CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

More Questions about Climate Change

Aug 5, 2008

There are various reasons why people have jumped on board the climate change bandwagon. Some reasons are better than others. Some people have genuine concerns about the environment and believe that science is saying that things like Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) are in fact taking place, and we must act now. Fair enough. We all should be conscious of our obligations to planet earth, and certainly many scientists are claiming human activities are contributing to climate change.

But there are other reasons for all the hoopla about AGW. For some, this simply becomes a good platform to continue various political protests. For example, many lefties have been quite disillusioned following the collapse of Marxism. Their anti-capitalism, anti-big business and anti-economic growth agenda took a bit of a battering with the fall of the Iron Curtain. But radical environmentalism became a neat platform for these critics of the West to continue their crusade.

Indeed, it was a double boon to the radicals. They could continue their attack on the West, on growth, and on the free market, while appearing to occupy the high moral ground, in aligning themselves with concerns about the environment.

Of course some of these radicals may well have genuine concerns about the planet as well. The point is, mixed motives are unavoidable here, as in most other contentious debates. And conservative sceptics of AGW can have mixed motivations as well.

Thus many of the loudest protagonists in this debate – from both sides – can come with often less than ideal, or fully objective, motivations. But scientists too can have a real mix of motives and agendas. Just because someone wears a white lab coat does not mean one is immune from arrogance, greed, error, bias or prejudice.

In 2001 Daniel Greenberg wrote an incisive book on these themes entitled, Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion. He documented just how fallible and corruptible scientists can be. (My review of this important book can be read here: billmuehlenberg.com/2004/08/22/a-review-of-science-money-and-politics-political-triumph-and-ethical-erosion-by-daniel-greenberg/ )

But another motivation can be mentioned here. As Western society becomes more and more secularised, people increasingly turn to secular religions: causes and crusades to help make up for the hole in the soul, the longing for meaning, and/or guilty consciences. Many social commentators have noted how radical environmentalism has become a new religion, complete with revered texts, fundamentalist zeal, denunciation of opponents, and blind faith.

Historian Arthur Herman recently penned an article in which he picks up on these themes. He begins by looking at the science of climate change, and examines some of the motivations behind it. His opening paragraphs nicely present the case of AGW scepticism:

“It has been a tough year for the high priests of global warming in the US. First, NASA had to correct its earlier claim that the hottest year on record in the contiguous US had been 1998, which seemed to prove that global warming was on the march. It was actually 1934. Then it turned out the world’s oceans have been growing steadily cooler, not hotter, since 2003. Meanwhile, the winter of 2007 was the coldest in the US in decades, after Al Gore warned us that we were about to see the end of winter as we know it.”

“In a May issue of Nature, evidence about falling global temperatures forced German climatologists to conclude that the transformation of our planet into a permanent sauna is taking a decade-long hiatus, at least. Then this month came former greenhouse gas alarmist David Evans’s article in The Australian, stating that since 1999 evidence has been accumulating that man-made carbon emissions can’t be the cause of global warming. By now that evidence, Evans said, has become pretty conclusive.”

“Yet believers in man-made global warming demand more and more money to combat climate change and still more drastic changes in our economic output and lifestyle. The reason is precisely that they are believers, not scientists. No amount of empirical evidence will overturn what has become not a scientific theory but a form of religion.”

Herman points to the eugenics movement of last century as a good example of mass movements complete with scientific backing, pushing radical agendas with religious zeal: “This is not the first time, of course, that superstition has paraded itself as science, or created a priesthood masquerading as the exponents of reason. At the beginning of the previous century we had the fascination with eugenics, when the Gores of the age such as E.A. Ross and Ernst Haeckel warned that modern industrial society was headed for race suicide.”

“The list of otherwise sensible people who endorsed this hokum, from Winston Churchill to Oliver Wendell Holmes, is embarrassing to read today. Then as now, money was poured into foundations, institutes, and university chairs for the study of eugenics and racial hygiene. Then as now, it was claimed that there was a scientific consensus that modern man was degenerating himself into extinction. Doubters such as German anthropologist Rudolf Virchow were dismissed as reactionaries or even as tools of the principal contaminators of racial purity, the Jews.”

“And then as now, proponents of eugenics turned to the all-powerful state to avert catastrophe. A credulous and submissive public allowed politicians to pass laws permitting forced sterilisation of the feeble-minded, racial screening for immigration quotas, minimum wage laws (which Sidney and Beatrice Webb saw as a way to force the mentally unfit out of the labor market) and other legislation which, in retrospect, set the stage for the humanitarian catastrophe to come. In fact, when the Nazis took power in 1933, they found that the Weimar Republic had passed all the euthanasia legislation they needed to eliminate Germany’s useless mouths. The next target on their racial hygiene list would be the Jews.”

Herman concludes, “Real science rests on a solid bedrock of scepticism, a scepticism not only about certain religious or cultural assumptions, for example about race, but also about itself. It constantly re-examines what it regards as evidence, and the connections it draws between cause and effect. It never rushes to judgment, as race science did in Germany in the 1930s and as the high priests of climate change are doing today.”

I have said on many occasions that we should all be concerned about the fate of this planet. But we must be willing to ask hard questions about both the science, and any proposed policies. Costs, in other words, must be considered along with any possible benefits. As Herman says, before politicians “make decisions that could trim Australia’s gross domestic product by several percentage points a year and impose heavy penalties on Australians’ lifestyle, Labour and Liberal alike need to re-examine the superstition of global warming. Otherwise, the only thing it will melt away is everyone’s civil liberty.”

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24122117-7583,00.html

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55 Responses to More Questions about Climate Change

  • Ah, Bill, you are indeed a glutton for punishment. We shall keenly see what transpires now eh?

    I eagerly await!

    John McMahon

  • I placed my last post on the previous GW thread, so I don’t want to add much now. Thanks to all who have contributed so far, even to the people I have disagreed with.

    I want to make just one observation; again it’s on the line of basic high school science, which seems to be constantly overlooked. The point has been made that climate graphs show temperature rises preceding (not succeeding) rises in CO2 levels. This is to be expected. Gases generally, and CO2 in particular, increase in water solubility as temperature goes down. That’s why you have to store your Coke or lemonade in the refrigerator: otherwise the fizz will go out of it. The warmer the water, the less the solubility for CO2, and the cooler, the greater the solubility.
    Now, where does all the CO2 go after it has been released from the thousands of factory chimneys around the world? Some (much) is absorbed by plants and is photosynthesised into O2, which is in turn expired from the plants for us to breathe. But quite a lot is dissolved (I don’t know the %) in the oceans. And there is the rub: if the oceans are relatively cool, more CO2 will dissolve; if the oceans are relatively warmer, less CO2 will dissolve, leaving more in the atmosphere. But there will be a time lag, sometimes many years (as in fact is observed).
    Now I learned all that in General Science at Form 3 level.
    Have these basic facts changed? I rather doubt it. But I am open to correction.

    Oh, and another thing: melting ice DOES NOT increase water level, whether on a small scale or a large scale. Just try it with an ice cube in a graduated glass; then try it again with a larger block in a small tank.

    Like I said: high school science. It’s not rocket science (as the saying goes), nor does one need to have a Ph.D. in climate science.

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Murray,

    I agree that warmer water will hold less CO2, but the question is why are the oceans getting warmer in the first place? Your argument also doesn’t negate the fact that CO2 reflects infrared radiation (radiative forcing) because of its molecular structure. This can be measured in the laboratory. The effect on a global level can be calculated within a margin of error because we know how much CO2 is up there.The melting of floating ice also means that heat is absorbed by the ocean rather then reflected by ice, which leads to a positive feedback mechanism (or tipping point).

    Scientists aren’t claiming that floating ice increases water levels when it melts. The concern is about the land-based icesheets as in Greenland and the Antarctic, where melting is already being observed. There is also a positive feedback mechanism at work there as icesheets are undermined by melt water. Few are claiming these icesheets are going to melt completely anytime soon, but if it ever does happen the world is in trouble.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Hi Bill,
    A more general question. Is your ministry about presenting a Christian perspective on current issues, or a Western right perspective? I wonder if the way you write about ‘lefties’ and ‘radicals’ could give some of your brothers the idea that your are not on the same side. I appreciate, for example, that Jim Wallace (ACL) advocates a ‘Christian centre-ist’ view.
    Dale Skewes, Junee, NSW

  • But Shelley, you are highlighting only the positive forcing factors. Why do warming believers assume the positive forcing factors will outweigh the negative forcing factors? The computer climate models that predict run-away warming all assume only positive forcing. The actual measured data continues to suggest the computer models are wrong and presumably overstate positive forcing. One reference here.

    If the land-based ice sheets were of lesser extent in the MWP then why should we be alarmed about the extent of them today? Further information here.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Shelley,
    Thank you for your post. I’ll have to be brief for the present as I have a host of other things to do. On CO2 levels and temperature: the claim has constantly been made that (esp. in the Gore movie) that CO2 precedes and causes temperature rises. Hence all the hype about cutting carbon emissions so as to minimise temperature rises, or even peg it back. Unarguably that is the rhetoric.

    If however, temperature rises precede CO2 level increases, then we must look elsewhere than CO2 levels, otherwise our argument is circular. Here the Mediaeval warm period can assist us: according to a doco I saw on Foxtel (the History Channel) only last night the global temp during that period was 2 deg C above the norm. Why? Obviously nothing to do with CO2 emissions! One obvious target of investigation is the sun: a common theory is that solar radiation then was 1/2% higher than at present – that’s all. During that time Greenland was settled because its ice sheet was much less in extent than today. But then came the Little Ice Age, when the global temp was 2 deg. C lower than the norm. Why? Possibly because the sun went into a “quiet” phase (as the indications are also now). Whatever, its radiation was 1/2% less than the norm. Again, nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions.

    On sea ice:there is enormous confusion on this. I was looking at the Collins World Atlas only this morning: on the pages on Antarctica it stated that if all the ice were melted the sea level would rise by 60 m. Now that simple bland statement made no distinction between ice already in the water (e.g in the Ronne Ice Shelf, or the Ross Ice Shelf, or the Weddell Sea) and land-based ice. And precisely that type of bland statement underlies the scary scenarios of global warming flooding us with metres of sea water, covering tropical islands, etc. as we have heard from the Tim Flannerys of this world. In reality, according to the maps as I read them, the sea ice would constitute – in extent – up to 30% of the total ice cover. Meanwhile, the land ice is up to around 4900 m. thick in places! To melt all that, both sea and land ice, would entail no mean increase in global temp! But to melt the sea ice alone would make no difference at all in the sea levels. A fortiori for the Arctic, where much more of the ice cap is sea-borne.

    According to maps both there and in the EB Atlas the extent of summer pack ice is at minimum 500 miles beyond the land mass; in places well over 1000 miles. And the reports I have been reading indicate two things:
    1. The overall extent of the Antarctic ice sheet is increasing, not decreasing. In a number of places it is at unprecedented levels. You can deny this if you like, but those are the reports I have read.
    2. The break-up of pack ice, reports of which which have appeared in the media from time to time, on inspection relate to the region of the Antarctic Peninsula, below South America. This is a volcanic area, currently active I believe. So here one would expect localised break-ups, but to generalise from these, as we read in the media at large, is the fallacy of hasty generalisation from anecdotal information.

    One last point: the information on the Mediaeval warm period comes from ice core samples. IOW, for all the 2 deg. C higher temp back then, THERE WAS STILL ICE THERE – plenty of it, if the truth be known. Yet in the scary scenarios of ice caps melting, the temp predictions of the models (not that I accept these assumption-laden predictions) the talk is of a rise of 0.2 – 0.3 deg C. per decade. We have already had that in historical times, but not due to CO2 emissions, and without any of the dire results that the doomsayers predict!

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • The point that Dr Adamthwaite aptly pointed out in an earlier comment is that if there is any causation connected with the correlation, CO2 increase is the effect not the cause of the temperature increase, and for the reasons he stated.

    And the point of CO2 is not reflection but absorption due to its molecular structure. And maybe Shelley could show that she knows what aspects of its molecular structure makes it absorb, what type of molecular change is involved, and why one such change does NOT absorb, unlike H2O where ALL such changes absorb. Anyone who pontificates on global warming, going as far as warning of facing God’s judgement, should know at least these basics.

    My Ph.D. heavily involved infrared spectroscopy, so I can’t be bluffed. Nor will I take kindly to any school student, or politicians without science qualifications, talking down to me especially in one of my areas of proven expertise.

    As for the Antarctic ice melting, certainly a significant part of the reason is a sub-glacial volcano.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Fighting Gore’s hysteria
    by Andrew Bolt

    Irish filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney — the makers of the brilliant documentary Mine Your Own Business — are appealing for help to get their latest film, Not Evil Just Wrong — The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria, into cinemas. This tackles the dangerous deceits spread by Al Gore that influences so many naive schoolkids, even those at churchian schools. Check out the film’s site for more. The preview is on Mr Bolt’s site (top link in this post).

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Dear Shelley,

    OK, warm oceans melt ice and cause less reflection – hence positive feedback of global warming. But warmer oceans evaporate more and so increase cloud cover – causing negative feedback!

    You mention CO2 reflecting terrestrial IR radiation, but isn’t the absolute magnitude of that small compared to the effect of water vapour and doesn’t the water vapour fluctuate much more than the CO2? If you know this why didn’t you tell us?

    How do you interpret the arctic ice satellite photos taken on 31 July 2007 and on 31 July 2008 which show more ice in the more recent photo? (See http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/children_relax_the_ice_is_still_there/). Thanks to Jenny Stokes [jenny@saltshakers.org.au] for her AGW news service for alerting me to those photos. If the ice has increased in the last year, that’s good news – we are moving away from ‘tipping points’ – so why the melodrama re ice melting and tipping points?

    You haven’t answered my earlier challenges re Adam, Noah’s flood, CO2, the age of the earth death, disease, parasites and tsunamis etc. The history of CO2 is very relevant to GW claims yet the Bible plus our coal deposits imply that only 4,500 years ago the CO2 was 16-times higher than current CO2. Is the Bible irrelevant to you and your Christian school? Are you willing to defend yourself as a Christian to secular humanists who argue that it is illogical to believe in Jesus the ‘Second Adam’ if you don’t believe Genesis?

    Peter Newland

  • Thanks Dale

    Since all Christians live in a real world which includes political, social, and ideological realities, then we will of necessity find ourselves positioned somewhere in these various debates. This is certainly true of those who believe that Christianity has something to say about every area of life. And with the many views that can be held along political and social spectrums, those who speak on such matters will invariably find themselves falling somewhere along those spectrums.

    I have never hid the fact that while my primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ, I do take a more or less conservative stance on certain issues. No one can be totally free of political and ideological bias – not in a fallen world anyway. We will all have certain opinions on various issues, if we are at all thinking Christians, and concerned Christians.

    But I was a very committed leftist back in my non-Christian days. My conversion to Christ has meant that I have had to rethink some of my former political and ideological stances. So I have made something of a move from left to right over the years.

    Thus I make no bones about where I now stand on certain issues. It is my website after all. I have not said, however, that my particular view of a social or political issue is necessarily the only Christian view. There are many views, and that is why Christians can and do debate so much about these topics.

    There is no sole Christian view on AGW for example. As I have said elsewhere, since the MSM tends to take such a one-sided view on all this, I have felt it was worthwhile to try to allow other voices to be heard here. I am not a scientist, so like many others I have to rely on the expertise of various authorities. And we all have to wade through the various claims and counterclaims being made, and come to some conclusions.

    But when I see Christians going on and on about manmade climate change as settled gospel truth, that bothers me. There are far too many questions about the science and public policy involved. And believers must be careful about too closely aligning with any one political, scientific or social agenda.

    And as someone who was earlier on quite involved in radical leftist causes, I am well aware that there is a very real war of ideas going on, and not everyone who champions a political cause is doing so from purely neutral or benign motivations.

    Yes there may be people with a conservative agenda behind some views on AGW, but there are also some people with clear leftist agendas as they speak on AGW and related issues. That was one point I tried to make in my article above.

    We would be naive to think that there are no political and ideological agendas driving so many contentious debates. And we would also be naive if we thought that there is not a major war of worldviews taking place, which of course reflects the larger spiritual battle.

    But thanks for your thoughts on this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Have a look at this column by Andrew Bolt — Those who braved the smears and lies:

    From the blurb of Lawrence Solomon’s new book, The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (And those who are too fearful to do so), comes this handy list:

    Al Gore says any scientist who disagrees with him on Global Warming is a kook, or a crook.

    Guess he never met these guys:
    [read on]

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jonathan,

    My understanding is that infrared absorption by CO2 is related to the vibrational energy states of the molecule, and I’ll readily admit that you will know much more than I do about the physics involved. But it’s not clear what if any scientific claims about CO2 absorption you are disputing. The AGW claim is that CO2 absorbs infrared energy that is radiated by the earth, energy that would otherwise be radiated out into space. Unless you are disputing this, what is your point?

    Peter,
    Those images weren’t sourced but assuming they’re genuine they illustrate cherry-picking, i.e. selective use of spot data to support a position. If you were to compare 2007 or 2008 with 1998 there is a lot less summer ice now than back then. Yet some climate sceptics claim that the earth has been cooling since 1998. A truer picture can only be obtained by looking at the the long-term trend, and in the case of both global warming and ice cover, the trend is adverse. Cyclic and short term weather changes have to be accounted for in a proper analysis, and cherry-picking data is simply ignorance or mischief.

    There is no empirical data that supports your contention that CO2 levels 4500 years ago were 16 times current levels.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Shelley, yes, it is transitions in vibrational quantum states that absorb, as long as there is a change in the dipole moment of the molecule. So the symmetric stretch of CO2, where both C=O bonds expand and contract in phase, does not absorb because the dipole moment changes cancel out. Water, as a bent and highly polar molecule, absorbs in all three fundamental modes: symmetric stretch, antisymmetric stretch, and bend.

    No one disputes that CO2 absorbs IR. The AGW claim is much more than this: that human fossil fuel burning is the major cause of CO2 increase (hence the A = anthropogenic from ???????? human). And more needs to be proven to justify crippling Australia’s economy by billions and causing proven health dangers like poverty and unemployment: that it will make a blind bit of difference as long as China and India do nothing, and that warming would do billions of dollars more harm than good.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Shelley,

    Where is the “empirical data” to support the claim made by warming believers that today’s level of atmospheric CO2 is unprecedented?

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Shelley,

    If I can pick cherries in 2008, perhaps the tree is healthy in 2008? I trust you will remember this debate when the cherry blossom stubbornly refuses to fail despite rising levels of CO2 and AGW hysteria.

    Do you know the difference between empirical data and the interpretation of that data? What truly empirical data do you have for 150,000 years? None. The empirical data that exists in the present, in no-way gives dating or ages per se. The ages come from assumptions chosen. Assumption in: assumption (not empirical data) out.

    But Biblical assumptions fit the empirical data more readily than evolutionary assumptions. E.g. why does coal always have measurable 14C? Ockham would say the coal must be less than 100,000 years old. Yet evolutionary geologists assume that the coal must be old, and so all coal ‘must’ be ‘contaminated’ with 14C. Consider the truly empirical facts: all coal has 14C; wood with 14C encased in lava dated at million of years; lava, known to be recent, dated at millions of years; then, applying Ockham, we should conclude that both the coal AND the lava are less than 100,000 years old – and that carbon and other dating methods are unreliable.

    The simplest explanation that fits the empirical facts is that the earth is relatively young – as the Bible says. So why do you and your school prefer to trust evolutionary science which is based on atheistic assumptions and opinions?

    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • Peter,

    The age of the earth and the universe is established beyond all reasonable doubt from observations from many different fields. It has nothing to do with “atheistic assumptions” as you claim. In fact the vast majority of Christians accept that the earth is old without seeing that as a contradiction with their faith. By denying observable reality, young-earthers are in fact holding Christianity up to ridicule. It seems that the church has been fighting science for most of its history, but it has always lost these battles. It is far better that we develop a strong theology that is able to stand strong in the face of any scientific discovery. I believe that God made the world, and I don’t think we mere humans should place arbitrary boundaries around God’s methods of creation.

    These arguments have been done to death in forums all over the Internet and nothing new is added to the debate by re-hashing it all here.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • The Left continues with their indoctrination of the young. I wonder as to the source of funds to finance this free guide? What is the Purves Environmental Fund? Read on……

    The Geography Teachers Association of Queensland wants the global warming preaching of Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery taught as gospel:

    Tim Flannery’s books The Weather Makers and We Are the Weather Makers changed minds and hearts about global warming. They contributed to a radical shift in our nation’s understanding of climate change and the need for an urgent response.

    Now, as a joint initiative between 2007 Australian of the year Tim Flannery, the Purves Environmental Fund, and Text Publishing, the material from Flannery’s award-winning books has been modified into this tool for the nation’s classrooms: Thinking About Climate Change: A Guide for Teachers and Students…

    The guide, sponsored by the Purves Environmental Fund, is completely free. It will be distributed in multiple copies to all secondary schools in Australia…
    Every secondary school in Australia was sent a free copy of We Are the Weather Makers in 2006, which will allow teachers to support their lessons with direct study from the book…

    We hope that it will provide a valuable learning opportunity for students and will help them develop their understanding of climate change—the science, impacts and solutions.

    Scary. Does the GTAQ realise how often Flannery has been wrong – alarmingly wrong – about global warming, or doesn’t it care?

    And this is even before we consider the flaws in the global warming theory, rather than in one of its chief preachers.

    John FG McMahon

  • Christianity and Science are not opposites and are not engaged in a battle for minds. That is the argument used by the Atheists who attempt to portray our Faith as irrational. In fact the Church gave birth to the Universities and allowed for learning to prosper. The Church insists on the use of our God given reasoning powers; hence the existence of God can be argued by use of our Reason.

    Our Christianity is not a blind Faith but a reasoned one.

    To say that we must fear ridicule from the Atheists and their mates for stating a belief in the Bible’s account of the Creation of the World indicates that the mustard seed has not fallen on fertile ground. Are our beliefs to be dictated to us by the howling crowd? Does fear of ridicule from others compel us to deny part or the whole of Christianity. A classic example of fear and ridicule was St Peter’s conduct when he denied knowing Our Lord and the cock crowed as Our Lord said it would “Before the cock crows you will have denied me three times”. Later St Peter, with his Faith fortified by the Holy Spirit had no fear of ridicule and accepted martyrdom rather than submit to “ridicule”.

    One’s faith must be weak or very tenuous if fear of ridicule plays a significant role in one’s life.

    So it must be asked of Shelley Atherton whether her opinions, understandings, beliefs and her personal positions on issues are driven by her fear of ridicule and non-acceptance by her peers and others? That’s not very reasonable, rational or scientific. That’s raw emotion.

    John FG McMahon

  • Ah yes, now our resident schoolgirl expert pontificates on yet another thing she has much to learn about. Of course it is not a matter of “we mere humans” placing “arbitrary boundaries around God’s methods of creation”, but about “we mere humans” believing what God said He did! Jesus, in whom our schoolgirl professes to believe, was happy to believe that God created Adam and Eve “from the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6–9), not after billions of years of evolution via death and suffering. He also accepted Noah’s Flood as a real event where a real man, Noah, survived on a real vessel (Luke 17:26–27).

    It is compromising churchians, like apparently those who run Shelley’s school, who hold up Christianity to ridicule by not believing what Jesus taught (lthough apparently what alGore teaches is sacrosanct). They also would have us believe that billions of years of death are “very good” (cf. Genesis 1:31), although the Bible calls death “the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) and “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26).

    Of course, Christians who hold the same view of Scripture as Christ (those Shelley calls “young-earthers”) deny no actual observation, merely the interpretation that denies special creation and the Flood (as per James Hutton. Further, Mr Newland has already presented data that makes billions of years implausible: the presense of short lived C-14 in coal and wood (and I could add diamonds.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Kudos to Mr Muehlenberg, and to the regular commentators here, for continuing to post about this subject – I’ve found much useful information on this site. I don’t pretend to know all the facts, but find it hard to believe AGW proponents when they claim the debate is over. Attempting to censor the opposition certainly points to ideology rather than science.

    Even assuming AGW, I’m skeptical about whether the government’s ETS could have any real impact. The only certain outcome seems to be economic damage. So I share Shelley’s concern for the future of our generation (I’m heading to uni next year), but expect a weaker economy rather than a global sauna. If the government must do something, I’d rather it be of an economically positive nature. Perhaps an increased funding for research into alternative energy sources.

    (Note: Since what follows not exactly on-topic, I won’t be offended if it isn’t posted. Though I do think the age of the earth is relevant to the AGW debate for reasons given in others’ prior posts.)

    I believe that God made the world, and I don’t think we mere humans should place arbitrary boundaries around God’s methods of creation.

    Good point Shelley – it’s far better to let God speak for Himself rather than ignore His account and confine Him to human ideas (e.g. goo-to-you evolution/long-ages).

    It is far better that we develop a strong theology that is able to stand strong in the face of any scientific discovery.

    Agreed. But how to maintain a strong theology while accepting the evolution/long-age scenario as God’s mode of creation? This scenario presents a cruel god – day after day, year after countless year, this god’s creatures suffered (indeed, he created their pain receptors) and died until he was finally finished. This from a god that claims to be all-good and all-loving. He also claims to be all-powerful, so surely he could’ve done things differently had he cared a jot. Although, given the wasteful and inefficient nature of this mode of creation, the omnipotence of this god is questionable. Then this god goes and inspires a creation account that not only seems incongruous with what he actually did, but also conceals his inefficiency and cruelty. Later he proclaims that he is ‘the Truth’; perhaps ‘half-Truth’ would be more accurate. The above is hardly strong theology, thus we should steer well clear of the evolution/long-age scenarios.

    It seems that the church has been fighting science for most of its history, but it has always lost these battles.

    Quite a sweeping claim, and odd coming from a Christian. What examples would you provide in support? They would have to span a millennium for the claim (“fighting… for most of its history”) to be viable. The Galileo affair and church support for a flat earth are often brought up. But the latter is a myth, and popular belief on the former is incorrect, so neither would be useful. I don’t know of any other ‘battles’ prior to the 19th century (when naturalism began to permeate science), but I’m willing to be enlightened. In the mean time, may I suggest that far from ‘fighting’ science, Christianity (the church) provides the foundation for it; see here and here (scroll down a bit till you come to a numbered list).

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Since the age of the earth is being mentioned in connection with the global warming debate, I might speculate that there are certain correlations here between one’s acceptance of the claims of naturalistic science in regard to the origin of the earth and of life, and acceptance of the claims of naturalistic science concerning global warming.

    Of course, I am aware of the many ‘secular’ AGW skeptics who accept naturalistic explanations of life, but amongst Christians it seems there is a closer correlation between those unwilling to question the ‘science’ of evolution/naturalism and those also unwilling to doubt the ‘science’ of climate change. I suggest that those of us who are familiar with the propensity of modern science to become corrupted with the bias of the naturalistic paradigm, will maintain a healthy skepticism of the so-called ‘neutrality’ of science.

    Also, those of us who follow the creation/evolution origins debate are well aware of the role assumptions play in the interpretation of data. Consequently in any scientific claim we are accustomed to looking for the assumptions behind the claim, and it seems to me that the science of AGW relies upon a great many assumptions.

    Obviously too, the way in which those who challenge the ruling scientific paradigm of evolution/long-ages, and those who challenge the AGW scientific ‘consensus’, are treated in exactly the same manner – with ridicule, contempt and bluff rather than addressing the argument.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • The Lefties’ 10 Commandments:

    1. Thou Shalt Have no other gods before the environment.

    2. Thou Shalt Not make to thee any image or likeness of scripture or anything that references or alludes to God and post it a public place.

    3. Thou Shalt not take the name of the Supreme Court in vain.

    4. Remember vacation days in union contracts to keep them sacrosanct. For three days shalt thou labor, but the remaining four shall be for recreation.

    5. Honor thy Public School teachers and never criticize their methods, curriculum, or results, that they may fill thy campaign coffers.

    6. Thou Shalt not kill except for convenience and sex.

    7. Thou Shalt not judge any consensual sex act as immoral, lest thou be considered a prude.

    8. Thou Shalt not steal unless it is from a rich man and thou useth the tax code, or if thou art a clever movie character, thou canst do it as well.

    9. Thou Shalt bear false witness and paint a deceiving picture if it advances the cause of liberalism.

    10. Thou Shalt Covet thy neighbors house, thy neighbor’s car, and thy neighbor’s spouse. For thy neighbor hath gotten all of his goods and success by oppressing the poor. Thy covetousness shalt drive thy politics.

    And the greatest lefty commandment:

    Thou shalt be tolerant of thy neighbor, of his religion, and lifestyle, embracing it as if it were thine own.”
    Unless he is a Christian, in which case thou shalt not tolerate this because it is intolerant.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • John, Jonathan, Samuel and Ewan,

    You are insisting that Christians must believe in a literal 7-day creation, and inferring that if they are not, then they are wrong and somehow un-Christian. Yet the very fact that God created the world is the central point; not how long he took, or how old the earth is. Shelly is right; the scientific evidence suggests that the earth is old. The theory of Historic Creationism is reasonable; old earth, young humanity. The earth could well be 4.5 billion years old, and humanity only 10,000 years old. That theory does not contradict Genesis, nor does it deny God. The theological implications of believing this are hardly drastic either. There are much more important doctrinal issues than this. Militant creationism is not helpful, nor is it necessary.

    http://www.greyleads.com/theology/is-it-necessary-for-the-creation-story-to-be-literal/

    Simon Kennedy, VIC

  • Australia’s economic suicide under the draconian ETS seems a train wreak about to happen and it doesn’t appear that the sheer weight of evidence against this hoax / scam and politics of human CO 2 has any hope of curtailing this tragedy. Consider the last paragraph of Lord Monckton’s letter to Penny Wong: “As for the climate, it is a non-problem, and the correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. Similar warnings are being sent to other legislators worldwide by those of us – now probably in the majority among the scientific community, not that one should do science by head-count – who have studied climate sensitivity and have found the UN’s analysis lamentably wanting. The UN’s predictions are already being falsified by events: global temperatures have been falling for seven years, and not one of the climate models relied upon so heavily and so unwisely by the IPCC predicted that turn of events. If you introduce an emissions-trading scheme, when it transpires that the scheme and its associated economic damage had never been necessary – and it will, and sooner than you think – you and your party will be flung from office, perhaps forever. It is, therefore, in the long-term vested interest of your party to think again.”
    Monckton of Brenchley (“My research, published in Physics and Society, a technical newsletter of the American Physical Society this month, demonstratres that the IPCC’s values for the three key parameters whose product is climate sensitivity are based on only four papers – not the 2,500 that are often mentioned.”)

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/monckton_warns_wong_youre_steering_labor_to_doom/

    The ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ Debate by Russell Grigg
    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5256

    “A rise in funding for promoting nuclear power in the UK (and hence climate-related science research) from $170 million p.a. to $2 billion p.a., in the 1990s, has meant that many scientists and ‘environmental journalists’ have jumped on board the bandwagon. The former (climate scientists) need there to be a problem in order to get funding. The latter require more and more hysterical stories for news media to publish. Now tens of thousands of jobs depend on global warming. A large portion of Government funds went into building computer models to forecast future climate. However, all such forecasts depend on the assumptions put into them, and ‘all models assume man-made CO2 is the main cause of climate change rather than the sun or the clouds’. A light-hearted note was supplied by Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist, who said, ‘If I wanted to do research on the squirrels of Sussex any time from 1990 onwards, I would write my grant application saying, “I want to investigate the nut-gathering behaviour of squirrels with special reference to the effects of global warming”, and that way I get my money; if I forget to mention global warming, I might not get the money.’ Calder also added, ‘The whole global warming business has become like a religion. People who disagree are called heretics.’ ”

    The entire issue has become terminally political with the economic future of Australia hanging in the balance.
    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/4800
    Climate change & terrorism: a new political agenda? by Emil Silvestru;

    “In light of all these, ( falsified past gloom and doom scenarios ) one cannot but wonder how some scientists can be so sure in their dark predictions of global climate change in the near-future? Their apocalyptic predictions uttered as certitudes have even led some politicians to adopt positions that undermine the basic principles of democracy. Thus the UK foreign secretary Margaret Beckett has recently compared climate-change sceptics with terrorists. One wonders what has been left of free speech? After all, many sceptics are not deniers of global warming, only doubters of the significance of the role humans play in it.”

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • Not surprising that some disbelieve the Genesis creation account. We already know that they tend to support leftist politics, which violate the Decalogue commandments against theft and coveting (“envy + rhetoric = social justice” — Thomas Sowell). The Decalogue also contains the command for the Israelites to observe a six day week and rest on the seventh day, precisely because God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh (Ex. 20:8–11). This command lacks credibility if its justifiction is faulty, and since it is part of a package, all many churches that disbelieve Genesis also believe in abortion and gay “marriage” and idolize the environment, as well as favouring confiscatory leftist politics.

    As I’ve said, the rest of the Bible treats Genesis as history, and that is far more important than the hypotheses of scientists who weren’t there. That crass piece referenced by SK is totally lacking in exegesis or comparison of Scripture with Scripture. Claiming that Genesis 1 is poetry is garbage: it lacks none of the earmarks of poetry such as parallelism and dominance of perfect and imperfect verbs. Rather, it has all the earmarks of historical narrative: dominance of preterite verbs, in particular, starting with the qatal form and continuing the narrative in wayyiqtol verbs. Exactly the same analysis differentiates the very couplet sited in that crass paper: the historical Judges 4 is preterite-heavy, while the poetic Judges 5 is very low in preterites.

    For specifics, according to the dating methods which some blindly accept, there are Homo sapiens fossils 200,000 years old. So how could they be descended from Adam, the historical ancestorless ancestor of Christ (Luke 3:38)?

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Simon, young-earthers do NOT say that Christians MUST believe in 6-day creation. But isn’t it logical that God’s infallible word should narrate true history? Now millions of years contradict the Bible. So if, in accepting deep-time, we label Genesis ‘myth or allegory’, then evangelism and apologetics must defend ‘infallible myths’ – not a good ‘theological implication’ – an implication atheists delight in refuting.

    But, examining the evidence, we find that NO empirical data logically demands long ages. Rather, data cited re coal, diamonds, wood, lava etc, is compatible with recent creation. But neither Shelley, nor others, has shown how that data fits the long ages claimed in global warming stories.

    We need to keep this debate civil. The history of science, medicine, politics etc, abounds with examples where bluster, vilification and majority opinion have had disastrous results. Let’s learn from history and keep to an honest and good humoured evaluation of the data and assumptions. On that basis, AGW may prove to be a furphy.

    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • The subject of Creation versus Evolution is a massive and complex issue which is not the subject of this discussion. To digress from the topic of Climate Change/Global Warming will lead the debate nowhere. Maybe Mr Muehlenberg will do the honours with a lead article on the the topic of Creation and Evolution so this issue can be explored in detail.

    John McMahon, Burnett District, Qld

  • Thanks John

    Yes it is a separate issue, albeit a very important one, and I hope to devote more attention to it in the future.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Lefties have always loved to invent crises as an excuse to increase government control over our lives. Think of the population scare by Paul Ehrlich in his 1968 fraud, The Population Bomb, who advocated totalitarian population control, predicting that during the 1980’s 65 million Americans would perish from starvation. The usual suspect, the UN, claimed in 1975 “500 million starvation deaths in Asia between 1980 and 2025.” Yet lefties still idolize Ehrlich and the UN.

    Thomas Sowell’s book Vision of the Anointed (reviewed on this site) gives plenty of other examples, as Walter Williams summarizes:

    In the early 60s, Planned Parenthood and other groups convinced the nation there was a “crisis” in teen pregnancy and venereal disease. They got Congress to give them our money to sponsor sex education (read: indoctrination) classes, often showing films to junior high school students depicting hetero- homosexual couples engaged in sex; teenage birth control clinics were set up and condom distribution programs started.

    Was there a crisis in the first place? Since 1950, teenage fertility rates had been declining as were venereal disease rates. By 1960 syphilis and gonorrhea infections were less than half of what they were in 1950. We all know the story after “sex education.” Teen pregnancy rose from 68 per thousand in 1970 to 96 per thousand by 1980. Venereal disease rate skyrocketed 350 percent between 1965 and 1978.

    It’s the same story with poverty and dependency. When the “war on poverty” began in 1965, the number of people living in poverty had been rapidly declining since World War II. Sowell reports “[t]he proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level, without counting government benefits, declined by about one-third from 1950 to 1965.” In other words, dependency was declining when the “war on poverty” began. Today, what the Bureau of Census defines as poverty is higher than in 1965 and there’s much more dependency.

    It’s the same story with crime. The absolute number of murders committed in the U.S. in 1960 was less than in 1930, 1940 or 1950, even though the population was larger. After 1960, the courts succumbed to idiotic liberal ideology. Judge Brazelon opined the problem wasn’t with “the so-called criminal population” but with society whose “need to punish” was a “primitive urge” that was “highly irrational.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said, “Rehabilitation of criminals has seldom been attempted. Killing them or locking them up is the-tried-and-true ancient method. Why not turn our faces toward rehabilitation?” Court contempt for law-abiding citizens produced today’s crime rampage.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks Peter, for your friendly comment. I disagree, obviously, but I accept that we all have opinions. I don’t think this is such a big issue, to be honest. It is very interesting, though.
    Simon Kennedy, VIC

  • John, we are OFF TOPIC. Bill, the church needs to debate young-earth-creation (YEC) versus old-earth-creation (OEC) – as well as debating creation-v-evolution in the world. If we say that the age of the earth is unimportant, we tacitly refuse to defend the Bible – and concede victory to secular humanism. This may be a reason why the western church has been in decline. Rather than abandoning Genesis, as seems to be the current majority position, both YECs and OECs should defend their views: keeping to empirical data; the Bible; and logic; rather than descending to vilification or appeal to a majority (of secular humanists and/or Christians) as if the majority owns the narrow gate of truth.

    Shelley, modern experimental science assumes that non-natural explanations are invalid. Isn’t that an atheistic assumption which denies the possibility of creation? As Lewontin wrote: “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    So it’s naïve to say the age of the earth has nothing to do with atheistic assumptions and that it does not contradict Biblical faith. Can you or anyone refute the empirical data cited in support of YEC? Does your ‘strong theology’ have anything other than many words that essentially mean that the Bible is false history and so open Christianity to ridicule?

    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • I agree that a discussion about creation/evolution belongs in a separate forum, but I also think age of rocks, planets and stars is a separate consideration from human origins, because the sciences involved are quite different.

    Unfortunately any such discussion is unlikely to resolve the argument. Ultimately it comes down to personal opinion about the reliability of Genesis as an historical or scientific document. Personally I believe it was just God’s way of explaining a very complex issue to primitive people. There were no Hebrew words for singularity or supernova.

    Young earth creationism is unconvincing when it is promoted with hubris, belligerence and sneering sarcasm. And when politics is brought into the discussion, it all just sounds like propaganda. Dr Sarfati could do with some lessons in how to win friends and influence people.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Shelley sez:

    Personally I believe it was just God’s way of explaining a very complex issue to primitive people.

    Shelley’s chronological snobbery is unbecoming. For goodness’s sake, if the ABC (Atheist Bolsheviks’ Collective) can use Playschool to explain evolution to preschoolers, then it would not have been too hard to explain it to supposedly “primitive people” who could build cities. Dr Terry Mortenson explains a possible way. And again, Shelley would have to accuse Jesus Christ Himself of being primitive, since He accepted Genesis creation and the flood as real history.

    There were no Hebrew words for singularity or supernova.

    But there were plenty of Hebrew words for long ages, or explaining that one kind had changed into another, if that’s what God had intended.

    Dr Sarfati could do with some lessons in how to win friends and influence people.

    Oh right, Shelley, she who declares that skeptics of AGW are in danger of God’s judgement, and that her elders (with far more knowledge and qualifications) should heed the verdict of her and her schoolmates because they supposedly have greater knowledge.

    Shelley has mostly been treated with patience and courtesy, despite her talking down to us like a school prefect would to younger students. But thanx for using my adult title.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Shelley,
    When I was sussing out YECs 20 years ago, I subscribed to an atheist magazine which was explicitly anti-YEC (NSCE’s ‘Creation/Evolution’, now defunct). It was very helpful to me to check out their arguments in detail and look for YEC weaknesses. And I’m now a YEC.
    You seem to be very anti-YEC, but rather than refute a YEC argument with a reasoned rebuttal you seem to rely on other people’s opinions. You give no sign of having actually read the main YEC publications: ‘Creation Magazine’; The Answers Book; Refuting Evolution; Six-day Creation – does it matter; 15 Reasons to take Genesis as History. If you have not read them, is your YEC opposition reasonable? If you are willing and allowed to read them, I’m offering to give you a free subscription and a copy of those books.
    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • Oh please do not encourage Shelley Atherton to involve herself in yet another issue without her gaining a thorough understanding of the global warming/climate change issue. She has so much to study, digest and understand in that area alone without inviting her to debate the most favourite subject of the Atheist and the Left ie “Evolution”.

    Peter Newland: any debate on Creation versus Evolution must be clearly separate from other issues otherwise it will be dragged into a quagmire by the those opposing Creation. When dealing with “Shelley” and those such as she, there is little to be gained in engaging in any open, honest debate. Because the honesty and openness would not be reciprocated.

    In any case my original comment was that whilst a believer in Creation, it will matter naught to me if/when I arrive at the narrow gate to Heaven. My concern in this area has always been that with the arrival of the Theory of Evolution, which even Darwin doubted with his comment ” I am concerned with the perfection of the eye”, that the evolution argument has been wholeheartedly adopted (hijacked?) by the Atheists, Humanists, Communists and their ilk to dismiss the relevance of Christianity to shore up their own inadequate ideology.

    Let’s avoid giving the enemies of Christianity ammunition to attack our Faith at every opportunity and return to the discussion on global warming/climate change.

    When Mr Muehlenberg is inclined to open up discussion on Creation and Evolution then discussion can take place at that time. In the meantime keep to the issue under discussion.

    John McMahon, Burnett District, Qld

  • Peter,

    I have visited the CMI bookshop in Brisbane and obtained a number of their books and magazines. I have also read a lot of the material on their website. I am unimpressed.

    The biggest problem is this belief (quoted from CMI website):
    By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

    This leaves absolutely no room for the possibility that the scriptural record is faulty or subject to interpretation by fallible people. Scripture must be read with intelligence and common sense, and with due regard for the manner in which it has been collated over the centuries by humans. We need to accord it great respect, but also be wary about subjective beliefs that cause us to deny observable reality. I don’t accept that God would deliberately deceive us by leaving massive amounts of evidence of a very old earth that we must continually deny, often by the most convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics. If you wish to believe otherwise, that’s fine with me, but I can’t be bullied into accepting the views of a small minority of Christians.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • I doubt that the Ph.D. scientists who work for CMI will lose much sleep that a schoolgirl is unimpressed by their work. Such Ph.D.s also realize that there is much to learn, unlike Shelley who already thinks she knows enough to pronounce judgement on Scripture, science, and warm-mongering (well, after all, all her classmates agree!).

    And while professing to be a Christian, she has ignored our points that Jesus Christ Himself affirmed Scripture, including the creation and flood accounts. So it’s hard to imagine why a Christian should believe that Scripture is faulty.

    As for “I don’t accept that God would deliberately deceive us”, well neither would I: why would He leave a biblical record so diametrically opposed to evolution, and send His Son to affirm it, if evolution (i.e. death of the unfit over millions of years) were true? No, God is not the one deceiving; the likes of Shelley deceive themselves by ignoring what He has revealed and trusting fallible scientists who weren’t there, and ignoring clear evidence for a young earth (e.g. the C-14 in coal and diamonds already mentioned).

    It is also hardly scientific to decide truth by majority vote. As for “small minority of Christians”, this minority that believed Genesis as written includes most Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, all the Reformers, John Wesley, so I don’t mind being numbered with them.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Shelley,
    You asked for empirical evidence: but when I quoted some, you effectively ‘deny observable reality’ – you fail to give a reasonable refutation of the interpretation of those facts as incompatible with millions of years. Instead of logical argument from empirical fact, you retreat to theological ground, express doubt in the Bible, and avoid the implications of the facts.
    Since you repeatedly fail to answer such challenges, but sidetrack to majority opinion of fallible scientists, I assume that you have no answer and simply bluff and evade. If you can’t answer such challenges I suggest you sort it out soon if you hope to leave uni as a Christian.
    So do you have any real substance? Where is “the scriptural record [] faulty or [has been wrongly interpreted]” by YECs. You say you have read some CMI material. But you offer no examples of “the most convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics” you claim is there. Also, without relying on assumptions that can not be proved empirically, tell us what ‘massive amounts of evidence’ mandate interpretations of ages of millions or billion of years.
    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • Please check out the 60 minutes programme and web discussion comments ie. Dr Evans’ answered questions. I have linked to here;
    http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=614370

    Andrew Bolt, Monday, August 18, 2008 at 11:05am
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/rudd_feels_the_heat_on_60_minutes/
    A turning point in the debate: 60 Minutes is suddenly not so sure man is heating the world to hell, after all. And it won’t have been reassured by Kevin Rudd’s shaky grasp of the evidence in spruiking his carbon tax:

    PM KEVIN RUDD: But economic cost (sic) of not acting is massive, it’s through the roof. Think about food production, the Murray, think about the impact on tourism in QLD, no more Barrier Reef, Kakadu, no more Kakadu. Think about the impact on jobs, it’s huge.

    Actually, even if Rudd really thinks warming will wipe out the Barrier Reef and Kakadu (neither of which show any sign of going anywhere), he is deceiving viewers by suggesting his carbon tax would make the slightest difference to the climate. Indeed, the only impact will be on jobs – as in costing them, and not, as he claims, saving them.

    TARA BROWN: How certain are you that mankind is the cause behind global warming?

    PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There’s a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change – 4000 of them.

    No, it’s actually called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And no, there are not 4000 IPCC scientists. Try 2500, instead. Rudd is lucky that this exaggeration wasn’t picked up by Brown. What’s more, a number of those 2500 don’t stand by the IPCC conclusion on man’s effect on the climate. Many others were not even consulted over the report’s bottom-line finding.

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • Shelley says: I don’t accept that God would deliberately deceive us by leaving massive amounts of evidence of a very old earth that we must continually deny, often by the most convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics. If you wish to believe otherwise, that’s fine with me, but I can’t be bullied into accepting the views of a small minority of Christians.

    From my perspective: The problem for Christians who choose to believe in the naturalistic evolutionary interpretation of a very old earth, is that I don’t accept that God would deliberately deceive us by leaving massive amounts of evidence of a young earth that we must continually deny, often by the most convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics. If Christians choose to believe the scientific naturalists over Scripture, that’s fine with me, but I hope they realise the damage done to the credibility of the church and the Bible.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Jonathan,

    I respect the achievement of anyone who has obtained a PhD from a recognised university. But in your case you have a specialist qualification in infrared spectroscopy. How does that qualify you as an expert in biology, physiology, astronomy, geology, genetics, Hebrew, biblical criticism or any of the other fields that you write articles about?

    If the scientists who work for CMI expect recognition as scientists, they should be submitting their work for criticism by their peers in recognised professional journals, not self-publishing them on websites in areas outside their field of expertise. You want recognition as scientists but you won’t conform to the professional standards of a scientist. You can’t have it both ways.

    If you have empirical evidence that the world is 6000 years old, it should be able to stand up to proper scientific scrutiny. Such an astounding discovery would surely be worthy of a Nobel Prize. I presume you will claim that there is a conspiracy against creationists, but there are plenty of examples in science where a prevailing theory has been turned on its head. Science would not have made the massive progress it has in recent times if new ideas were stifled out of existence.

    Peter, if you want an example of convoluted and absurd bending of credulity and physics, try the creationist explanations of the Flood, specifically where the water came from and where it went afterwards. Similarly the explanations of the distant starlight problem, Joshua’s long day, the geologic column, fossil fuel deposits etc. etc.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Thanks Shelley

    Given that your first appearance on this site (in an earlier post, also on climate change) included the charge that doubters of your stance on AGW would experience the judgment of God, it is indeed most interesting to now hear you saying this: “there are plenty of examples in science where a prevailing theory has been turned on its head. Science would not have made the massive progress it has in recent times if new ideas were stifled out of existence.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Shelley,

    again you give opinion not empirical fact or logic. Unless you want the readers to conclude that you are ignorant and/or disingenuous, you need to stick to facts and their logical interpretation.

    You claim familiarity with CreationOnTheWeb.com but, when explicitly challenged, you repeatedly fail to show a single error of fact or one illogical conclusion.

    E.g. you seem out of your depth re Noah’s Flood. Facts: there is enough water on earth to cover the whole earth to an average depth of 3km; there are very deep and extensive layers of water laid strata over most of the earth’s land surface; water-laid strata (including coal) often show polystrata fossils; marine fossils are often found near the tops of mountains. Hence one logical conclusion is that the whole earth surface has been extensively reworked by a watery catastrophe (Noah’s Flood?) – and that plate tectonics has caused considerable reworking of the earth’s crust, including raising the mountains and the lowering the ocean basins. Where did the water go? Perhaps it went into the ocean basins?

    That is a logical fit to the empirical facts and it fits the clear statements of the Bible.

    Shelley, If you are to regain any credibility as an honest open debater, you should detail at least one error of fact and/or logic for each of the CreationOnTheWeb “explanations of the distant starlight problem, Joshua’s long day, the geologic column, fossil fuel deposits etc. etc” which you claim are absurd.

    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • Bill,

    I made no “charge”. I merely asked a question. I was puzzled about your apparent lack of concern for the environment in the light of God giving us responsibility for stewardship of His creation. There are powerful interests who are strongly motivated to stifle any move towards sustainable energy. Equally there are those who stand to gain from such change. That’s the political reality. I just find it strange that conservative Christians are so strongly aligned to one side of the debate, and I questioned whether it was politically rather than scientifically motivated.

    I have no argument with scepticism per se. It is fundamental to the advancement of human knowledge.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Dear Shelley,

    Regarding your comment to Jonathan Sarfati about his narrow area of speciality – if you choose to gag people from voicing opinions and using their reasoning powers about anything other than their particular field…well, what can I say? I guess that means all I’m allowed to talk about is electronic circuits and cochlea implants – what a boring life for me! And I think it would mean that close to 100% of blogs and opinion articles and books written around the world would need to be censored. Although that mightn’t be such a bad thing. There’d probably be only a few papers left that quoted the words “climate change” or “global warming” in them, and they might even be directly relevant to the topic. I wonder how many of the papers used by the IPCC would remain?

    My point is that people talk outside of their field of expertise all the time, and that does not have to mean that they are wrong (although at the same time, I’m certainly not saying that they are always right). In my experience (short as it has been), I have quickly found that people who are not experts in any given area are often quite capable of having a greater insight and commonsense than some of those who are. And many of the great thinkers of the past did not limit themselves to a particular field of expertise. I have also found within my own field, that a particularly high level of qualification does not necessarily translate into the most useful worker or thinker in the field. I’m very sorry to say this, but I consider myself to be one such case.

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss people on the basis of their qualifications, without actually dealing with what they say. A good example of this is how you have been asked for examples of what you say are “the most convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics”. In giving examples, you didn’t actually report anything of substance, other than showing that you don’t think much of what you’ve read on the topic. But you still didn’t actually raise any valid objections. Now, I know you couldn’t possibly have the time to go into any detail on each topic you mentioned, but surely you can pinpoint what is so unbelievable about them. To take one specific example – where did all the water from Noah’s flood go afterwards? What’s so incredulous about the CMI explanation that much of it sits in the ocean basins right now, after the continents were uplifted and the ocean floors dropped due to catastrophic tectonic plate movement during the flood? http://creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter12.pdf

    By the way, if you don’t actually believe what the Bible says about Noah’s flood, what bits of the Bible do you actually believe? Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection both seem pretty difficult to swallow to many scientists, and are unverifiable by repeatable and testable methods. And I doubt there have ever been any scientific peer-reviewed papers written to confirm that they happened – so do you disbelieve these parts of the Bible as well?

    Shelley, I write this in the spirit of iron sharpening iron – I hope you take it this way.

    Regards,
    Mathew Markey

  • Thanks Shelley

    While it is nice to see you back peddling here, all of your comments until now have given the clear impression that you believed your version of events was the only correct one, and that all those who disagreed with you were not only wrong, but somehow less than Christian.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • So our schoolgirl experts objects to me speaking outside my area of specialty, despite my advanced qualifications in physics (including nuclear) and chemistry (including organic), yet she has no expertise at all and demands that we accedes to the consensus of her schoolmates, so by her own reasoning, she shouldn’t be writing at all! My own formal expertise means that I am quite capable of spotting flaws in radiometric dating methods and chemical evolution of first life. Furthermore, all my articles and books provide primary sources.

    BTW, I am ethnically Jewish, as should be obvious by my name. My book Refuting Compromise cites Hebrew experts as well as Josephus, the Church Fathers, Reformers and John Wesley on the meaning of Genesis. Go right ahead and challenge me on this.

    As for “peer review”, Darwin’s Origin was not peer-reviewed, and neither are the books of arch misotheist Richard Dawkins (who often speaks WAY outside his firld of animal behaviour). In any case, this is just an excuse to avoid dealing with the arguments (see Creationism, Science and Peer Review).

    Three of my colleagues in the Australian office are Ph.D. biologists, and one is a qualified geologist with real field and lab experience with radiometric dating.

    Why, under Shelley’s “theology” should we care for God’s creation, when she doesn’t really believe that God created anything? As for my views on the environment, see Earth Day: Is Christianity to blame for environment problems? I also support sustainable energy, but this doesn’t mean that I have to support expensive projects involving diffuse sources like solar and wind power, or the inefficient and hygroscopic fuel ethanol (where a tank of ethanol requires the grain that would feed someone for a year). As for financial motivations, what about the riches that former tobacco lobbyist alGore has made with his warm-mongering, and the government funding pouring into projects that ostensibly deal with it?

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Mathew, Jonathan,

    I suggest you read my comments again in their context. Nowhere have I tried to “gag people from voicing opinions” and it is quite dishonest to suggest that I did.

    Jonathan makes much of his PhD credentials as an “argument from authority”, but my point is that he is only entitled to expert status within his scientific specialty. And I would question whether that knowledge is current, given that, according to his biography, he hasn’t worked in or published in that field since 1995. He is quite entitled to write about any topic he wishes, but he is not entitled to claim expertise in every area of science.

    Peter,
    You imply that there were no mountains or deep oceans prior to the flood, and that both mountains and oceans formed relatively quickly after the flood through plate tectonics. The standard scientific explanation for mountain building involves an extremely slow process, which incidentally is also capable of explaining marine fossils on mountain tops. Are you seriously suggesting that the continents moved apart thousands of miles in a few weeks or months? The energy dissipated in such a situation would surely boil all the water on the planet and destroy all life. Where is the evidence of such a cataclysmic event? And where was the water before the flood if there were no oceans? Yes, I’ve read the creationist theories on this, but they aren’t any more credible.

    That is just one example of what I mean by “convoluted and absurd bending of credulity, and of physics”. It is simply wild and unsubstantiated speculation without any evidence to support it.

    Shelley Atherton, Brisbane

  • Of course, Shelley can’t point to deficiencies in my knowledge, or what discoveries have invalidated my learning in my varied fields. But she has a nerve whinging about an “argument from authority”, when I really do have authority about infrared absorption, and know quite a lot about the real chemistry that makes chemical evolution laughable.

    Yet her first post demanded that we accept the authority of her classmates, and questioned the motivation and even Christian faith of those who dared to differ.

    As for her comments on orogeny, it would seem that “Shelley” is more likely a committee from “her” school, since there is far too much ignorance for just one person.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Shelley,

    You seem quite happy to accept all the standard Bible-denying naturalistic just-so stories of the history of our world, but skeptical when it comes to creationist models of earth history that conform to Scripture. Why is that?

    Also why is it that you ridicule the idea of a “conspiracy against creationists” when it comes to peer review, but you are quite happy to believe in a conspiracy against sustainable energy? e.g. “There are powerful interests who are strongly motivated to stifle any move towards sustainable energy.”

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Shelley, clearly mountains were lower and sea shallower before and during Noah’s Flood. At the start of the flood (Genesis 6:11 says) ‘all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the sky were opened’. Sounds like huge quantities of subterranean water venting to the atmosphere and falling as catastrophic rain. It fits in with tectonic activity cracking the earth’s crust and releasing the geyser/fountains.
    It also fits with rapid continental plate subduction and crust reworking. Of course the oceans warmed, probably with some localized boiling. The warm oceans then triggered the Ice Age since warm oceans produce more rain and/or snow. The creation model is logical and coherent: it explains the evidence far better than the evolutionary uniformitarian model – where triggering an ice age is a problem because cooler oceans cause less snow and rain (negative feedback). Similarly, fast plate subduction (due to positive feedback) is easier to explain than extremely slow drift with tremendous drag. Enter: ‘plate tectonics’; ‘ice age’; etc, into creationontheweb for detailed discussions.
    Again you have avoided the empirical data: which contradicts ages of millions of years; and is better explained by a violent and catastrophic flood not that long ago. E.g. 14C in all coal; polystrata fossil trees bridging strata allegedly millions of years different in age; huge fossil graveyards with the occasional land animal mixed in. Even the very existence of most fossils (and especially jelly-fish fossils) contradict slowly accumulating layers because they should have rotted away before their burial could be completed under the evolutionary age assumptions.
    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  • Dear Shelley,

    You’re the first person I can remember who has labelled me as dishonest! So I’m trying to see what it was that I said that could provoke this. OK, my statement about gagging people was heading in the wrong direction and badly put now that I think about it. But for me the point I was trying to make still stands (no matter how badly I might have originally put it). I see that you are not calling for people’s opinions to be censored in practice – you are not trying to stop them from speaking publicly. I’m sorry for originally saying this.

    But you ARE trying to censor people’s minds. You do this by arguing that people shouldn’t take any notice of Jonathan’s (and others’) opinions on particular topics only because of their qualifications and not because of what they say. My original point is that in doing so, you are using their qualifications (or lack of) as an excuse to ignore their arguments. I could attempt to give you a very reasoned argument about how an effect of the mining resources boom has been to push up home mortgage interest rates in Australia, but because I have no qualifications in the field, your attitude indicates that you will ignore me – even though my logic may be sound.

    I do understand if you react strongly again to me saying that you are trying to censor people’s minds, because I can see that you probably don’t intend this. But I’m trying to tell you that this is in practice what you do.

    To reiterate – by calling a person’s qualifications into question, you blind and deafen yourself (and maybe others if you succeed) to the main points being made by that person. If you think their ideas are rubbish, then explain how so instead of questioning their qualifications.

    By the way, if I had your attitude, I should ignore the points you made about plate tectonics, marine fossils, the boiling of the oceans etc, purely because you are not qualified in the many fields of expertise covered. But I will not do that. I think you made some interesting points, and they certainly made me stop and think about it. It actually makes me want to look further into the matter.

    Finally, you didn’t answer my question about which parts of the Bible you do believe if you don’t believe it about Noah’s flood (eg Jesus’ virgin birth, resurrection?). A very important question, since many aspects are not repeatable and cannot be reproduced and therefore cannot be defended in peer-reviewed papers.

    Again, I hope you take this in the spirit of: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17)

    Regards,
    Mathew Markey

  • Thanks Mathew

    Actually I think it is Shelley who should apologise here. If she is who she claims to be – a 17-year-old school girl – then she is perhaps the least qualified of us all to speak. She has not even finished High School thus far, yet she can lecture and pontificate to PhDs and others. She in effect rebukes them, and claims they are not qualified to speak on the topic. Yet incredibly, she feels fully confident that she can speak out on this issue, and that we must all bow to her wisdom.

    I have allowed her a very good run here thus far – all of her comments have appeared. But I am now reconsidering any further comments. She has not shown the slightest sign of humility or willingness to learn from others thus far. Indeed, this arrogant and pompous attitude does not speak well of her “Christian” schooling.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Let’s analyse the first post of “Shelley” because it’s a good lesson in logical fallacies and emotive arguing:

    I am unhappy that so many of my fellow Christians of the older generation have adopted a contrarian view on the matter, seemingly based on their right wing politics.

    Disagree with me and it must be due to unworthy politics. Never mind the strong leftist bent of many AGW alarmists. Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, has credibly compared modern environmentalism with the oppressive communism he suffered under for decades:

    ‘”Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality,” he said.

    “In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat — this time, in the name of the planet,” he added.’

    This issue should be beyond politics!

    But “beyond politics” is usually code for adopting the leftist viewpoint. Same with a favorite buzzword of infantide-loving Obama: “unity” — by definition, those who disagree with his far left views must be divisive. It’s notable that Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong, who are pushing for the weapons of mass taxation in the name of planet saving, are politicians not scientists. IPCC is also very political, as we should expect from such a corrupt thugocracy as the UN.

    It looks to me that people are assuming a contrarian viewpoint and then seeking out only those opinions that support their preconceived position.

    Disagree with “Shelley”, and it must be because of selective bias, but those who agree with her are the epitome of objectivity. But:

    ‘”Klaus alleged that the global warming was being championed by scientists and other environmentalists whose careers and funding requires selling the public on global warming.

    “It is in the hands of climatologists and other related scientists who are highly motivated to look in one direction only,” Klaus said.”’

    It is one thing to express doubt about anthropogenic warming, it is quite another to claim that global warming isn’t even occurring, as your previous article on this topic suggests.

    Straw man. We recognize global warming, since without the so-called greenhouse effect, we would be 30 degrees colder.

    Have those who claim that burning fossil fuels doesn’t create pollution see the images of Beijing on TV?

    Fallacy: just because Beijing has lousy pollution management, it doesn’t follow that all burning would have the same results. Pollution in the west has actually decreased. But one result of oppressive carbon taxes or trading would be driving Western companies to places like China with lower emission standards, leading to higher global pollution. Charles Krauthammer made a similar point about banning drilling in the US causing more global damage because oil would be drilled in countries with laxer environmental controls.

    If more CO2 is good for the planet, why are we seeing droughts, poor crop returns and food shortages?

    Leading questions. One big cause of the food shortages is turning a years worth of food into a car tank of ethanol, thanks to environmentalism. Brisbane has had a very wet winter this year.

    I don’t know of a single person in my school who is sceptical about global warming and the part played by greenhouse gases.

    Argumentum ad numerum or argument by majority vote. There is also the bait-and-switch fallacy, since accepting infrared absorption and warming is a long way from the claim that we need to cripple our economy to reduce CO2.

    Yes, we are not yet mature adults, but most of us would have a greater knowledge of the scientific evidence and the mainstream scientific consensus than lay people of older generations.

    Argumentum ad verecundium or fallacious argument from authority. We are supposed to take “her” word for it that a bunch of schoolkids should be treated as more knowledgeable than adults with presumably more chance to learn things, and experience of other alarmist fads. It’s especially crass when “Shelley” later dismisses genuine authority (like mine in infrared absorption), and that of meteorologists who doubt AGW.

    We are also the generation that is most likely to be living with the consequences during the next 50 years or so, and frankly it scares the living daylights out of us.

    Argumentum ad Misericordiam or appeal to pity. None of this has anything to do with whether we should spend billions of dollars trying to fight for a few degrees a century from now.

    I plead with my elders here to examine your conscience

    Emotional blackmail: disagreement with “Shelley” must be a moral failing.

    How can we face God on Judgment Day if we have sided with those who are destroying his beautiful creation?

    Argumentum ad baculum or threat of unpleasant consequences if we don’t agree. This is especially serious because “Shelley” claims to speak in God’s name to try to force agreement, but elsewhere makes it clear that “she” disbelieves the genuine revelation of God’s will in Scripture, despite the affirmation of the Christ “she” claims to follow.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Here is a good article for Shelley to read: ‘How landscapes reveal Noah’s Flood’ by Tas Walker
    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5916

    Jennifer Parfenovics

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