Delivered to the Christian Witness in a Pagan Planet CWIPPThink Conference, January 21-24, 2008
From the paper:
. . . In April of last year I was among about eighty participants from around the world–scientists, politicians, economists, religious leaders–in a conference on climate change sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican. During the shuttle trip from our meeting place in Vatican City to our hotel the first evening, I sat beside a middle-aged woman, tall, redhaired, rather gangly looking. We exchanged names and struck up conversation.
She was Mary Evelyn Tucker, a Senior Lecturer and Senior Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. She is a co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, under which she helped organize a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, from which issued ten volumes distributed by Harvard University Press. She is Research Associate at the Harvard Yenching Institute and at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.
During our conversation Dr. Tucker challenged my opposition to the widespread belief in manmade, catastrophic global warming, saying I really had no right to promote any opinion about it since I’m not a climate scientist. Having learned that she was also not a climate scientist–her Ph.D. and an M.A. are both in the history of religions, her M.A. in English, and her B.A. in English and history–I then asked her why her judgment didn’t apply to herself. She appealed to the overwhelming scientific consensus that manmade warming is real and sure to become catastrophic if not thwarted by drastic actions to cut carbon emissions. I then asked her what books and articles she had read by bona fide climate scientists critical of that view.
“There aren’t any!” she retorted, with a look of complete contempt.
“None?” I asked with some incredulity.
“No,” she said.
I replied that I was a little surprised to hear her say that, since I had myself read about fifteen full-length books by climate scientists critical of the theory, plus scores of refereed and hundreds of non-refereed articles–as well as several books and hundreds of articles by climate scientists who embraced her view. I averred that I thought it a little irresponsible and close-minded for her to refuse to read those who disagreed with her. One ought at least to understand the major arguments pro and con, I said. Dr. Tucker’s face hardened. She looked out the window of the shuttle bus, and the conversation was over. Her mind was made up.
The next day I delivered my paper for the conference. It was rather fun to be able to begin with a remark about the irony that, by God’s providence, a man named Calvin was speaking as an invited guest at the Vatican. (I did admit that my parents had named me after Calvin Coolidge, though, not after John Calvin.) I even managed to work the gospel of justification by faith into the paper.
Near the end, I spoke of how the debate is carried on. As a logic teacher[, I said], I am regularly grieved by the illogic often apparent in alarmists’ arguments (e.g., non causa pro causa, correlation taken for causation, consensus rather than data and explanation in science, argumentum ad verecundiam, and argumentum ad hominem, etc.). I could discuss the need for charity and mutual respect, or the misuse of arguments from prudence by resting them on a petitio principii of the reality, magnitude, and negative impacts of manmade warming, or the sad tendency for people to reach conclusions before carefully examining counter-arguments–and then to ignore the counter-arguments or even to declare flatly that they don’t exist (which makes me wonder who slipped me the drugs that caused all my hallucinations when I thought I was reading such counter-arguments).
I glanced across the room at Dr. Tucker as I finished that last observation–which I had added to the paper the night before with her specifically in mind (though it could describe most of the global warming alarmists with whom I have spoken through the years). She was livid and shortly got up and walked out. . . .
Christians Should Embrace Environmentalism: Theologian
by Graeme Morton
Calgary Herald, January 25, 2008
[Editor’s note: Sally McFague is a theologian all right. But not a Christian theologian, though she usurps the name. Not even a Jewish one. She is not even a theist. She is in fact a neo-pagan, New Age, postmodernist, pantheist theologian for whom matter is everything that exists (i.e., there is no deity that is not the universe) and “god” simply is the universe. She set forth this view in her book The Body of God. I critiqued it and explained how it links to postmodernist relativism and irrationalism in science, particularly in global warming science, in the lecture linked above.–ECB]
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