A Few Things Ill Considered

Can a creationist be a good scientist?

I honestly think that while belief in creationism is the antithesis of scientific thought, it is still possible to be a good scientist and a creationist at the same time.  This is for two main reasons.  Firstly, creationism is a term that covers a wide spectrum of beliefs, from literal 6000 year old earth bible thumping denial of evolution to a more nuanced kind of mysticism that believes somewhere beneath the deep layers of complex and wonderful natural processes exists an unexplainable and supernatural foundation.

There is no practical difference between investigating how deeply “God’s” thoughts are buried beneath the details and just trying to model the behavior and attributes of time and nature’s features, from the grandest principles to the microscopic minutiae.

Secondly, the human brain is remarkably adept at compartmentalizing and otherwise dealing with its own internal contradictions.  Clearly more often than not this is a bug, not a feature, but sometimes it is indeed a feature!  Thus one can quite easily maintain a separation of one’s theology and one’s day job.

But can you really trust a climatologist who believes, in the face of mountains of evidence, the following?

We believe 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.  Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.

and this:

We deny that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant. Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits.

Dr. Roy Spencer has signed a statement that includes the above passages, a fact which does much more to explain his error ridden work on the satellite temperature record than an accidental swapping of a negative and positive sign on a crucial corrective adjustment ever could.  It is also yet another clear indicator of the false skepticism of the climate denialist community that such an attitude does nothing to encourage a questioning of this man’s stated opinions on climate science, opinions that fly in the face of 97% of the domain expert opinions out there and more importantly fly in the face of all evidence.

Hat tip to mandas for bringing this up.

Comments

  1. #1 mandas
    September 12, 2012

    If you read that idiotic statement even further, you will find this gem:

    “We call on Christian leaders to understand the truth about climate change and embrace Biblical thinking, sound science, and careful economic analysis in creation stewardship.”

    I just love the juxtaposition of ‘biblical thinking’ with ‘sound science’ – for if ever there was an oxymoron it is that statement.

    Biblical thinking and creationism are the complete antithesis of sound science. When you start with a conclusion – that the bible is right – and then work backwards, rejecting anything that does not fit your predetermined conclusion, then what you are doing is not science – and anyone who does that is not a scientist. And in any case, it only takes a few minutes of reading to understand that the bible is not, and cannot possibly be, right. It is so full of contradictions that even if some parts of it are right, there are others that must be wrong. Even the much beloved creation fables in the bible – and is more than one – contradict each other.

    That’s why the answer to Coby’s question must be a resounding no. If you completely subordinate the scientific method, and fail utterly to critically read the document on which you base your entire world view, then you you not only cannot be a good scientist – you are not a scientist at all.

    And that does not only apply to Roy Spencer – it applies to everyone who signed that idiotic statement. And that includes Ross McKitrick as well (remember him?).

  2. #2 coby
    September 12, 2012

    Yes, I noticed McKitrick in there as well.

    The answer to the question depends on how literal you think one has to be with biblical interpretation to qualify as a creationist. Maybe I have too liberal a definition of creationism, allowing it to include much more hand-wavy religious philosophies.

  3. #3 thefordprefect
    uk
    September 12, 2012

    If there were not the signatories list you would think the text was written by flying spaghetti or invisible pink unicorn cultists.

    however it unfortunately seems real.
    there is also this:
    1.We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.


    4.We deny that such policies, which amount to a regressive tax, comply with the Biblical requirement of protecting the poor from harm and oppression.

    Some known signatories
    Dr. Roy W. Spencer (Principal Research Scientist in Climatology, University of Alabama, Huntsville,
    Dr. Joseph D’Aleo (Executive Director and Certified Meteorologist, Icecap
    Dr. David Legates (Associate Professor of Climatology, University of Delaware
    Dr. Ross McKitrick (Associate Professor of Economics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    Worse still thee is this
    http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/a-renewed-call-to-truth-prudence-and-protection-of-the-poor/
    Mankind, created in God’s image, is the crown of creation. Human beings have the divine mandate to multiply and to fill, subdue, and rule the Earth, transforming it from wilderness into garden. They act as stewards under God to cultivate and guard what they subdue and rule. Calling them to be His vicegerents over the Earth, God requires obedience to His laws—

    Do what you like we are Gods favourites and can do no wrong in this resilient environment!!!

  4. #4 thefordprefect
    http://climateandstuff.blogspot.co.uk/
    September 12, 2012

    PS
    I think that your statement that “possible to be a good scientist and a creationist at the same time” is certainly not true to those signing up to this document.

    How can they even hint there may be overpopulation/over fishing/polution problems/energy crisis this would be against their God. There is no possibility of scepticism!

  5. #5 coby
    September 12, 2012

    Agreed. Anyone endorsing that text can not possibly engage in sound scientific investigation of any part of “God’s Creations”!

    I am somewhat bemused by the reference to warming and cooling in the “geologic history”. The most recent glaciation cycle was over 10K years ago, you have to look at ~150K years to identify anything you could tentatively call a cycle. How do they square that with 6 days of divine creation etc?

  6. #6 Wow
    September 12, 2012

    IMO it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re willing to put aside those beliefs when evidence tells you otherwise.

    Roy isn’t willing to do this.

  7. #7 Vince Whirlwind
    September 12, 2012

    Easy: No.

  8. #8 Prak
    September 12, 2012

    “We belive …. We deny”
    Clearly scientific phrasing…

  9. #9 Wow
    September 12, 2012

    Probably fairer to say “Could be? Yes. Are there any?”.

  10. #11 dean
    September 13, 2012

    Probably fairer to say “Could be? Yes. Are there any?”.

    Exactly. Do we have any that the set of people who are both good scientists and creationists is non-null?

  11. #12 GregH
    September 13, 2012

    Wow: +1

  12. #13 mandas
    September 13, 2012

    Spencer is not only a creationist, he is also a neo-con libertarian. And while these ‘philosophies’ are perfectly acceptable views to hold, when they start to influence your thinking on scientific issues that you run into trouble. And worse, when you can’t see how your ideology causes you to deliberately ignore important data, you are on track to irrelevance and stupidity.

    Take this article written by Spencer last year:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/07/the-debt-crisis-compromise-is-not-an-option/

    On face value it makes the perfectly reasonable point that the country can’t keep spending more than it earns. Few people would argue with that. The problem is that Spence falls into the trap of only looking at one side of the equation and then allows his political views to take over and to ignore other potential solutions. In other words, he adds to his creationist sins and further demonstrates that he does not consider the scientific method.

    For example:
    “…Let’s say a large family has gotten in the habit of spending more than it earns, borrowing more and more each year to the point where they are now spending 40% more than they are earning (which is where the federal government is now)…”
    Now, I look at that and think that there are two approaches to solving this problem. The first one is to reduce expenditure, while the second one is to increase income. Both of these are so obvious that they fit into the category of ‘no brainer’. But what is Spencer’s solution:

    “…We must reduce wasteful spending, and we must reduce the governmental tax and regulatory burdens on businesses ….”

    So he wants to reduce expenditure – that’s good I suppose. But he also wants to cut income! Huh?

    Then he compounds his error with his criticisms based on the graph – embedded, but also here:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/US-Govt-quarterly-expenditures-vs-receipts-1970-thru-20101.gif

    I look at that graph and think that tax revenue and expenditure were tracking along pretty uniformly. Tax revenue was less than expenditure until about 1998, when revenue started to exceed expenditure and the budget was starting to come back into balance. All good so far. Then something happened in 2001 which slashed tax revenue severely, and started to ‘unbalance’ the budget. See if you can guess what that was (hint – Bush tax cuts). If it wasn’t for those cuts, revenue would have exceeded expenditure and the budget would have been in good shape. But wait – there was a ‘philosophical underpinning’ to those tax cuts. Supposedly, if you reduce taxes on the rich, they would create jobs and tax revenues would increase as a result. Sorry, but the data does not support that conclusion Roy.

    Then in 2008 there was another substantial cut in revenue. See if you can guess what that was as well (hint: GFC).

    So Spencer’s own data shows clearly that the greatest impact on the US Budget has been the Bush tax cuts and the GFC. His solution – cut revenue even further by reducing taxes on the rich (again!) and impose huge spending cuts. WTF?! The conclusion I draw from that data is that the real problem is not expenditure, it’s income! And the tax cuts didn’t work last time – what makes him think they will work this time?

    As a scientist I always was taught that my conclusions must be supported by my data. Perhaps Spencer didn’t learn that lesson at school.

  13. #14 Sascha Vongehr
    www.science20.com/alpha_meme/open_letter_bostrom_and_nasas_richard_terrile_evolution_wrong_fossils_planted-94017
    September 13, 2012

    Yes, creationism may be quite anti-scientific. Please though do not just bash poor IDers for that, but have the guts to point the finger at creationism in your own scientism team:
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/open_letter_bostrom_and_nasas_richard_terrile_evolution_wrong_fossils_planted-94017

  14. #15 Wow
    September 13, 2012

    A family can’t spend more than it earns.

    However, governments can. By a lot.

    Because they tax on the movement of money. Whenever it moves, they take a cut.

    If, for example, they have a 25% tax rate, if the government spends $100000 after it has passed through five people, they have got practically all of that back.

    And the faster they spend this money given to them by government, the quicker the government gets it back.

    It doesn’t stop there, though.

    Just like each dollar after it has been produced continues to be WORTH a dollar and spent ten thousand times, giving an economic value of ten thousand dollars in exchange, the government CONTINUES to get 25% off the money they spent earlier, even if they don’t give out any more.

    Since a government taxes spending, they can and should spend wisely but heavily to get that money moving around.

    Because once the money stops hiding in the bank vaults of the megarich or flying off to tax havens, the government gets a cut of the money being moved.

  15. #16 AJ
    September 18, 2012

    Probably most pre-Darwin scientists would have been creationist. There’s even debate as to whether Darwin himself was a creationist:

    http://telicthoughts.com/was-darwin-a-creationist/

    My guess is that he would have had no problem agreeing with the statement regarding ecosystems.

  16. #17 TheOneGuy
    The Tardis
    September 19, 2012

    I find that a universe simple exploding or whatever is as or more ridiculus than the idea of a Creator God person, and a bunch of stuff randomly becoming alive? doesnt that go against the 2nd law of thermodynamics? (everything goes from a state of order to disorder) regardless of any arguements for either side…
    Evolution is no more reasonable than Creation or Intellegent Design, face it

  17. #18 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    Why should the universe give two hoots what you feel is likely?

    You are not that special (except possibly in a retarded way).

    Your god has nothing to do and doesn’t exist. Face it.

  18. #19 kai
    September 19, 2012

    to all citizens of the united states of america:

    climate hysteric and co2 warmist troll wow is totally uncapable of contributing to the question whether a creationist can be a good scientist since climate hysteric wow has no knowledge about science at all. he was a poor pupil in his school classes and is now a poor-mannered green activist to support the partison climate church by juist adopting the main sayings of his gurus (co2 bla bla bla, hide the decline bla bla bla, it’s getting warmer bla bla bla, i am a genious bla bla bla, kai is a child bla bla bla).

    distinguished citizens of the united states of america, please don’t believe the climate mullah wow a single word, since his only motivation is to take away from you your money to give it to al gore and the other climate money robberers

    thank you for your attention, distinguished citizens of the united stated of america, the land of the free and the home of the brave

  19. #20 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    kai thinks hysterical posting proves others are hysterical.

    kai is an idiot.

  20. #21 kai
    September 19, 2012

    mandas pretends to be a scientist, hahahahaha, he will certainly never tell anybody in which discipline to avoid painful relevation that musicology of chorus singing of palaeo-sinology, if not while even worse any ones of the social sciences or worst economy or similar idiotisms, will compromise his non-existent pseudo-reputation: so, is such a person a scientist? a person who is hanging around here round the clock as a watchdog to safeguard the realm of pure climate religion from evil intruders.

    mandas you are visibly jealous that are a poor person without much money and you want the rich to pay your salary and the ones of all similar poor. we the richs are your natural enemies, we entrepreneurs are the successful happy people whereas you are on the negative side of life and you want your revenge. this is also the deeper reason why you want more importance for your small soul and have found your desired role in disgusting world salvation halluciations with your ipcc church community.

  21. #22 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    kai pretends he thinks.

  22. #23 coby
    September 19, 2012

    we entrepreneurs are the successful happy people whereas you are on the negative side of life and you want your revenge.

    It’s pretty hard to believe a successful, happy person would spend their time writing what you write. I think this is more likely just projection.

    Whatever you purpose, can you please just go away or post something constructive, informative, or interesting?

  23. #24 kai
    September 20, 2012

    coby, what is your deeper conviction that what you write is constructive, informative, or interesting. is it because it is only in line of what your guru al gore wants from you and you are a democrat partison? yes? so are you the person what in general is informative (how it feels to be for the first time in life being close to a glacier).

    if i plainly tell you that climate alarmism is a pure stupidity you get angry and declare what truth is, despite the fact that nobody disposes of the truth not even your climate gurus from your beloved co2 church

  24. #25 Wow
    September 20, 2012

    So “no, he can’t” is the answer coby.

  25. #26 kai
    September 20, 2012

    wow, one and one is four and putin is the president of afghanistan. is this your level of knowlegde?

  26. #27 Wow
    September 20, 2012

    Mo, my level of knowledge is far, far higher than that.

  27. #28 mandas
    September 20, 2012

    Theoneguy

    Second law of thermodynamics? Really?

    Can I make a request. If you are going to try and make an argument based on scientific concepts, would you first do some reading so you have the faintest idea what you are talking about.

  28. #29 Richard Simons
    September 20, 2012

    Why do denialists have this fixation on Al Gore?

    Kai: based on my understanding of the physics involved and the evidence of changes in atmospheric chemistry, more than 20 years before I heard of Al Gore I fully expected global warming to take place. Given the radiative characteristics of CO2 and the changing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, why do you feel it is possible for global temperatures to not change? What additional nullifying process is taking place?

  29. #30 Richard Simons
    September 20, 2012

    doesnt that go against the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

    No.

    (everything goes from a state of order to disorder)

    That isn’t the second law. Brief contemplation of a seed growing into a tree or of crystals growing in a copper sulphate solution should have told you that you have it wrong.

  30. #31 Wow
    September 20, 2012

    The crystals one is better. The faithiest would say about the plant “That proves God exists, because the plant is alive!!!”. Whereas nobody has ever yet tried to say that crystals are alive and are proof of God’s existence…

  31. #32 Vince Whirlwind
    September 21, 2012

    Snowflakes look pretty ordered to me, too.

  32. [...] thinking about a previous look at Roy Spencer: We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and [...]

  33. #34 Jan
    October 23, 2012

    As far as kai is concerned: just ignore that foulmouthed, and bumptious intellectual midget.

    I have come across him on other blogs and he is just the same everywhere: he does not know what he is talking about, but according to him, everyone who does not agree with his blatant nonsense is an idiot.

    Funnily enough, with his poor knowledge of English he does not sound half as insulting as he means to be. When he uses his native language, he is even worse.

    The only way of shutting him up is by ignoring him completely. Even then it’ll take a while before he leaves this blog.

  34. #35 Wow
    October 23, 2012

    what is his native language?

  35. #36 Eli Rabett
    http://rabett.blogspot.com
    October 24, 2012

    The short answer is yes, and Eli has known quite a few of them, but choice of field makes a difference. it is sort of like believers in quantum mechanics, if you get too close to the epistemology your head explodes.

  36. #37 Jan
    October 24, 2012

    @wow,

    since it is the same as mine, I do not want to cast a shadow on my country fellows. His language and place of birth have got nothing to do with his non-existing intellectual capacity. Idiots like him are abundant all the world over, I’m afraid.

  37. #38 Wow
    October 24, 2012

    It would be interesting to know where someone that stridently dumb gets their ideology from, though.

    And it would be more embarrassing to kai to have people know where he comes from. Part of his excitement is because he’s anonymous.

  38. #39 Jan
    October 24, 2012

    @Wow,

    I still do not want to foster any prejudice. In my country – as in any other country in the world – there are fools and sane people.

    Kai is no more of a fool than e. g. a US-American creationist. or a Taliban or any other person that believes in things so obviously false.

    I see absolutely no connection between his nationality and his utterly stupid set of ideas. In my country poeple like him form a small minority.

  39. #40 Wow
    October 24, 2012

    kai isn’t your national emblem, is it?

    kai loves attention OF THE RIGHT SORT. Giving up his nationality is not the sort of attention he wants.

  40. #41 kai
    October 24, 2012

    wow, jan thinks i am a fuck old germany gestapo officer like those close to him. he is a climate police want-be as typically low intellectual mainstream representative, a typical climate slave of schellnhuber, rahmstorf and those kinds of catastrophism gurus.

    i here solemnly and honestly declare that i hate german nazis and also fuck old germany’s agw alarmists who want a new dictatorship under schellnhuber’s climate ideology.

  41. #42 Thomas
    October 24, 2012

    If you want Spencer’s views on evolution this article is more revealing:
    http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2005/08/faith-based-evolution.html

    Here he explains similarities between species as due to “common design” as opposed to “common descent”.

  42. #43 Bernard J.
    October 25, 2012

    I find that a universe simple exploding or whatever is as or more ridiculus [sic*] than the idea of a Creator God person, and a bunch of stuff randomly becoming alive? doesnt that go against the 2nd law of thermodynamics? (everything goes from a state of order to disorder)…

    By this logic the existence of hedge-clippers, combs and vacuum-cleaners proves that God created the universe.

    TheOneGuy really doesn’t understand entropy.

    [* Or 'poof' + 'Hogwart's own brand of pixie dust'...]

  43. #44 Jan
    October 26, 2012

    @Thomas,

    I think this article by Spencer also gives a good insight into his strange way of thinking:

    http://theevolutioncrisis.org.uk/testimony2.php

    To me this leaves only two possibilities: Spencer is an utter fool or he is deeply dishonest.

    A scientist in his right mind CANNOT honestly hold views akin to those of Spencer.

  44. #45 Wow
    October 26, 2012

    Jan, do you think that Roy Spencer being a USian is denigrating to all USians, or indicative of a USian proclivity to idiocy and therefore an insult to the USA if people find out he’s from the USA?

  45. #46 kai
    October 26, 2012

    wow, jan is a very severe case of anthropgenic dissociative brain split from an overdose of co2. he is a springoff of fucking old germany, and full of wrong idols, this poor pig. he spoils all his days with hanging around in all sorts of german blogs like you here, and nowhere will you find one single interesting and intelligent sentence and thought out of this limited mental instability frack.

  46. #47 Jan
    October 28, 2012

    @Wow,

    no, I do not think that Spencer does in any way mar the reputation of the USA. Kinkiness is not a national trait of any nation. You find intelligent people and strange people whereever you go.

    I do not think that prejudices against any nationality are justified, although I am aware that not everybody else shares my view on this matter.

    of course, there are historical reasons why a fairly high proportion of the US-American population are religious zealots with unrealistic ideas about Earth and the universe. But luckily they are still a minority.

    So the majority of USians are sane, fairly intelligent and down-to-Earth human beings, who do not share the kinky world views of those stupid – or in the case of Spencer, schizophrenic – creationists.

  47. #48 Wow
    October 28, 2012

    He definitely does, Jan.

    Then you have Watts.

    Not forgetting Inholfe.

    What about Shrub?

  48. #49 Jan
    October 28, 2012

    @Wow,

    there is a number of denier idiots in other countries as well. The USA do not have a monopoly on lunacy.

  49. #50 kai
    October 29, 2012

    jan, your primary school poor pupil school english is a shame:

    “no, I do not think that Spencer does in any way mar the reputation of the USA”: pfffffffffffff

    “Kinkiness is not a national trait of any nation”: hoooooohoooooo

    “You find intelligent people and strange people whereever you go”:” shit

    “I do not think that prejudices against any nationality are justified, although I am aware that not everybody else shares my view on this matter”: unbearably akward. everybody hates german nazis and german poor english agw trolls like you

    “of course, there are historical reasons why a fairly high proportion of the US-American population are religious zealots with unrealistic ideas about Earth and the universe”: brrrrrr, what a shit english. jan, the historian from fuck old germany, “explaining” some waste

    “But luckily they are still a minority”: how painful jan’s english style is

    “So the majority of USians are sane, fairly intelligent and down-to-Earth human beings, who do not share the kinky world views of those stupid – or in the case of Spencer, schizophrenic – creationists”: wack, this poor english again (USians etc.): jan, you tried to describe the majority of people in the us who will make romney the next president, bravo! and, spencer is quite okay regarding his climate views, but you from fuck old post-nazi germany are mentally disqualified with your sick green leftist views on climate and energy politics, go home to fuck old germany, nobody likes you here, not even intellectually severe underperformers like wow, mandas and debunker. you are a terrible shame for your poor parents.

  50. #51 Wow
    October 29, 2012

    ‘course you’ll find arseholes like kai everywhere you go.

    This is why there would be no problem for the country to tell us where the little arsehole lives, jan.

  51. #52 kiran
    Vizg
    November 27, 2012

    Kai,
    Its tough to be like you , but being against everything is god damn difficult ,
    So what all this climatologists say ?
    If we stop CO2 emmisions we will live for 1000 more years , or else we will die all a sudden ?
    Is science everything ?
    Is so why are we people still mortals and not immortals ?
    My great grand father lived for 110 years, grand father 100 years , so will my father live for 80 and me 60 years ?
    Is global warming the cause for this ?
    Is there anyone who brought in anything new to this world ?
    Ohhhhh World is a word created by scientists ?
    What all did the scientists create ?
    Raise a question and enjoy the answers for which some so called scientists will spend bunch of years of their valuable life in answering ?
    I see many illiterates happy
    How many scienists are happy ?
    Sorry for my comments everyone, this blahh blahhhhh is not meant for good people like you all

  52. #53 kai
    November 29, 2012

    kiran, it’s fairly easy to stand against the agw hysterics, as they are already lost in their lives, totally on the wrong path since years. imagine, how this transforms the poor souls into jealous, greedy climate mechanics followers of their limited gurus who will disappear entirely and totally within a few years of stable global temperatures without any correlation to co2. i feel really very sorry for these mistaken and terribly manipulated creatures.