God and Science

Lawrence Krauss has an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal explaining why God and Science Don’t Mix. The article came from his participation in a panel discussion at the World Science Festival in New York City on Science, Faith and Religion. Krauss argues that “A scientist can be a believer. But professionally, at least, he can’t act like one.”

There are difficulties  in questioning whether science and religion are compatible. There are many scientists who are also religious, while there are also many religious conservatives who see science as a threat. Krauss wrote:

These scientists have been castigated by believers for claiming that science is incompatible with a belief in God. On the one hand, this is a claim that appears manifestly false — witness the two Catholic scientists on my panel. And on the other hand, the argument that science suggests God is a delusion only bolsters the view of the of the fundamentalist religious right that science is an atheist enemy that must either be vanquished or assimilated into religion.

Coincidentally, I have appeared numerous times alongside Ken Miller to defend evolutionary biology from the efforts of those on various state school boards who view evolution as the poster child for “science as the enemy.” These fundamentalists are unwilling to risk the possibility that science might undermine their faith, and so they work to shield children from this knowledge at all costs. To these audiences I have argued that one does not have to be an atheist to accept evolutionary biology as a reality. And I have pointed to my friend Ken as an example.

The views of fundamentalists are inconsistent with science and what we know of the real world as they reject scientific findings which conflict with religious teachings.  Religious fundamentalists develop a wide variety of arguments to contradict scientific findings where science conflicts with their views on subjects such as evolution and the age of the earth. Some will argue that any evidence that the earth is older than 6000 years was planted by God to test our faith. The Discovery Institute has published numerous claims to oppose evolution which fail to hold up to scrutiny.

Science, in contrast, is constantly tested and theories must be abandoned if they are found to be inconsistent with the evidence. P.Z. Myers describes the difference between obtaining knowledge of the universe with the scientific method versus explaining the universe based upon religious dogma:

We have to look at what they do to see why. In order to probe the nature of the universe around us, science is a process, a body of tools, that has a long history of success in giving us robust, consistent answers. We use observation, experiment, critical analysis, and repeated reevaluation and confirmation of events in the natural world. It works. We use frequent internal cross-checking of results to get an answer, and we never entirely trust our answers, so we keep pushing harder at them. We also evaluate our success by whether the end results work: it’s how we end up with lasers and microwave ovens, and antibiotics and cancer therapies.

Religion, on the other hand, uses a different body of techniques to explain the nature of the universe. It uses tradition and dogma and authority and revelation, and a detailed legalistic analysis of source texts, to dictate what the nature of reality should be. It’s always wrong, from an empirical perspective, although I do have to credit theologians with some of the most amazingly intricate logical exercises as they try to justify their conclusions. The end result of all of this kind of clever wankery, though, is that some people say the world is 6000 years old, that it was inundated with a global flood 4000 years ago, and other people say something completely different, and there is no way within the body of theology to resolve which answers are right. They have to step outside their narrow domain to get an independent confirmation — that is, they rely on science to give them the answers to the Big Questions in which they purport to have expertise.

Krauss quotes J.B.S. Haldane, an evolutionary biologist and a founder of population genetics, on the those who “extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism.”

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.

It is not necessary for scientists to totally reject religion but scientists must be willing to abandon religious dogma when it conflicts with information established with the scientific method.  Krauss  found that, at least among those in this panel discussion, religious scientists were certainly not fundamentalists and were willing to accept views on religion which do not take religious teachings literally:

When I confronted my two Catholic colleagues on the panel with the apparent miracle of the virgin birth and asked how they could reconcile this with basic biology, I was ultimately told that perhaps this biblical claim merely meant to emphasize what an important event the birth was. Neither came to the explicit defense of what is undeniably one of the central tenets of Catholic theology.

Krauss concludes with noting that this conflict between science and religion is relevant to real world issues:

Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.

These issues can also be seen far closer to home than in Iran. The differences between the modern conservative movement and liberals, moderates, and the few remaining rational conservatives also come down to whether one has a view of the universe based upon religious dogma or based upon science and reason. Fortunately, while countries such as Iran are dominated by religious fundamentalists, since the Republican Party became dominated by fundamentalists it is quickly turning into a minor regional party of the deep south and Mormon belt of the west. As the Founding Fathers realized when they established a secular government with separation of church and state, religion and politics do not mix any better than religion and science.

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89 Comments

  1. 1
    Ron Chusid says:

    Whether or not all poverty can be wiped out (and most likely it cannot) has nothing to do with the validity of religion.

  2. 2
    Fritz says:

    The poor will be with us always.  Someone famous said that.  :)
     

  3. 3
    Adam says:

    This is a mistake I see repeated over and over again.  It’s not “God” or “religion” that are incompatible with science.  It’s CHRISTIANITY.

  4. 4
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Wow, this has been one hell of a thread – providing it’s okay to say hell around these parts these days. This scientific illiterate – took physics for idiots three times –  doesn’t have a clue about science per se.  But I’m impressed as hell – oh, there’s that word again – with you folks. I’ve learned something and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

  5. 5
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Leslie- it is all good, Ron is no prude and good at allowing all to express their opinions within reasonable bounds. If someone goes way too far, even then he won’t be rude, he just uses the phrase: “not going to waste bandwidth”. One other phrase you might want to know, if you make a point that bothers him but he doesn’t have an answer, he’ll use the phrase: “That’s not analogous”. :)

  6. 6
    Greg Forest says:

    I am always amused by the fight against science by the superstitious and ignorant. A modern day Christian is more likely to visit an oncologist than a faith healer upon a diagnosis of cancer.  After medical technology has run its course and a remission occurs, the faithful at church are thanked for their prayers that brought about this, “miracle.” Science and medical technology had nothing to do with it.
    Fundamentalists use science every day because they have to. If dogma say science is wrong then they shouldn’t be using cell phones and the internet – all tools of a scientific Satan.
    When Christianity can set up an experiment where virgin births can be studied, replicated, predicted and proven objectively – then they can stand up and make large claims.
    The bible has little to say about electron tunneling. The word “quark” isn’t in there to my knowledge.  How can you have an honest investigation of the real world when the boundaries for inquiry are set by 2,000 year-old dead guys who “knew” the earth was flat.
    I live in Texas and, believe it or not, we have a sitting legislator who “knows” that the sun revolves around the earth and that all modern astronomy/cosmology is a ruse of Satan. It says a great deal about the discerning tastes and inquisitive minds of his constituents.
    Onward into darkness christian soldiers.

  7. 7
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Oh, ho, ho. I so agree with you, Mr. Forest. I used to live in Texass – that’s not a typo ( there are some neat places, tho).  If you think Texass is bad, bring yourself up here to good ole Tenn’see where the legerlature is made up of them there Neanderthal types. Sho ’nuff.

  8. 8
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Perhaps using both a different name and e-mail address will stop my home computer from the moderation bug. This is Mike b.t.r.m aka/ Big Texas Rastifarian Man or Brainwashed talk talk radio man. Well another funny story (long but alledgedly true and I’ll try to jump to the punch-line) A man opened a bar in a town that didn’t have one and drew the ire of some Christians who held a prayer session about it. The bar got struck by lighting and burned to the ground. The owner sued in court, arguing the power of prayer while the Christians argued against the power of prayer. Perhaps a fabricated story, I can’t confirm any of it.

  9. 9
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Greg- I would challenge what Christians 2,000 years ago ever claimed that the earth was flat. Biblical texts do indicate a belief that the earth was a circle, but doesn’t specify if it was a flat circle or spherical. A number of ancients seemed to believe the earth rested on the back of a turtle. All turtles I know of have a curve to their backs, not flat. I’m not sure many ancients spent much time trying to determine such questions one way or the other, things seemed to be much more labor intensive back then. If you were to ask me if the weight of a planet “xyz” was heavier than earth’s or lighter, I might not know which way to guess, but it probably wouldn’t concern me one way or the other. If a biblical charature didn’t know the shape of the earth, what concern would it be to them? It wasn’t like they were trying to impose belief of one shape over another.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,
    The moderation bug might be fixed. I cleaned out a bunch of old entries of garbage groups of letters which spammers had used. I don’t see why (as they don’t match the names of people who were having all their comments moderated) but so far today it seems to be behaving much better.
    It is also often better to watch your language. A lot of words or phrases will cause a comment to be held in moderation. While I’ll probably put it through, this could delay a comment from appearing. Multiple links in a comment will also trigger moderation.
    Then there are often comments which get held and I cannot figure out what triggered it.

  11. 11
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    No worries, I’m happy either way, moderated or not. yes I know about phrases: “Ron is wrong” would cause a comment to be held, no doubt :)
    Just joking, I can’t say enough times how I appreciate you taking all opposition I and others throw at you. You are as tolerant as I can hope for you to be. (Despite you being WRONG so often, LOL!) Mike

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Actually the new programming does not place a comment in moderation for saying “Ron is wrong.” It will cause a strong electronic shock through your keyboard and then your monitor will start shooting out high levels of radiation.

  13. 13
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    No it doesn ..Buzzzz! Aaaggh!

  14. 14
    Roger from Solar Power Facts says:

    That distinction only holds as long as we have very exact definitions of scientist and believer.  The reality is that we are all a bit of both.  I teach science and have studied science, yet I see no reason why any of that study or knowledge should preclude faith.

  15. 15
    Greg Forest says:

    Hey Mike,
    I was offered a job in Tenn once. In Nashville.  It was an awesome job at Gibson guitars.  I was almost in the seat when I asked my departing friend why he was leaving such a cool job. Honestly.  He pointed to the four corners, “In every direction from where we’re standing, extending about four blocks is Music Row. Its a great creative and liberal place. Problem is, right beyond that is a dark realm of ignorance called Tennessee.”
     
    And…
    “It wasn’t like they were trying to impose belief of one shape over another.”
    Intelligent Geography?
    From what I can tell from the bible it mentions the “roundness of the earth,” but if you look at the whole god-correct picture the earth is round like a  pancake, it floats on deep water and the sky is held up by a canopy supported by four pillars.  The dome of the sky is close enough to Earth to build a tower to. The tower of Babel was mankind’s first space program.
     
     

  16. 16
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Greg, thanks for the feedback. As you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t claim the ancients saw the earth as a sphere. I did claim and will expand here that despite a vast amount of violence recorded in the Bible, Christians weren’t oppressing anyone over what people believed the shape of the earth was. The oppression of science and scientists by “so called” Christians came much later by people who were not following the tenants of Christianity. Ultimately people believe in what they find most reliable. I call this faith. My faith and understanding in gravity it quite strong, every time I drop a rock, it goes down, if I let go of a Helium filled balloon, I don’t give up on my faith in gravity, I just either learn more about some of its charaturistics or I might get stumped but still believe. If I find person A to be honest, that doesn’t make everyone else liars. I find God in my life as reliable, it doesn’t make everyone and everything else unreliable or false. If I don’t understand something it doesn’t cause me to throw away my faith. If someone finds their understanding of science ( is it too much for me to say no one knows all science except for maybe “Q” on Next Gen. Star Trek), more reliable, more dependable, more helpful and useful to navigate life, well, I wish them the best. I put my trust in the Lord and lean not unto my own (limited) understanding.

  17. 17
    Greg Forest says:

    Hi Mike,
     
    Thanks for your comments.  This is a great board – the participants seem unusually smart, eloquent and darn good typists.
     
    I am agnostic myself but believe that whatever works for the individual, is fine for THAT   person.  I have seen many cases where faith, regardless of the truth, has been beneficial.  So if faith works for you, more power to you. I certainly wouldn’t want to deny you something that works to the betterment of your life.
     
    The problem I run into is that many people insist that their faith work must for me too.  I am not quite right in the head unless I adhere to their theological template. Even that doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is the glorification of ignorance that seems to be prevalent in modern day Fundamentalism.  I’m one of the few, the proud, who think that what you don’t know CAN hurt you.
     
    I mean for heaven’s sake – Intelligent Design is an oxymoronic  term if there ever was one. And we have seen the efficacy of abstinence-only sex ed in the example of their standard bearer, Bristol Palin.  Am I the only person who is scratching  my head when she gets up, babe in arms, and tells folks that abstinence is the only 100% effective form of birth control? I can’t argue the point because its true, you don’t have sex – you won’t get pregnant, but there are other 100% methods, such as cutting off your genitals. Now that is a method , truly effective and backsliding is impossible – especially if said excised genital are run through a shredder during the procedure.  I think they have already deployed this system in some parts of North Africa at least for women. Perhaps they could start testing in Tennessee.
     
    I am willing to pay more respect to people of faith when they learn to reciprocate.
     
    And regarding what the ancients knew about the natural world, it wasn’t much.  It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the need for cell phones and iPods arose and the Enlightenment came about.
     

  18. 18
    Greg Forest says:

    PS
     
    “The oppression of science and scientists by “so called” Christians came much later by people who were not following the tenants of Christianity.”
     
    Exactly my point – most people today claiming faith and battling science are not following the tennants of Christianity.  Its been that way since Paul hijacked the theology.
     
    If God is Truth, believing lies will get you no closer to him, eh?
     

  19. 19
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Assuming you mean intelligent design in contrast to the supporters of it, I get what you are saying despite disagreeing. If you actually mean the words “intelligent” and “design” are oximoronic, I would strongly disagree. If I asked you to design a machine that could do what a human hand can do, could you design it accidentally without intelligence? Given your comments about genitals, I would suggest to keep that machine away from that area. As far as the intelligence on this blog site as opposed to all the meaningless name calling on other sites, that is by the design of the creator of this site. Oops, did I say creator, sorry, didn’t mean to offend anyone.

  20. 20
    Greg Forest says:

    My compliments to the intelligent designer of this site! Hope the trolls don’t find it.
     
    I love the Fundi argument that evolution is like going to a junkyard, throwing everything in the air and it lands on the ground as a fully operational Boeing 767.  A bit disingenuous perhaps when you don’t factor in a couple other variables.
     
    Throw the junk up repeated at a rate of  about 1,000,000 times a day (microbes have short lifespans & quick breeding cycles). The parts that fit get to stay, the parts that don’t fit get tossed again. Do this 1,000,000 times a day for 4,000,000,000 years and we should have not a 767 but a star ship!
     
    And my name-calling is all meaningful :)
     
    The genital quip was just to show that there are many effective, if unreasonable solutions to teen pregnancies & STDs. Abstinence is just one of many bad ideas – just a bit more palatable.
     
    Reviewing some of my previous posts, I have to take myself off the list of illuminated typists.
     
    Regardless of what we believe it makes for fun and entertaining rhetoric and I appreciate your feedback.
     

  21. 21
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Hmm, ten minute break and about three issues to respond to. I guess, I’ll try to cover the shortest one. I love to attempt to use humor in explaining things and I see humor in what you say too. But I actually didn’t realize you were being funny about typing skills here. I took it as a genuine compliment until I put it in context of later posts. Its all good though, I’ll make a couple of spell checked comments later :)

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    The trolls have found the site. That’s why various methods are used to attempt to screen comments which generally keep out the troll comments but unfortunately sometimes also picks up comments that should go through.

  23. 23
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Greg – regarding the throwing the junk up and having it land on the ground one million times a day for 4 billion years, the problem is the parts will get mangled, damaged and eventually broken down to sand or dust. This isn’t a flippant attack on your model, it is, what I consider a real problem for evolutionary theory. It is called entropy and it is the process of things moving from order to disorder.

    Another model I’ve heard is someone walking on a beach and finding a high quality watch that is keeping the correct time, indistinguishable from a Rolex under any test, the Rolex name appearing to be engraved on it, and concluding: “This item must have just happened by chance”. It is great logic if you want an excuse not to look for a maker or an owner. I don’t know how watches are made, I don’t know much about how a tasty almond becomes an almond tree, but if I saw a spaceship, I’d be betting my money on someone having made it against everything just happing to have fallen into place.

  24. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    That’s not a problem for evolution at all. Entropy doesn’t really apply as there are complex systems to preserve order. There are mistakes made (mutations) but the theory handles them. In most cases they result in offspring not being viable and that individual doesn’t make it. Occasionally a random mutation is of benefit and gives some a survival advantage.

    The Rolex example has nothing to do with evolutionary theory–it is yet another example from those who don’t understand it. Evolution is not about things happening by chance (although chance events can impact evolution).

  25. 25
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Ron- I’m not claiming to know anthing I don’t know here, I’m not an evolutionary theory expert and you say their is something like complex systems that perserve and theory handles these issues. Maybe so, but I look at a watch and say something intelligent must have made it, I look at a butterfly and come to the same conclusion, if evolution designs the butterfly then evolution must be intelligent and plans very well. You say entrophy wouldn’t or doesn’t apply to evolution, but would you admit it would apply to the building of a spaceship by throwing parts in the air which is the example being used above?

  26. 26
    Ron Chusid says:

    Evolution is not like throwing parts in the air. You can make an analogy between the two but, as is often the case with analogies, there are also vast differences.

    Evolution explains how complex organisms such as the butterfly can exist without requiring soemthing intelligent to make it. There is no intelligence or planning to evolution–evolution is not a conscious being so these concepts do not apply.

  27. 27
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    As a conservative, maybe this will make more sense to you. Think of Adam Smith’s invisible hand which (in theory) leads to vast economic development without a need for government intervention. An intelligent designer is not needed. A community of small simple businesses turns into one with thriving bigger businesses. Evolution is like an invisible hand which enables simple organisms to ultimately develop into more complex ones.

  28. 28
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Greg, could you clarify what you mean when you say abstinence is bad? Some reported that the Bush abstinence only government education program was a flop. The facts are unknown to me, but I tend to believe all gov. programs are bad unless proven otherwise. But I do believe parents should teach abstinence to their kids. I am not saying the following is your position, but I would ask, what would you think of a parent who said to a high school kid, I suggest you don’t fool around till you are 18, but if you do, here is condoms and a credit card to get a motel room. To me that would be as bad as telling immigrants, don’t come into the country illegally but then setting up stations of provisions, accommodations and maps to help them through their journey, because they were going to do it anyway, might as well make it as safe as possible. Again, I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, just asking what you mean when you say abstinence is a bad idea.

  29. 29
    Fritz says:

    Mike, there are many complex systems that evolution cannot replicate.      Evolution tends to produce structures from what is available and where changes each produce something usable (or at least not deletorious).  So you get things like the famous panda’s thumb (a thumb that is not really a thumb or a finger, but an extension of a wrist bone, because, well, it was there).
     
    This is why creationists try to find examples of “irreducable complexity” — where is system cannot come from a succession of changes in a simpler system.  The classic case is DNA encoding information for proteins that are in turn necessary for DNA synthesis.  But RNA both encodes information and can promote reactions as protein enzymes do.

  30. 30
    Mike's I.P. alter-ego says:

    Ron- that is scary to me, it does make more sense to me thinking of it that way. (Granted I’m not familiar with Adam Smith) but the growing developing business, absent of any real master plan but just kind of growing in an incidental, reactionary way. Of course something making sense is not the same as believing in it. :)

  31. 31
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Greg: I think I’m the one who invited you to TN. I think liberals are a dying breed in the whole state, although Davidson County (Nashville) is the only county that carried Obama.

    Went to your web site to get permission to quote briefly from your 1st post about a particular Texas legislator. I’ve always maintained that east Tennesseans migrated to east Texas – they all have a nasal twang and they all think(?) alike. Anyway, I’m giving this fabulous blog and you credit for your wonderful insight.

  32. 32
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “I think liberals are a dying breed in the whole state, although Davidson County (Nashville) is the only county that carried Obama.”
     
    Sullivan County, where I live, went for McCain by a huge margin. Mind you, my neighbors are (by and large) the people Bob Corker’s ‘bimbo’ ads prominently showing Harold Ford dating white women were targetting. That should tell you something about how many votes Obama was going to get here.
     
    There is hope on the liberal side. Judging by the statistics, every single Obama voter had an Obama sign in their yard. So the liberals we do have here are particularly loyal. For another sign of hope, one of the security guards at my last job, is an old, retired, white, Southern Baptist minister who swears he could never vote Republican because they just don’t care enough about people. So there are liberals around here. We’re just massively outnumbered.
     

  33. 33
    Eclectic Radical says:

    This is an old post, but it’s also worth noting that religious fundamentalists also reject religious teachings that conflict with what their pastor tells them religion is. The idea that we should be good neighbors to all mankind is replaced by the idea of ‘Christian charity’ in which Christians are only required to be good neighbors to their fellows. Rather than the story of the eye of the needle and the camel having any validity, true believers will be given riches by God and the poor must not be right with God. Rather than ‘rendering unto Caesar’, believers must seek to dominate the state and impose their morality on all.
     
    The incompatibility of Christian fundamentalism with Christianity can truly be horrifying.
     

  34. 34
    Christoher Skyi says:

    Both global warming alarmists (i.e., people who don’t really understand science and just read the headlines) and those who reject science in favor of “God” have a common enemy: Doubt. It’s not to be tolerated.  Hence the the belief “there is a consensus”
     
    Feynman has something to say to those who believe that there is such as thing as  scientific “consensus” that removes doubt (global warming alarmists):
     
    Scientists Must Stick Their Necks Out
     
    ” Of course this means that science is uncertain; the moment that you make a proposition about a region of experience that you have not directly seen then you must be uncertain. But we always must make statements about the regions that we have not seen, or the whole business is no use.”
     
     
    “Physicists had hands-on experience with uncertainty, and they learned how to manage it. And to treasure it- for the alternative to doubt is authority, against which science had fought for centuries. “Great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance,” Feynman jotted on a sheet of notepaper one day, “to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed.” This became his credo: he believed in the primacy of doubt, not as a blemish upon our ability to know but as the essence of knowing . . . If you thought before that science was certain- well, that is just an error on your part.”
     
    To those who need God and Certainty, Feynman had this to say:

     
     
    “”I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about a little, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.” —The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman (edited by Jeffrey Robbins), 1999″
     

  35. 35
    Ron Chusid says:

    Christopher,

    Of course there is always some degree of doubt in science, but that does not change the fact that there is a consensus on climate change. There is a tremendous difference between the differences coming from the rare scientist and the denialism coming from conservatives and libertarians when the science conflicts with your political beliefs.

    Coming up with names such as “global warming alamists” does not change the fact that these are the people who are following the scientific consensus and therefore are not comparable to those who deny evolution. It is the global warming denialists who are showing the exact same mind set as those who deny evolution.

    Both global warming denialism and creationism represent a rejection of science when it conflicts with one’s religious beliefs. In the case of many conservatives and libertarians, the political/economic beliefs are essentially religious beliefs which are held based upon philosophical convictions which, while often honorable in promoting liberty, wind up rejecting facts in a religious manner.

  36. 36
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “there is a consensus on climate change.” Yes, there is — the climate is changing.  Every climate scientist out there believes that, if for no other reason than the climate temps. are always tending either lower or higher in the long term.  There’s never been time in history when the climate wasn’t changing over the long term. Everything changes over the the long term.
     
    Is there a consensus on causal factors?  Not really.  Every scientists agrees C02 is a variable.  Is it the only variable?  How do the diff. variables interact?  Here there is great uncertainty.  Yet that’s what you’ve got to get a handle on to make any sort of reasonable predictions.
     
    In short, too many people, like John Kerry, take the projections of the models as fact or near fact because, of course, “there is a consensus on climate change.” They think it’s a consensus about one thing, whatever that is, and that one thing spells end of the world unless we do something now.  That’s about the level of thinking they do.  To add specifics to their “thinking,” they just absorbe the latest headlines and watch “The Day After Tomorrow.”   They don’t have a clue . . .

  37. 37
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Is there a consensus on causal factors? “

    The key point to the scientific consensus with regards to contradicting the global warming deniers is the consensus on the human role in climate change.

    The problem is not that people who respect the work of scientists actually in the field cannot distinguish real science from movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow.”  The problem is those who repeat right wing talking points as fact and deny the science–they are the ones who “don’t have a clue…”

  38. 38
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Electic- your comment: The incompatibility of Christian fundamentalism with Christianity can truly be horrifying.  Aren’t you mearly hitting a point about humanity in general? Don’t fundamentalist Shiites have problems with Sunnis and visa versa?  The conflicts with Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda weren’t based on religion or race, but were as horrifying as anything else.   I could rattle of cliche after cliche here, but “man’s inhumanity to man” , I mean what’s new?  How do we attack this problem? ….I’m starting with the man in the mirror…OMG! I didn’t go there! :) 

  39. 39
    Fritz says:

    There is a lot of dispute on the effects of a warming climate.  Some models predict droughts and floods, massive desertification, gigantic storms, etc.
    But since we know (from pretty solid data):
    1.  The Earth is currently at a very low point in both temperature and atmospheric CO2 (yes, on scales of tens of millions of years, not on scales of thousands of years)
    2.  When the Earth was both warmer and with much higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, it was lush and quite thoroughly inhabited
     
    I suspect the predictive value of our models is limited.  In short, even if the temperature aspects of the models are right, I doubt the climate aspects will be accurate.
     

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