on expert enunciation.

      • You’re right, Rich – I got my quotes mixed. Try this one:
        One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. (Heinlein)

        or this one :
        “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” (Arthur C Clark)

        I didn’t run into the “sceptic” thing until 2001. At the same time someone tried to mug me with a hockey stick. They just didn’t get no respect at all. :-)

        My excuse is that I spent the previous two years hiking from Canada to Mexico (CDT) and then from Mexico to Canada (PCT). No TV, no radio, no Internet, no papers, no news, no BS.

        Don’t go along with everything you say, but some of it is compatible. I do believe in letting people go to hell their own way. As long as they don’t get too pushy about taking me with them. :-)

      • randomengineer

        I think there are those who would object to the word “magic” as related to religion.

        Hi Jim, “magic” is easier to type than “supernatural” and the result is the same. Answering your concerns —

        1. Absolute certainty isn’t even desirable. Perfect is the enemy of the good enough.

        2. A transistor circuit in a chip that powers the device(s) you’re using to communicate with me is a certain size, one that engineers can control “good enough.” We know via Ohm’s Law the basics of power and current and such. But make the circuit really small, and it quits working. Why? Because at a certain size regime, the electrons do all sorts of silly stuff and they’re not predictable; Ohm’s Law is no longer applicable. Yet despite imperfection Ohm’s Law describes an average behaviour good enough to make working devices providing we stay in the size regime engineers can deal with. Your argument is essentially equivalent to saying that these devices aren’t working reliably due to not knowing everything, and obviously this isn’t the case.

        3. Where it concerns science vs religion, I think you’d be able to make a stronger case if you were to show me a faith based computer. Now… don’t read me wrong. I’m not trying to be antagonistic or get you riled. Rather, I’m obliquely and awkwardly pointing out that science and religion are answers to different questions, and this is a plus. Science deals with HOW, and religion deals with WHY. There ought to be no conflict. What conflict there is seems based solely on the side of religious insistence on the possession of qualifications that they can also answer HOW (cf “Intelligent Design.”) There aren’t any faith based computers, and none are expected to appear.

      • lol –
        We’ve wandered off in different directions – (sigh) – didn’t want to get into this.

        “magic” vs “supernatural” – apparently you don’t understand that there’s a very large difference between the two. And a thorough explanation would take more time than I have right now – I’ll be headed south tomorrow for surgery on Wed. But trust me – I KNOW the difference – and I no longer play with either.

        The short version – historical (or Biblical) “magic” was generally sleight-of-hand done for profit (to fleece the rubes). Literary “magic” can be anything the author wants it to be in the world they’ve created. “Magic” from the POV of primitives is anything they don’t understand (see the above quotes) – and can be construed as either white or black – and “can” and “has” sometimes gotten the practioner burned at the stake. Think “Salem witches”. “Magic” is forbidden in both Islam and Christianity.

        “Supernatural” is an entirely different beast. Practiced in ALL primitive societies. And of course by ALL religions. Until you’ve experienced it, don’t diss it. BTDT and seen and experienced things that you don’t want to believe – some good, some not good at all. Purely subjective and I don’t try to explain them. Not to you, not even to myself. Not worth the time and effort.

        Neither of the above has any relation to science as you know it. Or as you want to know it.

        Now for your points –
        1. Absolute certainty is the “ultimate goal” of science. “Good enough” is for engineers. It has to be “good enough” to not fall down and kill people. Challenger was not “good enough” and people died. It wasn’t “good enough” because the uncertainty was greter than the engineers were willing (or allowed) to admit. Uncertainty has consequences.

        Without “certainty” as the ultimate (and probably unobtainable) goal, science has no purpose, no reason to struggle for the “answers”.

        2. Where Ohms Law quits is where quantum takes over. Actually, quantum operates in the same region as Ohms, but not vice versa. But like building bridges using Newtonian mechanics, Ohms is easier to use and understand for those regions where it’s “good enough”. What I’m saying is that for those devices you mention, a good engineer would use quantum – not Ohms. And “good” in that context means knowing when to use which.

        3. I don’t do ID. I don’t mix science and religion. I do religion, I do science and I understand that if the religion doesn’t match the science then the religion needs to be re-examined. Most of them do. I learned long ago that St Augustine knew whereof he spoke. But I also learned long ago that science is constantly changing – Aristotle, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Bohr, etc – the progression is obvious to anyone who looks. An appropriate quote that you won’t find in a book would be –
        Yesterdays science is todays belly laugh,
        Todays science is ………

        I think you can fill in the blank :-)
        Gotta wonder why so many people can’t.

        So – since science constantly changes, religion sometimes falls behind – and sometimes gets stuck in a backwater. And that’s where most of them are today. But that doesn’t mean they (or at least some of them) won’t eventually catch up.

        Finally – you somehow seem to have missed the point that ALL the science you believe in is based on the efforts of religious personalities, whether Western, Islamic, Hindu, whatever. Think Al Gebra. And then think of all the other words that begin with Al. Guess where they came from. Think Mendel the Monk. Etc, etc, etc.

        HOW and WHY are not mutually exclusive except in the minds of those who WANT to believe so. I’ve lived my life pursuing both. I’ve found no dichotomy in the pursuit.

      • randomengineer

        lol –
        We’ve wandered off in different directions – (sigh) – didn’t want to get into this.

        I don’t see why not. I value the time you take to discuss with me and I appreciate your viewpoint. What, you think I don’t learn from you and the others who don’t share my view? :-)

        Best wishes re surgery, and I’m sure we’ll chat again later.

      • I do not see your position as reasonable.

        We “estimate” that the laws of physics are the same in the Pleiades system because we have gathered actual, testable “evidence” that the laws of physics behave uniformly everywhere in the known universe.

        There is no actual, testable “evidence” of God, or Allah, and there is no evidence that anyone claiming to have acted for them had any non-corporeal powers. Humans and their superstitions, I’d guess that another couple thousand years from now, we will still have them, they will probably just be described differently.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        You assert:
        “We “estimate” that the laws of physics are the same in the Pleiades system because we have gathered actual, testable “evidence” that the laws of physics behave uniformly everywhere in the known universe. ”

        Say what!?

        Please explain how that evidence has been or could be acquired.


      • Very simply- can you think of any area where we have found that the laws of physics did not apply? We have measured various “off planet” events etc and have never found the laws of physics as we understand them to not have been followed. It we ever measure that light is travelling at a different rate in some part of the galaxy, that will be be news………..something to pray about…lol

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        You ask me:
        “can you think of any area where we have found that the laws of physics did not apply?”

        I answer:
        No, I can not but I do not nead to.

        You are claiming the evidence for the universal existence of the same laws of physics so you nead to provide that evidence. I am merely saying that you nead to provide it.

        I suggest that you read Kuhn’s “all swans are white” argument.


      • Richard- You obviously know of many of the measurements that have demonstrated that the speed of light has been constant in the known universe everywhere we have been able to measure. The point you are trying to make is that we have not measured everywhere, or even that many places. But we do have measurable evidence and we have no data to show that theory to be incorrect.

        The belief in god has no measurable, factual basis as any starting point.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        That’s true, but you can’t measure or quantify the value of, say, great works of art either (I mean something maeningful beyond mere excellent technique), both romantic love and deep friendship obviously have value, but aren’t based on facts either – unless you want to go down a reductionist social-darwinism route (which, personally, I’m a little uncomfortable with) and anyway, that kind of explanation has problems such as self-sacrifice, reasons for mourning etc.

        Probably even these behaviours can be spun in some clever, convergent “selfish gene” kind of way. However, without being overtly religious myself, I’ll accept a little mystery and stick with Shakespeare:

        “There are more things in heaven and earth,
        Than are dreamt of in your philosophy Horatio.”

      • The concept of god is not like art.

        Art, you may like it or not according to preference. The concept of God (as generally communicated) assumes a conscious physical being (or series of beings in some other place) that has set up rules for humans. It assumes that there is a continued, conscious existence after corporeal life ends.

        Art you can enjoy or not. God concept believers generally try to force others to adapt to their view/beliefs of how humans should behave and give punishment to those who do not follow those superstitious behaviors.

        There is zero evidence of a conscious, post corporeal life existence (a soul if you will) and there is zero credible evidence of god.

        There is thankfully lots of evidence of art

      • AnyColourYouLike

        Mmmm….I’d say maybe i didn’t explain that very well. I suppose I was meaning art in the proper “romantic” sense – y’know Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Byron, the German Romantics etc: Art as a transcendental emotional/psychological experience in relation to nature – a little more radical and “spiritual” than more modern notions I admit!

        Romanticism and Enlightenment philosophies actually fought a bit of a battle for supremacy in Europe during the late 18th & early 19th century. The Enlightenment carried the day, mainly because of the success of empiricism in science, and so the rather more mystical Romantic view of knowledge and imagination waned.

        All this is very far from a god as a “conscious physical being”, which is not what I was meaning to defend. All I’m saying is that IMO logic and reason function well in science (well, apart from a few exceptions at the sub-atomic and cosmological levels), but history shows that some very smart and sophisticated people thought there might be a bit more to the human condition than that. :)

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        Your attempted side-step fails.
        You asserted that there is evidence that the Laws Of Physics are the same throughout the space-time continuum.
        I aked you what such “evidence” you think exists because – as I pointed out – it is physically impossible to obtain such evidence.
        You asked me to show that the Laws Of Physics are not universal.
        I stood my ground, and I repeated that the point is your belief in the universality of the Laws Of Physics is simply belief and is not a matter of evidence.
        You have now tried to change the subject by asserting;
        “The belief in god has no measurable, factual basis as any starting point.”

        Say what!?
        Many people – probably the great majority of human beings – both living and dead – say they have each had a personal experience of involvement with something supernatural which most call a god.

        That experience is evidence. It is a strong “factual basis”. And it is a “starting point” for research.

        The evidence may be misinterpretation of phenomena (as is true with all physical evidence (e.g. does the Sun orbit the Earth or vice versa).

        It is “measurable” in that the proprtion of people who claim to have experienced God can be measured.

        And the evidence is “factual” although it may not be acceptable to you (e.g. you have never seen Australia for yourself so you refuse to accept the possibility of its existence).

        But evidence for the existence of a God exists and it has a measurable, factual basis. So, I have got rid of your ‘red herring’.

        And that ‘red herring’ does not alter the simple and undeniable truth that a religion and science is each constructed on a basis of tenets that are adopted as articles of faith.


      • Richard- with all due respect, what you have written in incorrect. I directly answered your point without any side step.

        Clearly, measurements have been taken throughout history on planet earth and the laws of physics have been found to have been consistent. When humans ventured off the planet, many additional measurements have been taken (such as confirming that the speed of light met expectations). I wrote that everywhere measurements have been taken that the laws of physics applied consistently. Therefore we have not reason to assume that they will not apply consistently throughout the known universe. As a simple example, if you check gravity on the earth at a 100 different places and find it consistent, you reach the conclusion that it is the same planet wide, until/unless something happens that shows that to be incorrect. Why do you think it is impossible to measure how long a signal takes to reach a spacecraft (for example)? or acceleration, or lots of other things that have reacted the same off our single planet.

        Individuals “personal experiences with god are certainly not evidence of anything. You most know that is a ridiculous statement. Individual, and groups of humans have repeatedly shown to have the ability to delude themselves to accept the truth of many beliefs in spite of their being evidence that they were wrong in those beliefs.

        You have to hold on to these beliefs because of your own personal issues. The evidence (real evidence) certainly has never been presented. Please schedule some demonstrations of this magical power you state there is evidence of….you don’t because it can not be done. You have to rely on “faith” and stories of personal “feelings”. You certainly must agree that humans have these same “feelings” whether it is the result of god or there own perceptions. Real evidence is therefore required to take it from a joke/tale to a fact.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        I think the difference between us is summarised by your assertion to me that says;

        “Individuals “personal experiences with god are certainly not evidence of anything. You most know that is a ridiculous statement. Individual, and groups of humans have repeatedly shown to have the ability to delude themselves to accept the truth of many beliefs in spite of their being evidence that they were wrong in those beliefs. ”

        Say what!?

        All – yes, all – empirical evidence is somebody’s experience. And that is why ‘confirmation bias’ is a problem, and why ‘double blind trials’ have value.

        Far from being a “ridiculous statement” my observation that most people share the same (or similar) repeated experience undeniably is evidence.

        We can debate what that evidence indicates, but it is NOT “ridiculous” to cite it. Indeed, I said that:
        “The evidence may be misinterpretation of phenomena (as is true with all physical evidence “.

        That is simply a statement of truth which assertions of “ridiculous” do not refute.

        If you want to claim that the evidence has been misinterpreted then please do. But it it is ridiculous to assert that it does not exist. Perhaps it is – as you imply – a mass delusion of the majority of the human race both past and present. Occam’s Razor suggests you are wrong, but you may be able to provide some evidence that you are right. Can you?


      • Richard

        Please explain the difference between the credibility of the claim of “truth” of someone who sincerely believes in the existence of Zeus, or Scientology, or any of dozens of other superstitious belief systems and someone who believes in Christianity. Humans believe in lots of things and sincerely convince themselves of the truth of those positions over vast amounts of time. That does not make it truth or scientifically correct. Have your “faith”….when I was a kid I believed in the Tooth Fairy and that even yielded me tangible repeatable results……but alas, it was eventually demonstrated to be not true.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        Firstly, my initial post on this thread corrected your ignorant and silly assertion that religious beliefs are superstition. There seems little point in answering your questions when you ignore what I say.

        However, for the benefit of onlookers I will address your spurious point.

        All evidence needs to be interpretted. Some interpretations are confirmed by observations and others are refuted by observations.

        Believe in the tooth fairy if you want: my experience disconfirms your belief. I prefer to believe in a religion that is confirmed by my experiences and provides me and many others with joys I cannot describe to you. Similarly, I cannot describe the colour green to a blind man (of course, the difference between you and this analogy is that the blind man has no operative eyes to open but you could choose to open your religious eyes).


      • You obviously know of many of the measurements that have demonstrated that the speed of light has been constant in the known universe everywhere we have been able to measure.

        Rob – I’m back from surgery – sorta. But I won’t be typing a lot – Oxy is not conducive to that kind of activity. But I couldn’t resist this one. :-)

        Speed of light – constant. Not really – only constant under “most” conditions. Group at MIT a few years go “made” different conditions and actually slowed it down to near zero.

        Physics – long ago and far away – recent planetary discoveries – physics says they should all be in the ecliptic for that system – they’re not necessarily so. Physics says they should all be orbiting in the same direction and rotating in the same direction – they don’t necessarily do so. Some of them are retrograde and some of them do some really weird orbits.

        What else will we find that is not consistent with what we understand to be “physics”? Universal laws of physics are an unproved assumption.

        Fourth Law of Spec Ops – Thou shalt not ASSUME for ASSUMING shall make an ASS of U and ME.

        Have a good day – I think I’m going back to sleep. :-)

      • Rob –
        Don’t want to start anything big here, but I do have a question –
        what evidence did you have in mind?

        OK, I have a lot of questions. And too few answers.
        Like – what was there before the Big Bang? But I won’t bother you with those. :-)

      • I by no means claim to understand all aspects of the universe. The fun is in the learning.

        What I do understand is that humans create superstitions, call them religions, and accept those belief systems with no real evidence. We tend to like comfortable, explainable untruths that make life easier.

        Can you site any real evidence of non corporeal conscious life? Nope….not one bit of real evidence in spite of years of looking.

      • Actually I could, but we’re not gonna go there on this blog. And I’m not about to publicly admit some of the things I’ve done. So .. you win. :-)

        Keep in mind though – you find the things you look for – whether positive or negative.

      • And you are much less likely to be subject to being flimflamed if you require repeatable evidence before acceptance of a position

      • Rob –
        I suspect I learned about flimflammery before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye. :-)

        That’s good advice.

      • Rob,
        You ask if anyone can cite any real evidence of non corporeal conscious life? If I understand the question correctly, I can. Actually, there are two lines of evidence:

        1. The Big Bang. Robert Jastrow tells the story in “God and the Astronomers” much better than I can. Suffice it to say if there was a Big Bang (and there was), then there was a Big Banger.

        2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is an irrefutable fact of history. Many men have set out to disprove it as a myth and a good number of them became Christians as a result. Men like Josh McDowell and journalist Lee Strobel (author of “The Case for Christ”). I truly believe anyone who looks at the evidence with an open mind will be convinced of the truth Jesus rose from the grave.

        Another interesting book is “Surprised by Joy” by CS Lewis. The book is a first hand account of Lewis’s journey from atheism to faith in God. He describes himself as dragged struggling and resentful into faith and surprised by the joy he found when he arrived.

      • Ron– again, with all due respect; your post is a wonderful example of Christians confusing data and evidence with faith and dogma.

        1. At the start of your post you write- “Robert Jastrow tells the story” — Yes he tells a story, fable, idea, etc. It is not a fact or based upon any data. It is simply his hope expressed as a concept, and you and other have used it to further convince yourselves of the validity of your superstitious beliefs.

        2. The resurrection of Jesus…..LOL, that one is certainly not a fact at all. It was not written about at all by the people alive at the time. Stories were told and spread to a desperate population and these stories were then written down many decades later. This was done at a time when is was commonly excepted to greatly exaggerate stories in order to make them more dramatic and accepted. Ever read all the other stories of the time depicting other historical figures that could perform supernatural feats? You don’t actually see flying around rooms today do you? No, because it never really happened then either…THEY WERE FABLES.

      • Michael Larkin

        ‘There is no actual, testable “evidence” of God’

        Not if one applies the *usual* scientific approach to it, which requires demonstrability to others more or less on demand.

        However, it’s not the only kind of scientific approach; mystics have applied another throughout the ages.

        Lest you think that esoteric, I will transpose it to a well-known realm. You eat dinner, and later, for the first time in your life, experience heartburn. You describe the sensation to a friend or family member, who identifies it as heartburn, and indeed, may be able to give you some indigestion tablets to help with it.

        Imagine heartburn is exceedingly rare; but if you happen to chance across someone who also suffers from it, you will have no difficulty in convincing them it exists or that it can be caused by eating certain foods, or in excess.

        In that event, heartburn is something that is demonstrably true, but couldn’t be proved on demand to just anyone. Indeed, if it were that rare, one could well imagine doctors as a body being sceptical of its existence.

        What if God were something that is experienced personally? No one who has not also experienced Him could independently verify His existence. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist, or that independent verification is impossible.

        IMO, the only rational stance for the non-experiencer is agnosticism.

      • Ooh, bad analogy. Even before fiberoptic gastroesophagoduodenoscopy became commonplace, we certainly had barium contrast techniques that gave satisfactory objective evidence of gastroesophageal reflux (which is the cause of heartburn).

        It can therefore most certainly “be proved on demand to just anyone.”

        Now the prevalence of gastroduodenal Helicobacter pylori infection as causing peptic ulcer disease – that took some proving in the medical profession. Diagnostic testing, however, and the demonstration of efficacy for microbicidal regimens of H. pylori eradication gave us the evidence-based confirmation that the bug exists and was doing what the microbiologists said it does.

        Doesn’t matter if a pathology is rare or not. What matters is reliable confirmation of a clinical diagnosis, coupled with response to treatment intervention predicated on the etiology.

        The question has never been “What if God were something that is experienced personally?” but rather “How the hell do we know that what one person claims to experience as ‘god’ is the same thing that another person claims?

        Gets to be entirely too damned much like that Emo Philips “Die, heretic!” joke.

        I can run a blood test that will confirm H. pylori infection without about 80% sensitivity, and there are plenty of additional diagnostic methods to back that up.

        What kind of diagnostic tests will detect a person’s experience of “god” with any kind of specificity and sensitivity?

      • Michael- You wrote “what if god was something that could (only) be experienced personally and no one who has not experienced him could independently verify his existence. I request you consider what you have written more closely and compare the thought to those with delusional behavior. Is there any difference?

        Don’t you agree than humans generally have demonstrated an outstanding ability to convince themselves of the truth of virtually any concept/position. It does not mean it is true because it is strongly believed to be true. You are SURE there is something separate from your corporeal body…..something more…….something……timeless. I am not stating that this must be untrue. I am stating that there is no evidence that this is true. You have faith, and I believe that is your right. I believe it is highly inappropriate for you or others to impose your beliefs upon others. This is done by extensively by “religions” worldwide.

    • Richard S Courtney

      A Lacis:

      Thankyou for your query of my argument.

      I completely concur with the response to your query that was provided by Jim Owen at January 3, 2011 at 9:53 am. His logic in that post is the same as my own, so I see no purpose in my repeating it.

      I note the assertions of others on the matter, but I fail to see how any of them defeats that logic. If you wish to engage the matter futher then I would be pleased to respond.


  60. Richard Courtney, you write, quoting Rich Matarese:

    “’The key, of course, is in the fact that they [believers] seek to impose their standards of personal and economic conduct upon other people by way of political action. It’s not the way that they do it, or their ostensible reasons for doing it, but rather the fact that they do it at all.’

    You continue:

    “Simply, he asserts that people of a religious persuasion he does not like should have their democratic rights removed. For, surely, every individual votes according to conscience (i.e. “standards of moral conduct”) and economic desires.”

    I’m afraid you have it backwards, sir. It is not *your* democratic rights that are removed when you decide to force *me* to birth a child I may
    not want. I will defend, forever, the right of you and yours to birth babes
    (as you can afford them), but not your “democratic right” to force me
    to comply to your wishes about my own body. Or, that I must demur to
    my husband…. or, wear a burka.

    I understand: it is not your “fault.” “God” tells you what women may/may not do, wear, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    I enjoy the beauty, traditions of the church, but not the literal dogma.

    On another note, you write, Dr. Curry, that scientists have a much better ability to predict the future today than all the “silly stuff” predicted in 1990. (And, of course, there was the end of food, in 1970…. )

    I ask: how do you think we know better now, until the future becomes the new present? (Certainly, the British Met Office doesn’t seem to have improved, on any level that can be measured — short-term or seasonal — in its predictions over the past decade. I don’t believe NOAA’s doing well with storms and hurricanes.) …..Lady in Red

    • I am going to do a post on seasonal weather predictions, hopefully within the next few weeks. I can give you stats in terms of improvement on short term and seasonal for ECMWF and NOAA predictions (don’t know about UKMO). as far as seasonal forecasting schemes go, some are much better than others. As time goes on, we do get better at prediction. On something as long term and complex as the climate system, it is the old uncertainty monster that keeps making the problem more complicated the more we work on it.

    • Richard S Courtney

      Lady in red:

      You assert to me:
      “I’m afraid you have it backwards, sir. It is not *your* democratic rights that are removed when you decide to force *me* to birth a child I may
      not want. I will defend, forever, the right of you and yours to birth babes
      (as you can afford them), but not your “democratic right” to force me
      to comply to your wishes about my own body. Or, that I must demur to
      my husband…. or, wear a burka.”

      But I have no desire to “force” you or anybody else to do anything. And nothing I have ever said or written says, suggest or implies that I do.

      You are entitled to your prejudices and misconceptions (pun intended) but I reject your attempt to inflict them on me.


      • I apologize. I thought I sensed a “make abortion illegal” bent in your writing.

        When religion begins to want/twitches in excitement to enforce such things upon a group, I tiptoe backwards, out the door.
        …Lady in Red

      • Richard S Courtney

        Lady In Red:

        You say to me:
        “I thought I sensed a “make abortion illegal” bent in your writing.”

        I apologise that I was not clear. However, I fail to understand why you “sensed” that in what I wrote so I request that you again read what I wrote in case there are other points you think I should clarify.


      • Richard – surely you aren’t objecting to Lady in Red’s stereotyping of evangelical Christians (like you stereotyped environmentalists as advocating eugenics and the Chinese one child policy)?

        See – we (whatever we believe in) are not all the same.

      • Richard S Courtney


        If and when you accurately state what I have said and choose to comment on it then I would be please to answer your comment.

        Until then I choose to ignore your misrepresentations because they have no worth.


      • When I read this, written by you, about Rick M’s post:

        “Simply, he asserts that people of a religious persuasion he does not like should have their democratic rights removed. For, surely, every individual votes according to conscience (i.e. “standards of moral conduct”) and economic desires.”

        I assumed you meant that you could “vote” to remove *my* rights, and at top o’ my list of concerns about some Christians is their need to force all women to birth all babies at all times.

        The issue, for me, is complicated and nuanced, but I would never deny a woman the right to have a legal abortion (at any stage of pregnancy).

        …. I am concerned about the “how many hairs make a beard” argument that has already infringed women’s rights.

        … I am concerned about the ugliness and the violence of the (ironically) “pro-life” position. There is nothing kind or sacred — or Christian — about the people who stand outside Planned Parenthood offices trying to terrify and intimidate a young woman to conform to their view of what “God” wants for her.

        I dislike the strident feminists who insist abortion is like getting your nails polished or your legs waxed, but I believe the serious potential danger here comes from the folk who claim to know what “God” wants for us all.

        (All of which led me to become a gun-toting Quaker. …smile.)
        …….Lady in Red

      • Richard S Courtney

        Lady In Red:

        Thankyou for the exposition of your view. I understand the crux of your position to be:
        “I assumed you meant that you could “vote” to remove *my* rights, and at top o’ my list of concerns about some Christians is their need to force all women to birth all babies at all times.”

        If my understanding is not correct then I hope you will tll me.

        Your statement makes three points; viz.
        The democratic right of the bulk of a society to curtail activities of members of that society.
        The right (actually, the ability) of a woman to abort her unborn child.
        The right (actually, the ability) of a woman to abort her unborn child at any stage of its development.

        None of these issues directly pertains to the subject of this thread, but I will answer them because they seem to be important to you. My views of the issues are as folows.

        Society does have a right to constrain activities of its members. There could be no society in the absence of such a right. And one curtailment adopted in most societies is a law that denies a right to commit murder. This curtailment is adopted by voting – and could be removed by voting – in a democratic society.

        A woman has the physical ability to abort an unborn child. Most societies agree that this ability should not be curtailed in many circumstances (e.g. in the UK it is accepted that a fetus developed to less than 28 weeks after conception may be aborted).

        But a society that forbids murder needs to decide at what point a potential child becomes a person. Killing a potential child is abortion but killing a person is murder. And this decision has no clear resolution, so there is a spectrum of opinion as to when a potential child becomes a person.

        At one end of the spectrum there are people who think that a person is created at the time of conception so – for them – use of the ‘morning-after-pill’ is an example of murder.

        At the other end of the spectrum there are people who think that a person is created at the time a new-born baby takes its first breath so – for them – abortion cannot be murder (n.b. according to this view even deliberately killing a baby during the act of its birth is not murder).

        There are many opinions of when a person is created that fall between the extremes of this spectrum. And there are Christians who hold each of those opinions because there is no specific Christian or evangelical opinion on this.

        The very hierarchical nature of Roman Catholicism provides a strict decision that a person is created at the time of conception, but this is only one opinion. Most Christians and many Roman Catholics do not share it.

        Christians outside the US – including me – find the so-called ‘pro-life’ attitudes of some Americans very strange. The same people who claim to be against abortion because they are “pro-life” also advocate capital punishment (i.e. killing people as a legal punishment). This is not logical and has no basis in any main-stream form of Christianity.

        I hope that I have addressed the issue you were trying to raise.


      • Thank you, I guess. That was a lot…. Yes, the issue is not a simple one, easily resolved. At the same time, it will never be resolved – successfully – by the most authoritarian and dogmatic members of society, I believe.

        I see a link between people who deny a woman a right to abortion (or permit a loved one to receive a painless life-ending injection near the end) because of a “book” that tells them what “God” wants for us and…

        …I connect that to the dogmatic “science is settled” climate experts who ignore or deny the message of Richard Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” essay: the importance of shared data and repeatable science – and never lying to yourself or denying actual results.

        Finally, I connect both the dogma of extreme Christianity and extreme climate science to the murder of the Pakistani governor yesterday, reportedly by Islamic extremists who opposed his opposition to the stoning of women for blasphemy. (See: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Pakistan-Governor-Of-Punjab-Province-Is-Killed-By-Own-Guard-In-Islamabad-Police-Say/Article/201002115879484?lpos=World_News_First_World_News_Article_Teaser_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15879484_Pakistan%3A_Governor_Of_Punjab_Province_Is_Killed_By_Own_Guard_In_Islamabad%2C_Police_Say

        This is the dogma of the high priests of science and religion, which destroy in the interest of their own power. High priests of science and religion both are much the same.

        …Lady in Red

      • Lady says:
        “Finally, I connect both the dogma of extreme Christianity and extreme climate science to the murder of the Pakistani governor yesterday, reportedly by Islamic extremists who opposed his opposition to the stoning of women for blasphemy.”

        I suspect this has everything to do with hatred, madness, anarchy and political power and nothing to do with true faith in God. We humans have a knack for using any excuse as justification for our own horrifying behavior. The holocaust was certainly about hatred and not faith.

      • randomengineer

        She(?) addresses dogmatism, not faith. These aren’t supposed to be fungible terms, although I’d agree that most who profess faith loudly are also dogmatic. Odd, that.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Lady In Red:

        You say;
        “it will never be resolved – successfully – by the most authoritarian and dogmatic members of society, I believe.”

        I share that view, and I go further.

        In my opinion no moral or ethical issue is ever best resolved by “the most authoritarian and dogmatic members of society”. Rebellion ensues when their enforcements are imposed. Such rebellion may be violent or merely underhand (as in the USSR) but it eventually induces overthrow of those in power and usually after much suffering.

        There are some of any persuasion – including every religious persuasion – who adopt “authoritarian and dogmatic” attitudes. However, it is my experience that the very great majority of religious people reject such attitudes. In fact, in my experience those who profess to abhor religion typically have such attitudes (as is demonstrated by comments on this thread).

        Professed religion and prof