Science and religion: Do your own damn Google search

January 7th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

God-and-scientist

Why is it that a bible-believing scientist’s views on science are automatically discounted by some people?

I usually try to avoid the “R” issue, except that Ethan Epstein of the Weekly Standard chose to take a swipe at me in his otherwise good article on our dean of climate skeptics, Dick Lindzen.

Normally, I just ignore this stuff, but my e-mail has been blowing up in the last couple of days. So, against my better judgment, here are some thoughts on the subject…more for the benefit of those who are more outraged than I am (I expect to be attacked).

First, the hypocrisy. When warmist scientists like Sir John Houghton use the Bible to support action to fight global warming (e.g. his book Global Warming: The Complete Briefing) that was OK with everyone. Same with Katherine Hayhoe and Thomas Ackerman.

So, I guess it depends upon whether the bible-believer agrees with them before the warmists decide to trash Bible-believing ways.

In the case of global warming skeptics, I suppose the accusation is part of the assumption that bible-believers feel that “God is in control”, and so everything will turn out OK no matter what we do. Go ahead and pump all the CO2 into the atmosphere you want. The Big Guy will take care of it.

Except that I don’t put myself in this class. I readily admit that we have more than enough nuclear weapons to virtually wipe out humanity. I admit that evidence of human pollution can be found in almost every corner of the world.

In other words, we know that humans are capable of creating a huge amount of misery for ourselves, which we have done repeatedly down through history. Catastrophic global warming could, at least theoretically, be just one more example of this.

Except that I view CO2 as one of those cases where nature, on a whole, benefits from more of our “pollution”. The scientific evidence is increasingly supporting this position.

This is not a big stretch considering that CO2 is necessary for life to exist on Earth, and yet only 4 molecules out of every 10,000 in the atmosphere are CO2. Venus and Mars have atmospheres that are almost 100% CO2; life on Earth, in contrast, has sucked most of it out of the atmosphere. No matter how much we produce, nature automatically takes out 50% and uses it.

Epstein incorrectly assumes that I support the wording of all of the positions of the Cornwall Alliance, as stated in their Cornwall Declaration. But the Director of the Cornwall Alliance knows I don’t. We’ve discussed it.

Nevertheless, I still support the work of Cornwall. Seldom does a member of an organization agree with all of that organization’s stated positions.

Why do I support it? The central reason is I believe that current green energy policies are killing poor people.

Anything that reduces prosperity kills the poor. This is the single biggest reason I speak out on global warming, and why the Cornwall Alliance speaks out against policies which end up hurting the poor much more than they help.

Radical environmentalism is interested in seeing more people dead than alive. I don’t care what their press releases say. I’ve debated enough of these folks to know that their biggest complaint is that there are too many people in the world.

Some have claimed that the Earth would be just lovely without any humans. (Extra points for anyone who can spot the oxymoron there).

On a more superficial level, the accusation is often that the Bible-believing scientist “rejects settled science”, in my case the naturalistic “explanation” for the origin of life. How can anyone trust a climate scientist who rejects “settled science”?

Except this claim reveals an appalling lack of knowledge on the part of the accuser. In general, nothing in science is ever settled. And in particular, no one knows how life arose from non-living matter. It remains a mystery today.

Belief in the naturalistic origin of life is just as religious as the belief in a creator. Even well-known evolutionists have admitted this.

The scientific evidence for a “creator” is, in my opinion, stronger than the evidence that everything around us is just one gigantic cosmic accident. I have no trouble stating that — and defending it — based upon science alone. No need to quote the Bible.

But why should any of this matter for real, observable science, like climate change? Belief in macroevolution is a religion, not science. It is an organizing system of thought, a conceptual model of origins, a worldview, which the evolutionist must fit all of his observations into.

The only explanation I can think of for the Weekly Standard swipe at me is that Mr. Epstein is one of the great sea of journalists who has a considerable breadth of knowledge of many subjects, but only limited depth.

Epstein is probably not aware that science is based upon a set of assumptions — unprovable assumptions. That nature is real. That humans are capable of knowing its true nature. That nature is unified.

The existence of the universe itself violates either the 1st or 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics. That’s why cosmologists must invent physics no one has ever observed to explain how everything came to be.

Is that “science”? Really?

Epstein doesn’t understand that even atheist scientists are also guided by their religious belief that there is no creator. All scientists interpret data based upon their preconceived notions.

In Earth science, I find most researchers believe nature is fragile. But that is not a scientific position, it is a religious one. No less religious than my view that nature is resilient.

In short, there is no such thing as an unbiased scientist.

Furthermore, apart from religious considerations, not all scientific problems are created equal. Surely even journalists are capable of understanding that.

For example, the force of gravity is relatively simple, and we can predict the position of the planets far in advance with great accuracy because gravitation is just about the only force that needs to be considered in those calculations.

But the complexity of the climate system, and especially how it varies, is orders of magnitude more difficult to understand. It currently exceeds our ability to usefully predict its future state. Who can look at the epic failure of the climate models to explain past (let alone future) tropical temperatures over the last 30+ years, and still think that scientists can foretell climate?

And if scientists ever are able to “create life” in a test tube from non living chemicals, through all of their hard work and creativity, exactly what will that have proved?

That life could have arisen by chance? Really? Think about it.

Furthermore, life has to do more than just come into being. It has to reproduce. How does that happen by chance? Researchers have computed the probability of it happening to be essentially zero.

I’m afraid my faith isn’t strong enough to believe in such silliness.

And if you are going to comment, “Exactly what research shows all of this, Dr. Spencer?” Well, to paraphrase (and with apologies to) William F. Buckley, Jr., “Do your own damn Google search.”


217 Responses to “Science and religion: Do your own damn Google search”

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  1. John 1.1 says:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And it still is sir.

    • Dennis J. Feindel says:

      Yes, the Word from God is God but there’s one problem with this statement…Why are there 137 different religions in America that use the Bible as their source for inspiration?? They all can’t be right.

      The Bible has a Metaphorical understanding in it’s meanings. This is the answer to this question. Wisdom, Knoledge and Understanding is true only if one stays out of the so called “box.” To keep an open mind is an obsolute neccessity to experience the real nature of God and His Universe…Also…Keep it simple.

  2. Doc Stephens says:

    Thank you for offering this. After reading it, I wished I could write with such clarity.

    As noted previously, when no substantive argument can be found, ad hominems abound. The condescension in their tone is a sign of their ignorance and arrogance, a frightening combination.

    Keep educating us. You are greatly appreciated for helping us understand atmospheric science.

  3. Andrew says:

    While I don’t personally agree with you, Roy, on this issue, what I fail to understand is why your views on religion or biology have any bearing whatsoever on your credibility as a scientist on the issue of climate.

    And could this person really have not realized the irony of calling you “less credible” while citing your collaborator John Christy as a credible scientist?

    Then again I would just be glad not to be linked in with the likes of Judith Curry.

    • Not sure what you have against Judy, Andrew. But thanks for the intellectual honesty. :-)

      • Andrew says:

        It dates back to the days before she suddenly realized “hey, maybe the science isn’t all there after all” and she was whining about Rush Limbaugh on Climate Audit.

        I’m not being cute, that’s literally what happened.

        • well, I’m all for conversions. :-)

          • Andrew says:

            I feel like quoting James Eli Watson would be in poor taste, but the interested reader can look up what he said about Wendell Willkie.

            Well, fair enough I suppose.

          • Mark in Toledo says:

            man, i am GREAT with conversions. If Dr. Curry was a believer and then realized that her position was no longer tenable, that shows incredible humility and integrity. It is just one more reason to really respect her.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Dr. Spencer, you are much needed source of common sense in a world rife with misinformation (and disinformation).

    Please, please, will you add Facebook and Twitter “Share” functionality to your blog posts? Your views need a wider audience.

    And it would be great if you would join Facebook and share your posts there!

  5. Russell Cook says:

    Remember that the AGW’ers equate skeptics with Creation Science, an outgrowth of the Tweet by presidential candidate Jon Huntsman ( https://twitter.com/JonHuntsman/status/104250677051654144 ) over Rick Perry’s statements on AGW & creationism. It’s a counter-intuitive tactic, since the two topics are mutually exclusive when it comes to science facts. If anything, creationism is more in line with the manner in which CAGW followers make up stuff to keep their ideology alive.

    And if they aren’t slamming you on the ‘R’ topic, the go after the excess Exxon-Mobil money you use to start fires in your fireplace.

    Idiot that I am on IPCC / NIPCC science conclusions, it’s the character assassination efforts against skeptics that sways me to the skeptic side. When it is a first-resort tactic employed from the inception created by a small group of enviro-activists, that indicates Gore et. al were never all that confident in their conclusions. How I wish you’d relay this otherwise little-explored topic to a certain radio personality you know….

  6. gray says:

    I am only interested in Dr Spencer’s MEASUREMENTS,
    and those of other organizations trying to get a handle on the facts.

    Religion is completely irrelevant to such mundane matters – provided nobody is actually suppressing “awkward numbers”.

    The blog of Dr Spencer – anyone can find useful things in it and its comments – or not – as they wish. The libraries are still open for those of us who wish to do their research the old-fashioned way, instead of trolling and flaming away as if it mattered.

    • GTR says:

      “Religion is completely irrelevant to such mundane matters” – religion is something that tells you what to think, how to behave, even what clothes you wear or what food you should eat.

      • Nylo says:

        Not really. Religious organisations try to do all of that, yes, but not religion itself. Religion is a personal option and anything you decide to do or not do based on your religion is strictly a personal choice. Many religious people willfully do things that they know that the thinking heads of their religious organisations would dislike. Still, they do them because of their personal views regarding religion. Religion and its implications are a personal choice.

  7. Will Delson says:

    I find that there is enough conflicting science published that I have to somewhat rely on trust and that trust is built over time. I look for people who seem to approach every issue objectively; who don’t use hyperbole; who admit when they’re wrong or concede a point that doesn’t necessarily support their position; who don’t advocate a political agenda; who don’t try to shut down debate; etc.

    I really don’t care whether or not that person is a believer or not since I think those who objectively seek the truth are all leading humanity in the same direction.

    Over the years, I’ve grown to trust both Drs. Pielke although I have no idea what their beliefs are regarding a creator. Likewise, I’ve grown to trust you and Dr. Christy regardless of your beliefs.

    • Arfur Bryant says:

      ["I really don’t care whether or not that person is a believer or not since I think those who objectively seek the truth are all leading humanity in the same direction."]

      An excellent maxim, Will. I fully agree.

      “Amen to that, brother!” :)

    • Col A says:

      The primary functioning phrase here is

      “OBJECTIVELY SEEK THE TRUTH”.

      if you can not do that then it is gooblygook!

      Dr Roy is also correct when he says that each persons beliefs influence their thinking only with this realization can you start to be objective.

  8. Bret says:

    I’m surprised you did any more than just laugh at your mention in the Weekly Standard article. Lots of emails because of it? My imagination must be lacking because I can’t imagine what people are emailing you about.

    My feeling has always been that if the “earth and its ecosystems,” for whatever reason, were not “robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting,” then life wouldn’t've made it this far and we wouldn’t be here to interact on your blog and have a debate about the climate.

    • …at least until we go over that tipping-point cliff, Bret. ;-)

    • David A says:

      Of course, life has never before had to deal with a species capable of manipulating the climate….

      • Chip Nihk says:

        Public Science has ZERO CREDIBLE evidence that humankind is capable of ‘manipulating’ anything other than deforestation and desertification, which increases CO2 not because of the trivially inconsequential use of fossil fuels, but because it destroys the only O2 engine, plant life. Instead their Voodoo Science AGW theories are flaming out faster than Comet ISON.

        When was the last time a Warmist-Globalist chewed on their sweater over deforestation, tilth loss and desertification? Never! They have deforested 880,000 square MILES last year for more negative-yield GMO biofuels plantations, driving millions of campesanos and artisanals and aboriginals off their freeland holdings, spiking the price of human food grains, putting 100,000,000 3W children at risk of Famine.

        When was the last time a Warmist-Globalist chewed on their sweater over the Starvation of humankind in the 3W. Never!

        .: the only possible conclusion is Warmist-Globalists are anti-human, agitproping, pseudo-government TAX LOOTERS. And Globalist-in-Chief Kerry intends to make that his priority.

      • Joe Born says:

        “Life has never before had to deal with a species capable of manipulating the climate.”

        Nuggets like this are why I like Web surfing. Until now I had thought that cyanobacteria and other organisms had affected the atmosphere much more profoundly than man had.

        Thank you for the edification.

        • Pete Brown says:

          “Until now I had thought that cyanobacteria and other organisms had affected the atmosphere much more profoundly than man had.”

          Also, trees….

      • philjourdan says:

        And it still has not. Arrogant little twit, aren’t you.

      • DirkH says:

        David A says:
        January 7, 2014 at 8:58 PM
        “Of course, life has never before had to deal with a species capable of manipulating the climate….”

        Algae has been doing it for millions of years by emitting Dimethylsulfid.

        Photosynthetic plants have CREATED climate by creating an oxygen atmosphere.

        Photosynthetic plants remove CO2, therefore stabilizing its concentration etc etc, Oh Lord, I could go on for miles like this…

      • Kneel says:

        Photosynthesis, anyone? That would have to be the driver of the biggest climate (atmospheric chemistry) change ever on this planet – from vitually zero free O2, up to current levels. Imagine the number of anaerobic metabolisers killed by this toxic waste product…

  9. Aaron says:

    Very interesting, Science is just like religion in many ways. You either believe in a universe of chaos or a universe of order, presided over by God. The fact that this universe has some order to it tells us that there has got to be an organizer.

    Anyway, I’ve got a link to an article that talks about how quantum mechanics and general relativity are like science and religion. Thought it would be a nice read http://goo.gl/NwOFqa

    • David A says:

      Hardly — quantum mechanics and general relativity make predictions that are found to agree with observations.

      When religion can do that, let us know.

      • DirkH says:

        Only with the help of inventions like Dark Matter and Dark Energy – I call those protective hypotheses.

      • Kneel says:

        That’s beside the point – which is that no-one is showing where these alleged creationists are wrong on the science, they’re just saying they’re wrong BECAUSE they’re “creationists”. You can’t trust them because they’re fruity as a nut-cake. Odd really, claiming to represent science yet “rebutting” an argumenet with ad-hom rather than facts and logic, innit? Strange that if you have the patience you can rebut a flat-earther’s beliefs easily enough without resorting to ad-hom, yet the first horse out the gate against the ideas of our host is… ad-hom. With the laughable prominence of the tag “anti-science”.
        One wonders whether “own goal” or “shot yourself in the foot” is most appropriate, but I suppose either will do.

    • GTR says:

      “The fact that this universe has some order to it tells us that there has got to be an organizer.” – even here, on earth we have multiple distributed, self-organizing systems, eg. free market, trade networks. With no central economy planners.

      Religion in a sense is like communism, as it believes that a system requires to be managed centrally, by some central manager.

    • Doug Allen says:

      Science and religion are unlike in important ways. Scientific hypotheses must make falsifiable predictions. Religion and pseudoscience, like creation science, do not make falsifiable predictions.

  10. Mark Pomeroy says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    “The existence of the universe itself violates either the 1st or 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics.”

    This makes no sense to me. The first and second laws apply only to the existing, mature universe, so they imply the universe exists. There may have been a time when these laws didn’t apply, but the universe’s existence doesn’t violate either.

    I also don’t understand using probability to describe a single event. There is no probability of the universe coming into existence and I don’t mean zero probability.

    • Mark, a time when the 1st and 2nd laws didn’t apply? Is that not faith? You are making my point for me.

      Regarding the probability issue, it’s the probability that the necessary atoms contained in a highly structured and information-bearing DNA molecule could ever come together by chance, anywhere in the known universe, in as many billions of years you choose to invoke. The counter argument that it must have built up over time through natural selection ignores the necessary DNA-RNA material which must be present in order for reproduction to happen in the first place.

      • JohnKl says:

        Roy S,

        Well stated response. I agree. Aside from the obvious fact that know one observed the origin of DNA-RNA, Watson and Crick didn’t believe DNA-RNA could possibly evolve in the 4.5-5 billion years some conjecture the earth existed. They simply passed the buck to it having formed somewhere else in the galaxy/universe. Unfortunately, for them and Big Bang believers the conjectured age of the universe doesn’t exceed that of the earth’s by very many multiples anyways, not to mention the stupendous improbability of DNA-RNA evolving elsewhere and traveling enormous distances intact only to finally arrive here. In addition to all that, the obvious fact remains that no one has a clue as to what the process of “evolving” DNA-RNA even is. Once formed/evolved (whatever) why would a mere chemical soup replicate itself? It’s as if the evolutionist BELIEVES some animating force in the chemical soup (DNA-RNA or precursors) wants to replicate itself and survive. Do we see this anywhere in the non-living material world? Does a mere collection of chemicals like a rock or pile of salt seek to survive? It already exists. Must it reproduce? Why? Does dirt or sand reproduce? Salt or ice chrystals may form due to the laws of chemical action and or temperature phase changes, but they cannot in any rational sense be said to seek their own survival. Salt doesn’t seek to maintain it’s chemical integrity when water threatens to dissolve it. Obviously the answer is no. There seems to be some mysterious will/ghost in the secular scheme. IMO, it seems to me that while religious people admittedly have faith in a creator to believe the kind of secular inventions restated above or other tales like it requires something even beyond what we normally call faith, like credulity/gullibility or perhaps even myth-making.

        Wikepedia defines abiogenesis as the “natural process” by which living matter arose from non-living. Yet a natural process can only be one observed to have occurred in nature. Redi, Spallanzani, Virchow and Pasteur all proved the Law of Biogenesis that all life comes from pre-existing life and replicates after it’s own kind. Bacteria and micro-organisms once believed to have spontaneously generated or arose from non-living matter it turned out came from other pre-existing organisms of their own kind. IMO, no one other than the creator witnessed the creation of life from non-living matter.

        • JohnKl says:

          Allow me to apologize. The last sentence in my statement should have included created angelic spirits among the possible witnesses. I simply meant humans weren’t around to witness the initial event.

          Have a great day!

          • coturnix says:

            Humans will live to reproduce that evfent, and even more than one of them – perhaps with slightly different biochemistries, as far as laws of nature permit that. Yes, it is faith on my part, similar to the second coming of jesus.

        • JohnKl says:

          Hi Coturnix,

          Thank you for your thoughts. You wrote:

          “Humans will live to reproduce that evfent, and even more than one of them – perhaps with slightly different biochemistries, as far as laws of nature permit that.”

          The first law of motion states that any object in motion must be set in motion by another and the stronger moves the weaker. Likewise modern information theory claims that the information contained in any system must originate from another system of equal or greater information. Kids forced to watch KCET will remember the song “You only get what you give.” As I mentioned above, non-living matter seeks nothing. It has no will to accomplish anything. It simply interacts according to pre-determined laws with it’s environment. Contrariwise all life including the simplest cell seeks to dominate/subdue it’s environment including radiative, chemical and biological material and utilize it for it’s own design/ends and hopefully reproduce.

          Humans may replicate the chemical contents of a living cell including it’s RNA-DNA. It can only be a chemical soup. You may as researchers have already accomplished get a cell to accept your synthesized RNA-DNA into it’s structure. Nevertheless, the only time that synthetic chemical becomes bio-active occurs when a pre-existing life form accepts it. Prior to that it remains just a chemical hodge-podge. A few years ago, a female bio-chemist fed bacteria food laden with arsenic and managed to get the bacteria to replace it’s stores of phosphorous with arsenic due to their atomic similarity. In short, she altered a pre-existing organism and apparently it’s progeny in ways many didn’t expect. Nevertheless, she merely managed to alter a pre-existing form.

          To create life de-novo one must provide it with an independent WILL. Since the only will we have is our own and because as humans we conform to the 1st law of thermodynamics and do not create matter and/or energy from nothing (what do we have that we haven’t been given) but merely seek to re-arrange it according to our whim, that simply translates into making something our tool and not an independent form of life. However, what I’ve just stated has never stopped any number of magicians, charlatans, illusionists etc. throughout the ages from pretending to re-animate corpses (admit it Frankenstein was entertaining), pull rabbits from a hat, or even perhaps develop the theory behind fractional reserve banking. The desire to obtain something from nothing runs through every quackery ever known.

          As to Jesus’s second coming, does it really seem that difficult for Him after bringing the world into existence, performing many miracles and finally resurrecting from the dead and rising to heaven?

          Have a great day!

      • Mark Pomeroy says:

        Dr. Spencer,
        If I am making your point, then I missed your point. First, I didn’t say the laws were violated. I didn’t say they were not. I said it didn’t make sense to ask the question with regard to the universe violating the law. There may be a super-universe where there is an empirical second law for our universe to violate, but the second law describes what things within our universe do and simply does not apply to the existence of the universe itself.
        As to your faith question, faith is knowing something outside the bounds of a list of other ways of knowing things. So, no, constructing a theory about the extent of the validity of thermo laws is not faith. Believing the theory is fact without evidence is faith. When the first law was shown to be invalid, they changed the law, with little theological turbulance.
        My point about probability stands. I hate to indulge in discussion of probability of a single event, but given an infinite number of universes and/or an infinite amount of time (or something similar in the realm outside universes) there might spring forth a universe where living beings would wonder about its origins. Who knows? But the foregoing is nonsense, the universe is what it is and if it were not, we would not be here to wonder about it. It has not a probability of existence in its current state, it is simply the way it is. Nonsense does not suggest intervention by a supreme intelligence nor does it suggest the converse.

      • coturnix says:

        Dr spencer, you live in america, you know what tornadoes are. What are the chances these moderatly organized, rotating columns of air could come about by chance? I’d say zero, no one ever seen them appewring by chance. Yet they happen all the time! Did god create them, or are they naural? May be, we should start worshiping zeus or boreas?

        • Chip Nihk says:

          Que? What are the chances a fluid air mass surrounding a 600- mph-rotating and violently irregular ovoid rock traveling 17,000 mph through space would remain wholly undisturbed and laminar? Fluid vortex motion is as natural as, the evolution of humankind from sand dollars, Evolutionistas now claim.

          Well at least part of our DNA must have come from those sand dollars, because Warmist-Globalists have managed to extract $150,000,000,000 dollars from our back pockets under Obama’s ‘Green Technology’ putsch, in a little under five years. So evolution is true after all, at least Evolution of Fraud.

      • GTR says:

        @Roy – Your fallacy is that you count wrong probabilities. The probability of anything is close to zero if you detail it enough, as each detail decreases probability. Here you assumed specifically a DNA, which is not proven to be a necessary component of life in general.

        Life in general could as well take multiple different forms including likes of silicon-based life, carbon, but non-dna based life etc. We don’t know the full set of possible forms of life, therefore we cannot properly calculate the probabilities of life in general occuring in the Universe.

        The size of the universe itself tough gives a lot of opportunities – hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundred billion stars each.

      • Bob says:

        Roy, “Regarding the probability issue, it’s the probability that the necessary atoms contained in a highly structured and information-bearing DNA molecule could ever come together by chance, anywhere in the known universe, in as many billions of years you choose to invoke. The counter argument that it must have built up over time through natural selection ignores the necessary DNA-RNA material which must be present in order for reproduction to happen in the first place.” Well stated.

        I could come to believe, though unbelievably small, that the necessary atoms could organize themselves into a fully functioning DNA molecule. However, mutations that are ultimately beneficial to the organism, require thousands if not millions of cell divisions. Functioning cell divisions require DNA to be replicated and DNA can only be replicated via DNA poylmerase, a protein coded from DNA itself. So, although the probability of necessary atoms organizing themselves into a highly structured and information-bearing DNA molecule is infinitesimally small, organizing themselves into a DNA sequence capable of producing DNA polymerase so the organisms first cell division can take place, has a probability of zero. It is the ultimate chicken/egg problem.

  11. dorlomin says:

    Dr Spencer you have openly disputed the theory of evolution because of your religious views and stated that “as a scientist” you dispute it.

    This puts you in a different category from someone who claims to act because of religion. You are attacking science and using your credibility gained from an unrelated field to do so.

    • Tim says:

      Apparently only truly intelligent people understand the difference between random chance and structured development. Is the periodic table of the elements based on random chance? Do we see evidence of different chemical elements elsewhere in the universe or other violations of the laws of physics?
      If production of the elements of is not random and follows structured rules, why should development of life be any different?
      The “science” does a lot more to prove that life is structured than random, but it is a lot more complex than the very simple rules for the elements, and that seems to confuse people into thinking it must random. I personally do not see randomness of life as an intelligent conclusion, but it is a popular one for those who wish to believe that evolution must be random. Variability and adaptability do not necessarily imply randomness. The chemical elements and their reactions are somewhat variable depending on reaction conditions and also adaptable (think about equilibrium), but once again much more simplistic than life forms, so maybe that is the problem people have making the extension from seeing that most of the universe is structured, but still thinking life is a random process.

    • Poptech says:

      The irony here being that his views on an field outside of his area of expertise are being used as an ad hominem to attack his scientific views on his field of expertise (atmospheric/climate science).

      I cannot find a religious argument in any of his published climate science papers.

      • David A says:

        But it’s precisely the views outside Spencer’s area of expertise that cast the most doubt on his motives. Like many older scientists, he thinks he knows it all — physics, climate, economics, and evolution.

        Did I miss anything?

        • Col A says:

          Yeah David you missed 1 minor point – you did not understand anything Dr Spencer wrote. He clearly states that he does not know or understand everything and therefor believes in God.

        • Poptech says:

          David, he makes no such claim. There is no rule that you are unable to give your opinion on things outside your area of expertise. It is disingenuous to try and disparage his perfectly valid climate science arguments using a religious ad hominem.

          Do you agree Dr. Spencer is a credentialed climate scientist?

          If so then you should address his actual scientific arguments and not use logical fallacies like this religious ad hominem.

      • dorlomin says:

        “The irony here being that his views on an field outside of his area of expertise are being used as an ad hominem to attack his scientific views on his field of expertis”

        He has placed his credibility as a scientist behind his antievolution stance.

        Then he must face the consequence of a loss of credibility from such a silly stance.

        • Poptech says:

          No he has not. Since he is not an evolutionary biologist, it is not possible for his atmospheric science credentials to be affected in any way by his position on something outside his area of expertise. All it can be used for is as an ad hominem.

          • dorlomin says:

            “No he has not. Since he is not an evolutionary biologist”
            He has used his credibility as a working scientist to endorse the idea that an unrelated field to his is wrong. He has used this blog to make those very same points.

            He has the freedom to believe what ever supernatural entity interferes with the earth that he wants. But when he makes claims about a science while waving his qualifications about, his credibility as a scientist then comes into question. “If this person thinks they can cast aspersions on an entire group of his colleagues(biologists) when evolution is blindingly obviously true, can we trust him to be impartial in his own field where he similarly casts nasty aspersions on colleagues in his own field”?

            It is his credibility to burn on whatever alter he chooses.

          • Poptech says:

            Please quote where he made the claim that his arguments relating to evolution are right based on him being a scientist. I have never heard him make this appeal to authority claim.

      • Doug Allen says:

        I find Dr. Spencer’s views on macrobiology troubling, but they do not invalidate his climate science. Newton had some very strange views on numerology and religion, but they do not discredit his science. There is surely a lot more evidence for macroevolution than for believing the bible is a divine product, although I’m not claiming Dr. Spencer believes it to be a divine product. I don’t know. Many millions of Christians understand the bible as a human product. Many millions of Christians find no conflict between macroevolution and Christianity, the Catholic church for instance.

    • Chip Nihk says:

      The Catholic Church claimed it was the ‘True Science’ (look it up), then proceeded to burn at the stake any Apostates.

      The Communist Party claimed it was the ‘True Science’ (look it up), then proceeded to send off to the gulags Refuseniks.

      Now comes Warmists-nee-Evolutionists, in perfect Catholic, claiming in chanting liturgy that only the Chosen of Public Dole can interpret Laws of Nature, and all others must bow.
      (And please leave your Carbon Tithe in the offering plate.)

      Most of what passes for Science (sic) today, at least in peer-reviewed (sic) journals, is CALP Dialing for Dollars. Everyone in the Cognoscenti knows this, but they demure.
      And that’s how 100,000,000 humans will be AGW-liquidated.

      “But nobody seems to notice, and nobody seems to care…”

  12. dorlomin says:

    “But the complexity of the climate system, and especially how it varies, is orders of magnitude more difficult to understand. It currently exceeds our ability to usefully predict its future state.”

    The climate system is too complex to understand but you understand it well enough to claim

    “Except that I view CO2 as one of those cases where nature, on a whole, benefits from more of our “pollution”. The scientific evidence is increasingly supporting this position.”

    So either we do not understand the climate system or we do understand it well enough to know CO2 is not a problem.

    No doubt you will deny a contradiction.

    • Darren says:

      You do understand the uncertainty present in the English phrase “I view…”?

      Claiming that there is no settled Science and then posting a “view” is not contradictory at all.

      The entire point is to illustrate uncertainty exists in Climate Science just as it does in Evolutionary Science — and about every other form of Scientific exploration… The Religionists in both of those camps claim that all is settled.

      Unfortunately that type of religion stifles the pursuit of Truth — whether that religion is based in Deity or Man’s Science.

  13. MRW says:

    Well, look what they did to Fra Giordano Bruno in Feb, 1600. Now he’s wearing a Hoodie and cast in metal in Campo d’Fiore. The Church still refuses to admit they were wrong, and it had to wait until the 20th C for Niels Bohr to confirm part of what he was saying.

    On another note, how come the Orthodox Jews in science never get accused of being religious?

    • MRW says:

      P.S. I agree with you about the poor. I never got over waking up in the middle of the night about 10 years ago and turning on Public Radio here. It was a BBC interview with a man in Nigeria who was describing, plainly but with a haunting eloquence, what it would mean to have the luxury of electricity at night, how his people could read books, and use the time to create things. He spoke of it as if it were a universe he could only dream of having, but one he could see.

      • Andrew says:

        Destroy white Christianity first (for now the minorities are allowed to be Christian) then Judaism, then minority Christianity, and conveniently enough we’re all dead by the time they get around to Islam.

  14. AlanF says:

    Science by definition is falsifiable. This isn’t true of religion and thats why we dont claim its a science. Nor does it appear to be true of most of what we call climate science. That is sad. Accepting falsifiability of one’s theories is evidence of an open mature and ethical scientific mindset, the opposite is mere bigotry.

  15. Mixing religion and science is not good for either, like alkaline metals and water, best if kept separated. I think.

  16. Peter M says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, Dr. Spencer, and I have not seen any evidence to cause me to doubt your ability to think as a scientist. As you say, it’s not hard to find examples of those who have allowed their religious views to cloud their thinking to such an extent that they cannot be trusted.

    Please keep up the good work.

  17. Stuart L says:

    Off topic sorry.
    But can I ask if our atmospheric oxygen is now 21% and might have been 35% in the past, what would have been our CO2 levels been before photosynthesis converted it to O2

    • Andrew says:

      It is generally thought that CO2 levels in the past were higher because of 1. draw down by the rise of photosynthesizing organisms, and 2. a gradual increase in temperature due to a brightening sun causing a change in the silicate weathering rate. However, the exact levels are highly uncertain. The best we seem to be able to do is place upper limits on how high the amounts could have been based on the geological evidence, and some assumptions.

      For example, suppose the temperature of the Earth were 273 K at 2.8 billion years ago. If so, the maximum level of CO2 consistent with the geological evidence would be about 10x the present level. If the temperature was as high as 300 K then the limit could be as high as X50.

      Keep in mind this is at a time when it is thought the sun should have been only 81% as bright as at present. Those levels of CO2 appear inconsistent with the levels that would be necessary to achieve those temperatures, at least if the climate is very sensitive.

      • coturnix says:

        I heard somewhere that in late-archean the sea-level temperatures were as high as 320-330k and at times reaching whopping 350k. Sounds unbeliveable but it sure does away with faint young sun paradox for good ) Also explains why evolution stranded at bacterial level for a long 2bn years.

        • Andrew says:

          Does away with? No way, if temperatures really were that high the paradox is harder than ever to solve. With a sun dim enough to freeze the Earth over and not enough greenhouse gases to keep it above freezing, actually getting the temperatures *above the present level* is essentially impossible.

          Fortunately this need not be the case, and probably isn’t. This interpretation of the evidence was critiqued by:

          Kasting, J., Howard, M., Wallmann, K., Veizer, J., Shields, G., and Jaffres, J.: Paleoclimates, ocean depth, and the oxygen isotopic composition of seawater, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 252, 82–93, 2006.

          Which argue that the Earth around that time *need not* have been warmer than the present.

  18. Grant says:

    Do you do radio interviews?

  19. Joe Madrid says:

    When I was growing up (am 61) one of the things we were taught is don’t discuss religion and politics. Those were considered private affairs.

    Just a way to personally attack you Dr. Spencer like saying you stutter or something….it is juvenile. Don’t try to answer back that’s what they want. (It is hard!)

  20. DocMartyn says:

    I am an atheist and a scientist, and I don’t give a damn what religion my fellows subscribe to.
    That is the whole point of freedom, political, and personal morality, as an individual.

    I have always liked the abridged scientific description of creation;
    ‘In the beginning there was nothing.
    Then it exploded.’

    • Gorf says:

      Yeah, except there was probably something before the Big Bang, which then exploded. It is possible/probable that a quantum theory of gravity (which we do not yet have) prevents singularities.

    • Gunga Din says:

      Or how about, “God said it and BANG! It happened!”

  21. Ben Skinner says:

    DocMartyn, you claim:

    “I am an atheist and a scientist”

    And then you say:

    “I have always liked the abridged scientific description of creation;
    ‘In the beginning there was nothing.
    Then it exploded.’”

    Which is nothing more than a well beaten theistic strawman.

    “Nothing” has never been observed, is an intellectual construct and therefore cannot factor into a THEORY. I’m sure you, being a scientist, understand the word THEORY. I’m not sure if you understand the word STRAWMAN. But, as Dr. Roy says, do your own damn Googling! I don’t have to support my point of view, YOU do.

    And you, Dr. Roy. You claim that extrapolating observed processes (bacterial evolution, for example) and following the fossil record requires “too much faith” for you… But you have no problem believing that your God is the correct God and is in fact real based on, at the end of the day, nothing more than the say so of your precious abridged edited and rererereleased holy book. Really.

    I sure hope you don’t call yourself a critical thinker, or tell people that you often come to rational conclusions based on logical trains of thought, because that would be bearing false witness, a big no no.

    I don’t judge people on their faith, I judge them on their words and actions. Your words and actions paint you as another wilfully ignorant human who wishes there was a divine blanket to wrap around them. So, so very…. common.

    • Chip Nihk says:

      Ha,ha,ha. You remind me exactly of those shaved head Hari Khrisnas, who used to beat their tambourines in your face:

      “Hari Hansen, Hari Hansen,
      Hansen, Hansen … Give me your wallet!!”

      Oh, wait, Dr. Hansen has quietly bugged out of NASA and stole away with his Hatch Act illegal $1.8M ‘Green Award’ grift, to avoid going to IRS debtor prison.

      So in a way, you could say your faith in Hansen is Religion, he is, after all, merely an Astronomer and Space Physicist,
      whose ‘Weather on Venus’ PhD thesis led to a lifetime of Public Dole to a LifeTime Pension, then a big fat Payola.

      “Pension and Payola! Pension and Payola!
      Get’cher LifeTime Pension and Payola heah!”

      What do you bet Obama pardons Hansen his last day in office?

    • Gunga Din says:

      Reminds me of a line from a song I heard, “One day nothing added nothing to nothing and nothing + nothing = Everything.” 8-)

    • Max™ says:

      Ben, did you just say “I don’t have to support my point of view, YOU DO”… because, what?!?

      I do not have to support your point of view.

      Did you mean to write that differently?

  22. David A says:

    Why is it that a bible-believing scientist’s views on science are automatically discounted by some people?

    Because the Bible makes claims that can’t possibly be scientifically proven, and claims that seem very scientifically implausible.

    So people wonder — if you believe in that unproven stuff, what else that is unproven will you believe in? And on what basis are you forming your opinions, if not science?

    • Bart says:

      “So people wonder — if you believe in that unproven stuff, what else that is unproven will you believe in? And on what basis are you forming your opinions, if not science?”

      A question I would like answered by several of the High Priests of the Church of AGW.

    • Darren says:

      “So people wonder — if you believe in that unproven stuff, what else that is unproven will you believe in? And on what basis are you forming your opinions, if not science?”

      What a silly excuse for selective bigotry — but I do think this phase accurately distils the “agnostic arrogance” of many.

      People of all stripes believe all sorts of unproven things and for a whole host of reasons. Daily life would be impossible if one had to wait for “proven” facts to make decisions and form opinions.

      Science doesn’t even pretend to have rational explanations for a series of topics every scientist has “beliefs” about — even in their areas of expertise.

      There is no problem with that at all, except when some live with the delusion that all their “beliefs” are “scientific”.

    • GTR says:

      And if there was some religion with religious beliefs about climate – then would it believers be credible as climate scientists?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdKU_zvVAno

      • Bart says:

        No, but I do not see why it is germane. Dr. Spencer’s only stated opinion is that he does not believe God will, in general, save us from the consequences of our own folly. I would rather have such an overt proclamation from a scientist than the silence of a crypto-Earth worshiper who secretly believes humans are a plaque and Mother Earth is angry, and no matter the evidence, we must be courting our own doom anytime we do something “unnatural” like burning fossil fuels.

  23. David A says:

    And if you are going to comment, “Exactly what research shows all of this, Dr. Spencer?” Well, to paraphrase (and with apologies to) William F. Buckley, Jr., “Do your own damn Google search.”

    This is simply an admission that you can’t prove your religious claims.

    Which is precisely why so many don’t believe them.

    • Chip Nihk says:

      Whereas Warmist-Globalists assert they can ‘prove’ a mere 400 ppm of a stable biological oxidation product, sucked down to lowest levels not seen in 30,000,000 years by Plant Life, to a near vacuum edge of space equivalent, is magically causing fire to fall from the sky, plagues of boils, seas of locusts and soon Lucifer himself arisen from some fracking borehole.

      Your Warmist-GLobalists beliefs are so antediluvian, so ‘see if it sticks’ New Age Fundamentalist, surely you must have a cracked mirror in your house, with a red skull, candles, and pools of black sacrificed chicken blood to your AGW Golum.

      Nam Myoho Renge Kyoto!!
      Don’t Think, Just Flow!!

  24. Cary says:

    Very well said Dr. Spencer. I appreciate your work and I would love to like and share this essay on facebook. I also think you should send to to the weekly standard and they should publish it.

  25. Bryan says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    The writer of the Weekly Standard article did you a disservice.

    I believe that you are right to respond to the statements he made about you in the article, and that your response pretty much covered it.

    Thanks for all that you do to stand up for common sense and against policies that lead to greater poverty and suffering.

  26. Bil Danielson says:

    Dr. Spencer, you wrote: “The scientific evidence for a “creator” is, in my opinion, stronger than the evidence that everything around us is just one gigantic cosmic accident.”

    Except we have very strong evidence for evolution, and zero evidence for creationism or, for that matter, supernatural being(s). You, of all people, who argues that climatic change can be the result of a long sequence of purely natural, non-random, causation and then rejecting the very same notion in the realm of biology is, well, bizarre.

    And you wonder why journalistic hacks of the Ethan Epstein ilk take pot shots at you?

    I enjoy your scientific work, you’re mysticism not so much..

    • Bart says:

      “Except we have very strong evidence for evolution…”

      Strawman. As the good Doctor queried, how did life begin? Nobody knows. Evolution does not explain it. Evolution does not even attempt to explain it. Evolution only proffers an explanation for how life evolved, not how it began.

      • Espen says:

        Bart, when I (as an atheist) discuss evolution with bible-believing Christians, this is always where the discussion breaks down. Dr. Spencer stated that he doesn’t believe in macroevolution, not just that he doesn’t believe in current theories for the origin of life itself. I think it’s important to make a distinction between the evolution of new species (which is a well established scientific theory) and the origin of the DNA molecules and the first living cells (which is a very open scientific question). So your straw man accusation is invalid.

        • Bart says:

          Bil was arguing that, because Dr. Spencer perceives telltale signs that the universe as we know it is not a random event, he was denying the evidence for Evolution. Yet, Spencer never denied the evidence for Evolution. He implied doubts about its interpretation, but that is not the same thing. The only thing he specifically cited was the lack of an explanation for biogenesis.

          Strawman.

          • Espen says:

            Bart, he writes: “Belief in macroevolution is a religion, not science.” I have the greatest respect for dr Spencer and his scientific work, but IMHO that statement is at odds with a large body of evidence for the evolution of new species.

          • Bart says:

            “…that statement is at odds with a large body of evidence for the evolution of new species.

            No. It is at odds with the orthodox interpretation of said body of evidence.

          • Bart says:

            As a matter of epistemology, an omnipotent Creator could do as he pleased, and plant any type of evidence he liked as a feint. I am not making a claim that such is the case, nor imputing that this is Dr. Spencer’s view. I am merely pointing out an extreme case which demonstrates that other interpretations, which cannot be disproved via formal logic, exist.

            It is not necessary to force a uniform interpretation of such evidence in order for people to perform researches based upon it from a scientific point of view. I have never understood this urge to squelch dissent and impose orthodoxy from on high. It is a tribal instinct, and should not have a place in science.

          • GTR says:

            Bart says: “As a matter of epistemology, an omnipotent Creator could do as he pleased, and plant any type of evidence he liked as a feint.”

            Not only that – an omnipotent being, or even just a super-potent being is not limited to planting evidence, but actually can change the past. Which means if we assume existence of such being then no deduction from the past facts can be recognized as valid. Religion is thus killing thinking.

          • Bart says:

            “Which means if we assume existence of such being then no deduction from the past facts can be recognized as valid.”

            Which means, if we assume existence of such a being, then he might be mischievous, in such a way that no deduction from the past facts could be recognized as valid.

            It is just one possibility, but it is not compelled. And, as far as we can deduce from our limited senses, if He is mischievous, He is not consistently so.

          • Bil Danielson says:

            And all of this is moot IF the universe is actually the metaphysical given; the core idea that few contemplate (although that is, and will have to, change) because it rubs both ways.

            The only way creationists can possibly (and it’s an incredible stretch) still hold to their mystic interpretations of an intelligent design(er) has to do with the idea of the singularity. Physicists have proffered this idea due to some rather convincing interpretations of data (as all of you know) on microwave background viewed in reverse giving rise to the generally accepted idea of an expanding universe. If it actually is expanding, then in reverse given enough time it must have had a point of beginning ergo the singularity.

            So, an unanswered question arises from the singularity: what was there one moment before the big bang? Well, the mystic seized up this unexplained issue and in the grand tradition of mystics proffers God as the answer. So, for the less than 10% of scientists out there who actually still believe in a personal god this serves to give them a very thin (temporary imv) veil of cover for holding to their religiosity.

            The glaring problem though is the one very plausible idea that the universe has always been, that it is the metaphysical given. The idea that there is no such thing as a “beginning.” It simply always has been, it is the fundamental nature of the universe. To get your arms around that idea then supports all of science as we currently know it. And, IMHO, it is the most likely and probable of all possible conceptions of the nature of the universe – big bang or not.

            So, in turning tables on the illogic of many creationists, let’s hear the argument that proves me wrong. What is your evidence that the universe is not, and cannot be, the fundamental metaphysical given? If you cannot prove that wrong, then you cannot simultaneously hold a belief in the supernatural. Unless, of course, you’re totally irrational and then there is no point in any further discussion.

            Last note, Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection is controversial not because of the science (the science is stunningly sound), but rather because it is profoundly anti-design by a creative intelligence. What Darwin demonstrated was that we don’t need a creator/creative force; that entities complex enough to be creative thinkers(such as the human mind) don’t come into existence by magic, they do so through a very slow process that has been painstakingly researched by biologists, geologists, anthropologists, and others. So, these scientists are extremely sensitive to those who would fraudulently inject magic into the process.. And this, more than anything else, is why it is controversial – it precludes and is incompatible with intelligent design of any kind.

    • GTR says:

      We actually have multiple strong cases against the idea of creator. For example – what forces would such creator use to act on universe or life during creation or making changes? The science knows the characteristics of forces – including the unknown ones – and it doesn’t look like any fits.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jar-Wzy1gsI

      • Bart says:

        Quantum indeterminacy. A nudge here, a nudge there. If it’s finely calibrated, the cumulative effect could be enormous

      • Bart says:

        Took a hop skip and jump through the vid. It always amazes me how otherwise brilliant people can be so shallow. And, how their plaintive cries to find no meaning in the universe provide the mirror image of religious fundamentalists who believe everything has a meaning.

        Both sides are desperately seeking a philosophy which provides all the answers. A mature mind, IMHO, understands that there are no overarching answers available, and makes peace with that.

        I do not care if those who believe in a caring God choose to do so. I support the people whose philosophy leads them to do nice things, and treat others with respect. Anti-religious folk are far more in-your-face these days than religious folk, at least in the Western world. And, the totalitarian institutions which ineluctably appear to emerge from their thinking have killed far more people, just in the last century, than all the historic religious wars combined. They are the ones currently conducting witch hunts. They are the ones who today organize the thought police.

  27. Aaron Shunk says:

    “Belief in macroevolution is a religion, not science.”, apparently you don’t think the fossil record is science… My phd is geology and i disagree. The fossil record and DNA strongly support macroevolution and are absolutely science. My biggest fear is that in time if the climate models and the theory of global warming via co2 fail to explain earth’s actual climate, that general science will loose credibility. Dr. Spencer the mixing of science and religion and such statements as cited above are frustrating to me from this perspective. I respect you greatly as a climate scientist, but you are apparently ignorant in the scientific fields of evolution and paleontology.

    Just because there is not currently a generally accepted theory for the origin of life does not necessitate a God to fill the gap in human knowledge; just as a lack of understanding about the earth’s sensitivity to co2 does not require divine process.

    • Chip Nihk says:

      If Evolution Theory and ‘The Fossil Record’ was a sweater, Evolutionists would be picked up by the police as derelict sweater chewers for public indecency. You got more holes in that sweater than Mothra. You got no ‘missing link’ for any of your constantly changing lineages, and zero evidence of evolution in the 300 some years that it’s been a ‘Science’.

      Evolution is clearly unprovable, just a useful way for oil company geologists to find frack. A lovely Deus ex machina. 1,000,000 molecular monkeys on 1,000,000 atomic assemblers, magic random genetic mutation leading from Monkey to Man.

      Now go knit me a new DNA sweater, I wanna see Homo Nextus!

      • Bil Danielson says:

        Utter nonsense Chip, Aaron is precisely correct. The case for evolution is water-tight with or without the fossil record. The fact we have the fossil record is simply strong supporting evidence that to believe otherwise is to simply not fundamentally understand natural selection, and to ignore the actual implication of the fossil record. Please note there has never been a discovery of a single fossil (and scientists such as Aaron can corroborate this) in the wrong geological layer. The fossil record is a marvelous demonstration that no fossil has ever been found before it could have evolved. None. Ever.

        • Tim says:

          Evolution is a sequence of events. Natural selection is a theory for how that happened that is pure speculation. It could very well be true, but it is also possible that there is a much deeper level of intelligence behind human life just as there is the possibility of a higher level of intelligence than human intelligence. Just because most of us are too dumb to imagine anything more complex does not rule it out.

          Adaptability of species is entirely different than evolution of new species. We can observe adaptability in nature, but with the possible exception of bacterial species, nobody can say for certain that natural selection is required. It is not possible to say that a quantum leap to a new species has never happened or is not possible.

          The bigger issue regardless of whether natural selection is at play involves the question of how intelligent life is possible. The fact that there is a framework for life suggests at least the possibility of some kind of intelligent design being involved.

          Lastly, I ask what is wrong with people believing there are rules for human behavior?

      • Aaron Shunk says:

        Agreed, as u say the theory of evolution has helped find oil, and some of the most precise age constraints come from the identification of missing links between species of forams bc these events are so short lived in geologic time. They also provide the most continuous record of speciation that I have seen. With that said if H. heidelbergenis and H. ergaster and H. erectus and A. Afarensis do not fill your gaps in human evolution tightly enough, then I suggest that nothing will because every missing link discovered in essence creates two gaps on either side. The new evidence from DNA that the texture of the modern human fabric is comprised of a mixing of different hominids from the cross breeding with Neanderthal and Denisovians over vast amounts of time also throws a bit of a wrench in a special creation model. I won’t be so bold to say the debate is over bc healthy science always needs multiple working hypotheses but the evidence is so overwhelming that humans evolved that the counter arguments are becoming absurd and based on simple ignorance in understanding the data. To use Roy’s own logic you won’t see what you don’t look at.

        • Bill Hunter says:

          That things are so perfectly orderly so that humans must have evolved is really no different than the argument for God being the creator.

          To claim a superior argument you must fully understand the others argument. For example if God created man uniquely why would he not use essentially the same DNA for all his creatures? I seriously doubt if Roy denies the concept of the Survival of the Fittest! It makes perfect sense that the driver of evolution drives change by at a minimum opening a door for a new specie. In fact, Roy being essentially a conservative may quite likely have a more realistic view of survival of the fittest!

          Then ultimately evolution has exactly zero, zip, nada, no explanation for the emergence of “life”. In fact we probably cannot even accurately define it nor do we we clearly know its boundaries. The classic philosophical debate of the mind/body problem has never been solved so indeed we cannot even define what life is much less have a clue of how it was created.

          Heck we cannot even clearly define the difference between the mind and the body! The free will and determinism debate totally destroys even a logical discussion of it. Do we have free will? Independent of physics? Not preordained as all physics are? If not, then does it matter if we even talk about it?

          Beware of ignorance!

          • GTR says:

            Isn’t your argument basically an argument from ignorance? A well known fallacy, that since we don’t know something therefore God?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

            And don’t you think that the fact that we don’t know somehting yet is somehow related to mundane things like:

            1. Budgets of biology not enough for the task. Physics regularly does breakthrougs after huge projects like Large Hadron Collider or Manhattan Project. The part of biology that deals with the origin of life has no equivalent of these.
            2. Generally our limited information processing capabilities – intelligence of humans, computational power of computers etc. Can it be that with significantly superior processing capabilities we would know more than we know now?

        • Bil Danielson says:

          Thanks Aaron, I suspected you had the goods.

    • Bart says:

      “My biggest fear is that in time if the climate models and the theory of global warming via co2 fail to explain earth’s actual climate, that general science will loose credibility.”

      A very real possibility. Which is why scientists in general should have opposed the rush to judgment of the alarmists before they had borrowed so heavily on our joint account.

      “Just because there is not currently a generally accepted theory for the origin of life does not necessitate a God to fill the gap in human knowledge”

      True, but conversely, it does not necessitate his/her/its removal, either.

      • coturnix says:

        Neither russel’s pink unicorn on mars orbit :-)

        • Bart says:

          I think you would need to define your unicorn in greater detail, and explain why it would need to be pink, or why indeed it should take on the form of a horse with a persistent growth on its forehead, and moreover who Russel is and why he is necessary for this particular theology, in order to gain a following for that particular belief system.

    • Nylo says:

      Aaron, you say “The fossil record and DNA strongly support macroevolution and are absolutely science”.

      The fossil record and DNA strongly support the fact that some species evolved from some others. And strongly support the fact that the evolution happened via DNA mutations and recombinations.

      In addition, we know that such DNA mutations can happen by accident.

      However, there’s no way the fossil record and the DNA knowledge that we have actually proove that the mutations that we know happened in the past and made some species evolve from others… those mutations in particular, actually happened by accicent. That’s a belief. It may be a logical belief, but just a belief anyway. There’s no proof and there will never be that this was the case. Some evolutionary leaps are just too big for me to think that they could have happened by pure coincidence. I tend to think that the evolution process was at least partly guided by who knows who or what, but anyway, it must have been an intelligent being. Not necessarily an all-mighty being. Not necesarily only one. Just some being(s) who had a lot of fun playing with life forms.

      I can perfectly understand that other people prefer to atribute all to pure chance, only because we can prove that pure chance exists, whereas we cannot prove that this sort of intelligent creator does. But it is one thing to know that pure chance exists, and a different thing to be able to prove that it was the real force behind some past events. You don’t want to believe in an intelligent creator? Fine. But should it affect you even a little bit that someone else does? It is a non-settled issue.

      I don’t think the belief in a creator is bad at all, as long as it doesn’t affect what we do that affects others. We should act according to what we KNOW, and not according to what we believe. We should be able to distinguish one thing from the other. That’s all that matters.

  28. alex says:

    “And if scientists ever are able to “create life” in a test tube from non living chemicals, through all of their hard work and creativity, exactly what will that have proved?”

    It would prove that it takes an intelligent being, human in this case, to produce life.

    I remember way back in the 60′s when scientists were doing experiments mimicking what they believed would have been young earth’s primordial soup, trying to find some form of a building block of life inside that boiling broth. Nothing ever came out of those experiments. Chance can never produce the complexity of the most simple strand of the most simple form of DNA, let alone a complete cell that can reproduce itself. The chance of that happening once takes gazillions of years in a gazillion universes.

    Up to now, the nearest that we have come to producing life is by our own intelligence, such as what Venter has done, supporting the hypothesis that life’s origin is intelligence.

    Applying Occam’s Razor would also result in such a conclusion.

  29. ren says:

    Arctic air will not abandon the United States. This is the current pressure distribution in the northern hemisphere at an altitude of 15 km. Polar vortex is still divided.
    http://oi43.tinypic.com/n5hbom.jpg

  30. Sir Isaac Newton would be today characterised as a religious fundamentalist, yet he came up with one or two scientific ideas that weren’t too bad.

  31. Milton Hathaway says:

    I’ve gone back and forth on evolution vs intelligent design over the course of my existence, and I’ve ended up with no strong belief either way. My observations:

    - I see no compelling reason to believe that it must be one or the other, or even that they are mutually exclusive, for that matter.

    - The more familiar I became with optimization theory and practice, the more I doubted the ‘power’ that has been bestowed upon random mutation.

    - Optimization is cool and fun, but it isn’t a magic bullet that can solve any otherwise intractible problem you throw at it.

    - The hardest part of applying optimization for me has been defining a cost function that doesn’t get mired in an infinity of useless local minima. One could say that defining a suitable cost function seems to require ‘intelligent design’.

    - Some of the evolution advocates fret that belief in intelligent design threatens progress in related areas of science. However, I have never found a single example used to support this argument very convincing. If you turn the tables, the example seems to work equally well applied the other way around.

    - For many years, I found the argument that intelligent design is not disprovable very convincing evidence that it wasn’t science. However, I am now covinced that evolution theory suffers from the same lack of disprovability. Instead of an all-powerful ‘intelligent designer’, evolution relies on a belief in the all-powerful force of ‘random mutation’ to magically solve all the intractable stuff we don’t understand.

    So, what would it take to bump me off the fence? I think some progress in computer modeling of some simplied aspects of the basics would be an excellent start.

    Bottom line is that I see a whole lot of evidence that species have come and gone, and a whole lot of evidence of some underlying ‘intelligence’ throughout the process, and I truly don’t know what to make of it. But if you believe strongly one way or the other, that’s fine, but either way you must believe in miracles that lie outside the realm of provable science.

    • Chip Nihk says:

      There is a self-replicating live online computer code, a very simple one, in 2D between two horizons. A fenced flatworm has apparently developed, and is starting to ‘move’. So there’s that. Now if they’d put as much CPU power into that pseudo-evolution model as they’re putting into bitcoin mining or a carbon tithe, we might even see the model worm evolve into a chicken egg, proving, of course, .: Der Wurm kam vor dem Ei!

  32. Hot Potato says:

    Except we have very strong evidence for evolution, and zero evidence for creationism or, for that matter, supernatural being(s).

    I’m glad Roy put “Creator” in quotes, and he chose his words wisely. Not once did he say he envisioned what was responsible for this statistically improbable order in the Universe as a bearded White man in robes playing humanity like a bored puppeteer.

    With the advent of digital technology and the fast approaching Singularity (in fact, I would argue it’s here and the anomalies are quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception), there is now very strong evidence that your vaunted Evolution dogma is increasingly archaic and irrelevant. There is now equally compelling evidence that a crafty programmer, or programmers, cobbled some code together and set a simulation in motion; one where what we call life arranged itself from the code with an initial push. This fits more precisely with quantum mechanics then does the dogma of Evolution as we’ve come to know it.

    I prefer the digitized theory of our existence. It’s incredibly empowering. If we collectively all agreed with it, we could not only move mountains with that faith, we could quite literally create an entirely new Universe or Universes. The possibilities would be endless. The Creator’s code can manifest an infinite number of permutations, and yet we’re stuck in this do loop. The only way out of the loop is momentum, and that requires enough people to realize concomitantly that our “World” can be whatever we want it to be so long as enough of us believe that in tandem. If we build it (metaphorically), we will come.

    • Dear Hot,
      “There is now equally compelling evidence that a crafty programmer, or programmers, cobbled some code together and set a simulation in motion” you forgot to acknowledge Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
      Also “Life, the Universe and Everything”.
      They look like mice, you know?

      • JohnKl says:

        Just remember the answer in that silly book if I remember correctly is 42. Do we really understand the question?

        Have a great day!

  33. Gorf says:

    If someone does not recognize how well theory of evolution fits all available evidence, they are not fit to work within the sciences. Cre(a)ti(o)nists go home.

    • Darren says:

      If someone does not recognize that despite that solid evidence there are still some gaping holes we do not understand should not be in the sciences either.

      • Gorf says:

        Excuse me, ALL of the DNA found on the surface of this planet as well as the totality of the fossil record give testament to evolution. It’s as well founded a scientific fact as anything.

        • Scott says:

          Because you appear to not know the definition of “fact”, I don’t know if you’re even worth hearing, much less listening to.

          -Scott

          • Gorf says:

            An empirically verifiable true proposition is a “fact”, right?

          • Scott says:

            It’s not empirically verifiable. Nothing before the dawn of history is, by definition. Look up the word empirical while you’re at it.

            And given how experiments to see evolution in action have worked out so well, even current empiricism isn’t going so well for you.

            -Scott

        • PeterK says:

          There are no proveable facts…just a theory. Logically we think it should be this way, therefore, we begin treating it as fact when actually no provable facts exist. If you believe the theory is factual then you are practicing a religion.

    • Doug Allen says:

      One of the best examples of scientific observation and reasoning is Darwin’s 1859, Origin of Species. It is beautifully, masterfully, written, and has the modesty and civility so lacking in CAGW and much AGW science. Read it, and you will gain tremendous respect for scientific method, for Darwin, and for his intellectual heroism in the face of some scientific and many religious objections.

  34. Craig says:

    I’d be interested in reading a paper or book by you that expounds a little more on the subject of creationism. Super article, you’re very respected by my little family of 5! :)

  35. Mark Bofill says:

    I think the real root of the religious / scientific credibility question is much more about politics than actual religious belief. Epstein notes:

    One frustrating feature of the climate debate is that people’s outlook on global warming usually correlates with their political views.

    Show me where someone dares to discount what a Muslim scientist has to say based on the fact that he’s Muslim. It doesn’t happen. It’s OK for progressives to show intolerance for Christian beliefs in the U.S., that’s all this is about I suspect. I doubt I’m saying anything anyone doesn’t know, but for some reason it seems to me that some people don’t like to openly admit this.

  36. RichardLH says:

    In most cases I find that one can substitute ‘God’ and ‘chaos/normal distribution’ in offerings from Religion and/or Science and arrive at a proposition that both sides will agree with (with the appropriate substitutions to support their understanding of how this all works).

    The same basic concepts, just a different viewpoint.

    The only time I have a problem with either view is when they withhold or distort actual factual observations.

    Then, from whichever viewpoint the observation comes, I tend to reject it.

    You can view the pyramid that forms at the bottom of an hourglass as divinely pre-determined or the result of ordered chaos. The resultant pile will still look the same.

  37. Rob Farrell says:

    Dr. S:
    My apologies, I am an infrequent visitor to your site. Usually, I’m looking at WUWT where I see your posts from time to time but I “dropped in” this article caught my eye. Long ago I had come to the conclusion that AGW theory was flawed, not that some warming might be possible from CO2, but that the models were not sophisticated enough to accurately characterize climate (but bless the modeler’s souls for trying and to keep it up), the 3X multipliers were wrong, the sun ignored, the data for the basis of AGW theory had been fiddled with too much (in many ways), that the data were misinterpreted frequently and the result was that people were missing natural variation. (I shall not go into all of the “O’s – PDO, AMO, AO, etc.)

    While facts will speak for themselves, sometimes they speak through someone else’s forked tongue (“liars, damn liars and statisticians” with apologies to statisticians as usually its others who take their work and twist it). A politician (not sure whether to say “good” or “bad”) frequently practices misdirection. Counter-plays work in football so why not elsewhere! Character assassination has always been a favored tactic when facts support one’s views, particularly from the intellectually lazy.

    So, comes the article attacking your faith. As a biologist (for decades, now), discussions about evolution have been frequent and my view is that natural selection is a process that can be observed and is real but the jump to evolution as a fact has concerns. A viable theory? Yes. Fact? Well, maybe, but more work to do there.

    And, when the discussion about how the universe was formed and life began gets intense, and particularly if name-calling starts, I say, “Fine, what happened, what was going on, prior to the Big Bang?” The looks have ranged from blank stares, to shock, to anger, or a faint smile (as if, oops! Caught!).

    • Gorf says:

      So what is wrong with the answer that the universe has always been here, i.e. the Big Bang was not the real beginning?

    • Mark Bofill says:

      Didn’t really know whether to reply to Rob or Gorf, either way.

      The problem I’ve always had with the origin of the Universe question is that we either implicity suppose that time exists independently of the universe (in other words, the concepts of ‘before’ and causality have meaning in the context of the universe not existing), or we have committed an error in our thinking. It’s not at all clear to me that time necessarily exists independently of the Universe, although if one can establish this then my objection can be dismissed.

      We don’t have a conceptual framework for dealing with this question. If we are rigorous, I think we’d likely admit we don’t even have a symbolic / linguist framework for working with this question. You can’t rewind past the beginning of the file, remove necessary conditions of causality, and start asking what causes something in my view.

      Just food for thought.

      • Gorf says:

        Nature is full of evidence of evolution, while the bible is just a book written by men. There’s way more evidence for the former. This might not be the most popular viewpoint in the US but that does not make it untrue.

        • Mark Bofill says:

          Gorf,

          Obviously, my argument had nothing to do with evolution. In point of fact, I’m not merely agnostic, I’m an atheist. :) I merely wanted to point out the problem I see with the whole ‘origin of the Universe’ issue.

          • Bart says:

            And, you are correct. It makes no sense to ask “what happened before” the instant at which time came into being.

            Gorf is rather dogmatic. There is nothing wrong with carrying a speculation forward as a working hypothesis, as long as you acknowledge it as such. We only know to be true as much as we know to be true. Circumstantial evidence can address the probability of an hypothesis being correct, but it cannot establish it as truth.

            This, to me, appears to be the root source of conflict – the insistence by one side that its beliefs be accepted as gospel truth by the other. Just say, “we have made these observations, and we are carrying these implications forward as our working hypothesis because they appear to be generating fruitful results in the areas we have applied them. If you can generate useful results with your hypothesis, then go for it. Until then, we are going to stay on track, and you are free to believe what you want to believe.”

    • Rob Farrell says:

      Like Mark, not sure who to reply to so my apologies to all, again. To Gorf, nothing “wrong” with proposing the Steady State Theory (assuming that is a valid description for your words).

      That is a another theory, though less accepted I think, (and may be “wrong” factually as could the BB theory or any other theory for that matter) but does beg the question, how old is the universe? (And to Mark: a good point about time. I’m certainly no physicist but the concept of time seems to generate much discussion).

      Current estimates for the age of the universe, where quoted, are in the 10-20 billion year range. So, are the BB’ers in error and our “dating” techniques just plain wrong? The actual age is infinitely old with and end? Or, is the universe just “was”, “is” and “will be”?

      I tend to favor some form of BB, thus my last paragraph, but am certainly open to alternatives.

      • Bart says:

        Time is the rate at which processes evolve relative to one another. If there are no processes, there is no time.

  38. Ivan says:

    Neocons showing their true colors once again: trying to sound ‘respectable’ and to be accepted as legitimate and moderate conservatives by the DC bureaucratic-media complex. So, a perfectly accomplished, excellent scientist, who even pioneered some parts of climate science, is not ‘credible’ enough for the neocon cabal only because he happens to believe in God, mind you. Being an agnostic myself, who does not look very favorably to this ID stuff Roy is engaging in from time to time, I resent this Weekly Standard despicable behavior.

  39. Roy, you’re a man of much patience!

    For all those commenting about the definition of science and its relationship with religion, which are philosophical rather than scientific questions, you might try reading some of the better philosophers of science, such as A.N. Whitehead, Pierre Duhem, or our contemporary J.P. Moreland (CHRISTIANITY AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE).

    For all those who think faith means assent without evidence, faith is simply assent to an understood proposition–which means that assent to the proposition “2+2=4″ is faith just as much as assent to the proposition “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” is faith. What defines faith is assent to an understood proposition, not whether the assent results from reasoning or from a severe knock on the head. For some good reading on the definition of faith, try philosopher Gordon H. Clark’s FAITH AND SAVING FAITH. If you think faith is always devoid of reasonable support, that may be your opinion, but it doesn’t obligate anyone else to agree with you–and the vast majority of Christian theologians and philosophers through the ages have thought otherwise. Indeed, the disciples of Jesus thought otherwise, one writing that the Christian must be ready at all times to give to everyone an answer, a reason for his faith (1 Peter 3:15), another (Luke in Acts 1) writing that Jesus showed Himself alive from the dead by “many infallible proofs,” another (Thomas) having demanded empirical evidence before he’d believe Jesus rose from the dead (John 20), and so on. So if you want to tear down a straw man by defining faith as reasonless/evidenceless, go ahead, but you won’t be talking about Christian faith.

    • GTR says:

      When it comes to Jesus himself – a historian, Richard Carrier is just about to publish a book about the historicity of Jesus. Using Bayes Theorem to calculate the probability of Jesus being a historical person he concluded about 30% probability for positive and 70% for negative.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

  40. Gunga Din says:

    Well said, Dr. Spencer.
    Forgive me for paraphrasing this line of yours, “Why is it that a bible-believing scientist’s views on science are automatically discounted by some people?”

    “Why is it that a bible-believing scientist’s views, a man that believes he answers to God, on science are automatically assumed to be a deception by some people?”

    That’s what it amounts to. They assume you’re willing to lie because you believe in God Who said not to lie.

    • Gorf says:

      I don’t think a fundamentalist can be a scientist. How old is Earth again? Where did all this biodiversity come from? Was there a global flood that killed almost all people? A scientist cannot believe the fundamentalist answers to these questions.

      • Mark Bofill says:

        :p
        I think a potentially great scientist would be one with the courage to disregard common assumptions about what everyone thinks is indisputable scientific truth, regardless of how unpopular such a position might be. Imagine how the pioneers of quantum physics must have felt, actually taking the position that a physical quantity didn’t have a specific value until measured/observed! I’m glad those guys had the cahones to stick by their guns.
        Give it a rest Gorf. Who do you think you are anyway, to lay down what a scientist can or can not believe? It irritates me because I am an atheist and yet I don’t want to be lumped into the same boat with you.

        • Gorf says:

          Creationism or Flat Earthism are not compatible with 21st century science. Surely you’re not claiming they are?

          • Mark Bofill says:

            Creationism or Flat Earthism are not compatible with 21st century science. Surely you’re not claiming they are?

            I don’t have to claim they are to object to you acting as if it is for you to decide what is or is not compatible with 21 century science.

            Perhaps you were unaware. Quantum physics were incompatible with 19′th century physics. It didn’t matter.

            Time and space dilate when you’re going fast enough? Preposterous! Using infinite energy I can never accelerate an object of fixed mass beyond a certain speed? Ludicrous! True just the same.

            But really the objection I’ve got is, what purpose is behind your remark, except to discourage by ridicule a line of inquiry? I object to that on principle, in all cases. What motivates you to make such a remark?

            Scientists don’t need thought police.

      • Gunga Din says:

        Well, here’s a link to my “hypothesis” based on the Bible.
        I don’t have time to address all of your “questions” and I didn’t mention Noah. But if you read and think about it you may find a couple of answers. (ie “How old is Earth again?” Pay attention to “hayah”.)
        http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/attention-surplus-disorder-part-two/
        I do ask that you don’t respond there for the blogger’s sake.
        I probably won’t respond here or there. I’m not interested in having “the last laugh” but I sincerely hope we have it together.

  41. Werner Weber says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer,

    may I quote from your very impressive article:
    ‘For example, the force of gravity is relatively simple, and we can predict the position of the planets far in advance with great accuracy because gravitation is just about the only force that needs to be considered in those calculations.

    But the complexity of the climate system, and especially how it varies, is orders of magnitude more difficult to understand…’

    Even to treat gravity in a three-body problem such as sun, earth and moon is quite complicated, much more so the full planetary problem. Nonlinear effects are the reason why, e.g., calculations of the Milankovic cycles have the bigger uncertainties, the more the calculations reach back in time (or go forward in time).

    Beyond the planetary system, even much less is known for certain – dark matter seems to be present in large quantities, and further a feature called ‘dark energy’.

    Sincerely yours,
    Werner Weber,
    Physics, TU Dortmund University, Germany

  42. Hot Potato says:

    Just remember the answer in that silly book if I remember correctly is 42. Do we really understand the question?

    Douglas Adams’ trilogy never appealed to me so I never read the books nor did I ever see the movie. I’m not sure why I should acknowledge Adams considering that admission. What I deposited were my own ideas arrived at somewhat independently of Adams. If Adams has similar ideas, that’s fine, but I don’t owe him any acknowledgment for his ideas anymore than he owes me acknowledgement for mine. That’s like someone claiming they own the patent on my DNA.

    There is a movie coming out in 2014 called Transcendence that deals with the concept of the Singularity. Another movie made several years ago that touched on the idea of realities being computer simulations was The Thirteenth Floor although it could have been better; it had a certain cheese factor, which is a shame because it’s a great topic.

  43. darrylb says:

    OK, for the fun of it, when we were in Mexico my wife bought me a shirt that read, ‘I DON’T NEED GOOGLE, MY WIFE KNOWS EVERYTHING’
    If I carried extra shirts of the same with me I could sell a hundred on some days.

  44. Kasuha says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    You have my full respect as an atmospheric scientist and I do agree with you in most aspects of your perspective on climate and its changes.

    I also agree with you that origins of universe and origins of life are two topics in science which are still covered by belief rather than scientific evidence. But in both cases I am rather sure the eventual act of supernatural forces was pushed back to very distant past.

    Belief that scientific method works and can be used to understand the world is also kind of belief. But the matter is, science is based on looking for explanations which are not based on supernatural acts. Even if science was wrong and it was indeed God who created universe and us, science cannot provide such answer without also proving that God is in reality perfectly natural, and providing a way to predict where we can expect further acts of God to verify that understanding.

    Nobody has ever seen electrons, protons, muons, or neutrinos. But we have a complex theory which explains what we can see by existence of electrons, protons, muons and neutrinos and describes it in such detail that it is possible to look for phenomena which nobody before has measured and get measurements which correspond to that theory. Yet sure, we are also allowed to believe it is God who is behind all these phenomena. Such view is possible, it is legitimate, but at the current stage of knowledge it is not scientific.

    I’d like to correct a few mistakes I found in your article.

    Movement of bodies in Solar system is not about just gravity. To perform precise calculations, all kinds of effects must be taken into account, including body temperature, albedo, the effect of solar radiation, sun storms and so on. These all cause initially negligible but in longer horizon measurable and important changes in trajectories especially of smaller bodies in the system such as asteroids or satellites.

    Chance for life to appear by chance were indeed calculated to be virtually zero, but on the other hand, size of our universe was estimated to be virtually infinite. Mathematicans don’t like such expressions, because anything can come out of them.

    • Bill Hunter says:

      Kasuha says:
      January 8, 2014 at 7:11 PM
      “But in both cases I am rather sure the eventual act of supernatural forces was pushed back to very distant past.”

      Not necessarily! Yes we have a long historical record but it is fundamentally a leap to suggest that evolution is guided by chance vs direction.

      The idea of randomness seems to me to arise out of confusion and inability to explain a cause rather than an identification of a cause.

      As Einstein said: “God does not play dice with the universe”

      If wrong here it would be an intense learning experience to fully understand.

      • Nylo says:

        I have a different view… God does not play dice with the universe, but it probably lets the universe play dices with itself most of the time until he decides that something may be worth changing :D

  45. Bill Hunter says:

    Stick to your guns Roy you are obviously a lot more intelligent than Epstein who obviously has no clue whatsoever about where the line exists between what we do know and what we do not know. Epstein is one who obviously relies on people he likes to point out to him where that line might be. . . .like a blind man with a seeing eye dog. . . .except he would no doubt be a lot better off with the dog than who he does have.

  46. Werner Brozek says:

    Some people may be interested in Hugh Ross’s site at
    http://www.reasons.org/about/our-creation-model-approach

    Their belief:
    “We believe God’s two revelations (Scripture and nature) will agree when properly interpreted. When apparent contradictions arise, we reexamine the data—both biblical and scientific—recognizing that our understanding is incomplete. Sometimes the scientific data seems an unclear or awkward fit with the biblical data. But we see such instances as an opportunity to study both of God’s revelations more deeply.”

  47. Gorf says:

    Mark Bofill, the reason I made my remark is that we KNOW that Creationism and Flat Earthism are incorrect. Science already tested those ideas and found them to be wrong. This is why those ideas are incompatible with modern science, and future sciences too.

    • Gorf says:

      And also, Quantum Physics was not “incompatible” with Classical Physics, but reduces into it at the classical limit. Earth is not flat, we know it, and this will never change.

      • Mark Bofill says:

        We KNOW…

        If I had a buck for every time a junior engineer on my team just knew something was correct that turned out to be wrong, I’d have retired comfortably 10 years ago.

        Look Gorf, if you’d have asked a 19′th century physicist what would happen when you apply enough force to accelerate an object in space to 7X10~8 m/s, you’d have gotten the wrong answer. Yet he would have been every bit as certain about what ‘we KNOW’ as you are. So?

        Does that mean we are wrong about the age of the Earth? Could the Earth be flat? No! To think that misses my point. My point is that science advances by scientists having the courage to disregard widely held assumptions about what ‘we KNOW’. Don’t impede that. I’ll bet there are few things more useless than a bunch of conformist scientists who are afraid to question what ‘we KNOW’.

        • Gorf says:

          Ok, but what has that got to do with evolution and such?

          • Mark Bofill says:

            It’s got nothing to do with evolution. It’s got to do with what you are doing.

            You use your ‘scientific certainty’ to heckle people who think differently than you. It’s counterproductive and offensive.

      • Mark Bofill says:

        Incidentally,

        Quantum Physics was not “incompatible” with Classical Physics

        This is hokum. The idea that certain properties don’t actually have a fixed value until an observation is made is compatible with classic physics? An observer is required? Wave particle duality? Discrete quanta of space time instead of continuous? These flew in the face of more than just classic physics, this caused scientists to rethink their assumptions about the nature of reality.

        You seem to think that because classic physics had it right in limited cases that there was no conflict. But classic physicists didn’t think the rules applied to limited cases. Quantum physics overturned and invalidated this part of classical thinking, there’s no way around that.

        • Gorf says:

          Ok, and the theory of evolution overturned creationism about 150 years ago. What are we talking about again? I can state with certainty that science will never find out that the species were created as portrayed in the Genesis, not even in a poetic sense.

          • Mark Bofill says:

            Gorf.

            Take a deep breath. Read carefully.

            The issue is not about whether you are right in what you think.

            Is it useful in your view for science to discover where it has made invalid assumptions or errors? If so,

            Do you accept that scientists must question assumptions that everyone believe to be valid in order to find invalid ones? if so,

            Why are you behaving in a manner that encourages a tyranny of thought? I don’t care that Genesis is obviously wrong. Why do you? I care that scientists are free to believe whatever the heck they want to, because it’s useful. I therefore care when people like yourself run around enforcing dogma with ridicule like some sort of junior Inquisitor. It is counter productive.

  48. Hops says:

    It seems to me to be hyperbole to say that “belief in macroevolution is a religion”. Macroevolution is proven beyond any reasonable doubt, not just by the fossil records that creationists used to criticize, but now in the DNA records.

    Years ago, I read part of a dense book, Evolution as Entropy, that explained how evolution not only does not defy entropy, but is driven by entropy. As they say, organisms export entropy into their environment — they disorder it. And boy, are we ever setting this environment up to be more disordered on a macro scale.

  49. Hot Potato says:

    The juncture at which science becomes religion is the point at which certainty manifests. Once certainty settles in, science becomes more of a catechism for the followers and a sort of Vatican is erected to protect and perpetuate that certainty. The original intent of science, unbiased and objective exploration of our material and immaterial world, is smothered. All observable phenomenon, often called facts, are spiffed to fit the models of perpetual certainty. Evolution and AGW are described by the aforementioned perfectly. Scientists are as easily subject to stultification as are Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and Popes. Hell, I don’t blame the previous Pope for retiring. Who wants to carry that ponderous monkey on their back? It’s no way to fly.

    I screamed out loud when a poster above earnestly advocated for further specialization in the face of this catastrophe of creative thought. The poster called for it in a roundabout way, by implying certain fields of science have no business commenting on Climate, and more specifically AGW. This is precisely what’s going on in the field of medicine and healthcare and look at the nightmare it’s quickly becoming. We don’t need more specialization, we need less. But is that even possible at this point considering the complexity of the systems we’ve developed? I suspect the more holistic scientific thinkers like Roy are a dying breed being rapidly replaced by specialized, sycophantic dogmatists who wittingly, or unwittingly, serve to crush holistically creative thought and hew to the status quo.

    And a final note. The stultified and the stultifying will have us believe that knowledge is finite and contained, and with each passing day, as we learn a little bit more, we come one step closer to knowing it all. If there is anything that’s unprovable, it’s that, and yet there are not a few who believe this with unwavering certainty. My view, which is really just a temporary hypothesis until a better one comes along after perpetual, vigilant, objective (to the extent this is even possible but the direction matters) observation, is that the more we “discover,” the more we realize we don’t know. At some point, we need to collectively take a step back from this tail-chasing knowledge expedition and say, maybe it’s our perspective that needs to change, and if at that point we can collectively manage to change that perspective, maybe we can come closer to getting the bone rather than chasing our illusive tail.

    • Gorf says:

      “The Sun rises from the east.” – is this a certain fact or not?

      “Water boils at 100C at sea level.” – certain or not?

      I’d say these are both certain empirical facts.

      • Hot Potato says:

        Your certainty is relative and is therefore not absolute. Take the sun rising in the East. Firstly, the sun doesn’t rise, it only appears to, and secondly, directionals such as East, West, North and South are meaningless once you change your perspective to the Universe at large. Of course, this exercise to prove your point about certainty is just a matter of finding a better example, but that doesn’t preclude my opinion. Observations which appear certain and are accepted as such by consensus reality and labeled fact, when cobbled together en masse to form a theory doesn’t necessarily mean the theory proposed from the cobbled “certainties” is certain. Yet that’s the assumption that not a few arrogantly make.

        • Gorf says:

          After logical certainties empirical certainties are the next strongest class – “anybody” can run the experiment and verify that water boils at 100C. This is what I meant – we already _know_ a lot of things about our environment, it’s not only “theories”.

  50. Hot Potato says:

    Here’s an example of the Gospel based on the Catechism of AGW that’s being spread throughout the Diaspora. All observations are spiffed to fit the theoretical models and the models are also calibrated accordingly. The conclusion remains unmolested.

    http://guymcpherson.com/2014/01/celebration/#comment-116911

    Normally the giant rotating disc of frigid cold arctic air (and accompanying weather patterns) is ‘ring-fenced’ in the upper latitudes by the Jetstream. The OK corral of weather buffers.

    As the Jetstream has started to wobble and meander and destabilize due to the decreasing temperature spread between the Arctic and the Equator due to global climate warming, the Giant Disc of Cold Arctic Air is literally sliding off the north pole en mass and dipping way down into Horse Latitudes.

    The North Pole cold air, spinning like a decelerating top, has fallen off the top of the earth like a really big cheap Toupée of the hot head of a bald man.

    Hence the confusion among the washed and unwashed masses.

    Global warming >>> = Global climate change.

    The morons shrieking about how cold it is are mental cripples unable to grasp the sheer raw horror of the current ‘cold wave’ as a sign of the death of the vitally protective quality of a health Jetstream.

    Friends in parts of New England told me it when from sub-zero to almost 50*F then back to sub-zero in a two day span.

    What do you think that does to hibernating flora and fauna?

    • Gorf says:

      It’s possible that the warming Arctic affects the jet-stream, will know within 10-15 years I think.

      • Hot Potato says:

        Sure, it’s possible, and maybe even probable, but the author of that comment and the venue from which it was extracted believes that it is certain the warming Arctic is unprecedented, is responsible for a catastrophic change in the jet stream and it is all due to mankind’s dumping excessive CO2 into the atmosphere. What is a healthy jet stream? Is this so-called “healthy” jet stream deformed as the author implies? Is there such a thing once we can define what healthy means as it relates to a jet stream?

  51. Max™ says:

    Yeahhhhh, I was with you until your horribly misinformed take on evolution, macro-evolution, the universe vs thermodynamics, and the use of the term “evolutionists”.

    You don’t seem to know what you’re talking about there, sorry, but that’s the case.

    You can choose to believe what you want, but you don’t get to arbitrarily declare positions based on sound science to be beliefs, at least not without being called out for your BS.

    I avoid beliefs myself, doubt is far more useful, and far less likely to lead one astray.

    I don’t believe in science, I simply know that what we call science shares one trait: it has not been falsified.

    Once something is falsified, it is no longer science, AGW is no longer science, so it is definitely a belief system.

    Macro-evolution was not falsified by any number of absurd challenges put forth by any number of people for non-scientific reasons.

    At the very least you might want to preface your statements on the subject by including “I believe this to be the case, but am not well informed on the subject, so take what follows with the appropriate level of doubt”, or something to that effect.

  52. Tim says:

    I see some confusion here in these comments. Assuming that evolution proves natural selection is really the same as assuming that a warming period coinciding with an increase in CO2 proves global warming or the even bigger leap to climate change.

    The concept of natural selection assumes that all mutations are of equal value and the useful ones survive. There is no proof of this.

    It is equally possible that certain structural patterns exist and that evolutionary development is simply a matter of there being enough time for these DNA patterns to emerge naturally. It is possible that some higher level of intelligence is involved and that these DNA patterns are preexisting and therefore part of a design that suggests a creator of some sort. This theory cannot be disproved simply by stating that a time period is involved or by assuming that change involves random mutations that are of equal value. It is possible that mutations which don’t work are really just patterns that do not fit with the design and are therefore rejected and thus proving a design.

    I suggest that thinking about possibilities that are not obvious is the more intelligent endeavor as opposed to blindly accepting the more simplistic explanation.

    • GTR says:

      “The concept of natural selection assumes that all mutations are of equal value and the useful ones survive” – what do you mean by “value”.

      “It is possible that some higher level of intelligence is involved” – no. We know how intelligent design looks like – thanks to the work of engeneers, architects etc. The main feautres that distinguish it from evolutionary designs are:

      1. Desing and production are separate from the final product – factories are responsible for production, and end products don’t carry neither their design nor production capacity inside them.

      This is opossite to nature, where each organism carries it’s design and reproduction capabilities even if its inconvinient or even deathly dangerous – eg. the way the medium-size wolves are able to kill a large bull is to rip off his balls, and wait until it bleeds out, thus weakens. With no need to carry reproductive organs the bull could be much more huntingproff.

      A very interesting case of independance of production from design is Intel’s tick-tock model:

      Tick – a preexisting design starts being produced in new production technology. The production technology can differ drastically from previous one – eg. using hafnium-based transistors rather than silicon one, or using 3D transistors instead of planar, 2D ones.

      Tock – old production technology is used to produce a new design.

      2. There’s frequent starting from scratch, or doing product realizing the same goal in much diferent way, both in the concept, mechanisms, as well as production technology.

      In case of design it may be like moving from piston engine+propeller to jet engines. Totally different design being in a new generation of products. In case of technology – moving from planes made of wood to all-metal panes, and then again to composite-based planes.

      Or like nuclear power plants replacing chemical-burning-based ones.

      No such things happen in nature, because of the limits of evolution – animals are still based on carbon, no new sources of energy are introduced etc. Even when the design sucks – eg. why don’t prey species have additional eyes at the back, the way the WW2 bombers had? This would clearly increase the effectivnes of their defences.

      3. Design takes from the pool of all worldwide knowledge (everybody licenses or steals from everybody else, with many stuff just being published), while evolutionary improvement is constrained by species barrier (exception: some viruses moving genes across species).

      + many other differences that I don’t have a time to mention.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdwOgc-lR_w

      • Tim says:

        I cannot tell if the above comment is an attempt at humor or a backhanded way of proving my point. Someone’s limited understanding of the concept of design does not prove that one does not exist. If a creator exists, then clearly a higher level of intelligence than human exists. Further, whether or not a “creator” exist, the question of random development of life by natural selection is not proven.

        I am still waiting for someone to claim the chemical elements form randomly or that the formation of atomic elements into molecules is a random process.

        Oh, but the development of life IS random they say. Think about it folks!

        • GTR says:

          ” If a creator exists, then clearly a higher level of intelligence than human exists.” – why bother with imaginary creators? Higher level of intelligence than humans have been present here, on earth for many years. Right now we have cyborgs – organizations consisting of networked computers (Google itself has 2 millions!) and supercomputers and multiple software programs running on them, coupled together with humans working according to specialization (thus more effective than the same number of general-purpose humans). But thats not all! To all of these information processing elements you need to add a cumulative public knowledge of the cililization as well as externalities – like data licensed or otherwise copied from others.

          Civilization itself is a higher intelligence, though unlike a single organization it is a distributed one, without a single, central presiding decider.

          And we know how designs of such higher ntelligences look like – I’ve described it before. And yes – things like producing the results of this intelligences designs in factories, rather than by reproduction is absolutely crucial to how the higher intelligences do their stuff.

        • GTR says:

          By the way – who says the development of life is random (a strawman). Both natural selection by the external factors as well as sexual selection within the species are definitely not.

  53. darrylb says:

    I think that some of Einsteins’ comments regarding God and the universe were made because he had a supreme awareness of the magnitude of the universe and various relationships within it.
    The average citizen can’t comprehend much beyond a billion, it is simply an ‘illion of some sort.
    At one point, in a physics class, I used a film which probably was titled the creation of the universe and within it the big bang. The narrator did not state it as theory, rather; simply fact.
    So form a single point, the dimensions of which might compare to a pinpoint, the statement was made as to what happened at a specific point in time, and then of course what happened one millionth of a second later and then continued on with absolute certainty.
    Later, it started to dawn on me that this is just a convenient model which I used at that time with absolute certainty. Then it was found that the rate of expansion was accelerating, counter to fact/theory.
    What to do about that??!!
    Well, don’t find fault with the original theory, just add to it the fact that there must be dark matter. This seems to have been done with absolute certainty.

    Sounds kinda like a reanalysis of computer output to state with absolute certainty that additional heat must be sequestered and remain for at least a decade at ocean depths below one half mile. That despite conventional physics would find that sequestered heat highly unlikely.

    One should at least consider the original hypothesis (or each of the dozens of modeled hypothesis) could be wrong and develop a new hypothesis. Or not!

  54. GeoffG says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer: Did you expect to unleash such a firestorm? I suspect you did. But it must be painful to wade through all the invective, from all directions.

    I have followed your blog for some years, and up to now I have always managed to control any such need. But your recent blog, plus the follow up from your followers – of all stripes – finally took me over the edge.

    I am a biochemist by training and have long been keenly interested in the interface between science and religion, and (separately) in the Climate Change debate. I was surprised when they came together in your recent blog – I was previously unaware of your religious beliefs. If I were to be similarly classified, I would fall into the atheist category, but have no difficulty in trying to hold a respectful debate with people of religion. I strongly support how Steve Gould characterized the two concepts as being “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” (NOMA). To me, NOMA provides a solution that allows believers and non- believers to work together, as long as both groups appreciate that science lives by its falsifiability, and religion does not.

    As long as you continue to approach the climate change debate using the tools of science available as best available to you, I will continue to enjoy your blog. And I see little reason to believe that you will change in that respect. But I did find your disbelief in what you call macroevolution to be “unfortunate”(as a reminder, you stated: “Belief in macroevolution is a religion, not science. It is an organizing system of thought, a conceptual model of origins, a worldview, which the evolutionist must fit all of his observations into.”). Respectfully, I disagree. There is a rich debate in that subject – every bit as rich as the one I expect to read about in your blog vs those from the “extreme believers” in climate change. The recent science on macroevolution is fascinating and fast-evolving, with recent advances in genomics [and the other "omics"] showing some wonderful new insights…and all the time science gains a better understanding of how evolutionary processes would have worked in the distant past to create early life (I assume you and every educated reader of your blog has no problem with how evolution worked from the “first functioning cell” to evolve into today’s multicellular world?).

    My hope would be for you to read more of the technical journals that specialize in scholarly articles about what you call macroevolution. In a hundred years hence, I strongly suspect the debate will have changed dramatically, but the argument of “design vs random” will still be front and centre for some people.

    PS: To the two contributors, Mark Bofill and Max, I salute you. I suspect we would have a good time over a drink or two but would likely bore most neutral observers to sleep.

  55. Hot Potato says:

    The following treatise is the probably the best and most comprehensive dismantling of Macroevolution I’ve come across. My only criticism of it is it implies that the falsification of Macroevolution therefore means that “God” is responsible for the intelligence behind the ordered design and thus the subtle nudge to religion and the Bible or other holy books for the answers. I don’t agree with that because the author is engaging in the same behavior as the MacroEvolutionists. The intelligence behind the order of life’s design is undefined or personally defined, imo. It’s a blank slate to which we could ascribe our conjecture. If you choose to call that intelligence God for lack of a better term, I understand, but if the motivation is to lead people to religion and the Bible or any other holy book for answers to our origins and what’s behind it, that’s as regressive as Macroevolutionary Theory, imo. I understand and respect a person’s decision to that for themselves personally, but if enough people do that in tandem and then attempt to strong arm others with their certainty, then we have the same issue that we have with the MacroEvolutionists. It’s swapping one falsified certainty with another. Certainty is the issue.

    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation32.html

    • GTR says:

      Do recognize such things like addition and multiplication? If so, then you should realize that there’s no such thing as a difference between what you call macro and micro evolution, from a simple reasons like adding multiple small changes over a large period of time leads to a large total change. Or increasing variation over a large population results in large total variation.

  56. Thomas says:

    In an earlier essay Spencer has made it clear that he believes in “common design” rather than “common descent” to explain similarities between species, and thus presumably that God created all species more or less as they look today. This makes me wonder how he looks upon all the fossil evidence for an ongoing evolution. Is the fossil record misinterpreted or just put there by God to test our faith?

    What makes this extra problematic is that so much of our understanding of the climate of Earth derives from similar paleodata. Once you stop accepting naturalistic explanations for the evolution of life, where do you stop? Is the historical climate also shaped by direct divine intervention? Does records of historical temperatures and CO2-levels stored in fossilized leaves, corals or plankton say anything useful?

    • Gorf says:

      Yes, quite obviously intelligent design could be guiding the “evolution” on climate as well. Is that the face of Jesus in the polar vortex?? :D

    • Bart says:

      Or, do you take the third route of agnosticism, rejecting any claim as proven until it is, indeed, proven?

      • Thomas says:

        Bart, there is no proof in science.

        • Bart says:

          Cop out. “Proof” is not an absolute concept. There are standards, and relative degrees. Furthermore, in a given axiomatic system, it is indeed possible to have absolute proof relative to the axioms.

        • Bart says:

          Trust me on this: if you truly believe there is no proof in science, do NOT pursue a degree in mathematics.

          • Thomas says:

            Bart, I’d say your reply is the cop out. Sure, you can prove theorems based on axioms, and that may be enough in mathematics, but in science you also have to worry about whether your axioms correspond to reality, and that can never be proven.

            Do we believe in the theory of gravity or do we believe that the planets are pushed around by angels? We can’t prove either theory, nor can we prove the world wasn’t created last Tuesday with all fossils and false memories put in place by some perverse creator. Does that mean we should be “history agnostics”?

            IMHO, if there is some omnipotent God who has gone to all the trouble producing fake evidence for evolution, he obviously wants us to believe in it, so who are we to doubt it?

          • Bart says:

            We can prove that, if the planets are being pushed around by angels, they do it systematically according to the rules established by the theory of gravity. Since we do not need to know about the angels in order to apply the theory, we keep that part quiet and don’t tell anyone. ;-)

            As far as the fossil evidence is concerned, this is a different kind of situation, because we cannot duplicate the process under controlled conditions in a laboratory for any but the simplest and most rapidly reproducing organisms. We can extrapolate those results to the higher animals, but extrapolation from one type of system to another is always fraught with peril. And, while the Evolutionary paradigm appears to be consistent with the fossil record to the best of our knowledge, we have no way of knowing if it actually provides full observability of the underlying dynamics.

            It is not necessary to shove this interpretation down other people’s throats. The practical usefulness of the theory of Evolution at this time is in the realm of the small and rapidly reproducing. Dr. Spencer does not disagree with the theory under those circumstances. Only a small subset of doctrinaire Bible thumpers do, and they are clearly wrong. So, what’s all the fuss? Is there some reason it is necessary to believe that bears arose from the progenitors of badgers in order to make progress in microbiology? If there is, I am not aware of it, and so see no reason to take a stand on the question one way or the other at this time.

    • llew Jones says:

      My training is in Mech Eng (Melbourne Uni Aus) and I have never had any interest in investigating evolution but have assumed that it must have some strong fossil evidence supporting it because biological science has been captured by it.

      Just had a glance through Hot Potato’s URL (below) and that appears to be totally devastating for the concept of cross species or macro evolution. I’ve lost faith in the alarmist sect of climate science essentially because of its dishonest manipulation of data and straight out lying by its propagandists like our own Tim Flannery.

      What is the response of knowledgeable evolutionists to the charge made in H P’s URL? Or is the evolutionary theory also propped up by the same sort of misrepresentation and craven consensus that has given us CAGW?

      http://www.newgeology.us/presentation32.html

      • Yarble says:

        I am not an “evolutionist”, just a lowly biologist. My response: The charge made in HP’s URL is hogwash. All he’s done is assemble a series of stale creationist arguments into one big pile and said, “See? I told you they were wrong.”

        His last argument is a doozy – he claims that biologists are only in it for the money, and that’s why they reject any competing theories. If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice this is the same argument used by denialists to slag climate scientists, and in both cases it’s an indication that the denialist has no understanding of what he’s talking about. We should ask Dr. Spencer if he thinks biologists and climate scientists are getting rich by working in their fields? Dr. Spencer, are you rich?

        JM Fischer, the author of the “newgeology” site, seems to believe that because he’s got ALL the wrong answers in one place, the weight of evidence must prove him right. The problem is that an INFINITE amount of made-up nonsense doesn’t somehow negate actual scientific evidence. And yet he carries on, blissfully ignorant of much of biology and geology, making a series of points to establish the conclusions he started with.

  57. Sigmundb says:

    As a Liberal European Atheist I was surprised when some years ago I discovered you were a kind of “Creationist”. I admit i’m prejudised against those.
    Since I had enjoyed reading your blog for quite some time and perceived you as an educator, primarily interested in and motivated by spreading knowledge on subjects you felt the public in general needed to understand better, it didn’t scare me away.
    I can also understand your frustration on beeing used as an example of “nutters” in the sceptic/lukewarm camp in the Epstein article but that is more an indication that he didn’t read your blog but rather the more hostile kind on the CAGW side. There is no malice in Epsteins comment if you compare it to your dossier on some blogs or articles like the Trenberth & Gleick hatchet job.
    Back to your question, I believe its due to the fallacy “If you agree with me you are bright, if you disagree it’s because you know and/or understand less and will be prone to make more errors.” I was a lot older than Epstein before i realised that was wrong.

  58. GTR says:

    To deal with the contemporary overabudance of sources information we need simple heuristics to allow us to quickly filter out unreliable sources of information, so that we get our information from credible ones. Admitting that you are a creationist puts you in such a filter, and rightly so, as statistically creationists put up a lot of misinformation, manipulation, obfuscation etc.

    Notice that this is a heuristics – it doesn’t have to work 100% reliably, can cause some false positives – just not too frequently, doesn’t need to be applicable at all times – eg. in the Middle Ages would need to too much filtering out, as the number of total sources of information was low to start with. Right now we have enough sources of information to choose with, so filtering out doesn’t lead to the information loss, but rather streamlines our information acquisition.

  59. Threepwood says:

    Lemaitre, Planck, Einstein,

    When it comes to actual scientific contribution, our most successful scientists have been staunch skeptics of atheism.

    Atheists like Dawkins, Hawking, Krauss, may be successful in book sales, TV appearances, awards etc but their combined contribution to science itself falls somewhere behind the inventor of the Chip Clip?

    • Yarble says:

      So what? You’re claiming the argument from authority is a fallacy, but it doesn’t apply to you. How is that helpful?

      • Threepwood says:

        The o.p. was about scientists being maligned for their religious beliefs.

        This is nothing new, Lemaitre was a prime example- his Primeval Atom theory was rejected by atheist academics explicitly for the theistic implications of a specific creation event, they all preferred static/eternal (no creation= no creator) models. Hoyle mocked it as ‘big bang’ and never accepted it in his life.

        i.e. probably the greatest scientific discovery of all time was resisted and set back by atheist beliefs, not theistic ones.

  60. Brian H says:

    The positions of the planets far in the future? We’ve solved the 3-body problem? When was that? I must’ve missed the headline.

  61. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Roy,
    I respect your science. I also respect your personal need for religion. Most religions include logical moral positions (with some exceptions), and these alone are worth justifying having religion if they are not used separately (religion and morality are not the same, and non-religious people are about as moral as religious people but not out of fear of being punished by God, but by logic and common sense). However, your “belief” is not of interest to me. Every time you try to justify your religion, it detracts from your positions. I could say the basic position of religion is falsified by the point that if there were God to start the ball rolling, who started God? However, in the end, religion is not about logic, so it can’t be prover, or falsified. The argument that it is so unlikely that DNA or life started by itself is not supportable. There is a so called anthropic principle and others that states that in an infinite possible number of universes, galaxies, and very long periods of time that even a very small chance would cause life to form, and the evolved life observing this fact would wonder haw it was possible.

    • Threepwood says:

      “ if there were God to start the ball rolling, who started God?”

      Ask yourself the same question replacing ‘God’ with ‘spontaneous mechanism’ and you have the identical apparent paradox.
      Yet here we are one way or another so it’s a moot point. What’s not equal is the ability of creative intelligence v random chance to create the world we see around us.

      On infinite probabilities; sure it’s hypothetically possible it’s all a fluke- just as it is possible for a gambler in a casino to be randomly dealt 10 royal flushes in a row by a dealer who happens to be a friend. – it’s no less likely than any other combination, so you’d be a fool to suspect cheating right?

      Point being ‘possible’ does not equal ‘most likely explanation’

  62. Gunga Din says:

    Many oppose the Bible, not because of what it actually says but but because of what someone told them it says.
    They may dismiss it because the “science was settled” 100 or 150 years ago. The consensus was formed and that’s all there is to it. No matter that it was formed on such things as embryology and Nebraska Man. Or observations that line up with “seed after it’s own kind”.

    Amplified Version Romans 1:28 And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, (Rom 1:28 AMP)

    CEV Romans 1:28 Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That’s why they do all sorts of indecent things. (Rom 1:28 CEV)

    My take?
    Any explanation of what we have observed that includes “God” is vehemently opposed…but God told us it would be.

  63. John says:

    Roy,
    This is the first piece of yours that I have read. I admire succinct expression, I am grateful that people like you exist in your profession, able to clearly articulate some linked arguments.
    Would you please do humanity a further service?
    Would you please form a large cadre of mentees that you can coach in articulate and assertive (not aggressive) expression, that puts the case for climate business as usual, as opposed to the alarmist banshee screaming we get all the time?

    We, the world, humanity, need to defuse this global mass hysteria fomented by the wannabe-relevant fanatics and sociopaths.

    An army of like-minded, cohesive, expert, articulate, forceful protagonists would go a long way to bringing the (western) world back to a semblance of sanity, and highlighting the deliberate fascist hijacking of an otherwise mundane topic (apologies to your chosen vocation).

    Thanks for being the champion that you are, now please organise a global army of similar champions. Time for you to share the baton. Please.