November 18, 2018

Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona: Two Case Studies: On Global Climate Change and Sexuality (Where We’re Tempted to Ask Science for Things it Can’t Deliver)

Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona: Two Case Studies: On Global Climate Change and Sexuality (Where We’re Tempted to Ask Science for Things it Can’t Deliver)

We are reviewing the book, Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona, subtitled Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults.  Today we look at the two case studies at the end of Chapter 7- Give Technology a Break– Two Case Studies: On Global Climate Change and Sexuality (Where We’re Tempted to Ask Science for Things it Can’t Deliver).  I wanted to deal with these separately, as I didn’t think they fit with the flow of Chapter 7.

We’ve discussed Global Climate Change before at InternetMonk, for example: here.  The excellent graphs provided by Bloomberg here are a good summary of the pertinent data, as they cover natural causes such as solar output, volcanic output, atmospheric ozone changes, and greenhouse gas output.  Let me repeat what I said about the difference between weather and climate:

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time (see here).  So climate change is the change in AVERAGE conditions over longer periods of time.  It is not the inherent variability in weather from year to year.  That is why it is nonsense to say, “If they can’t predict the weather 10 days in advance, how can they predict the climate years ahead.”  A trend can be graphed and projected, the caveat is that the causes producing the trend stay relatively consistent.

So as a geologist, I was initially skeptical of climate change.  After all, 20,000 years ago, Indianapolis was covered by a mile thick sheet of ice.  At the end of the Permian period, it is estimated that average global temperatures may have been as high as 140° F.  But as the data continued to accumulate, the conclusion has become increasingly firmer.

As shown by the Bloomberg graphs, average global temperatures have been trending up:

And the apparent cause is the accumulation of man-made greenhouse gases:

Some questions have been raised because between 1998 and 2012, there appeared to be slowing or leveling of the upward trend, termed by some as the “Global Warming Hiatus.  However, according to the UK Met Officethat hiatus is over, and the upward trend has resumed. 

The reason Cootsona raises this issue has to do with the generational gap in evangelical Christian’s acceptance of the science.  The emerging adult population views climate change as a critical issue that needs to be addressed.  A 2015 Pew Research Poll, the most recent on the subject, found only 28 percent of white evangelicals believed that the Earth was getting warmer because of human activity — by far the lowest percentage of any religious demographic in the survey.  Part of this reluctance on older evangelicals is the Genesis 1:28 “dominion” theology viewpoint that the earth is given to humans to use as they see fit.  There is also the influence of dispensational theology, as commenter HUG would say, the “It’s all gonna burn anyway” attitude.  Emerging adults tend to reinterpret the Genesis 1:28 theology as one of stewardship or “creation care”.  Atmospheric scientist, professor of political science, and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe (born April 15, 1972), who is also an evangelical Christian says this:

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

“If I say that I respect God, that I love God, and God has given us this incredible life-giving planet, then if I strip every resource at the expense of my poor sisters and brothers — one in six of whom die because of pollution-related issues, who are suffering and dying today — then I’m not somebody who takes the Bible seriously,”

Most emerging adults are taking the position of Dr. Hayhoe, which I see as a good thing.  Cootsona concludes:

Global climate change represents a pressing issue that we cannot avoid, but global stewardship involves much more.  We need to concern ourselves for the poor who bear the brunt of the effects of climate change.  We also need to think about the future, for our children.  What earth will be leave for them?  When the planet over which we are stewards is threatened by our actions, we have to reevaluate all our calculations.

Cootsona then brings up the sexuality issue in regards to the Lesbian-Bisexual-Gay-Transgender-Queer (LBGTQ) concerns.  He notes that traditional positions on same-sex marriage seem questionable to emerging adults, not merely because of contemporary trends, but also in light of science.  In other words, science (as the argument goes) has offered definitive proof for sexual ethics by demonstrating LBGTQ people are “born that way”.  I don’t want to repeat the excellent series by Mike Bell on “Why I am an Ally, nor do I wish to enter the issue of exegesis of the relevant scriptural passages.  I do want to give my opinion on what science has actually shown on the “born that way” argument and agree with Cootsona when he says that science can inform, but cannot dictate ethics. 

First of all, has science proved homosexuality is genetic like eye-color or left-handedness?  To properly answer that question, I believe one must understand the difference between “inherited” and “heritable” characteristics.  Inherited means directly determined by genes (a gene is a locus [or region] of DNA that encodes a functional RNA or protein product, and is the molecular unit of heredity).  Common examples of inherited traits include hair, skin and eye color, hair type, finger and toe length, dimples, freckles, body type, height, hand dominance, and ear shape.  A heritable trait is most simply an offspring’s trait that resembles the parents’ corresponding trait.  It is a predisposition; a liability or tendency to suffer from a particular condition, hold a particular attitude, or act in a particular way.  Let me illustrate with an example.

Suppose we want to answer the question: Is there a gene that causes people to grow up to be basketball (BB) players?

·         We conduct twin studies and find if one twin is a BB player the other is statistically likely to be one too.

·         We do a family study and find BB playing runs in families.

·         Autopsies on dead BB players find their brains are different.

We conclude:

·         There is a high concordance rate of BB playing in twins.

·         Family studies show BB playing “associated” with certain genes (tallness, long arms and fingers, quick reflexes, muscular-skeletal structure for good jumping)

·         Brain studies show a difference in BB vs. non-BB brains.

We call Sports Illustrated and say:  “Our research indicates BB playing is strongly heritable and associated with certain genes.”  But they write: “New research proves BB playing is inherited and caused by genes.”

A similar situation has occurred with homosexuality.  For example, researcher Gene Hamer (July 1993 in Science) conducted a “linkage study” of families.  He looked for variation in genes and determined whether that variation was more frequent in families that share the trait.  He correlated a particular genetic structure with a behavior trait.  But then the Media reported a “gay gene” was found.

Hamer was asked if homosexuality was rooted solely in genetics, he replied:

“Absolutely not.  From twin studies we already know that half or more of the variability in sexual orientation is not inherited.  Our studies try to pinpoint the genetic factors… not negate the psycho-social factors.”  Scientific American, November 1995, page 26.

Simon Levay (1991 in Science), did autopsies on men’s brains and reported an area was twice as large in the brains of homosexuals.  However:

·         No validation of sexual orientation was conducted

·         No control of drug use vs. non-drug use

·         Scientists now know the brain’s structure changes with use – just like athletes have bigger muscles.

Some people claim twin studies show a >50% concordance rate (more than half the time if one twin is homosexual the other is too).  However, identical twins have identical genes so concordance should be 100% if the trait was inherited.  Also the “50% concordance” study was a “recruited” study where twins were recruited from GLB associations.  But “registry” studies (where the cohort or group was random and observed) showed a concordance rate of 38%.

So the bottom line is that, while science shows there is no “gay” gene that one inherits, there is a genetic predisposition to same sex attraction; it is not simply a “matter of choice”.  No one chooses to have same sex attraction, it a complicated mixture of heritable characteristics and environmental and psycho-social factors, that are still, by no means, completely understood.

Which means, as Cootsona concludes, and I agree, ethical deliberations should not look to science as the final arbiter of truth.  To integrate faith and science doesn’t mean a monologue of science.  Same sex attraction should be put into the larger context of biological predestination.  Are we “nothing but” our genes?  Do our genes fully determine our behavior?  Cootsona says that genetic determinism, especially given the freedom Christ promises us, is insufficient for a Christian sexual ethic.  Again, I tend to agree.  The LBGTQ issue for evangelicals cannot be adjudicated by science alone.  As Mike Bell has set the example, it will be by gracious understanding, seeking to act Christ-like, scriptural exegetical honesty, and above all, the humble intent to treat one’s neighbor as oneself.  Any other attitude will assuredly cause loss of interest in the majority of emerging adults in that expression of Christianity.

Comments

  1. Emerging adults tend to reinterpret the Genesis 1:28 theology as one of stewardship or “creation care”.

    That is, the few who have ever read it, or care how what it has to say impacts this subject. My understanding is that most, the vast majority of, “emerging adults” don’t give a fig about the Bible whatsoever. I also wonder: do many of them have a good understanding of science, or how to tell the difference between good scientific method and “bad science,” or much understanding about how scientific knowledge might inform public policy or social mores? I mean, I know they’re generally tech savvy, but that doesn’t automatically translate into being science savvy, by any means.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > That is, the few who have ever read it

      This differs from the older generation(s) how? 🙂 Because Biblical Scholars the oldsters ain’t. They believe they are.

      > the vast majority of, “emerging adults” don’t give a fig about the Bible

      Neither do the majority of the older generation. Yet a majority in a nation of 300M souls allows for large minorities. Sitting in any coffee shop in the midwest will provide one with theological conversations to overhear [we joke that there are only three coffee shop conversations: theology, housing, and “entrepreneurial-corporate synergy”].

      There are many “emerging adults” who care very much about reconciling Scripture to their values.

      > do many of them have a good understanding of science

      Like the older generation? 🙂

      > I know they’re generally tech savvy,

      This is immensely exaggerated; they are not generally tech savvy – I hire them. They believe they are.

      BUT they certainly have a higher base line for understanding things like genetics than the oldsters, if for no reason than having been educated more recently. I graduated high-school in 1991 and the topic of Genetics began and ended with Mendel and some diagrams about recessive and dominant.

      • I’m not applauding the knowledge of older generations in the areas of science or religion, or finding the performance of younger people wanting in comparison. The older generations have loved to pretend that they know the Bible well, when they don’t; on the other hand, the younger generations tend to not care about even keeping up the pretense. In science, many of my contemporaries have always been frank in admitting their limited scientific knowledge; am I wrong to think that many emerging adults may have a higher opinion of their own scientific knowledge than is justified, just as you say is true about their tech savvy?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Am I wrong to think that many emerging adults may have a higher opinion
          > of their own scientific knowledge than is justified

          That their own opinion of their competency is overly generous – you are probably correct on that score. Yet, is there scientific competency notably higher than that of previous generations? IMNSHO, without a doubt, yes.

          “That their own opinion of their competency is overly generous” . . . is a thing with being that age. I certainly overestimated my competency on numerous axis in my 20s. Early 30s was a lot of disillusionment, both externally and self-referentially. I doubt that makes me unusual. [ It makes one’s 40s a lot more fun, provided one uses the late-30s finding different books to read; it is easier to laugh now. ]

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I certainly overestimated my competency on numerous axis in my 20s.

            i.e. The Dunning-Kruger Effect peaks during those years.
            (So do the odds of testicular cancer, though I don’t think the two are related.)

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    I feel it is important to note that correlations like 0.38 from these twin studies are in the same ball park as those for mental illness, violent behavior, substance abuse, and even owning a dog. For whatever reason I do not find Evangelicals as deeply concerned with those conclusions.

    Science cannot dictate ethics; but if one is going to listen to science for insight, one should listen to it broadly.

  3. The LBGTQ issue for evangelicals cannot be adjudicated by science alone. As Mike Bell has set the example, it will be by gracious understanding, seeking to act Christ-like, scriptural exegetical honesty, and above all, the humble intent to treat one’s neighbor as oneself. Any other attitude will assuredly cause loss of interest in the majority of emerging adults in that expression of Christianity.

    Re: the interest of the majority of emerging adults: If, as we learned in the last installment of this series, use of social media corresponds to and is possibly the cause of less ability to empathize, how will the positive empathetic values and practices recommended in this quote fall on ears that are increasingly deaf to the sound of empathy? And, to refer back to the issue of anthropogenic global climate change, how is it that someone can positively and effectively empathize with the planet when they are increasingly less able to do it with their neighbor? Aside from expressing support for concern about climate change, do emerging adults actually do more about it than previous generations at the same age?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > do more about it than previous generations at the same age?

      Knowing many of these “emerging results”, and my own generation [Gen-X], I can only postulate: Hell yes.

      We didn’t do jack; so the bar for “do more”, is very low. And my parents generation? I, mean, seriously?

      > use of social media corresponds to and is possibly the cause of less ability to empathize

      The results of these studies can be taken too far. Intense use of Social Media is, like all behaviors, concentrated in particular groups. I would have no problem filling a room with “emerging adults” who have largely abandoned SM; and there are many who move to a quite regimented use.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And, to refer back to the issue of anthropogenic global climate change, how is it that someone can positively and effectively empathize with the planet when they are increasingly less able to do it with their neighbor?

      And when The President(TM) and other Christian Leaders(TM) all say “Global Warming HOAX” and “Fake News! Fake News! Fake News! Conspiracy Conspiracy Conspiracy!”?

      (“It’s All Gonna Burn” has already been covered in the main posting.)

  4. Quite aside from how the treatment of science by the Christian community impacts the reception that Christianity gets from emerging adults, Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, are going to have to successfully stop providing institutional cover for sexual abusers, and start being honest about the complicity of their institutions in the abuse of thousands and thousands, maybe millions, of children and adults across vast expanses of time, for at least a generation before they have any right to ask an unprejudiced hearing from the current generation of emerging adults, or any other. If they/we can’t get this right, if they/we don’t fix this problem, which punches a vast, gaping hole in any claim any religion might have to moral truth, then they/we have no right to any hearing whatsoever. This, more than science, is the field on which Christians should do better than the secular world, not worse, yet we have consistently, across generations, failed — and it has taken the oversight of secular government to expose the evil; this is where we are likely to be alienating emerging adults the most, and probably forever in many cases.

    • “If they/we can’t get this right, if they/we don’t fix this problem, which punches a vast, gaping hole in any claim any religion might have to moral truth, then they/we have no right to any hearing whatsoever.”

      I agree, but psychologically there are two big factors that prevent this from happening. First, there is evangelicalism’s persecution complex. In their eyes, if they DO admit that they have this problem, then the secular world will mock and reject them as hypocrites. Far easier to believe that these “problems” are being blown out of proportion by troublemakers. Second, evangelical piety is based on Christian’s being changed people via faith in Christ – ergo, a real Christian just COULD NOT do these sorts of things. To admit that these things ARE happening is essentially to admit that either the perpetrators are not True Christians, or their whole conception of salvation and sanctification is wrong – and they’ve staked the claim that they are Right on this, and other “churches” are Wrong.

      In summary, if they own up to the problem, they hand their liberal secular enemies the ammo they need to discredit the Gospel – and indeed their very conception of the Gospel would be soundly refuted. So it’s not surprising that many of them would rather do ANYTHING than admit that this problem exists.

      • I say they/we, because this is not only or primarily an evangelical problem. Here in PA, a tragic scandal of gigantic proportions is unfolding in most Roman Catholic dioceses with regard to child sexual abuse that shows how systemic and widespread the problem is in the RCC. I understand that steps have been taken in the last fifteen years to deal with this within the Church, but something so widespread and institutionalized is not dealt with in just less than two decades; it will take a generation at least for the RCC, and the churches in general, to show the world that it (and they) are serious about fixing this problem, and are committed to it. Until that time, no church should expect a hearing with regard to other social issues and matters, including with regard to science. I understand that this blog mostly deals with the sins and failures of evangelicalism, but this is problem in the way leadership and authority are exercised in the whole Church, and it is a sin and failure of the whole Church. We have to recognize our mutual responsibility as the Church in this.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          While Evangelical Pedo-Pastors (so many surfacing that TWW & SSB need to start a take-a-number system) point their fingers and proclaim “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY ROMANIST PRIESTS OVER THERE…”

      • There are right now people, some of them in positions of power, talking in the media about using the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act to bring criminal charges against the Roman Catholic Church as an institution with regard to this matter. If it wasn’t clear already, as it should’ve been long ago, we are into serious territory here.

      • Whatever the theological dynamic is in the evangelical churches with regard to this issue (and I think you outline it pretty well), the dynamic in the RCC has been that mercy should be shown by clerical leaders to other clerical leaders who commit these crimes, but not to their victims. The underlying justification is the desire to avoid creating a scandal that would give bad repute to the Church. Not so different from the evangelicals; a definite family resemblance.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s not just a “dynamic in the RCC”. CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE – ESPECIALLY PEDO – IS EVERYTHERE. Check out Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, and other spiritual abuse watchblogs – they’re exposing so many pedo-Pastors they need to start a take-a-number system. IT’S BECOME A PRIVILEGE OF PASTORAL RANK — “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!!!!!”

          • Geez, HUG, either the abuse is real and demands accountability in both RCC and evangelicalism, or not. Notice, I said the dynamic is quite similar in both forms of Christianity: bad leadership models, and lots of cover for abuse, and protection of abusers in both. Stop pretending that it only happens in one form of Christianity; that’s denial, plain and simple. Christianity has a serious moral problem when it comes to the treatment its clergy serves up the vulnerable in the pews. Period.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              I’M NOT “PRETENDING IT ONLY HAPPENS IN ONE FORM OF CHRISTIANITY”, THE BORN-AGAIN EVANGELICALS/REFORMED/WHATEVERS ARE!!!!!

              • I apologize for pissing you off, HUG. Not my intention.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  And the “one form of Christianity” in the pretending is ALWAYS the Other Guy’s.

                  THAT’s what makes it so obvious.

  5. Michael Bell says:

    So the bottom line is that, while science shows there is no “gay” gene that one inherits

    I am somewhat disturbed by the fact that the evidence you cite is no later than 1995. The Human Genome project only concluded in 2003. Saying that “there is no ‘gay’ gene” is not something that science can say yet.

    In 2011 we saw that autism was linked to potentially hundreds of genetic mutations across the genome.

    We are starting to find similar results in the area of homosexuality.

    “There are probably multiple genes involved, each with a fairly low effect,” he says. “There will be men who have the form of gene that increases the chance of being gay, but they won’t be gay.”… It adds yet more evidence that sexual orientation is not a ‘lifestyle choice’.

    This is a science that is in its infancy. It isn’t settled yet. At the same time I would not be so bold to presume conclusions that have not yet been arrived at, on either side of the question.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Mike: Fair pushback. I cite the older studies, because even then, the researchers, who were sympathetic to LGBTQ issues, were careful not to conclude it was strictly genetic. I will stand by my conclusion, “No one chooses to have same sex attraction, it is a complicated mixture of heritable characteristics and environmental and psycho-social factors, that are still, by no means, completely understood.” I do not accept biological predestination anymore than I accept neurological predestination. We have free will, albeit it is more constrained than many care to admit, it is still within our capabilities as emergent-property-ensouled-beings to make choices.

      Interestingly, Cootsona cites Ted Peter’s interaction with a prominent Stanford law professor who promotes LGBTQ equality and is herself a lesbian. Quote: “She expressed the following concerns: if we affirm genetic determinism, then this leads to biological essentialism, to the view that our sexual preferences is biological, natural, and essential to one’s sexual identity. This traps a person into a sexual identity determined at birth. This woman, a lesbian by choice, wants to make social and legal room for individuals to decide whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Thus she takes a stand against genetic determinism.”

    • Peter Wolfe says:

      There is more accessible data recent available. Denis Alexander has an excellent book “Genes, Determinism and God” which looks a the whole question of free will wrt to genetic determinism. He has a whole chapter on “Gay Genes”. A snippet of his conclusion:

      It may therefore be concluded that no one causal mechanism is both necessary and sufficient to explain the whole gamut of human sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is a highly complex trait, and it seems likely that across the variety of human sexes and cultures, different influences are more important at different times. Not all homosexual men will be carrying the same variant genes. Not all homosexual women are masculinised. The social and cultural environment in which people live is constantly changing, including friends and partners, together with personal motivations and aspirations, creating a complex system in which biological make-up is integrated with multiple environmental, social and cultural factors. Thus, there is no point in looking for the cause of same-sex attraction – it does not exist. This negative conclusion is important, because many assume that the aetiology of SSA is known and straightforward. It is not.

      Alexander, Denis. Genes, Determinism and God (p. 232). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition. (2017)

    • Burro (Mule) says:

      As is entirely predictable, I am uneasy with both positions. I don’t care for biological determinism and I also don’t care for unfettered self-definition. Both attitudes in their purity provoke my inner Franco and find me wishing to administer badly needed slaps to all the backpfeifengesichten in the immediate neighborhood.

      For both earthcraft and sexual behavior, I cannot shake the feeling that we were appointed to perform a liturgy as part of the human priesthood. In a liturgy both correct actions and passion of execution matter. Neither empty ritualism or endless noodling with form produce the desired result

  6. Michael Bell says:

    I am not a climate change denier – but there are more than a few problems with the Bloomberg graph.

    • You might want to watch your sources – you may not be a denier, but wattsupwiththat *is*. As tough of a slog as it is, I strongly recommend reading through the actual compiled studies (or at least the executive summaries) put out by the climate agencies.

      • Michael Bell says:

        I was hesitant posting from that source for that very reason. As a “stats guy” my antennae tend to quiver a little more than most. Most challenges are going to come from “denier” sites, primarily because those who believe in climate change are not going to be challenges graphs that support their belief. But as I said, I am not a climate change denier, I just don’t think this is a particularly good graph.

        • Yeah, that’s why I try to avoid any mainstream media reporting on climate change, either “pro” or “con”. It’s a very complex problem that doesn’t lend itself well to “dumbing down”.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Especially when that “dumbing down” comes with a BIG dose of “WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?????”

            Add Christianese and it’s “WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON????? GOD OR SATAN?????”, ratcheting up everything to literally Cosmic Importance.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Sure, but it’s handy and non-scientist friendly.

  7. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the percentage of white evangelicals (28%) who believe anthropomorphic climate change is a reality is just about the same as the percentage who do not support the current administration in the U.S.

    I bet you would find a very high correlation between those two sets; in fact an almost complete overlap.

    Not sure about the percentage who would consider themselves allies and who are able to come alongside our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, but I have a feeling it’s even lower.

    This means white evangelicalism is overwhelmingly in denial of scientific findings that could help us avert climate disasters, avoid actively welcoming our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and support a government administration has shown strong tendencies toward racism, misogyny, xenophobia, cruelty, contempt for the poor and downtrodden, dishonesty, and more.

    It’s no wonder to me that the church is alienating emerging adults. It’s already alienated most millennials, as well as a number of us who are older. . And honestly I don’t see any hope for much change in the near future.

    Those who most need to hear the discussion in this post won’t be listening any time soon.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This means white evangelicalism is overwhelmingly in denial of scientific findings that could help us avert climate disasters, avoid actively welcoming our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and support a government administration has shown strong tendencies toward racism, misogyny, xenophobia, cruelty, contempt for the poor and downtrodden, dishonesty, and more.

      Not just “supporting”, but accepting that “government administration” (and especially the Anointed Great One on top) as their REAL Personal LOORD and Savior. Something that Eagle & I keep Wondering over is how BABBECs (Born Again Bible Believing Evangelical Christians) are the most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics. It’s like they Took the Mark in a bad Book of Revelation fanfic.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s no wonder to me that the church is alienating emerging adults. It’s already alienated most millennials, as well as a number of us who are older.

      And the more they alienate, the smaller their number becomes and the more hostility from the outside.

      Cue the twin cards of “PERSECUTION!!!!! (2 Timothy 3:12)” and “Righteous Remnant Who Have Never Bent the Knee to Baal, nor kissed Baal with their mouths (I Kings 19:18)”….

  8. People, especially Christians who want to deny climate change, should at least be willing to apply Pascal’s wager to it, and make a punnet square, but they usually do nothing of the sort.
    Why? Because the issue has bee hijacked by politics and the culture war for profit and power.

    It’s pretty simple: either it’s true or it’s not, and either you believe it and do something or you don’t and don’t:
    If it’s true and you believe and do something, we have a chance.
    If it’s false and you believe and do something, the world gets less waste and pollution and improves.
    If it’s true and you don’t believe and do something, we’re all screwed.
    If it’s false and you don’t believe and do something, the world becomes dirtier and more polluted.

    • Michael Bell says:

      If it’s false and you believe and do something, the world gets less waste and pollution and improves.

      If this were the only outcome of the false + belief option then I think that people would be must less resistant. What is happening in Ontario Canada is that people are complaining loudly about the cost of electricity which has more than doubled in great part because of the actions of “doing something”. This has resulted in businesses closing, businesses that can no longer afford to expand, businesses moving, people losing jobs, people having issues of income no longer meeting expenses, the list goes on. So there has been some real push back.

      There is also the real fear that if I do something and my neighbour (local or global) does nothing, then I am placed at an enormous disadvantage.

      When we recognize that there are real consequences impacting real people then we at least have a common starting point for moving forward.

      • Sometimes improvement has a cost, and sometimes there are unintended consequences. Having said that, though, it seems like better policies could have mitigated the economic hurt.

        Also, the electric rate sheet you link to shows Ontario rates over more than a decade. I’m pretty sure my electric rates here in the U.S. have more than doubled over that time also, and they are much, much higher than Ontario’s, and the economy here has not been damaged by that. So I have to think there is more going on up there.

      • Well put. Precisely stated. What we have to do is convince people that the long term consequences of doing nothing are worse than the short term consequences of doing something. I am not optimistic. We seem constitutionally incapable of extended foresight. We only learn after we’ve made the mistake.

        When he wakes up in the morning
        He tells himself, “Today I’ll make a change”
        But falling into his bed at night
        He thinks, “Man, it was a beautiful day
        To stay the same”

        -David Bazan “Don’t Change”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > should at least be willing to apply Pascal’s wager to it,

      Agree, this is part that bugs me the most. There are OH SO MANY reasons to do many of things which “Climate Change” requires; but, no, the Climate-Change-Is-A-Hoax meme is used as a justification NOT to do them, even to fight against them, proving that Hoax-Belief is a bluff to not do things you don’t want to happen for other reasons.

      I much would prefer honest disagreement; or at least lets debate why ELSE someone doesn’t want to do those things.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    On Global Climate Change and Sexuality (Where We’re Tempted to Ask Science for Things it Can’t Deliver)

    That sounds like a Rule 34 connection.

  10. To borrow Josh McDowell’s words, “evidence that demands a verdict”…

    I’ve slowly become a climate change believer because I think the evidence demands a verdict. And I’m not talking about graphs that show it and scientists who tell me it, I’m talking about the things I see and feel and hear all around the globe. The extreme temperatures around the earth over the past several years, combined with what’s happening this year, seem to be indicative of something.

    Additional evidence… when I, who live in Seattle, am mowing my lawn in MID-NOVEMBER, WEARING MY SHORTS (due to the warm weather), because the grass hasn’t yet gone dormant, and have done this for THREE STRAIGHT YEARS after having never mowed it that late in the previous twenty…

    I tend to call that “evidence that demands a verdict.”

    • “(F)or the (climate change denial) community to begin believing a single word of any scientific journal article corroborating climate change, every one of Earth’s glaciers would have to retreat at a rate exceeding 20 miles per year, and each of the skeptics, individually, would have to go a decade without seeing naturally occurring ice anywhere.”

      https://www.theonion.com/climate-change-deniers-present-graphic-description-of-w-1819578104

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Just more FAKE NEWS(TM).

      Personally, I’ve come to believe we have a problem, but I dare not speak of it. A lot of my RL contacts I have to keep good relations with are “Global Warming HOAX!” types. You DO know it was all a Power Grab by the Clintons, don’t you? (And any lecture that starts with “The Clintons! The Clintons! The Clintons!” ends with “TRUMP CAN DO NO WRONG!” — one Derangement Syndrome conjoined to another.

      And when Global Warming(TM) first hit the news, there was a Climategate where GW activists were shown to have “massaged” the evidence For The Cause. This and the usual overreaction of Kyle’s Mom Activist glomming onto a new Righteous Cause (including a lot of them getting into positions of Power in my state) so they can feel Righteous and scold all the rest of us with wagging fingers… Let’s just say they ended up discrediting their own Cause at a time when Conspiracy Theory is the default mode.

      The only similar analogy I can think of is the “Metric NOW!” and “Stop Metric Madness!” head-butting in the Seventies, when two One True Ways again ended up fighting each other to a standstill (and accomplishing nothing except two-liter soda bottles). One of the side effects of this which didn’t help was stand-up comics and media doing shticks about “Metric Football — on the 47.58371-meter Line!” or “Give them 25.4 millimeters and they’ll take 0.9471598 meters!” (always taking everything out to at least seven decimal places). And in doing so, convincing an entire generation of Americans that Metric was for high-precision science geeks, Not Repeat NOT for everyday use. (Cue Homer Simpson: “NERRRRRRD!!!!!”)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Additional evidence… when I, who live in . . . .

      . . .Michgan. I retired my mower and hired a lawn service. This is ridiculous.

  11. Christiane says:

    What about the (mis)use of extreme fundamentalist approaches to solving problems as adapted to political agendas?

    The intense patriarchy devolves into a sharp attack on ‘feminism’ that permits misogyny with a wink.

    The permissible corporal and psychological punishment of children in order to ‘break their will’, now applied to the separation of small children from their parent’s arms as a deterrent to discourage persecuted adults with young children in South and Central America from seeking asylum in our country.

    The ‘way of the Pharisee’ casting of stones down on ‘them what is disgusting to us’ because WE are ‘justified’ and ‘THEY’ are not . . . . adapted to a political scene that sees any and all attempts at curbing the ‘religious freedom’ of fundamentalists to throw those stones as an interference in their ‘religious liberties’ . . . .

    The political party that is willing to be a ‘vehicle’ of the religious right’s more extreme treatment of others can count on the unquestioning support of those ‘faithful’ . . . . even to the extent of their ‘loyalty’ to a leader whose own personal ways normally would be an abomination to them . . . . a leader that Franklin Graham has praised as ‘chosen by God’.

    At some point, at the core of all of this there is a lack of integrity that DOES bring into question the ‘witness’ of such religious entities to speak about the ‘Good News’.

    And yes, I can freely say that this also applies to any Catholic authorities who have failed to cull out known predators from the priesthood . . . such ‘authorities’ are themselves also no longer able to stand up as witness for Christ. They have sought to ‘hide’ and ‘sheild’ the worst from justice for the sake of ‘reputation’, but that time is over when such things may be done and those who love the Church will not abandon her because of these creeps, but the faithful will insist that they be brought to justice and that the victims must be compensated in so far as is possible, although the harm they have endured has left permanent scars in this life.

    And yet, we have this promise: ‘the gates of hell shall NOT prevail . . . . . ‘

  12. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    I had an interesting experience related to anthropogenic climate change (of which I am conviced). In a casual conversation with my dad (retired science educator, BSc in physics, M.Ed. in didactics), I said something about climat change. He very strongly stated that he doesn’t believe in it. When I said that well, one can look at the evidence (which I have done myself), and measure the increase in average temperature as well as its correlation with the increased production of greeenhouse gases (and the warming affect of greenhouse gases is a matter of high school physics), he vehemently repeated that he doesn’t believe a word of it, it is all Al Gore’s money making scheme etc etc. It turns out he has become enanoured of the evangelical right wing and their ideas, via the internet (ok, he has always had that proclivity, but it has increased a lot). I encouraged him to go and read Katherine Hayhoe. No word since.

    But then today he posted a link to one of those “you don’t need chemo, it is all money making, just follow my dietary guidelines and buy my snake oil and then you are guarenteed to be cancer free..” sites. Rather sad.

    But thinking about these things, I have to admit that he had a proclivity for conspiracy etc. He was a serious chiliast back in the day (I was fed a constant stream of Jack Chick as a child). My summation is that a certain way of thinking, and the resultant engendered tribalism makes for a near impregnable wall. We have all seen them/heard them – people who get excited about conspiracy nonsense. Turns out it has nothing to do with intelligence or the lack thereof. A lot has to do with the affects of long term programming due to a diet of mystical/magical/secret thinking and beliefs. And to use an IT analogy, eventually the software rewires the hardware.

    It is sad. I prefer not to argue with him – he is 81 and very set in his thinking. But the cautionary tale is that the best we can do is to be ipen to evidence, reason and new insights, throughout our lives, while maintaining healthy scepticism.

    • Good post, Klasie.

      I have no problem with conspiracy theorists opposing climate change (or whatever else they oppose). They’re basically creating their own fantasy worlds and living in them (and trying to persuade others to join them).

      Who I DO have a problem, though, are CHRISTIANS who oppose climate change, because it seems to me like so much of their opposition is strictly because they view climate change as Al Gore’s “baby” and a “Democrat position,” and heaven forbid they support something counter to a Republican stance.

      What these Christians end up doing, then, is making it more about WHO is promoting it than any discussion about the facts and possibilities, and what they end up representing, then, is a Christ who has no compassion for the earth He created.

      That’s why I really like Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s take on it. Why, if we follow a Jesus who’s full of compassion, would we continue to take stances that make us appear so indifferent if not downright unhealthy?

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        The answer is so simple, and it has nothing to do with stoopid evangelicals, Trump supporters, or vicious cannibalistic Republicans. Who goes first?

        Any reduction in carbon dioxide production is going to mean more constricted circumstances. There will be less; less space in the house, less time to oneself, less lawn, less peace and quiet, less freedom, less mobility, If I had the assurance that the pain would be roughly fairly distributed, I might be more amenable to hearing how to keep my great-grandchildren from living on Venus.

        But we really f*cked up royally on distributing the benefits fairly on the road up, so it’s every man for himself and devil take the hindermost on the road down. Late Permian, here we come.

        • john bary says:

          Burro/Mule, good observations and truth , at least “truth” as I see it. I believe Al Gore , set back the climate change dialogue with his big, lavish carbon footprint and his wealth making ventures. Gave ammo to those who disagree with him.

          I cannot think of a solution that is workable. I agree with Sammy Cahn who in 1945 stated “that the weather outside is frightful”. He was a man before his time trying to spread the word in song. He was a prophet for profit like Al Gore aka Bigfoot (carbon)

      • I have no problem with conspiracy theorists opposing climate change (or whatever else they oppose). They’re basically creating their own fantasy worlds and living in them (and trying to persuade others to join them)…What I DO have a problem, though, are Christian who oppose climate change….

        Premillenial dispensationalism is one of the most widespread conspiracy theories, belief in which causes lots of Christian to oppose everything from anthropogenic global climate change to transgender rights.

        • Christiane says:

          I still think it is a quid pro quo arrangement:

          Republicans promise culture war benefits to fundamentalists in exchange for fundamentalists supporting the Petroleum Energy Companies’ agendas which would be curtailed by ‘climate change’ varification of CO2 emissions causing increased heat radiation from the Sun coming through to the Earth. (We really need that ozone layer for protection and CO2 is destroying it.)

          Once a fundamentalist gets pulled into the culture wars, even Trumpism is preferable to losing ground to ‘liberals’, so the trade-offs ‘make sense’ to people who then vote against their own interests and most certainly the interests of the children’s children. (sigh)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Christianese Culture War is another head of the hydra of Church Corruption, right up there with the Really Truly Reformed, Dominionism, and Complementarianism (male supremacy).

            Just this head has been up to its headcrest in politics since at least the Reagan years. And this political enmeshment means it gets ignored by Spiritual Abuse Watchblogs who “want to stay out of politics”.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Republicans promise culture war benefits to fundamentalists in exchange for…

            Was it Eagle who described this as “Christians selling their birthright for a Supreme Court Nomination”?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        What these Christians end up doing, then, is making it more about WHO is promoting it than any discussion about the facts and possibilities, and what they end up representing, then, is a Christ who has no compassion for the earth He created.

        I’m a survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians For Nuclear War in the Seventies.

        That kind of Christ has a LONG track record. Remember “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > proclivity for conspiracy etc.

      Yep. After not too long the way these ideas cluster reveals that the root is a conspiracy oriented world-view.

      It is a very Soap Opera kind of perception of things, filled with bad guys be they Evil Real Estate Developers or Government Conspiracies. So many conversations I have had, explaining what the data shows us, to be met with a: “Yeah, but you know what is REALLY going on?” [when, I am pretty sure I just said what that was].

      It really gets one down after awhile.

      • Ronald Avra says:

        Ditto

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It is a very Soap Opera kind of perception of things, filled with bad guys be they Evil Real Estate Developers or Government Conspiracies.

        I’ve always viewed these guys as LARPers (Live Action Role-Playing gamers) who won’t admit to it.

        So many conversations I have had, explaining what the data shows us, to be met with a: “Yeah, but you know what is REALLY going on?”

        Doesn’t “Gnostic” translate as “He Who KNOWS Things”?
        As in the Inner Mysteries of an Inner Ring, Illuminati in their own minds?

        “A fanatic is someone who does what God would do — If God Only KNEW What Was REALLY Going On.”
        — can’t remember the source, but that’s One Good Line

        “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”
        — Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle

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  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Another factor in play:

    Remember The Ozone Hole? How it was going to spread all over the world and kill us all?

    And before that, there was MORE End-of-The-World-Scares with accompanying Activist bandwagons, many of which turned out to be false alarms.

    Anybody remember Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”?

    And yet another:

    The relative Zeitgeist of today — grinning Nihilism to Count Coup by Virtue Signalling.

    If something like this had surfaced in the Nifty Fifties (right after pulling out of the Great Depression, Winning WW2, and becoming the industrial/economic powerhouse of the world in its aftermath), the Zeitgeist — and approach to the global problem — would have ben radically different.

    In the Nifty Fifties, the attitude was one of Can-Do Optimism, not “It’s All Over But The Screaming; Am I Not Edgy?” Presented with something like Global Warming, the response would have been “We Got a Problem; How Do We Fix It?” NOT marinating (and masturbating) in oh-so-delicious Angst Angst Angst and Virtue Signalling Our Activist Righteousness. The push would be towards Finding and Implementing a Solution, with all the strength at our disposal.

    Granted, a lot of these solutions would be DUMB ones that would need to be weeded out (look up “Project Plowshare” sometime), but they would still be attempts at a Solution, not Just Roll Over Give Up and Virtue Signal MY Righteousness in the process.