Tuesday, July 25, 2017

No Creation Errors

A look at the creation of Planet Earth, our Solar System, the Milky Way galaxy, and our entire cosmos reveals a creation with no divine errors. If we believe in an omniscient and omnipotent Creator, we posit that his works of creation are mistake-free. From a human perspective, however, we may errantly identify many “errors.” As we talk with friends concerning the reality of God and his characteristics, a common thread sometimes runs through our discussions: Why didn’t God…..? Why doesn’t God reveal himself by…..? According to our friends’ human reckoning, they believe an answer to these questions according to their personal viewpoint might affirm the reality of God’s existence or reveal his attributes. We believe human answers to these questions would do little to affirm the Creator’s existence or reveal his characteristics.

We are tempted to ask our friends, “What would be the characteristics of a perfect world?” Descriptions of our “perfect world” may be interminably long. Some folks may realize the futility of their project. Countless volumes have been produced describing the physical world as it currently exists. Most secular books describe our world with detailed accounts of an ordered and well-designed physical system. Most people would be unable to deny the existence of a lengthy collection of orderly characteristics and designs. Fanciful proposals of a human designed “perfect world,” however, would descend into triviality and ignorance. 

Would we change any of the dozens of physical constants by which our world currently operates in a predictable and orderly manner? Does anyone wish to change the predictable force of gravity on Planet Earth? Would we consider modifying the virtually unlimited manifestations of electromagnetic energy by which light and heat are transferred and by which modern communications are enabled? Personal studies may reveal precise empirical facts about charges, masses, and sizes of atomic particles which compose the matter of our physical existence. These are just several of dozens of characteristics of matter known as physical constants. They are the immutable design characteristics of our cosmos. Not even one of these constants could vary and still permit life to exist anywhere in the universe. Moreover, altering any of the constants would plunge the cosmic system into chaos.

In more specific areas of life science, secular scientist Fred Hoyle in his 1984 volume Intelligent Universe compared “the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a star system full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cube simultaneously.” Intuitively, when we examine the millions of different Earth species, we perceive that there were no mistakes by the Creator in their production, physical design, and behavioral manifestations.  

Modern skeptics of intelligent design select the human “inverted retina,” as an example of errant design. They claim the cells in the vertebrate retina are oriented functionally sub-optimally because retinal photoreceptors are oriented away from incoming light. We must pass over many pages of detailed scientific evidence and claim that “if the human retina were (not inverted), we have no evidence that vision would be better. Most likely, it would be worse.” (ASA fellow Jerry Bergman, in “Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith,” March 2000.) 

Some non-theistic scientists dwell on other fanciful ideals for their proposals of a “perfect world” of living creatures—different from our current one. The Creator’s “mistakes” are supposedly demonstrated by the human esophagus, the panda’s thumb, the human appendix, and pseudogenes, all pronounced to be wasteful or unnecessary. These famous objections have been debunked many times.

As we examine our universe, the life forms within it, and the unique visual beauty and physical organization of several million species of life forms, we caution our readers that any effort to identify errant designs or inefficient processes in our physical planetary system, including its living systems is doomed to fail. God has made no errors in his personal creative actions, but he may have a purpose in allowing error in the behavior of his redeemed people. Such error by humanity is the result of God’s gift of free will.

We conclude our discussion of the absence of errors in God’s creation with Psalm 145:3 (ESV): “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”       





Thursday, July 13, 2017

Repeating Natural Wonders

In ten years of our science/faith blog we have made 14 references to the unique monarch butterfly. Four entries were detailed personal family accounts of the monarch phenomenon. First, our gymnastics instructor son, unbeknown to me, challenged his young gymnastics students for an out-of-the-gym project. They were to search for and collect a few familiar monarch caterpillars on local milkweed plants, carefully feed them fresh leaves in an aerated, covered jar for a week or more, and observe the incredible phenomenon of a fully grown caterpillar suspending itself in its familiar upside-down J-form before shedding its skin to form its gold-bejeweled green chrysalis. When I asked where he got the idea for this student project, he reminded me of family projects with monarchs when he was a child. We have a picture of Brad as a kindergartner holding a jar lid and a newly emerged butterfly. We also have a letter from his third grade teacher commending him on his oral Monarch presentation for his classmates.

We continue describing the monarch saga from chrysalis to adult monarch. After a week or so, the emerald green chrysalis begins to change color, revealing the compressed orange and black monarch wings within the now clear, cellophane-thin chrysalis covering. Soon, the monarch butterfly breaks loose from its confinement and almost immediately begins to inflate its wings to its adult full measure while clinging to what is left of the chrysalis. With experience we learned to carefully transport the newly hatched monarch outdoors as it clung for dear life to the remains of its hatching nursery venue. After several hours the monarch gains strength and deems it is time to launch as an adult. In our region, depending on how far summer has advanced, the adult monarch will reproduce a new generation. After a few weeks sampling nectar, mating and producing tiny eggs placed on the bottom of milkweed plants, its life ends. The remarkable last generation of the the summer wings its way to central Mexico despite multiple travel hazards in order to overwinter in a specific few hectares of Mexican forest. They become the next season’s first generation up north of the border.

When we visited our son’s home in Iowa this year in late June, we experienced a throwback to the joys of observing this ancient natural wonder. His own children now participate in the monarch saga. One evening we observed a color-changed chrysalis attached to a leaf taped under the kitchen cabinet. The next morning it had hatched. We coaxed it onto a marigold out on the deck. After about two hours of contemplation, the butterfly deemed it was ready to fly away on its adult mission but not before we asked three preschoolers to pose for a photograph as inspectors. After a long wait, only Grandpa was present at the precise moment of the initial launch event—a first for him! 

As our family became older some of the children became expert at finding the tiny, lemon-shaped monarch eggs, exceeding even their father’s and their grandfather’s skill in studying the initial stage of metamorphosis. One of the most fascinating observations followed as we watched tiny new caterpillars break out of the pinhead sized egg and multiply their body weight by a factor of a thousand in ensuing days. Consider the information stored in the tiny egg—all the stages of design, growth, and behavior, including finding its way to a tiny forest site in Mexico for the last generation of the summer.

Since our early blog posts on the wondrous monarch, their numbers have been in serious decline for several reasons. After the turn of the millennium, the species experienced a severe winter freeze in Mexico, other storms in their limited wintering area, and constant threats from loggers intent on harvesting the trees in their winter roosting area. In their summertime abode the lifeline milkweed crop is threatened by agricultural herbicides and other hazards. Groups such as Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) are committed to improving monarch habitat including restoring milkweed plants in their former range.

All butterflies, moths, and many other insects experience unique wonders in their metamorphosis process sequences. Individual patterns of unique behavior are plentiful in thousands of different species-specific specimens. Of multiple behaviors during metamorphosis, we mention only one other. Swallowtail butterflies weave themselves a silken support harness in which to insert themselves for their motionless chrysalis stage. Unique programming of each of hundreds of steps in four stage metamorphosis is a source of wonder at the manifestations of behavior arising from simple combinations of living chemicals. Although such behavior does not rise to the marvel of human consciousness, animal behavior gives rich cause to contemplate their version of consciousness.

In Psalm 104:24 (NLT) the author proclaims his worshipful exuberance: “O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” Intuitively we recognize the reality of God’s creative activity, not only with respect to the physical designs of living creatures, but also with respect to their inherent behaviors. When working with young people admiring the awe-inspiring behavior of living creatures, I have expressed this thought on many occasions: God had many great ideas!          




     

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Science or Ideology?

Ideology is the systematic body of ideas, ideals, and beliefs forming the basis of human action. Science is the systematic study of the physical world in order to acquire knowledge about how it works. Knowledge of how our world works may be influenced by the ideology we bring to the study process. 

To what degree is scientific discovery tainted or influenced by ideology of the scientists? All parties may not agree on the results of scientific studies and research. Even fewer may agree on the action plan our results suggest. This statement implies some science is heavy on ideology and could have negative outcomes. We acknowledge that ideology could have both negative and positive results as we appraise the fruit of science discovery. The statement “Science tells us that…” could be heavily value-laden. 

The scope of the 450-year old Scientific Revolution is often misunderstood. In that period science has provided us with a wonderful means of discovery of the truths of our physical world, invention, and application. Modern society could not function without its benefits. Science existed prior to the revolution but its impact was inconsistent among the world’s cultures. Some productive empiricism, observation, and induction existed but utilization of formal scientific method was still distant.

The Scientific Revolution formalized the methods of science investigation and research and has paralleled other important social revolutions such as the modern Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolutions, the Urban Sanitary Revolution and the 19th century medical revolution in Germ Theory. Each of these revolutions was opposed by some members of society on ideological grounds. In terms of pure science, ideology has sometimes blocked the way to truth discovery.

In our study of science we are concerned about the philosophy of science which overviews our concerns about these issues. At the risk of complicating (or clarifying) our discussion, we present a definition of science philosophy: “Philosophers of science typically understand the epistemological and philosophical dimensions of science—presuppositions, values, what kinds of knowledge claims are being made and how they are justified.”  

Science historian Mary Jo Nye, speaking about famous science philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) writes, “By the 1970s practitioners of the social construction of science…were explaining scientific theories as the result of negotiations of competing interests within scientific communities, so that scientists’ claims for the value-free objectivity and universal validity of their results became a matter of self-interest rather than reflections of the natural world.” Polanyi stressed the importance of personal commitment in the practice of science. He claimed personal knowledge and commitment drove the scientist more than scientific method. “We believe more than we can prove; we know more than we can say,” stated Polanyi. One of his signature publications was titled “Personal Knowledge.” With this degree of personal input to science, we observe that science is not a totally objective field of study.

Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), physicist, historian, and philosopher of science wrote of “paradigm shifts” instead of linear progress in our knowledge of science. The scientific community is ruled by shifting consensus. His seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was not the first to advance the idea that personalities and politics play a large role in science. Many modern science philosophers such as Karl Popper (1902-1994) and Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) have advanced divergent views of the objective certainty of science truth as opposed to science as just another ideology.

Like it or not, ideology and science always overlap. We challenge readers to investigate the difficult complexity of this phenomenon for themselves. Instead of the hope of separating ideology from science, we must accept the benefit of ideology in all human production, science included. We strive for sound thinking as we search for an appropriate balance. Neither ideology nor science exists as a singular entity.

Christians working professionally in physical sciences, earth sciences, or biological sciences may interpret scripture passages as devotional or inspirational in their professional activity. Jeremiah 33:25 refers to the fixed laws of heaven and earth. The astrophysicist takes inspiration from insightful cosmic commentary by the prophet in Isaiah 40:21-26. The famous passages in Psalm 139 on the fearfully wonderful prenatal “weaving” of our unformed body motivates awe for the omnipotent Author of Life. A case could easily be made that ideology, tantamount to worldview, inspires professional production. 

The differences between ideology and worldview are subtle. The influence of ideology could channel scientific process or application in many different directions. For example, if political or profit-minded ideology negatively impacts science, results could be more harmful to science than devotional or inspirational effects. Actions resulting from benevolent or altruistic ideology is a desirable outcome of the linkage of ideology and science.      

  




       

Monday, July 3, 2017

Harmful Climate Actions

The presidential Climate Action Plan was offered by President Obama in 2008 and biennially renewed until 2013. The plan progressively developed until 2015 and resulted in a consensus agreement on 12/12/15—the Paris Climate Accord—and a more formal agreement signed on 11/4/16. President Trump withdrew our country from the accord on the first day he took office. Most people understand the provisions of climate change actions: the issue revolves around reducing CO2 by curtailing use of fossil fuels, embracing instead alternate energy sources at a huge cost. It is likely that most supporters of climate change see climate change issues as relatively simple—reduce global warming by limiting the world-wide use of fossil fuels. The solution seems obvious, they claim. Concomitant reality is far more difficult.

Almost all world attention focuses on avoiding the horrors of a vastly warmer future Earth and the stark necessity of achieving this effect no matter what the cost. The worst case climate scenario is terrifyingly frightening as are all worst case possibilities in significant realms of life on our planet. A generous measure of Godly wisdom is desperately needed. The Creator has gifted humanity with innate wisdom to discover truth.

World opinion concerning climate change focuses almost exclusively on the potential  disaster of a warming Earth. Humanity has experienced a naturally warming Earth several times in the past ten millennia. Of course, the warm spells were interspersed with cool spells. In general, climate alarmists speculate the climate sensitivity is high, believing even small amounts of human contribution to warming are magnified. Climate skeptics perceive that climate sensitivity is low, in keeping with their feeling that CO2 does not cause as much warming as previously thought. The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation believes recent global warming has been largely natural with some minor anthropogenic contribution and does not pose major risks. The Cornwall Alliance is an evangelical coalition promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles. Average laypersons could become confused at conflicting scientific claims and counterclaims offered on both sides of the climate question.

We wind down current discussion of this lively topic with our claim that some scientists’ projections of climate disaster are subject to error. It is also fraught with a generous degree of ideology. If this claim is true, we possess substantial complications in our effort to arrive at truth and a proper solution to perceived climate problems. Causes and effects of climate are enormously complex especially when causes are oversimplified. Factoring ideology into complex climate issues results in confusion.

Oversimplified effects, while not judged to be a fallacy such as “oversimplified cause,” are worth considering. For example, many global warming enthusiasts have proposed that largely undeveloped, poor countries of the world would be most impacted by increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, more frequent and violent storms, and other dangerous outcomes. If those outcomes were actually to occur, perhaps poor nations may be more vulnerable than wealthy, developed societies. Alarmists’ concern for these underdeveloped countries, however, is misdirected. There exists a far more significant threat to undeveloped nations—an economic threat linked with draconian Paris Climate Accord solutions. The Paris Accord would primarily focus on weaning society of fossil fuels in favor of much more expensive renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass.

Over a decade ago two different evangelical groups began to make pronouncements about climate issues and the responsibilities of Christians to respond with respect to poor, undeveloped nations of the world. In the evangelical community, these two groups set different priorities in their responses. The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) published their Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI). They stated and still state that the consequences of climate change will be significant, hittiing the world’s poor the hardest. Their worries seemed justified in terms of scriptural exhortations on behalf of the poor. Concerns for the poor centered on environmental factors such as mentioned in the previous paragraph—unbearable heat, rising sea levels, frequent and violent storms, and additional destructive outcomes.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation responded with a 12,000-word, point by point rebuttal to the ECI. They countered that “The destructive impact on the poor of enormous mandatory reductions in fossil fuel use far exceeds the impact on them—negative or positive—of the moderate global warming that is likely to occur. Indeed, the policy promoted by the ECI would be both economically devastating and ineffective in reducing global warming. Because energy is an essential component in almost all economic production, reducing its use and driving up its costs will slow economic development, reduce overall productivity, and increase costs of all goods including the food, clothing, shelter, and other goods most essential to the poor.”

In 2017 this statement has proven prophetic in terms of the unrealistic proposals of the Paris Climate Accord. In keeping with the complexity of this issue for lay observers, we must review the history of the United States in its formative years. In the early 19th century, our country embraced the energy resources initially becoming available to them: coal, petroleum, and to a lesser degree, natural gas. These fuels powered the country into prosperity as a modern society. Only recently has our country begun to utilize more costly alternative renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear. In undeveloped nations the costs would be overwhelming. If developed nations wish to benefit poor nations, supplying finances for clean water, indoor plumbing, sewage treatment plants, improving medical care and adequate nutrition would fulfill that desire. 

Poor and undeveloped countries need fossil fuels to continue on their path to economic development just as the US has done in the past 150 years. The Paris Climate Accord would stifle their quest for economic development while primarily shifting the burden to developed countries at the cost of trillions of dollars as they transition to more expensive renewable energy sources. We encourage readers to study the reasons many world leaders were angry when the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Global leaders had hoped the United States would bear the brunt of trillions of dollars in future costs for the world’s transition away from fossil fuels.

Psalm 90:12 (NIV) reminds us: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Numbering our days may mean that we should make wise use of our time so that we may gain wisdom by our study of the most important climatissues of the day.                     



  




            

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Climate Change Reprise

Climate Change Issues…. Why does the climate topic frequently assume front and center importance in today’s culture? In recent days we have experienced a reprise of this famous “topic du jour.”  Mark Twain’s old literary saw, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it,” was meant to be humorous homespun philosophy. The current obsession with climate issues relates to the common belief that current climate warming is heavily linked with humanity’s release of CO2, mainly from fossil fuel consumption. Contrary to Mark Twain, we must be committed to doing something about it. Therein lies “the rub.” CO2 is a trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere. It comprises a small fraction of 1% of our atmosphere—1/25 of 1%—0.04% to be precise. A societal fixation has gripped our global psyche assigning (1) how much of Earth’s warming is attributable to CO2, (2) whether increased CO2 and concomitant warming is good or bad for life on the planet, (3) whether or not climatic disaster awaits humanity if climate “projections” for the future really occur, (4) how much planetary temperature change would accrue from reducing CO2 to previous levels, or (5) if planetary reversal of average global temperatures is realistically possible.

Climate alarmists are certain of their answers. They cite their own versions of scientific support to prove their points, claiming 97 or 98% of the world’s scientists agree with their version of the analysis. (This claim is in considerable dispute). All of the five above issues are uncertain at best, unanswerable at worst. A substantial contingent of influential planetary residents, however, has been over-swept with certainty. We are told, therefore, that we MUST act regardless of the cost. Present and future costs are measured, however, in many trillions of dollars. Anyone opposed to this agenda earns the title of denier on whom rests the onus of sabotaging humanity’s chances for healthy survival.               

The US rejection of the Paris Climate Accord resurrected public reactions with renewed vigor. Politicians, journalists, and commentators of every stripe have weighed in since the announcement of our national withdrawal from the Accord on June 1, 2017. Our national withdrawal triggered much global and national discussion. Our current series of posts was inspired by the recurring exchanges. Our 6-13-17 post linked nine previous posts from 2012 which followed claims of global warming enthusiasts linking the 2012 midwestern drought to climate change/global warming.

We link nine more personal posts from 2014 in the interest of thorough treatment of this lively current topic. These posts were triggered by another remarkable weather event: the brutal midwestern winter of 2013-14. Many climate alarmists claim such weather is somehow linked to global warming in their production of extreme weather events. Our blog posits that these are normal extreme weather events, not climate change events.

The following posts were inspired by the extreme mid-west cold and snow of the 2013/14 winter. Our posts dealt with the hot button issue of climate change in general. Many journalist commentators embrace such events to advance their climate change agenda. We link ten relevant posts published immediately following that memorable winter with an introductory overview of each:

Overview: The brutal midwest winter of 2013-14 is part of a sequence of Earth’s weather events recorded for thousands of years. The Book of Job 37-38 credits God’s breath for production of awesome winter weather events (3-7-14)

Overview: Earth climate is always changing. In the past 8000 years there have been at least nine major climatic temperature fluctuations before man even became aware of the trace gas carbon dioxide (3-9-14)

Overview: The all-night Democratic Senate filibuster highlighting “acting before it is too late” would have been more productive had they affirmed that “Earth and its ecosystems…are robust, resilient, self-regulating and self correcting” and display God’s glory (3-15-14)

Overview: This post highlights the history of the Earth warming obsession which first crept into the nation’s awareness when the environmental movement achieved prominence about 1960. Prominent among the players was the intense global activism of the United Nations (3-21-14)

(5) http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2014/03/environment-ecology-or-deep-ecology.html Overview: Ecology is a relatively modern term. Deep ecology is an even more recent term. Deep ecologists advocate a radical view of humanity’s relationship with nature. The movement is sympathetic to the climate change agenda and heavy environmental extremism (3-29-14)

Overview: We deal with the often quoted “98% of the world’s scientists support anthropogenic climate change.” Many realistic analysts place these statements in perspective as carefully manufactured to promote political and ideological purposes. This quote stands in for unchallenged truth on the matter of global warming (4-4-14)

Overview: Often the discussion of whether or not harmful global warming is happening  distills to arguments whether or not we believe the claims are real rather than discussions about the supporting science (4-9-14)

Overview: As our series of 2014 climate posts neared an end we became realistic concerning the genuine fear provoked during a violent thunderstorm or windstorm.
But as we study Earth’s wonderful climate system, we acquire appreciation for the wide variety of life-sustaining weather over the long term (4-12-14)

Overview: A tragedy of our time is the fear engendered by the climate change lobby. Shining through is God’s higher purpose: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (4-22-14)

Overview: Natural climate variability is hardly ever assigned explanatory power by climate change enthusiasts. The “oversimplified cause” is a betrayal of straight thinking. This errant thinking occurs when an effect has multiple causes, but only one cause is identified. (4-26-14)


Earth’s climate is ultimately God’s gift for the physical sustenance of the human race. In this assurance, we thank him and rejoice in his goodness! “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV.)   

   
  



         

Friday, June 16, 2017

Climate Alarmism

Since President Trump withdrew our country from the Paris Climate Accord we have endured a storm of despair and criticism from climate alarmists. Many are famous people in government or the entertainment industry who commandeer the microphones and turn up the speaker volume. They loudly claim affirmation from scientists. Our populace is deluged by claims from   the authority of science on multiple issues without being informed of the possibility of ideological overlay in the science profession. Climate is a hot-button issue which parallels the lines of political ideology. Generally, citizens divide themselves politically along the lines of climate alarmism on the left and climate optimism on the right. We use the somewhat hackneyed, time worn example of perceiving the glass as half empty or half full.

Dissent on environmental, historical, philosophical, political, religious, lifestyle, or worldview matters often generates heat instead of light. Many disagreements boil down to personal opinion or preference. The climate matter is said to affect our present and future welfare or even survival of the human race. For example, we quote utterances of two prominent politicians, one astronaut, and one actor. These are mere samples; hundreds of famous ideologues offer their opinions. They are not scientists but often clothe themselves in the imprimatur of science. Theologians sometimes inappropriately enter the fray. John Kerry, former Secretary of State under the Obama administration and Democratic nominee for president in 2004 voiced several incredible claims in response to the president’s decision: “He is not helping the forgotten American, he is hurting them. Their kids will have worse asthma attacks in the summer.” In 2014 after a US Senate all-night “filibuster” by Democrats to highlight the dangers of climate change, majority leader Harry Reid implored the world to “act before it is too late,” claiming also that it is “the worst problem facing the world today.” Astronaut Scott Kelly has stated withdrawal from the agreement “will be devastating to our planet.” Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio intoned “This is the most existential crisis our civilization has ever known.”

Global attitudes toward our exquisite planetary climate system have now been linked by the EPA to the perception that CO2, a plant-sustaining trace gas in our atmosphere, is a dangerous pollutant. The effects of slight warming of the Earth’s atmosphere (1.3º C in the last 136 years) provokes environmental horror and predictions of planetary doom in the face of a seven-fold increase in Earth’s population and concomitant multiplication of world food supply in the past two centuries. Many weather disasters such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and heat waves have statistically decreased in their frequency and intensity in the last few decades. How then do we account for journalistic zeal touting global warming when ordinary contemporary weather events are reported by the media? We are ruled by a cadre of climate model enthusiasts predicting conditions far into the future. We posit that this negative enthusiasm is unscientific and unhealthy.

Respected meteorologist Roy Spencer has presented meaningful contrarian research to counter popular global warming enthusiasm. For example, he claims the “climate system is dominated by stabilizing processes rather than destabilizing processes.” Spencer is a signatory to “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,” which states “Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by his faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying his glory.” Spencer believes most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in Earth’s albedo (portion of incident radiation reflected by a surface) and  anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover.

Popular alarmist opinion poses release of CO2 from fossil fuel burning as a “destabilizing process” as mentioned in the above paragraph. CO2 is a divine favor supplied by the Creator of planet Earth. The tiny amount of warming experienced by Earth since 1880 should be considered a blessing, certainly not a bane. Moderate warming has been a boon to agriculture. A small increase in CO2 levels has been proven to promote better crop growth as have other man-made improvements in agricultural practices.

We would like to see the microphone transferred into the hands of reasonable climate scientists and out of the hands of unreasonable climate alarmists. Politicians and Hollywood entertainers feed on power and public adulation. Our perception is that the power of ideology has been manipulated by political parties and entertainers far too long. We pray that sound science and ordered thinking would predominate.                 

The climate system is exquisitely beautiful and productive in terms of its ability to supply our world population with food. Since world industrialization world population has increased dramatically. In 1900 world population was 1.5 billion; in 2000 population was 6.1 billion; in 2017 it grew to 7.5 billion. In 1880 fossil fuels began to be a major factor in the growth of humanity. In 1850 the world’s Little Ice Age came to an end and world temperatures began a slow climb. Shining through the haze of climate alarmism is the current obsession with CO2 emissions. Of course, CO2 contributes to some warming of the atmosphere, but likewise, so do many other atmospheric components. Often neglected in the climate change mania is the effect of stupendous world population growth and the rapid urbanization of the world’s elevated population. This elevated population has not always contributed positively as they densely wedged into urban areas, cleared the Amazon rainforest, and contributed to Earth warming in multiple other ways.  

Analysts have highlighted complex global weather oscillations which have existed since man inhabited this planet. These oscillations are not well understood or appreciated as many focus inordinately on fossil fuels. Not only have these weather oscillations existed since the Little Ice Age ended in 1850, but they were present to extricate Earth’s population from the Wisconsin Ice Age and launch humanity into the famous “agricultural revolution” when the Ice Age abated about 12,000 years ago. From the end of the Ice Age until the present there have been at least a dozen minor and major climate oscillations in which CO2 was not a major player.

In future posts we will develop the position that reducing the fossil fuel burning to a fraction of present levels in response to the perceived dangers of continued CO2 emission would devastate the health of uncounted millions of poor people in developing nations as well as shackle the United States with costs of trillions of dollars. These are financial resources which could be more appropriately expended to “subdue the Earth” and benefit humanity in other prudent and beneficial ways (Genesis 1:28).


The geologic history of Earth has provided hydrocarbons usable in modern times in great abundance. These are accurately described as fossil fuels. We now tap into petroleum, natural gas, and coal deposits produced tens or hundreds of millions of years ago as the result of decomposition of buried dead organisms originally produced by photosynthesis. Additional deposits are being discovered constantly. New methods are being discovered to recover these treasures of fossil energy. The Creator, timeless in his planning and provision had humanity in mind to provide wonderful stores of energy for our age of technology. For this, we offer humble thanks.        

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Climate Accord?

The Paris Climate Accord is woefully misnamed. President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the “accord.” In truth, there is very little accord. The lack of accord is only exceeded by the lack of wisdom manifested by the negotiators of the Paris agreement. I challenge readers to examine its fine print and the implications of compliance. Adherence by every nation to the Paris pact may promote economic disaster. Moreover, the trillions of dollars of costs in transitioning out of fossil fuels and into non-carbon renewables is projected to avert only 0.3º F of warming by the year 2100. That is less than 0.04º F per decade and would cost the United States multi-trillions of dollars. One must question the disordered thinking of the world’s globalists.

The climate change debate is grounded on certainty that harmful climate change has resulted in or would result from the addition of 50% more CO2, a trace gas in the atmosphere, since industrialization. This trace gas, a vital gift of God for sustaining plant life, has been labelled a pollutant by the EPA. The fraction of CO2 has increased    from 1/3600 of the atmosphere several hundred years ago to 1/2500 today, a mere difference of 1/8700. Climate models can only explain half of the warming that actually occurred. There was really not much warming: 1.3º C from 1880 to 2016. Intuitively, we perceive something is amiss with the global warming paradigm hanging over our society. We are sometimes obsessed with alarmist climate projections.

Many resources are available to promote diverse arguments from the climate discussion. In August 2012, I joined the discussion full force with respect to climate change. Our series of posts was triggered by a remarkable stretch of heat and drought in our midwestern states, the most serious in decades. Some observers proclaimed anthropomorphic climate change to be the culprit. My first two posts from 8-11-12 and 8-17-12 were written during the 2012 drought and heat wave. The following posts ensued with a more in-depth discussion of climate change arguments. We link nine posts below with an overview of each: 

Overview: Historically, our climate system is incredibly complex, albeit magnificent— too complex to assign a minutely increasing trace gas most of the blame for the vagaries of climate change (8-22-12)

Overview: The authority of science has been co-opted to highlight the ideology of climate change (global warming) advocates (8-30-12)

Overview: “Subdue” in this post connotes conscientious care for our planet, becoming sensitive to Planet Earth’s characteristics. Earth is incredibly dynamic. The Paris Climate Accord focuses most of its attention on curbing consumption of fossil fuels to reduce production of atmospheric CO2 at astronomical cost (9-6-12)

Overview: We deal with the unbending certainty of the effects of CO2 release from fossil fuel consumption among politically correct adherents of climate change in our global community (9-11-12)

Overview: The unrelenting dispute raging today on climate issues often ignores or fails to discover actual TRUTH (9-15-12)

6 - http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/09/evangelical-declarations-and-climate.html  Overview: What is the response of the evangelical community? The spectrum of opinion is very broad. Solutions from this community are sometimes at odds (9-22-12)

Overview: Concern over climate change may increase or decrease, depending on increasing or decreasing confidence in science and a realistic, unbiased appraisal of complex phenomena of climate (9-27-12)

Overview: Consensus is sometimes the enemy of truth discovery. Climate change relies on consensus but the issue is far from settled. At times our Christian worldview  competes with scientific consensus (10-2-12)

9 - http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/10/weather-disasters-and-global-warming.html  Overview: In brief, weather disasters are a small segment of Earth’s dynamic climate system. Every disastrous weather event is not an outcome of climate change (10-8-12)

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         

Our beliefs accord with those of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. In particular, we cite several items from their list of affirmations and denials:

We affirm that the Earth and all its physical and biological systems are the effects of God’s omniscient design, omnipotent creation, and faithful sustaining, and that when God completed his creative work it was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

We deny that an infinitely wise Designer, infinitely powerful Creator, and perfectly faithful Sustainer of the Earth would have made it susceptible to catastrophic degradation from proportionally small causes, and consequently we deny that wise environmental stewardship readily embraces claims of catastrophe stemming from such causes.

We affirm that by God’s design Earth and its physical and biological systems are robust, resilient, and self-correcting.

We deny that they are fragile.

     

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Paris Climate Globalism

Climate change has become one of the most riveting political issues of our day. The climate issue has become not only a United States concern, but increasingly is becoming a global matter with intricate economic implications. 

At first glance, globalism seems to be a concept worth promoting. We desire collective benefit for the healthy well being of all nations of the world. But when we examine the concept we realize there is limited benefit in rampant globalism in climate and other issues. Of course, God’s people should be concerned about the welfare of all humanity. Globalism, however, is not a simple matter of seeking the benefit of all humanity altruistically. Complexity is inherent as we work out our altruism. Nationalistic traditions and pride in work and productivity are benefits gifted by the Creator to all peoples of the Earth. As we examine the diversity of humanity, we must maintain awareness of national differences while striving to live peaceably: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18 NASB).

The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 has a positive ring. Genuine “accord” on significant political differences between and among the nations of the world is a difficult standard to achieve. Political turmoil and conflict have been rampant since the rise of nations. The rise and fall of nations, often the title of a popular book or article, chronicles the unfortunate reality. Nations work for their own benefit and agree to actions which generally benefit themselves. Some of the most destructive “agreements” have been negotiated by our national leaders on dubious initiatives which could clearly harm our nation. For this discussion, we offer our analysis that The Paris Climate Accord exemplifies a dubious action. We are glad our president has turned us away from The Paris Climate Accord. The “accord” could harm our country and may not even benefit other countries for whom we profess concern.

We quote leaders within an organization which has gained respectability as an advocate of sound science as well as a champion of orthodox theology. I highly recommend The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. The following statement appears in virtually every one of their communiqués. “The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation seeks to magnify the glory of God in creation, the wisdom of his truth in environmental stewardship, the kindness of his mercy in lifting the needy out of poverty, and the wonders of his grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This Ankerberg Science/Faith blog attempts to remain faithful to sound principles and practices of science and prudent political actions of our government in response to advances in science. After all, our leaders must be committed to wise executive decision-making which protects the interests of our own citizens.  

Accordingly, we lead with several acknowledged scientific truths and their counterpart in “politically correct science.” The primary cause of global warming is not the burning of fossil fuels. Global warming (now renamed “climate change”) is the natural, historically acknowledged tendency of Earth to react to many phenomena of our complex climate system. Science “experts” may pinpoint a cause among any of multiple causes for slight climate warming. From 1880 to 2016 global temperatures have risen only 1.3º C. Many scientific experts have chosen to highlight primarily ONE cause—consumption of fossil fuels and their production of CO2 when burned—as the cause of climate change (global warming) we have already observed.

According to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, consumption of fossil fuels is identified as the primary cause of global warming. This perception is reinforced by national and global politics resulting in the Paris agreement. The production of CO2 by fossil fuel burners, according to the Paris Climate Accord, must be mitigated by signatories to the agreement. Upon examination, the agreement unfairly places the United States at a substantial disadvantage for many reasons. Full compliance by all nations would supposedly drive the GAT (Global Average Temperature) “below 2º C above pre-industrial levels, along with an effort to limit the increase to 1.5º C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

Our readers may have become confused by these statements. In our next posts we will examine how unreasonable these requirements are in the light of scientific uncertainties. Science is touted as proving that present emissions of CO2 are projected to harm our future environment in specific ways. Dubious climate models concerning future conditions stray outside the bounds of sound science and are limited in their claims of certainty.                   



Monday, June 5, 2017

James Clerk Maxwell's Apologetic

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is a model for affirming the reality of God in a powerful way. This brilliant scientist masterfully promotes the dual reality of the existence of God linked with the reality of a divinely designed and wonderfully ordered physical world. Incredible human achievement is but a subset of the orderliness of the physical universe and the God who created it. Among brilliant scientists who present scientific discoveries as God-affirming, James Clerk Maxwell is a giant. On the scientific level, Albert Einstein enthusiastically pronounced his work “the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.” Were Einstein (1879-1955) still living, no doubt he would utter the same statement. A review of our previous posts featuring Maxwell is instructive before you read further:


With this post we conclude our series on “the usefulness of science to promote faith and belief in God’s realty, especially the promotion of a viable faith in young people. We present statements from James Clerk Maxwell’s fertile mind concerning the dual spheres of science and faith, linking Maxwell’s deep spiritual insights with his profound scientific gifts. We encourage prospective parents and teachers to embrace this challenge in order to enrich their children’s faith search according to their age and level of their ability.

Maxwell believed religious faith and science were partners. He saw the ordered uniformity, orderliness, and simplicity of nature rather than its peculiarity and complexity. He spoke of “…(impressing) his own mind with the extent, the order, and the unity of the universe.” Maxwell referred to “the book of nature…written by the finger of God, that is, created by divine power.”

“The Creator governs his material works by definite laws resulting from the forces impressed on matter,” Maxwell stated. “Every atom of creation is unfathomable in its perfection.” He claimed, “None of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in the properties of any molecule.” Details of the structure of atoms were not discovered or publicized until decades after his death.

Maxwell believed the features of the universe were created, not eternally existent. He opposed the philosophy of some scientists in his day, and would have opposed many in our present day who lean toward philosophical naturalism: Nature is all there is. “We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to the operation of natural causes,” he voiced. He fits the definition of a theistic scientist without frequently endorsing a mysterious “God of the gaps” perspective in his practice of science. Natural laws were authored by the God of Creation.    

Maxwell’s Christian convictions were not threatened by the growing scientific materialism of the 19th century. Some Christians in our age struggle against this threat of materialism. Today’s scientists as a group tend to be less religious than the general population—a mysterious phenomenon. We posit that modern scientists rest in the perceived certainty and security of scientific laws. They derive, thereby, a satisfying personal effect. To them, the anchor of science knowledge is deemed more satisfying than the search for the so-called “mystery” of spiritual truths. I Timothy 3:16 refers to the “mystery of godliness.” Mystery connotes truths formerly obscured, but now more clearly manifest. Many other spiritual truths are classified as “mysteries” in Ephesians and Colossians, as well as in the gospels where some translators render the term as “secrets.”

We join with Maxwell in believing quality science is inseparable from faith. As the Creator of all things, God is also author of the science/faith duality. James Clerk Maxwell provides a reasoned, persuasive apologetic model for our Christian faith. His worldview is part of the legacy we strive to pass on to our young people.               








     

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Particle Reality

Our recent posts concerning air pressure did not address the sequence of scientific discoveries concerning the causes of air pressure. Only in the last two centuries were concepts of the particle theory of matter proposed. Ancients such as Democritus (430 BC) conceived of matter composed of particles. This was more a philosophical than a scientific discovery. Real progress was made just over two centuries ago when experimental evidence discovered by John Dalton (1766-1844) and Joseph Proust (1754-1826) showed that matter is composed of discrete particles—separate and distinct entities—and that all particles (atoms) of any one element are identical in mass and properties. The particles seemed indivisible and indestructible and could combine to form compounds. Experiments demonstrating that when one substance combines with another substance, mass proportions of the reacting substances are always constant. Scientists reasoned this would be true only if matter behaved as if composed of discrete particles.

Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782) preceded Dalton and Proust in his proposal of particles, describing air pressure in terms of what was happening at the level of particles. More knowledge was gained later about gas, liquid, and solid particles. Bernoulli was ahead of his time, thinking microscopically instead of macroscopically. We quote Bernoulli as he described his experiments on the behavior of gases within closed cylinders: “Let the cavity contain very minute corpuscles which are driven hither and thither with a very rapid motion: so that these corpuscles, when they strike against the piston and sustain it by their repeated impacts form an elastic fluid which will expand of itself if the weight is removed or diminished…”

Preceding Bernoulli by many years, Evangelista Toricelli (1608-1647) invented the barometer to measure the strength of air pressure macroscopically. He did not explain  his barometer in terms of kinetic movement of trillions of particles. Rather, he described the behavior of the entire system and quantified the strength of air pressure. In this way he was more focused on effects rather than causes. Toricelli’s work with the barometer was initially suggested by Galileo for whom Toricelli worked briefly.

People attempting to pump water from wells have long observed that the water level  rises to a maximum level by creating a vacuum in a pipe above the water. The height of rise is approximately 34 feet. If water is raised to this level, in effect we have created a type of water barometer to measure the strength of air pressure. Toricelli developed a barometer using mercury instead of water. Liquid mercury is 13.6 times the density of water. Therefore, a mercury barometer is more compact than a water barometer and able to rest comfortably on a classroom lab table. The mercury barometer measures the identical force as the water barometer, but more conveniently.

A mercury barometer in my classroom was a special demonstration for observing daily changes in atmospheric pressure. We filled a narrow glass tube completely closed at one end with liquid mercury, inverted the covered open end of the tube, and placed it below the surface of mercury in the dish. When we removed our finger from the tube of mercury, its level dropped to an average height of 760 mm (29.92 inches) above the surface of mercury in the dish. Several inches of empty space remained above the mercury level in the tube. If we were successful in preventing an air leak into the tube, the space above the mercury was a perfect vacuum. If a small hole were drilled into the top of the closed glass tube to allow air inside, the mercury level would immediately fall to 0 mm. Our barometer would have become non-functional. In the classroom barometer the mercury level varied almost two inches during our weather unit study. Class members were able to correlate high readings with fair weather and low readings with storms and precipitation events.

In 1844 the first aneroid barometer was constructed with a movable needle attached to a small sealed flexible metal box which changed its size and shape with increasing or decreasing atmospheric pressure. Aneroid (non-liquid) barometers are more convenient than mercury barometers. Digital barometers may now be found in some smart phones!

The topic of air pressure is one of multiple examples of non-obvious causes affecting physical events in our environment. It is one of the most crucial phenomena in sustaining healthy function of Earth’s millions of different living creatures. A topic such as air pressure is able to inspire the imagination of young people and adults alike to express enthusiastic wonder at our unique planet’s hundreds of interrelated working systems. Science has enabled humanity to appreciate causes and effects of these many working systems. The Creator has enabled humanity not only to benefit by Earth’s working, life-sustaining systems, but also to understand how the systems operate.

Returning to the timeline of human discovery of the particle theory of matter, we remind readers of our previously discussed discovery pioneers: Toricelli, Bernoulli, Proust, Dalton. Each contributed to the logical sequence eventually culminating in our present knowledge of the particle nature of matter. Many other discoveries concerning components of basic particles ensued in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including identification of electrons by J. J. Thomson (1897), protons by Ernest Rutherford (1911), and neutrons by James Chadwick (1932). In 1964 Murray Gell-Mann proposed quarks as constituents of protons and neutrons. Our knowledge of the wonders of non-obvious causes has only begun. How many more discoveries about the wonders of physical matter are yet to be discovered in future decades?

We are surprised that in our day faith in the existence of the Designer and Creator of All Things sometimes seems diminished as scientists have increased our knowledge of how the world works. Should it not be the opposite? Stated a different way, increasing evidence of design and fine-tuning of our physical systems sometimes generates increased scorn for the concepts of intelligent design and divine creation in many quarters. It is the goal of this blog to reverse this trend with both our young people and with acquaintances of all ages.