Monday, August 22, 2011

Nothing Big - Just Religion vs. Science

So Jon Huntsman Jr., who is apparently running for president this year, has decided he wants to differentiate himself from the rest of the Stupid party candidates by saying,
"To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
This is the sort of thing the New York Times and other liberal establishments love, because they absolutely love to paint any person of faith as a raging lunatic who wants to bring us back to the stone age (unless the person of faith is Muslim, in which case, they're just peachy-okay-fine!), and "punish her with a baby" if their teen daughter should get raped.   And re-institute slavery, kill all our grandparents, you name it.  

Back to the story, going a little farther,
...Tim Miller, a spokesman for his campaign (said). “He doesn’t believe the party can be an antiscience party.”
Now I realize that there are those who don't think people of science can be people of faith; since I consider myself both, I strongly disagree.  And I really don't consider myself any kind of expert on reconciling religion and faith, but both live happily in my little mind and it hasn't caused my head to explode, so let me just fill in two arguments against what he just said.

To me, these are trivially easy.  Anyone, even a Political Science major, should understand this.

Let's start with Global Warming.  And let me even give the climate warmists a headstart and say there is global warming and some portion of it is manmade.   To my mind, and many others, this raises questions that I personally have never seen the Thermageddon crowd address:
  1. Is there anything that can be done to stop warming?
  2. How much does that cost in money and lives?
  3. Are there better ways to spend that money?  
  4. And how come they never talk about this? 
For example, let's say it will cost 25% of world GDP to lower CO2 output, but we can advance the quality of people's lives more and not throw civilization away by relocating people, or building things for 10% of GDP.  Shouldn't we be doing that and not the expensive option?  How come options are never discussed?  Over the history of the earth, climate changes all the time; humanity adapts, moves, does whatever it takes to live. 

But over a year ago, I showed that if you took their numbers being passed around for the effects of CO2 and took their numbers for the amount of CO2 reduction they want, and then did their math on how much effect it would have, there would be no improvement at all.  No surprise, when you catch them in the rare moments of being honest, they will admit all this will have no effect.  And they admit doing what they want would shut down the entire world's economy for no purpose.  They say so in this video (at about 45 seconds in)

It is the biggest money making scam in history, to shuffle trillions of dollars through places like the now-defunct Chicago Climate Exchange, and skim off trading fees and commissions. 

Now let me back up and say I don't think the climate scientists are right. Their predictions of global temperatures have been spectacularly wrong.  Lord Monckton's paper in the American Physics Society journal is still a good intro.  If nothing else, read his conclusion - a single paragraph.  The Hadley-CRU emails show a level of dishonesty that is horrifying.  Many real scientists were disturbed by what was going on - and honestly never knew. 

So it is completely reasonable to come from a scientific background and question this; skepticism is what science is all about!  Predictions should match reality for a long period of time before you conclude a model is right.  Constantly putzing with a model and changing parameters is a sure clue something is going on.  Real scientists try to prove themselves wrong not right.  As R.P. Feynman said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool". 

Evolution is portrayed as completely verified by experiment.  There's an important logical gotcha in here; just because selection has been verified by experiment and just because populations under selection pressure can change doesn't mean the origin of all species has been proven.  "Evolution" is very different from the origin of life.

Go ahead and describe for me an experiment that can be done that will take inorganic chemicals and produce life.  It has never been done.  That's the big step that can not be experimentally verified, and I'm a hard-assed empiricist.  If something can't be proven by experiment, it's philosophy, not science.  But there are more things to consider.  In Darwin's day, the complexity of the cell was like looking at an egg: a cell had a nucleus and it had some "glop".  Today's model of the cell has the complexity of an aircraft carrier.  There are enzyme systems in there that had to spring into existence all at once, because to come into existence with Darwinian gradualism would not have been possible - read that, would have been fatal. Darwin himself said such a thing would prove his theory false. 

Do real organisms evolve?  More than likely; I'm comfortable with that.  But there's an enormous gap between existing organisms evolving new species and everything you see around you arising from clay and amino acids by random acts.  A pretty good summary is here, H/T to the great Sense of Events.  Here's a tease from the article. Go read the whole thing.

  • “According to modern science, life originated about 3.8 billion years ago…”The earliest known life form, before which nothing has ever been found, is a type of bacterium. These have been dated by scientists as being alive on the Earth approximately 3.8 billion years ago. Despite their size being measured in the millionths of a meter, a bacterium is of a level of functional complexity on the order of an F-15 fighter bomber (actually that is understated). Dr. Robert Hazen: “The simplest living cell is intricate beyond imagining…human brains seem ill-suited to grasp such multi-dimensional complexity.” Dr. Michael Denton: “each is a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of molecular machinery…far more complicated than any machinery built by man and without parallel in the non-living world.” Dr. Paul Davies: “[bacteria] have a fine tuning and complexity as yet unmatched by human engineering.” Perhaps it is best summed up by Ilya Prigogine, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1977: “But let us have no illusions… [we are still] unable to grasp the extreme complexity of the simplest of organisms.”
So you see, Mr. Huntsman, it's not "anti-science" to question things.  Questioning things is the essence of science.  Just accepting things the scientists say is the essence of religion. 


  1. Just to be clear, I'm the Republican sucking up to the New York Times. I'm not smart enough to know that their influence has gone the way of the Dodo bird, or that they want to use me as a foil for actual, you know, *real* candidates.

    I'm John Huntsman, and I approved this message.

    (OK, I'm not, but sheesh)

  2. I heard the theory that he thinks he's positioning himself for 2016. He figures it will be a very right wing guy vs. a very left wing guy and Obama wins re-election. So he'll be the McCain of 2016.

  3. Yes, what you said - all of it. That's the way I think of it exactly. Science and religion are only mutually exclusive in the minds of those who would like to exclude one or the other. Thank you for stating it so clearly.

  4. Need a #5: What are the dire consequences if the alarmists are right? WHY do we need to stop global warming?

    For me on worst case, I see a >slow< shift of rising sea levels and increasing quantities of fresh water (maybe - and finally a solution to the New Orleans issue. And Miami, NYC, LA, anyplace with an altitude under 3 feet. 6 feet. 20 feet. Etc. Bad me. Or we can copy Dutch know-how).

    (By the way, if this warming is happening so rapidly right now - and the world suffers from a dire shortage of fresh water - why isn't someone "mining" the melting ice for fresh water? Hauling the calved glaciers/icebergs to places that need the water? Modify the current oversupply of bulk-liquid tankers for water carriage?)

    I see a shift northward of the world's agricultural zone - to a larger landmass. I see an opening of the Northwest Passage. I see a new continent to exploit - with no indigenous peoples to be displaced. I see increased plant growth, less energy needs for heating, a moister climate - bad for me personally. I like it dry.

    What are the truly BAD things vs. the potential GOOD things to come about from Global Warming?

    Not that I truly believe much, if any of this, will happen.

    Oops, sorry. One of my soapbox issues.