The October, 2011, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published an article, “Making the Climate a Part of the Human World,” by Simon Donner. Dr. Donner is a geographer at the University of British Columbia. The peer-reviewed article contends there is a conflict between religion and the science behind human-caused global warming. In the words of the author, “In these [religious] belief systems, humans may indirectly influence the climate through communication with the divine [i.e., prayer for rain], but they cannot directly influence the climate”[humans cannot intentionally or inadvertently modify the climate, i.e., cannot cause global warming]. [Note: Bracketed comments are mine.]
I encountered that same sentiment as a guest on a radio program this past summer. To both Dr. Donner and one of the hosts of the program, this supposed religious conflict accounts for unbelief in catastrophic global warming.
I have a one-word reply: Nonsense.
Ever wonder why there are hospitals with names like St. John’s, Beth Israel, or Baptist College of Health Sciences? Or, great universities with names like Notre Dame (Latin for “Our Lady,” the Mother of Jesus)? It is because Judeo-Christian culture is in fact pro-science.
The Catechism (official beliefs) of the Catholic Church states,
“Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things the of the faith derive from the same God.”
The Baptist Standard (February, 2009) states,
More than 900 congregations in the United States and elsewhere were signed up for Evolution Weekend 2009, an annual event that began with a letter-writing campaign in 2004.
That summer, the school board in Grantsburg, Wis., passed a policy requiring that all theories of origins be taught in the district schools. A Christian minister penned a short response letter saying the dichotomy between science and religion was false.
Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Science at Butler University, worked with about 200 clergy across Wisconsin to prepare a statement in support of teaching evolution.
Both religion and science strive for the same goal: Truth. The difference is in techniques and subjects examined. As stated above in both the Catechism and the Standard, authentic science never conflicts with the faith. For example, this blogger believes the passage in Genesis where God says, “Let there be light” refers to the same event as astronomy’s “Big Bang.” Not only don’t they conflict, did you know that the Big Bang was first proposed by a Catholic priest named Georges Lemaitre at the Catholic University of Louvain?
Just as there is no conflict between creation (“let there be light”) and science (the Big Bang) at the beginning of the universe, there is no intrinsic conflict between evolution and religion as the universe unfolded. God just as easily could have imbued creation with the chemical matter and physical laws that lead to the evolution of the species as He could have created each species individually.
Does man affect the climate? Absolutely. Human effects at a local level are well known and accepted. The global scale is where things get much more difficult: Solar, volcano, aerosols (tiny particles in the atmosphere), cosmic rays, whether changes in cloud cover cause net warming or cooling are all tremendous uncertainties.
Regardless of what one’s opinion of global warming might be, what does a discussion of religion have to do with it? True science demands concrete proof as defined by the Scientific Method. The catastrophic global warming hypothesis falls short of the level of proof required which, I fear, is why these irrelevant side issues keep coming up.
My conclusion: Science and society would be better served if atmospheric scientists focused on the science to the exclusion of these side issues. If believers in catastrophic global warming want to convince people of the correctness of their case they should start, for example, by explaining why neither the IPCC’s reports nor their multiple forecast models anticipated the current dozen years without global warming.
Come up with solid, reproducible answers and open-minded skeptics like me are far more likely re-evaluate our positions than by producing and publishing papers of dubious pertinence.
(c) 2011, Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC