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Religion
See other Religion Articles

Title: The Scientific Pantheist Who Advises Pope Francis
Source: The Stream
URL Source: https://stream.org/scientific-pantheist-who-advises-pope-francis/
Published: Jun 22, 2015
Author: William M. Briggs
Post Date: 2015-06-24 10:31:50 by redleghunter
Keywords: None
Views: 871
Comments: 9

The scientist who influenced Laudato Si, and who serves at the Vatican's science office, seems to believe in Gaia, but not in God.

St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn Laudato Si’ spoke of “Brothers” Sun and Fire and “Sisters” Moon and Water, using these colorful phrases figuratively, as a way of praising God’s creation. These sentimental words so touched Pope Francis that he named his encyclical after this canticle (repeated in paragraph 87 of the Holy Father’s letter).

Neither Pope Francis nor St. Francis took the words literally, of course. Neither believed that fire was alive and could be talked to or reasoned with or, worse, worshiped. Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.

Gaia

The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, says that all life interacts with the Earth, and the Earth with all life, to form a giant self-regulating, living system.

This goes far beyond the fact that the Earth’s climate system has feedbacks, which are at the very center of the debate over climate change. In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.

This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.

What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:

Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.

Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.” Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.

He elaborates:

Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

Mother Earth gets the flu and instead of white blood cells and a rise in temperature to fend off the infection, it sends white ice and a decrease in temperatures. How? Geophysiologically! I remind the reader that our author, writing in one of the world’s most prominent science journals, does not use these propositions metaphorically. He proposes them as actual mechanisms.

Schellnhuber echoes the theme of a cognizant, i.e. self-aware, planet in another (co-authored) 2004 paper in Nature 2004, “Climbing the co-evolution ladder,” suggesting again that mankind is an infection, saying that mankind “perturbs … the global ‘metabolism'” of the planet.

Tipping Points

Schellnhuber, a one-time quantum physicist who turned his attention to Mother Earth late in his career, was also co-author of a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper “Imprecise probability assessment of tipping points in the climate system,” which asked select scientists their gut assessment about the arrival of various “tipping points.” Tipping points are a theme of Schellnhuber’s research (see inter alia this and this).

Tipping points are supposed moments when some doom which might have been avoided if some action had been taken, is no longer possible to avoid and will arrive no matter what. Tipping points have come and gone in climate forecasts for decades now. The promised dooms never arrive but the false prophets never quit. Their intent is less to forecast than to induce something short of panic in order to plead for political intervention. When the old tipping point is past, theorists just change the date, issue new warnings and hope no one will notice.

One of the tipping points Schellnhuber asked about was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, depending on what the temperature did. All of the selected experts (who answered the questions in 2004 and 2005) gave moderate (~15-25%) to quite high probabilities (50-80%) for this event to have occurred by 2015. The ice did not melt.

Schellnhuber presented more tipping points to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014 in the co-authored paper, “Climate-System Tipping Points and Extreme Weather Events.” In that paper, Schellnhuber has a “scientific” graph with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Adam “flicking” a planet earth over a methane tipping point, such that the earth would roll down into a fiery pit labeled the “Warming Abyss.” Hell on earth.

The Problem of People

Schellnhuber is most famous for predicting that the “carrying capacity” of the earth is “below” 1 billion people. When confronted with this, he called those who quoted him “liars.” But he then repeated the same claim, saying, “All I said was that if we had unlimited global warming of eight degrees warming, maybe the carrying capacity of the earth would go down to just 1 billion, and then the discussion would be settled.” And he has often said that this temperature tipping point would be reached — unless “actions” were taken.

The man is suspicious of people. In that same interview he said, “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women.” Since young women already know where babies come from, and since this knowledge tends neither to increase nor decrease population, the “education” he has in mind must be facts about how to avoid the consequences of sex. Austin Ruse discovered a 2009 talk in which Schellnhuber said the earth “will explode” due to resource depletion once the population reaches 9 billion, a number that the UN projects in 2050. Presumably he wants earth to avoid that fate, so he must support the population control that Pope Francis so clearly repudiated in his encyclical.

Bad Religion

Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that.

Global warming research is characterized by an insider’s club. If you believe, you’re in. If you doubt, you’re out. This is also so at the Pontifical Academies of Science where Schellnhuber was appointed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The bishop locked scientists with contrary views out of the process, scientists he has repeatedly dismissed as “funded by the oil industry.” Given this, how likely is it that the Holy Father was fully aware of the views of the chief scientist who advised him?


Poster Comment:

Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that."

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#1. To: TooConservative, liberator, GarySpFc, CZ82 (#0)

PING

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. (Psalm 62:1-2)

redleghunter  posted on  2015-06-24   10:32:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: redleghunter (#0)

Author: William M. Briggs

William M. Briggs has misunderstood a high-school level data graph

Willie Green  posted on  2015-06-24   10:39:37 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: redleghunter (#0)

Hans Schellnhuber

You know I've always wondered how much idiots like this get paid for being a shill?

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

CZ82  posted on  2015-06-24   19:21:10 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: redleghunter (#0)

The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts)...

. . .

What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:

Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.

He's praising advances in ecosystem science, not promoting Gaia theory which is a joking matter among serious science types, even dilettantes like Schellnhuber.

Seems like a weak association on which to base a claim that Schellnhuber is operating from a neopagan Gaian motive.

Strangely enough, this new encyclical promotes something of a WWJD ideology, suggesting that Christians have some duty to God to be environmentalists as much as evangelists. As I recall, the Catholic clergy rather dislikes the whole WWJD thing (which originated in evangelical circles). Apparently, they want people to ask WWTPD (What Would The Pope Do).

While there is nothing wrong with churches (or anyone else) promoting sustainable stewardship of the Earth, this pope has chosen a very political (and scientifically dubious) stance to bid for more worldly favor, especially among liberal media and political elites in the First World nations. I'd note that the environment is a matter of science, not within the purview or mission of a church. Certainly, no one should imagine that any church has the necessary expertise to properly and neutrally evaluate climate science and offer responsible environmental policy.

Tooconservative  posted on  2015-06-25   6:49:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: redleghunter (#0) (Edited)

He elaborates: "Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction."

Meh.

Wiki: Shiva Hypothesis:

Named after Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, the Shiva Hypothesis is a hypothesis that purports to explain an apparent pattern in mass extinctions caused by impact events.

The hypothesis, created by Michael Rampino of New York University, says that gravitational disturbances caused by the Solar System crossing the plane of the Milky Way galaxy are enough to disturb comets in the Oort cloud surrounding the Solar System. This sends comets in towards the inner Solar System, which raises the chance of an impact. According to the hypothesis, this results in the Earth experiencing large impact events about every 30 million years (such as the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).

Sounds like a dabbler, quoting a scientist spouting a theory but who doesn't have the backing of the scientific community and doesn't seem able to muster any substantial evidence.

Anyone can have a theory and name it after whatever ancient God tickles their fancy.

I assume Rampino is just glomming on to Oppenheimer's famous quotes about The Bomb and Shiva, destroyer of worlds. Oppy has many many admirers among scientists as he was a great physicist as well as a scholar of medieval literature in a number of languages. A first-class brain with a world-class education and the scientist in history who has most affected the course of history in the public imagination. So of course the lamers will try to ride their coattails a bit.

This theory would also appeal to devotees of the Mayan calendar and other New Age types. They are always going on about planetary alignments and the alignment of the solar system and planets with the galactic plane. So ultimately, this theory has more appeal for New Agers than for Hindus, despite the name he chose.

The theory itself is somewhat dubious IMO. Certainly he can't seem to supply supporting evidence. He's just spitballing it, I think.

Tooconservative  posted on  2015-06-25   7:05:57 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: redleghunter (#0)

The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s...

"Second thoughts"? Closer to "rapist of the Earth" status, at least to the treehugging types.

National Review:

Gaia Retreats: Environmentalist Has Second Thoughts

Environmentalist and scientist James Lovelock has some cautionary words about the dire predictions in the new United Nations report on climate change. He tells Britain’s leftist newspaper the Guardian that environmentalism has “become a religion” and does not pay enough heed to facts.

Lovelock himself became something of a guru to environmentalists in the 1960s when his Gaia hypothesis postulated that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that has a regulatory effect on the Earth’s environment that acts to sustain life.

Now Lovelock says of his warnings of catastrophe in his 2006 book, Revenge of Gaia: “It’s just as silly to be a denier as it is to be a believer. You can’t be certain.”

“It [the impact from climate change] could be terrible within a few years, though that’s very unlikely, or it could be hundreds of years before the climate becomes unbearable,” he said. 

That’s not the end of the 94-year-old Lovelock’s heresies. As the Guardian reports: 

Lovelock reiterated his support for fracking for shale gas, which has been strongly backed by David Cameron and the government but vigorously opposed by anti-fracking activists and local people at sites from Salford to Balcombe in West Sussex.

“The government is too frightened to use nuclear, renewables won’t work — because we don’t have enough sun — and we can’t go on burning coal because it produces so much CO2, so that leaves fracking. It produces only a fraction of the amount of CO2 that coal does, and will make Britain secure in energy for quite a few years. We don’t have much choice,” he said.

I made this post and the previous because I think the article is pure junk. It simply does not accurately represent what these various people say or stand for. It's just vaporous click-bait once you look closer at who and what it bases its claims on.

Tooconservative  posted on  2015-06-25   7:16:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: TooConservative, redleghunter (#6)

http://www.naturalnews.com/045695_global_warming_fabricated_data_scientific_frau d.html

http://dailycaller.com/2015/05/19/more-countries-caught-manipulating-their- climate-data/

http://dailycaller.com/2015/06/04/satellite-data-shows-no-global-warming-for- nearly-19-years/

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

CZ82  posted on  2015-06-25   7:37:54 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: CZ82 (#7)

http://... ...

Not to mention my own recent thread.

LF: America’s Most Advanced Climate Station Data Shows US In A 10-Year Cooling Trend

Tooconservative  posted on  2015-06-25   9:05:21 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: TooConservative (#6)

I made this post and the previous because I think the article is pure junk. It simply does not accurately represent what these various people say or stand for. It's just vaporous click-bait once you look closer at who and what it bases its claims on.

However, the article shows the continued Gorisms that have infected every institution. Now even the Vatican.

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. (Psalm 62:1-2)

redleghunter  posted on  2015-06-25   9:32:08 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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