Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Non-renewable to Renewable Energy---Easy or Difficult?

 In one sense, the world “runs” on energy. In the US, the industrial and transportation sectors consume almost two-thirds of the energy produced. Could modern society live without industrial production and transportation? Energy is produced primarily from non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas. This means that natural geological processes are no longer producing these fuels. There is a limited supply of fossil fuels still remaining on Planet Earth. But even at the current rate of use, there are still enough fossil fuels to supply the US with its energy needs for many years.

In our present day, there is a major political movement urging transition to “clean energy.” Fossil fuels, when consumed in order to produce heat energy and subsequently electric energy and other energy forms, generate carbon dioxide (CO2). The element carbon, vital in ALL life processes, has acquired a bad reputation. According to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision handed down in 2007, the EPA was empowered to declare CO2 a pollutant, in order to enable the agency to regulate its release into the environment. But in June 2022 SCOTUS effectively reversed their 2007 decision (6-3), stating that the EPA must now be guided by the US congress to make such rulings. 

We may ask—Who is opposed to the production of “clean energy?” This question entails much confusion and complexity in our time. There is a powerful movement in the US and throughout the world to eliminate fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas from our energy production practices and transition to alternate energy technologies such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Use of solar, wind, and hydropower does not produce CO2. Therefore, since no carbon from CO2 is generated, the energy is declared “clean.” Many politicians state we must completely wean ourselves of fossil fuels in our effort to become “carbon free”—an important catch phrase of our day. For many citizens the impetus to achieve carbon “net-zero” has become ideologically overpowering. Basically, the term signifies achievement of a balance between carbon emitted into the atmosphere and carbon removed. The concept has connotations involving every phase of modern life, including the home, transportation, agriculture, and industry.

A brief aside: The element carbon is one of the most vital and beneficial elements in human experience. Following is a paragraph from one of our many past posts involving the element carbon: 

“Life on earth is carbon-based life. It comprises nearly half of all biomass. The human body is over 18% carbon. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, behind hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. While recognizing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas contributing to slight warming of our atmosphere in recent times, we have been researching the effects of increased CO2 and the results of atmospheric warming resulting from it. In general, we decry the fear engendered by the idea that CO2 is a pollutant. Concepts such as “carbon footprints” still dominate the journalistic landscape. The footprints are difficult to define, explain, and regulate.” (from 4-17-19 JAS post)

At present, 80% of our global energy production comes from coal, petroleum, and natural gas. These resources are known as fossil fuels, because they are residual remains of living things that existed on our planet millions of years ago. Burning of these fuels releases carbon in the form of CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 is a “greenhouse gas.” Scientists liken Earth’s atmosphere to a greenhouse which permits heat from the sun to pass through the greenhouse glass easily but prevents heat from easily returning back through the glass and into the air. Air inside the greenhouse becomes warm and remains warm. In a similar way, the atmosphere acts like greenhouse glass. It traps long wave infrared energy (heat) within the atmosphere. Some CO2 warming is clearly a benefit to mankind, but ongoing warming of the earth’s atmosphere could become excessive. Planet Earth’s temperature has been slowly rising since the end of the “Little Ice Age” in mid 19th century. Earth residents debate how much our current “climate change” (global warming) affects us adversely. Climate change has also achieved a negative reputation in some quarters, but historically, climate change is also beneficial. (Individual weather events may not always be beneficial—some may be tragic.)

Do most current Earth residents believe the God of Creation is responsible for the existence of fossil fuels for “such a time as this?” In divine wisdom, God foreknew the energy needs of humanity in the 20th and 21st century and created lignin and cellulose-rich forests which crashed to the ground in dense swamps during the carboniferous period. If these forests had appeared millions of years later during another geologic period, bacteria would have consumed the remains of these forests before they were buried under sediment and transformed chemically by enormous heat and pressure under earth’s surface. There would be no fossil fuels—coal, crude oil, and natural gas—to be extracted from today’s Planet Earth!

Today we recognize the reality that humanity must ultimately be forced to consider an alternate source of energy. A major question remains: How soon must this change be accomplished? This is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. In the years following the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels have contributed mightily to a population explosion—from one billion in 1800 to 7.9 billion in 2022—a stunning explosion!

Will our current society be as patient transitioning to renewable energy and away from non-renewable energy as they were switching to fossil fuels following the Industrial Revolution? Many environmental activists advocate switching completely to renewables by 2030, or by 2050 at the latest. Personal research reveals that early moves in this direction are already causing near-catastrophic outcomes in terms of inflation and generating agricultural crises. May our God guide government officials during this energy transition. It is a topic for additional blog posts.  



Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Scientists Who Believe

 The topic of belief in God is multidimensional. We have discussed differences in God- belief, such as the startling drop in belief among 18-29 year-olds in the US from 2017-2022—the topic of our previous post. In April we also posted:


Our Science/Faith blog generally deals with science as it reinforces personal faith in the reality of God among the general populace. In the last few years we have not specifically addressed the topic of God-belief among professional scientists. Scientists belonging to AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) were cited by the Pew Research Center in 2009 as having less God-belief (33%) than the general population (83%). Pew Research employees state professional scientists “…on the whole are much less religious than the general public.”

Herein lies a startling irony. We might expect highly advanced scientists to be more likely to possess belief in the God of Creation. Instead, with notable exceptions, it is the reverse. We cite a thrilling exception: 

Dr. Fazale Rana, of the Reasons to Believe organization, reminded readers of a 2005 event in his recent newsletter. We recall that Reasons to Believe president Dr. Hugh Ross had informed his supporters of a startling scenario. It was a story of a brilliant scientist, a former atheist, who was converted late in life. We quote Dr. Rana from his Weekly Digest Newsletter:

“I watched God transform Rick Smalley’s life through Reasons to Believe. And I’ll 

never forget it.


Rick was a Nobel Laureate who was awarded the prize for founding the discipline of   nanoscience and nanotechnology—the science, engineering, and use of individual atoms and molecules, especially to build microscopic devices.

He was a brilliant scientist…and an outspoken atheist.

But then, after a few conversations with Hugh Ross, Rick decided to read Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off.

Rick responded with a declaration: ‘Evolution has been dealt a death blow.’ And he became an outspoken follower of Jesus Christ!”

Rick Smalley possessed an early connection to Christian faith. As a young person he spent his first two post-high school years at Hope College, a 4-year liberal arts college advocating a vibrant Christian faith. Although he “…was a stickler for scientific credibility and integrity…and Bible passages that he presumed were in conflict with science…” But before he died, he proclaimed far and wide that science and faith can and do fit together.

A lengthy Wikipedia article entitled “Richard Smalley” speaks of the genius of this scientist. Late in life he became a follower of Jesus Christ and recognized God as Creator based on his knowledge of science. Professional scientists are uniquely qualified to identify the works of God and believe in Him as The Creator.

We thank God for the skill of professional scientists. They discover the wonders of our physical environment and help human society develop scientific technology to sustain and enrich our lives. The Creator has gifted humanity with the Image of God in their intellectual essence. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him…” (Genesis 1:27 ESV).   





Thursday, July 7, 2022

Diminished Belief in God

 Our Science/Faith blog connects with many contemporary phenomena. We are concerned about current societal chaos, specifically, breakdowns in law and order such as unprovoked weapons attacks on innocent people at churches, schools, supermarkets, and other public places and events. The recent Supreme Court ruling to reverse the wrongly decided 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling has resulted in demonstrations at the homes of justices. These events have reinforced the powerful negative impact of entertainers, news broadcasters, and politicians frequently expressing their view that the value of “a woman’s right to choose” and “a woman’s right to privacy” supersedes the value of a living human being developing within the womb of a mother.    

The news that the largest drop in belief in God has recently occurred in people between the ages of 18-29 is disturbing. That age group consists of younger “Gen Y” and older “Gen Z” residents. Demographers are fond of assigning various monikers to different age groups of our population. Young people of age 18-29 frequently achieve more attention for many reasons. Perhaps the disturbing recent events referred to in the opening paragraph are connected.

Gallup researchers have stated that only 81% of Americans believe in God in 2022, down from 87% in 2017. Statistically, this is a substantial, disturbing drop. From 1944 to 2011, more than 90% of Americans professed belief in God, according to the Gallup poll which first asked the question in 1944.

The greatest drop occurred in the 18-29 year-old demographic—10%. Young  adults who have finished high school and have launched their work careers and/or higher education and may contemplate marriage and raising a young family, are losing their God-belief at an alarming rate. Only 68% of young people in the 18-29 year category say they now believe in God. A thorough study of the spectrum of statistics reveals fascinating truths about many diverse aspects of contemporary God-belief.

What accounts for the drop in our young people’s belief in God? How do our young people respond to this news? They may state that there are many more distractions today than in the days of their parents and grandparents. Some distractions are fairly new to the modern generation. For example, many types of social media did not even exist prior to the turn of the 21st century. Traditional entertainment such as radio, TV, and movies, have evolved new forms.


But there is more! Added to traditional entertainment venues have been innumerable social media platforms. Most sites have been launched since the turn of the 21st century. By 1990, personal computers were “the NORM.” The onset of personal computers set the stage for the emergence of social media with its emphasis on “networking.” Personal computers began to assume a foothold in our culture, especially among young people. Email was ubiquitous by 2000. More important was the advent of social media platforms. Along with smartphones, they have transformed our society. These online communications have created networks, communities, and collectives for info sharing, messaging, and other social contacts such as videos. Most  young people and many adults now have a substantially different life experience because of the bewildering existence of dozens of social media platforms. 

We may ask if the proliferation of information and instant communications has helped or hindered God-awareness or God-belief. The numerous social media platforms were enabled by advances in technology—applications of science. Our blog has linked both science and faith. Ideally, principles of science fortify our faith. God is the author of all truth, including scientific truth.

Modern technology, as an application of science, has the potential to detract from faith in God. It also has the potential to enhance our knowledge of truth and strengthen our belief in God. The parallel in Scripture may be found in Romans 9:21: A potter has the ability to form clay into a vessel of either “honorable use…or dishonorable use.” In our time, science and technology are like clay in the potter’s hands. Many media platforms are beneficial. Others clearly distract us and fill our lives with things other than God. Our belief in God may be diminished. In these perilous days we must make every effort to guard against technology detracting from our belief in God.