Once people realize that humans are not causing global warming and the IPCC claims are scientifically unjustified, despite strong support by environmentalists, two questions logically follow. What is the motive and how has such a situation developed? I examined the political motive in a series of articles starting here;
Those articles focus on the political motive but only touch briefly on the philosophical context and that needs further understanding.
The dogmatism of believers in human caused climate change, despite overwhelming contradictory evidence, is religious in its fervor. It is similar to the adoption of environmentalism as a religion by many for whom climate change is simply a subset. The question is how has this occurred? To get the answer you need to consider a series of events that at first seem unrelated.
There are several books decrying the existence of God, not least Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”. He argues against the existence of a supernatural creator, although, ironically he almost makes a god out of Charles Darwin. Although Dawkins has pursued this theme for some time it came to focus with the book in 2006? Why is it an issue today? The claim is Dawkins is combating creationism and defending science, but why? The major debate occurred at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Actually, there is no debate no matter what Dawkins says. You can claim it all started with the big bang but this leaves the question of who created the material and who triggered the bang? The blunt truth is it doesn’t matter how much science discovers it can never answer the ultimate question, “Who put it all here in the first place?” So what are Dawkins and others trying to prove by eliminating God? Why do they feel so threatened? Some of the greatest scientists in history, such as Michael Faraday (Wikipedia), were devout fundamental Christians.
The battle between science and religion engaged with Copernicus’ claim the Earth orbited the Sun. Copernicus as a canon or church lawyer knew the implications for religion of his work and delayed approving its release until on his deathbed. Others continued the fight including Bruno and Galileo. Darwin, like Copernicus, also knew the social and religious implications of his work. Despite that he became the champion used by science to achieve the final ascendancy over religion. Now, in major ways, science has become more dogmatic than the religion it replaced. Dawkins arguments and attacks on those who dare to think otherwise are a good example.
A comment in “Global Warming: The Greenpeace Report” says, “Carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere naturally and unnaturally.” People read this and rarely think about the implications. What do they mean by “unnatural”? The answer is simple – humans. Of course, Greenpeace as do most environmentalists assume that whatever humans do is unnatural. But if what we do is unnatural then by extension we are unnatural and that raises a contradiction for environmentalists who support Darwin’s evolutionary theory. If we are unnatural then we cannot have evolved like other animals. The default answer is a god must have put us here.
Darwin was a naturalist and universities were divided into two areas of study, the Natural Sciences and the Humanities. As a result of Darwin and the effective replacement of the religious explanation for our existence by science academia was left with a dilemma. If we are not here for a religious purpose then what? This raised a further problem, namely the conflict between the fact we are part of nature, an animal like all the others, but clearly different. These questions triggered growth of the Social Sciences whose disciplines collectively study humans, their behavior and their societies. One discipline, anthropology, links evolution of early humans with modern humans. The definitions they use for the stages of evolution are all designed to identify traits that separate us from other animals and specifically from other apes.
First we were distinguished because we walked upright, Homo Erectus. Then as Homo Habilis it was because we made tools. Of course, thanks to the work of people like Jane Goodall we found other animals making tools. Conceptual thinking was identified as the next difference – the ability to solve problems – so we became Homo Sapiens. (link)
Now there are many examples of animals solving problems. What next? Well they decided that what made us different was we could tell lies because it requires consecutive concepts; the truth and a way round it. So we became what we are today Homo Sapiens Sapiens. But now there are reports of animals practicing deception. In an October 1978 National Geographic article about the gorilla Koko Francine Patterson reports, “She even tells lies, once blaming a broken sink on a human volunteer.” So where does that leave us? I asked an anthropologist colleague about the latest thinking. He said we were different because we could think about death and an afterlife. Whether true or not and regardless of reports of elephants fondling bones of dead elephants, this creates an interesting dilemma. Isn’t belief in or thinking about an afterlife the very basis of most religions? Isn’t this were we were when Darwin dispatched God and religion?
What are those who have accepted Darwin and rejected religion to do? They needed a substitute belief system and the obvious one was environmentalism. What was better than Gaia, Mother Earth as substitute pseudo gods and goddesses? They also naively adopted the Victorian myth of the Noble Savage ignoring the fact almost all of them want the very progress that their new religion deemed sinful.
Darwin somewhat sidestepped the issue of man as different from other species. He published “The Origin of Species” in 1859 without reference to humans, which he left to a separate work, “The Descent of Man” published 12 years later in 1871. He stated his objective precisely. “The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man.” We should seriously consider the last point, because I know from working with Chinese climatologists they see the world very differently than we do especially with regard to resources. We are developing and continue to develop as Darwin expected in his second point, but extreme environmentalists claim it is unnatural. Ironically, if you eliminate God then everything humans do is natural as we evolve. You can even cynically apply Spencer’s view of “survival of the fittest’ and say we are the fittest. We play the evolution game better than all the others. Goethe apparently provides a simple explanation, “The unnatural - that too is natural” and that applies regardless.
Copyright © 2009 CFP
“Dr. Tim Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as an advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition
, Friends of Science
and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy