Science and religion vs the “skeptics”


by Chris Becker

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is about to release a new statement on church doctrine, pushing even harder than his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of climate change. Taking the stewardship approach, the Pope has recently said his message is:

…”addressed to everyone” and that he hopes it would spark “renewed attention to situations of environmental degradation and to recovery” and lead to “greater responsibility for the common home that God has entrusted to us.”

Predictably, taking the lower ground on this debate, the religious conservative lobby in the United States have framed the Pope’s new doctrine – one of rational risk management and responsibility – as “outside (his) domain of faith and morality”.

A typical response of the religious right came from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who recently announced his candidacy for the Republican 2016 Presidential nomination:

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope. Religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”

The repeated line that religion should ‘leave the science to the scientists’ is ironic, given that the majority of religious politicians completely ignore the science when it comes to climate change, opting to take the “skeptical ground”, yet castigate anyone else who legitimately does so on their own irrational beliefs about religion.

Unfortunately this change is unlikely to have an impact with the home ground of religious conservatism in the US, where the recent 2014 Pew Research Center poll found:

“that 79 percent of Democrats think there is solid evidence the Earth is warming, compared with just 37 percent of Republicans. And 80 percent of steadfast conservatives reject man-made climate change.”

Unfortunately this extremism finds a home here in Australia with the staunchly conservative LNP government, lead by the Catholic Tony Abbott, blocking and reversing any and all rational risk management policies surrounding climate change, including abandoning the renewable energy target (RET) and backing coal even in the face of a dim future.

Let’s be clear – this is not a debate between faith, concerned skepticism and science. The moral low ground belongs to those who profit and protect those industries that stand in the way of climate change risk management, mainly fossil fuel extractors and emitters. Conservative politicians, by virtue of their connections and/or outright ownership in these industries have routinely cast aside the evidence, the insurance and the morality involved in ignoring the risks of climate change.

Its clear to all and sundry now that when their religious leader tells them not to do so, their worship of the one true God – the mighty dollar – becomes clear.

As does their hypocrisy as the so called “moral majority”.

Latest posts by Chris Becker (see all)


  1. It would be interesting how the Abbotts and Jeb Bushs of the world would react if threatened with excommunication. Then their true beliefs would be on show.

    • but but but… if god didn’t want us to use coal, he wouldn’t have given it to us!

      He obviously didn’t want us to use wind turbines – because he didn’t bury any for us to find…

    • Cornflakes … The Great Helmsman of Australia, the Abbott, terminated his studies after 3 years as a Jesuit seminarian, to marry a New Zealander, Margaret Aitken.

      He saw the light !

      And now this fellow is dedicating his life to save you guys! Where is the gratitude ?

    • There’s enough religion in politics without there being politics in religion.
      Oh well, if you canna beat ’em join ’em?
      Pretty pathetic. This nonsense would never have happened if the Vatican were run by women.

    • Think the headline should read “Science and religion vs ‘the (cynical) deniers'”; scepticism is part of empirical science, and describing deniers as sceptics gives them credibility, as they ignore science.

  2. Chris … can we expect a follow-up article on the decline in Church attendances … and why ?

    One would think Pope Francis has enough on his plate following the child abuse scandals. This outstanding interview with Fr Thomas Doyle may be helpful …

    And we don’t need economic advice from the South American Pope Francis either. That continent is hardly an inspiration.

    It is all rather sad, particularly for those of us raised as Catholics. It’s likely that because of this, I have been so driven to play my part in sorting out the serious social injustices in the housing arena. And what part have the bureaucrats of the institutional Catholic Church played in this ? Sweet bugger all.

    • Absolutely spot on. I was an Alter Boy and grew up in the catholic system. Stopped going to church after the constant lecturing around refugees and climate change. Remember the only time Jesus every became angry was when the traders (re: rentier class) took over the church. The property industry and climate change lobby are among the biggest rentiers. He should act like christ not just like every other unelected, unaccountable NGO

      • People have been complaining that the Pope(s) bear scant resemblance to Christ for at least 500 years, so probably water off a duck’s back,

      • The property industry and climate change lobby are among the biggest rentiers

        Astroturfer alert.

        Climate scientists had jobs before AGW, and would have continued to get their college salaries without AGW. How have they profited from it? There’s been no explosion in climate change careers, as there was with real estate agents.

        There are 30-40,000 climate scientists globally. Supporting their findings are astrophysicists, atmospheric chemists, glaciologists, sedimentologists, hydrologists and dendrochronologists (meaning literally about 1 million salaried scientists are on the same page on AGW).

        If your brain was chocolate it wouldn’t fill an M&M. 🙄

    • PantoneMEMBER

      I read an article that suggested exposure to the internet reduces religiosity.

      Exposure to 4chan will destroy most people’s faith in a greater good.

    • One would think Pope Francis has enough on his plate following the child abuse scandals

      Because a small % of priests abused children, the pope should not comment on the overriding issue of our era?

      Give credit where it is due, Pavletich

      • bolstroodMEMBER

        It’s more than a few. Don’t fall for the” one rotten apple ” plea.
        the apples are rotten to the core.
        “It is by their works(not words) ye shall know them.”

      • The church seems to be a haven for men who are able to hide the fact that they are not attracted to adults.
        Don’t like adult relationships, find marriage very unappealing and need to hide this fact? Simples, become a priest.

    • “And we don’t need economic advice from the South American Pope Francis either. That continent is hardly an inspiration.”

      Interesting to read that people should take you seriously because of the place you were born instead of your own ideas and effort. After all, everyone born in the same place you were born is a inspiration. And let’s not limit it to the city or coutry, it is the whole continent.

      • Kuco … where as a matter of interest has the Catholic Church in Australia and New Zealand been on the serious social injustices relating to housing ?

        Let me tell you.

        The Catholic Church has deliberately ducked for cover on this issue, because it doesn’t want to upset its political paymasters, that it is dependent on for the financing of its social and educational services.

        Lets just say through gritted teeth … I have not been amused.

        With respect … I suggest you ponder carefully the politics of all this … and where it could all be heading.

        Read carefully way down thread my postings on Papal Encyclicals and Papal Infallibility as well.

  3. The title is not accurate. It should be:
    “Climate and Catholic Religions v Scientists”

    The climate models fail miserably because they are essentially based on a correlation between increasing CO2 and rising global temperature in the latter part of the 20th century. The simplistic extrapolations are now proven wrong. The climate scientists are now boxed in with backs to the wall trying to find excuses why the globe is not warning in line with their primitive extrapolations.

    The much touted loss of ice in Greenland is not cooperating this year. The melt is the slowest in recorded history:

    Antarctic sea ice has been increasing for years now.

    Global surface temperature has been trending down for 18 years:

    • The climate models fail miserably because they are essentially based on a correlation between increasing CO2 and rising global temperature in the latter part of the 20th century.

      Arrhenius and Tyndall published prior to the beginning of the 20th century.

    • “Antarctic sea ice has been increasing for years now.”

      Yes. You don’t mention what is happening to the land ice though. Intellectual dishonesty at its finest, as demonstrated by cherry picking.

      Try again.

      • Greenland is “land”. Its ice cover has been slower to melt this year than any previous recorded year.

      • Its ice cover has been slower to melt this year than any previous recorded year

        You’ve been debunked below, fool 😡

    • The much touted loss of ice in Greenland is not cooperating this year. The melt is the slowest in recorded history:

      Predictably, you linked to the graph and not the article, which explains that the [AGW-driven] polar vortex, which makes the Arctic very warm while chilling countries further south, is to blame for the late melt.

      You are dishonest scum. 😡

      Extra credits: find out how AGW creates a polar vortex:

      • When the ice melts quickly it is due to AGW. When the ice melts slowly it is due to AGW. All changes are due to AGW.

        AGW is the faith of the gullible.

      • Rick – one year in isolation is really nothing to crow about. Look at the longer term trend as variation still occurs within an overall warming trend.

    • Rent Seeking Missile

      Good on you RickW.

      Good to see that someone else understands the science and isn’t afraid of the bullying from the climate alarmists.

      • Oh Jeebus, all the usual suspects are arriving. 🙄

        A roomful of microcephalics, all nodding in unison, all in agreement, but still hopelessly wrong.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        If you both understand the science, you should be able to point to some of your peer-reviewed work disagreeing with the other 90%-odd of scientists.

      • Don’t get me wrong I love this scam. I am riding the gravy train as well as many. I have been getting free household energy for 5 years now courtesy of the highest feed-in tariff, solar credits and lithium battery technology:
        All wonderful stuff for those like me who were smart enough to take advantage of the handouts early on and with investment funds seeking a guaranteed return. However I am under no illusion that I am doing anyone else a favour making use of what has become an elaborate scam.

      • You always manage to work in a link to your site. But we all know it’s part of the AstroTurfer playbook to create a seemingly credible online persona. Transparent 🙄

    • I look forward to your peer reviewed research. Until then, I’ll listen to those who have actually done the work.

    • I too have become increasingly sceptical about climate related science. I do feel that climate change has been grossly overstated and hijacked by alarmist’s driving their own scientific agenda of sorts. Fact is Sea levels won’t rise 6m before the end of the century and I’m losing faith in their so called models which point to carbon being THE REASON.
      Sorry folks the jury is still out on this one!

      • The IPCC never said sea levels would rise by 6m by the end of the century. Stop reading BS and start reading credible science sources for yourself.

      • So tens of thousands of scientific papers, near universal consensus among climate scientists, and you think the jury is still out? That says a lot more about you than about the science.
        You don’t get to question the science based on your feelings.

      • The basis of the climate models are simplistic. They become large and complex because they aim to model atmospheric processes over the whole planet. It is a big place. Their spatial resolution is limited to few degrees of latitude and longitude and 1km or so of altitude. There is a handful of discrete variable and a range of trimming parameters in each cell they quickly expand the models to become computing intensive. The potential for numerical instability is high. Even then they do not come close to the complexity of what actually happens in the atmosphere. For example the formation of clouds, which often occur on a smaller scale than the cell size.

        The more recent coupled models have added complexity with the oceans included but still at a trivial level.

        All current climate models only have one variable for solar insolation. That is incredibly simplistic given the identified variation in high energy radiation as well as variation in cosmic rays associated with solar activity. As predicted by solar physicists the cosmic ray flux is already rising post the solar cycle 24 peak and is at a high level compared with previous cycles:

        The predominant feedbacks in the models are taken as positive when those that have been clearly identified such as phytoplankton blooms in the oceans are proven negative and significant. None of which are modelled.

        The modellers are so bound to their modelling that they have lost sight of reality. Their reality is what the models produce and they are “homogenising” global temperature records to match their reality.

        If you want to get a realistic perspective on CO2 in the atmosphere take the time to watch this video:
        A little painful at times but worth the watch.

        The only time when CO2 may have been a significant factor in the atmosphere from a climate perspective has been recovery from the snowball state when atmospheric water is close to zero:
        As this modelling shows this state is a possibility in present time and would be far worse than the slight warming experienced in the latter part of the 20th century. This is where the coupled GCMs provide some useful insight. They are also of some value in predicting weather a few days out. As far as predicting climate 100 years from now they are no better than a wet thumb in the air yesterday and today then extrapolating from that result to 100 years out.

      • Brilliant Rick, it seems you have the answer, based on a couple of feelpinions, a disgraced academic on YouTube, and a blanket dismissal of climate models. I’m sure that’s enough to get through peer review. Put it in your paper, collect your Nobel prize and I’ll be the first to say you were right.

      • Mate, if sea levels rise just 0.6m by the end of the century some serious shit would go down.

      • The report just released covering the BoM data homogenisation shows why any thinking person should be sceptical of climate change:

        Figure 4.1 on page 17 shows the basis for rising temperature trends in Australia:
        Simple maths; if you lower the past readings and warm the present, guess what, you get a warming trend. That simple modification to the data makes the data match the models. All is now wonderful with the models except their relationship to reality.

      • The final refuge of the retreating denier scoundrel is to claim that scientists worldwide are massaging the stats to produce a false warming trend. It’s patently absurd and should disqualify them from any serious consideration. 🙄

    • What happened? Did 3D post another paper, and then flat-out lie about its conclusions in the hope that no-one would actually read it?

      Or did it just post links to the denial-o-sphere?

      Because that’s all it does. It’s wrong about everything. The George Costanza of Australian mining and climate change commentary.

    • As a well known supporter of urban sprawl and the high use of fossil fuels that it requires, Hugh can be relied upon to support science denial.

      Shame on you, Hugh! 🙄

      • Revert2Mean … to be clear, I am simply against artificial fringe and internal zonal scarcity values and inappropriate infrastructure financing … triggering housing bubbles.

        I don’t particularly care where and how people choose to live … provided it is the true market value. That is housing at or below 3.0 times annual household incomes with mortgage loads around 2.5 times.

        Normal urban expansion makes more sense than splattering people out to lifestyle blocks and adjoining outlining towns, in their quest for more affordable land.

      • Hugh you don’t get to hand wave away things which upset your little cart of beliefs.

        Skippy… whinging about house prices after the decades of fraud and rent seeking is just deserts for your stripe…

      • Skippy … you forgot to mention that the housing crisis has been supported by the Catholic Church. Read my post up-thread.

        Have you learnt anything about failings / sins of commission and omission ?

        As outlined within the post above, sadly, the Catholic Church has failed by not participating in this serious issue of unnecessary housing deprivation. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference … for one … has a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

      • The housing issue is due to decades of wonky economics and metaphysics, like your Cato club.

        – Why are we in such a financial mess today? There are lots of proximate causes: over-leverage, global imbalances, bad financial technology that lead to widespread underestimation of risk.
        But these are all symptoms. Until we isolate and tackle fundamental causes, we will fail to extirpate the disease. ECONned is the first book to examine the unquestioned role of economists as policy-makers, and how they helped create an unmitigated economic disaster.

        Here, Yves Smith looks at how economists in key policy positions put doctrine before hard evidence, ignoring the deteriorating conditions and rising dangers that eventually led them, and us, off the cliff and into financial meltdown. Intelligently written for the layman, Smith takes us on a terrifying investigation of the financial realm over the last twenty-five years of misrepresentations, naive interpretations of economic conditions, rationalizations of bad outcomes, and rejection of clear signs of growing instability.

        In eConned, author Yves Smith reveals:

        –why the measures taken by the Obama Administration are mere palliatives and are unlikely to pave the way for a solid recovery

        –how economists have come to play a profoundly anti-democratic role in policy

        –how financial models and concepts that were discredited more than thirty years ago are still widely used by banks, regulators, and investors

        –how management and employees of major financial firms looted them, enriching themselves and leaving the mess to taxpayers

        –how financial regulation enabled predatory behavior by Wall Street towards investors

        –how economics has no theory of financial systems, yet economists fearlessly prescribe how to manage them –

  4. Well I dont know about climate science, but the Penguins of Madagascar, have a marching tune.
    lines 1 and 2!
    “I dont know but I’ve been told–
    Antarctica is mighty cold”
    Seems like they may know. being Penguins and all WW

    • I don’t follow how the pricing of coal-powered electricity affects denial of science. Join the dots for me.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The electricity *network* is not coal generated power.

        We need a good network for distributed renewables.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I’ve invested heavily in property on the foothills of the Blue Mountains in Sydney in the hope that all this climate change happens so that the value of my investments go up massively when my huge portfolio becomes ocean fronting. I like to always find the positives and the best ways to profit from everything!

  6. Pity you didn’t post this excellent piece earlier, Chris. It could have been a 100+ post article 😯

  7. PantoneMEMBER

    Pity these same politicians don’t feel that they shouldn’t bring their religious beliefs to policy making.

    • Double negative, confusing.

      Abbortt had no problem bringing his Catholicism to bear when he denied Australian women access to RU486.

      • PantoneMEMBER

        While I was writing it seemed so clear, but reading it back, yeah, that is poorly worded.

  8. I was hoping some might read the link and understand why people won’t run with the desired changes at the speed they wish them to.
    As for the Qld electricity price changes it is obvious they know that people are trying to generate solar power in their homes to save money and the environment but change the price structure so that things will get even worse for the generators. It is the same denial that people will keep changing their behaviour, just not fast enough for some.

  9. Jeb Bush said “I don’t get [science] from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

    But Jeb, you don’t get it from your scientists either!

    You pull it out of your dumb, conservative ass 😈

    • The Pope has put climate change sceptics on notice … UK Telegraph

      The Pope has spoken. A failure to act on climate change will have “grave consequences for all of us” according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical that is due to be published later this week.

      Despite the confirmation bias within a media which grasps at anything Pope Francis says which can be interpreted as “modernising” the Catholic Church, this can be accurately interpreted as huge news. The Pope will speak not just to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics but to all of us when he calls for alteration of our lifestyles and consumption to resist the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem.” … read more via hyperlink above …

      • This Papal Encyclical is a very big deal for Catholics …

        Encyclical – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        … extract …

        Pope Pius XII held that Papal Encyclicals, even when they are not of ‘ordinary magisterium’, can nonetheless be sufficiently authoritative to end theological debate on a particular question:

        Papal infallibility – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error “When, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church

      • Chris Becker … I do hope you follow up with another article, explaining the matters above and the significance of them for Catholic’s.

        And too … the Catholic Church of course.

  10. when he calls for alteration of our lifestyles and consumption to resist the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem.”

    MB is really interesting on this. We have a religious devotion to the AGW meme yet it, everyday, argues for lower and lower interest rates to foster higher and higher consumption that propels our world towards oblivion at a faster and faster rate.
    Very odd!

    • I don’t think the MB bloggers have fully extrapolated the implications of AGW yet.

      BTW, I think we all have a “religious devotion” to gravity and evolution too. Crazy, huh? 🙄

  11. Government supported “science” and religion are natural bedmates. Their leaders don’t believe their own bullshit, but they will go to extreme lengths to enforce it on everyone. They employ the same tactics, shaming the “non-believer” asking for the victim to subvert his mind to the “high priests”/”scientists” who have privileged access to the truth. It’s all about power in the end.

    • It’s all about power money in the end.

      Fixed it for you. Your comment, and all the other antiscience comments on this page, are directly or indirectly linked to money.

      The love of money is the root of all evil.

      • Ooh sure the bankers hate money that’s why they so badly wish to establish a carbon credit market! Hilarious how you pro establishment people twist reason.

  12. Laudato Si: No to Pope Francis’s Crude Economics| National Review Online

    There is an undeniable majesty to the papacy, one that is politically useful to the Left from time to time. The same Western liberals who abominate the Catholic Church as an atavistic relic of more superstitious times, who regard its teachings on abortion and contraception as inhumane and its teachings on sexuality as a hate crime today are celebrating Pope Francis’s global-warming encyclical, Laudato Si’, as a moral mandate for their cause. So much for that seamless garment. … read more via hyperlink above …

    • The Environmental Encyclical and the assault on Faith and Reason … RedState

      In 1663, Pope Urban VIII sided with the “scientific consensus” and had the heliocentric observations of Galileo anathemized. That marks, as far as I can tell, the last intervention of the Catholic Church in science. Indeed, Catholic scientists such as Louis Pasteur, the Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel, the Catholic priest Georges Lemaître were on the cutting edge of science. That is, until today. … read more via hyperlink above …

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Not being a particularly religious person I can’t comment on the accuracy of the religious commentary.

        But if the author’s understanding of religion is as broken as their understand of science, it must be pretty horrific.

  13. How will the Pope’s solutions help South Africa … as one example of many … ? …

    South Africa’s long walk to decline – Telegraph

    … After the oppression of the past, no-one should undervalue this achievement. And yet 25 years after the apartheid laws began to crumble away, can anyone argue that South Africa under Mr Zuma is upholding the full promise of that moment? … read more via hyperlink above …

  14. The Holy Father is wrong to say that our way of life is doomed – Charles Moore – UK Telegraph

    … concluding …

    Speaking as a Catholic, I am very impressed by those passages of “Laudate ti” which give a critique of materialist pointlessness. There is, for example, a perceptive passage about the importance of a day of rest and another about the beauty of saying grace at meals. Pope Francis paints a vivid portrait of a Western world simultaneously bored and hyper-stimulated by its own wealth and cleverness. Although just as much of a selfish consumerist as the next man, I want to be taught about how to grab less and appreciate more. On these matters, he speaks like a good shepherd, who knows his flock. But when, on the basis of some imperfectly digested science and contentious economics, he tells us that our way of life is doomed, I must sadly say that I don’t believe him. … read more via hyperlink above …

  15. The Pope’s Solution for Warming: Pray – WSJ … google search title if blocked …

    … extract …

    But changing lifestyles and the means of production and militating against inefficiency is what the global economy, about which he seems so ambivalent (at best), does every livelong day. Last year the 20 biggest economies produced 3.3% growth with zero increase in emissions over 2013. One reason was American fracking. Another reason was China’s nascent shift from an export-oriented, goods-producing economy to one more focused on services and domestic consumption.

    Not contributing were Europe’s massive subsidies to renewables, perversely accompanied by a 16% increase in coal use over the past five years, partly to compensate for the intermittency of sun and wind. … read more via hyperlink above …

  16. How climate change doubters lost a papal fight … Washington Post

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis was about to take a major step backing the science behind ¬human-driven global warming, and Philippe de Larminat was determined to change his mind.

    A French doubter who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, de Larminat sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions. … read more via hyperlink above …