Monthly Archives: March 2008

Putting the Intelligent back in Intelligent Design

Without a doubt, my least favorite class at OBU was US 311/312: Nat Sci. The prof was a really nice guy and, bless him, he tried very hard to impart his passion for the study of God’s creation. Most of that went over my head (blissfully, too, I might add), but one section, I understood but disliked because it’s poor scholarship: Intelligent Design.

If my introduction to ID was like the rest of the scientific community, I can certainly see why they immediately dismiss it and those who argue for it. As much as it seems fair to me that teachers should be allowed to at least tell students that there is a legitimate alternative theory to Darwinian evolution and as much as I emphasize that the theory of evolution is just a theory, I understand why they ignore us. Our message is just so vague and garbled. This, coming from a conservative Southern Baptist who agrees with Intelligent Design proponents’ ultimate premise with all my mind, body, heart and soul (God created us and the rest of the world; we didn’t evolve from monkeys)!

Intelligent Design (ID), as I was taught, says that life (“irreduceably complex systems) cannot be explained by random evolution. Therefore, scientifically, someone/something must have made things (plants, rocks, people, gerbils, grub worms) the way there are.

I think that’s a pretty hasty leap in logic. I prefer my own definition, which says you can’t scientifically prove evolution; therefore you shouldn’t discount other theories until they are disproved.

And here’s where Ben Stein and I come together. It was only a matter of time before two great minds such as our melded and came up with an INTELLIGENT argument for those in the ID camp.

Stein (who you may know as “Boring Teacher” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, OR the ClearEyes commercials OR Win Ben Stein’s Money OR as a speech writer for Nixon), has come out with a documentary he wrote and narrated called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” He isn’t arguing that “God created the universe in seven days and I can prove it,” but he is gently point out the fact that there apparently is no room in our society for friendly, intelligent debate about the questions that haunt our souls.

From the films’ website, GetExpelled.com: “Big Science in this area has lost its way,” says Stein. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-science, it’s anti-American.”

I’ve been trying to say that since August of my junior year, it just took Ben Stein to say it.

I have not seen the movie, which opens April 18th, so I hesitate to praise it too much or too soon. However, I can certainly appreciate the tone Stein takes in the trailer and “super trailer” of the film (that’s the one I’d reccomend watching). He isn’t belligerent, like, say, Michael Moore, but he is persistent in a gentle, funny way. Of course, that is Stein calling card. Even though he is Jewish, he is one of the first to jump out and defender my right to shout “Merry Christmas” from the rooftops for all the world to here and is a staunch supporter of those who put Nativity Scenes on public property, even if – GASP – there isn’t a menorah to be seen.

Ben says that it’s OK if you disagree with him, and I would echo the same thing. This is America and you have that right. You also have the right to unilaterally refuse listen to my any of ideas. But, that wouldn’t be very… Intelligent, now would it?

Happy Anniversary!

Exactly _____ years ago, the FAA Employees Credit gave an auto loan to a bright-eyed kid with no credit, but a winning smile.
And now, _______ on-time payments later, on the ________ anniversary of that event, a representative of that credit union took the time to personally pen this note reminding me of the _____ happy years we’ve spent together. Funny. It only seems like ____.
Nothing like a handwritten note to let someone know you care this [_________] much about them and their loyalty!

Bless you, Quikrete. Bless you.

Thanks to my dad’s help this weekend and the miracle that is quick-set concrete mix, I was successfully able to secure my mailbox to 180 lbs. of concrete in a 18-inch by 12 by 12 hole. Let those little hooligans try to knock it over now!

The "Sci" in Sci-Fi

Visionary science fiction writer, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, died yesterday. He was 90 years old.

Clarke, if you’re not aware, was the man behind the novel (and of course, the movie) 2001: A Space Odyssey, and more than 100 other books.

What made Clarke a great author wasn’t necessarily his style (it’s extremely dry), but it was his dedication to the science part of science fiction. Clarke was a born techie, and as a member of a secret division of the Royal Air Force, was played an integral role in the development of radar. Later, he would earn degrees in math and physics.

Though his creations and imaginary visions of the future and the future’s technology were just as far fetched as Gene Roddenberry (who was directly inspired by Clarke) or George Lucas, ACC was a modern version of Jules Verne in that so many of his fantasies were so rooted in good science that they eventually ceased being science fiction and became pure, legitimate science. As one obituary put it, he wrote practical science fiction.

Who would have thought that a mere novelist would come up with the idea of launching man-made satellites into geosynchronous orbit, the geodesic dome as an ideal zero gravity structure (without ACC, there would be no EPCOT dome). He also came up with the concept of a reusable space shuttle, supercomputers, and was predicting as early as 1940 that man would, indeed, make it to moon. It’s especially telling that he made all these predictions more than 15 years before the Soviets launched the world’s first man-make object into space.

Now that I stop and think about it, I’m grateful to the late Mr. Clarke for two, no make that three things.

Just ignore the Hebrew subtitles

1) What little street cred I can muster as a film snob is due to A) the fact that I have actually seen Citizen Kane more than once and B) that I really, really enjoy and was not for one moment confused by 2001, the movie. (Dr. Keas butchered it in NatSci.)

It can be debated how much of the movie’s style is Kubrick and how much is Clarke, especially since ACC wrote the novel as he and Kubrick wrote the screen play. But, having read a half dozen or so of Clarke’s books and seen several of Kubrick’s films, I’m going to have to say movie bears ACC’s fingerprint.

You can tell just how good a scientific mind Clarke is, in that this movie, made a year before we actually landed on the moon, looks realistic today and is not dated beyond the silly looking video phone, which, ironically, is one technological prediction that failed. Holy cow, that’s six commas in one sentence. The space ships and effects look as good or better than modern computer-generated special effects.

I love how quiet the movie is. Star Wars exists in a universe where space is not a vacuum, and the twangs and zips of lasers and explosions ripple through the supposed nothingness. In 2001, space isn’t just a quiet vacuum, it’s an infinite beautiful and terrifying chasm of everything and nothing. One would probably be reminded of a cruise on the Danube ask you lazily floated to a central space station, but that internal overture is later deafened by the silent truth that in space, no can hear you scream. Space is not glamorous and fun, but is cold, tedious and fraught with peril. Clarke understood that long before mankind threw that proverbial bone and launched one of our own kind into orbit.

Most movies rely on the soundtrack or quick camera cuts to create suspense. 2001 does the precise opposite. (Sure, you might point to the bombastic Also Sprach Zarathrustra as the antithesis to what I’ve just argued, but that fanfare takes place on prehistoric Earth.) The musical direction, no doubt we can attribute to Kubrick, but it’s silence and lack of dialog (no human speaks or is even seen until a good 22 minutes into the film), that really stand out and are the result of ACC’s imagination.

The creepy non-emotion of the homicidal supercomputer HAL is also purely Clarke. If the eery silence of watching a dead man float away into the abyss doesn’t give you chills, listening to HAL emotionlessly (is that a word?) beg for his life and singing Daisy as he “dies” will. Hearing HAL confess that he is afraid is just as moving and terrifying when you read it. I rarely have nightmares, but when I do, HAL, or at least his voice, is usually makes an appearance. WHY WON’T HE OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR? I’m sorry, Brian. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

The ending, I’ll give you IS a little trippy. But, to quote Roger Ebert, Clarke was making “a philosophical statement about man’s place in the universe, using images as those before him had used words, music or prayer. And he had made it in a way that invited us to contemplate it — not to experience it vicariously as entertainment, as we might in a good conventional science fiction film, but to stand outside it as a philosopher might, and think about it.” I’ve got agree. Clarke was a “devout” atheist and I whole hearted disagreed with his cosmology, but dang it if the Star Child and Dave in that bedroom didn’t make me think and feel like philosopher, if only for a short time. If nothing else, it teaches us that history repeats itself.


2)
I’m not sure why he left the UK and spent the last 52 years on the island off the coast of India, but ACC called Sri Lanka home and his introductions always were always signed “AC, Sri Lanka, 19XX.” While most people were inspired by his imagination and fantasies of the technology and society of the future, I was inspired to fantasize about sitting on a beach in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but pin (or pen, I guess) down a great work of writing.

3) Thanks to an 11th grade research paper, I will forever remember that “odyssey” has only one D. This has served me very well in life. Thanks, Art.

A Plantonic Dialogue between BK and Socrates on the Absolute Nature and Moral Merits of Quality vs. Quanity


Socrates:
I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thracians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarchus the son of Cephalus chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: Polemarchus desires you to wait.

I turned round, and asked him where his master was.
There he is, said the youth, coming after you, if you will only wait.

BK: And did you wait? Even though in waiting it is within the realms of human thought that one might be waiting for a end that does not justify the means of waiting, and therefore reducing one’s self to a willfully imperfect moral condition?

Socrates: I did wait. It was only polite.

BK: Ah! Indeed, you were leagues from the wrong. Politeness is the truly that most noble of human faces. You were quite right to delay your prayers to the goddess.

Socrates: Whatever. Young Polemarchus conveyed that he desired us to venture to the local wi-fi hotspot than we may share a scone and surf to well-doneplease.blogspot.com, for, having been in the long season of dusty, bare drought had not yielded the fruit of it’s author’s fertile mind in some age and yet there was the shadowy evidence of a new branch dated the quin of March.


BK:
Cut me some slack, Jack, I’d been busy.

Socrates: Quite.
May there not be the alternative, I said to the aid of Polemarchus, that we may persuade you to let us go?

But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.
Certainly not, replied Glaucon.
Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured.
Adeimantus added: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in honour of the goddess which will take place in the evening?

With horses! I replied: That is a novelty. Will horsemen carry torches and pass them one to another during the race?

Yes, said Polemarchus, and not only so, but a festival will he celebrated at night, which you certainly ought to see. Let us rise soon after supper and see this festival; there will be a gathering of young men, and we will have a good talk. Stay then, and do not be perverse.

Glaucon said: I suppose, since you insist, that we must.
Very good, I replied, but only after we’ve visited well-doneplease.blogger.com.

BK: So YOU’RE that mysterious third reader. I’ve been wondering who that was.

Socrates: Indeed. Accordingly we went with Polemarchus the local Panera Bread, ordered some herbal tea and broke out his new MacBook Air. Man, is that thing sexy; and there we found his brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and with them Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, Charmantides the Paeanian, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. There too was Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a garland on his head, for he had been sacrificing in the court; and there were some other chairs in the room arranged in a semicircle, upon which we sat down by him. He saluted me eagerly, and then he said:

Socrates! Have you heard the divine news? After averaging only one entry for every quarter of the moon’s wax and wane, the rascal BK has posted five in as much time! Six if you count this one but I remain philosophically unconvinced that I, nor this dialog exist.

To which I replied, indeed, dear Cephalus, you are deceived for as surely as the sun rises, the moon falls, the tides rise and the Jews are good sports, the shadowy nature of one man’s entry, no matter how nebulous is permanently stored online and in Google’s cache. The nature of its being and matter is wholly without doubt.

BK: Wait, who is Cephalus again?

Socrates: Polemarchus’ father, pay attention.

BK: Sorry.

Socrates: Don’t worry about. “Sorry” is an illusion as if on the wall of a cave. You can neither touch it nor know it’s true nature, therefore one should not concern oneself with such diversions. Back to my story.

I will tell you, Socrates, Cephalus said, what my own feeling is. Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says; and at our meetings the tale of my acquaintance commonly is –I cannot eat, I cannot drink; the pleasures of youth and love are fled away: there was a good time once, but now that is gone, and life is no longer life. Some complain of the slights which are put upon them by relations, and they will tell you sadly of how many evils their old age is the cause. But to me, Socrates, these complainers seem to blame that which is not really in fault, namely that BK is lazy and largely uncreative. For if this were the cause, I and every other old man, would have felt as they do. But this is not my own experience, nor that of others whom I have known. How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to the question, How does love suit with age, Sophocles, –are you still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master. His words have often occurred to my mind since, and they seem as good to me now as at the time when he uttered them. For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many. The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’s characters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.

I listened in admiration, and wanting to draw him out, that he might go on –Yes, Cephalus, I said: but I rather suspect that people in general are not convinced by you when you speak thus; they think that old age sits lightly upon you, not because of your happy disposition, but because you are rich, and wealth is well known to be a great comforter. But, let us back track a few steps. You mention a great burden on your weary shoulders. What good vex a man of such virtue?

BK: I am so on pins and needles!

Socrates: Mmhmm. So, with eyes that proffered an infinite sum of queries, Cephalus plucked the one question that had been the progenitor of such grief and confusion. In posting five (six including this hypothetical post) new items in less than a week (still another if you count his review of Semi-Pro which was stolen by Rolling Stone), was BK going for quantity over quality?

To which I replied, not knowing your true intentions, what I surmised to be your motivation.
Cephalus, great father, you know that BK is a man of quality and therefore follows logically the fruit of his typing would also have that same nature (being of quality). A prince among men, he knows that quality and not quantity is the true measure of success and success being the universal and most desirable end, his goal must have been to produce entries of the highest intrinsic value, thus enriching your life and mine.

BK: Huh?

Socrates: Bascially, I lied.

BK: Oh. Good. Because between you, me and old Alcibiades over there, I was totally going for quantity.

Socrates:
It was pretty obvious.

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers Plagiarizes BK’s Blog?


On Sunday, March 3, I penned the following words in the lede to my review of Semi-Pro on A Rough Cut.

“Simply and brutally, Semi-Pro is only semi-funny.”

It’s simple, direct, to the point and a weak play on the movie’s title. What more can you ask?

Imagine my surprise today when, after getting home from a hard eight hours of slaving away for the man, I open up my March 20 issue of Rolling Stone (the magazine that reminds me how truly conservative I am) and read their review of Semi-Pro, which was supposedly written by Peter Travers:

“The real problem with Semi-Pro is that it’s only semifunny.”

Sure, I’m flattered that Mr. Travers scoured the Internet in search of a fresh new “writer in the rough” to rip off and I’m really not even that upset that he didn’t give me credit for a marginally lame joke. I’m just sorry he buried it 124 words in. C’mon, Pete. You’re better than that. (Plus, you forgot to include the hyphen.)

Laus Deo?

Get ready for a lot of reading.

Yesterday, the NYT broke the story that a group of Southern Baptists, including some pretty big names, are jumping on board the Global Warming Bandwagon.

The group responsible for the Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change (their website and manifesto are available here) is made up of 44 pastors and other leaders who call themselves The Southern Baptist Climate and Environment Initiative. I have respect for some of these people, including the current president of the SBC and have even worked for one of them.

My comments are wedged about halfway down inbetween the “declaration” and the 2007 SBC resolution on Global Warming.

A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change



Preamble

Southern Baptists have always been a confessional people, giving testimony to our beliefs, which are based upon the doctrines found in God’s inerrant word—the Holy Bible. As the dawning of new ages has produced substantial challenges requiring a special word, Southern Baptist churches, associations and general bodies have often found it necessary to make declarations in order to define, express and defend beliefs. Though we do not regard this as a complete declaration on these issues, we believe this initiative finds itself consistent with our most cherished distinctives and rooted in historical precedent.

The preamble to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM 2000) declares: “Each generation of Christians bears the responsibility of guarding the treasury of truth that has been entrusted to us [2 Timothy 1:14]. Facing a new century, Southern Baptists must meet the demands and duties of the present hour. New challenges to faith appear in every age.”

We recognize that God’s great blessings on our denomination bestow upon us a great responsibility to offer a biblically-based, moral witness that can help shape individual behavior, private sector behavior and public policy. Conversations like this one demand our voice in order to fulfill our calling to engage the culture as a relevant body of believers. Southern Baptists have always championed faith’s challenges, and we now perpetuate our heritage through this initiative.

We are proud of our deep and lasting commitments to moral issues like the sanctity of human life and biblical definitions of marriage. We will never compromise our convictions nor attenuate our advocacy on these matters, which constitute the most pressing moral issues of our day. However, we are not a single-issue body. We also offer moral witness in other venues and on many issues. We seek to be true to our calling as Christian leaders, but above all, faithful to Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, our attention goes to whatever issues our faith requires us to address.

We have recently engaged in study, reflection and prayer related to the challenges presented by environmental and climate change issues. These things have not always been treated with pressing concern as major issues. Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice.

We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light. The time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.

Therefore, we offer these four statements for consideration, beginning with our fellow Southern Baptists, and urge all to follow by taking appropriate actions. May we find ourselves united as we contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. Laus Deo!

Statement 1

Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation.

There is undeniable evidence that the earth—wildlife, water, land and air—can be damaged by human activity, and that people suffer as a result. When this happens, it is especially egregious because creation serves as revelation of God’s presence, majesty and provision. Though not every person will physically hear God’s revelation found in Scripture, all people have access to God’s cosmic revelation: the heavens, the waters, natural order, the beauty of nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1). We believe that human activity is mixed in its impact on creation—sometimes productive and caring, but often reckless, preventable and sinful.

God’s command to tend and keep the earth (Genesis 2) did not pass away with the fall of man; we are still responsible. Lack of concern and failure to act prudently on the part of Christ-followers reflects poorly to the rest of the world. Therefore, we humbly take responsibility for the damage that we have done to God’s cosmic revelation and pledge to take an unwavering stand to preserve and protect the creation over which we have been given responsibility by Almighty God Himself.

Statement 2

It Is Prudent to Address Global Climate Change.



We recognize that we do not have any special revelation to guide us about whether global warming is occurring and, if it is occurring, whether people are causing it. We are looking at the same evidence unfolding over time that other people are seeing.



We recognize that we do not have special training as scientists to allow us to assess the validity of climate science. We understand that all human enterprises are fraught with pride, bias, ignorance and uncertainty.

We recognize that if consensus means unanimity, there is not a consensus regarding the anthropogenic nature of climate change or the severity of the problem. There is general agreement among those engaged with this issue in the scientific community. A minority of sincere and respected scientists offer alternate causes for global climate change other than deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

We recognize that Christians are not united around either the scientific explanations for global warming or policies designed to slow it down. Unlike abortion and respect for the biblical definition of marriage, this is an issue where Christians may find themselves in justified disagreement about both the problem and its solutions.

Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future. This will mean we have to take a position of prudence based partly on science that is inevitably changing. We do not believe unanimity is necessary for prudent action. We can make wise decisions even in the absence of infallible evidence.

Though the claims of science are neither infallible nor unanimous, they are substantial and cannot be dismissed out of hand on either scientific or theological grounds. Therefore, in the face of intense concern and guided by the biblical principle of creation stewardship, we resolve to engage this issue without any further lingering over the basic reality of the problem or our responsibility to address it. Humans must be proactive and take responsibility for our contributions to climate change—however great or small.

Statement 3

Christian Moral Convictions and Our Southern Baptist Doctrines Demand Our Environmental Stewardship.



While we cannot here review the full range of relevant Christian convictions and Baptist doctrines related to care of the creation, we emphasize the following points:

We must care about environmental and climate issues because of our love for God—“the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe” (BFM 2000)—through whom and for whom the creation was made. This is not our world, it is God’s. Therefore, any damage we do to this world is an offense against God Himself (Gen. 1; Ps. 24; Col. 1:16). We share God’s concern for the abuse of His creation.

We must care about environmental issues because of our commitment to God’s Holy and inerrant Word, which is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and religious opinions should be tried” (BFM 2000). Within these Scriptures we are reminded that when God made mankind, He commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures (Gen. 1:26-28). Therefore, our motivation for facing failures to exercise proper stewardship is not primarily political, social or economic—it is primarily biblical.

We must care about environmental and climate issues because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us and to protect and care for the “least of these” (Mt. 22:34-40; Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46). The consequences of these problems will most likely hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected are in the world’s poorest regions. Poor nations and individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. Therefore, “we should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy … [and] the helpless” (BFM 2000) through proper stewardship.

Love of God, love of neighbor and Scripture’s stewardship demands provide enough reason for Southern Baptists and Christians everywhere to respond to these problems with moral passion and concrete action.

Statement 4

It Is Time for Individuals, Churches, Communities and Governments to Act.

We affirm that “every Christian should seek to bring industry, government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth and brotherly love” (BFM 2000).

We realize that we cannot support some environmental issues as we offer a distinctively Christian voice in these arenas. For instance, we realize that what some call population control leads to evils like abortion. We now call on these environmentalists to reject these evils and accept the sanctity of every human person, both born and unborn.

We realize that simply affirming our God-given responsibility to care for the earth will likely produce no tangible or effective results. Therefore, we pledge to find ways to curb ecological degradation through promoting biblical stewardship habits and increasing awareness in our homes, businesses where we find influence, relationships with others and in our local churches. Many of our churches do not actively preach, promote or practice biblical creation care. We urge churches to begin doing so.

We realize that the primary impetus for prudent action must come from the will of the people, families and those in the private sector. Held to this standard of common good, action by government is often needed to assure the health and well-being of all people. We pledge, therefore, to give serious consideration to responsible policies that acceptably address the conditions set forth in this declaration.

Conclusion

We the undersigned, in accordance with our Christian moral convictions and Southern Baptist doctrines, pledge to act on the basis of the claims made in this document. We will not only teach the truths communicated here but also seek ways to implement the actions that follow from them. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we urge all who read this declaration to join us in this effort. Laus Deo!

This “declaration” bothers me for a variety of reasons, but here are the two main ones:

  1. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much Rush Limbaugh, but I’m just not convinced that global warming is real, and if it is real, I’m certainly not convinced it is man-made (don’t get me started on Al Gore). I know this puts me at odds with popular scientific opinion but so do my views on evolution vs. creation (not that that is necessarily a good reason to not believe in global warming). I’m all for polluting less and saving the freckled salmon and recycling Dr Pepper cans, but I’m not totally convinced that driving my car around the block raises the earth’s temperature. The same scientists who champion global warming also claim the earth is millions of years old and has gone through countless natural ice ages and warm periods. If were to accept that premise, it seems like it could easily explain potential climate change. Of course, I could be totally wrong and be begging for forgiveness in 40 years as my skin boils and the polar bears drown. Should that be the occasion, look for my heart felt and humble mea cupla here.
  2. Second, this subverts the Convention. Southern Baptists have an established method of voicing our opinions on non-theological political issues and it’s called a resolution. By going through the process at the annual meeting each summer, the democracy ensures the resolution speaks for the majority of Southern Baptists (at least a majority of Southern Baptist messengers). These 44 people and their “declaration” in effect subvert the will of millions of Southern Baptist who have clearly and properly spoken on the subject last year in a statement with which I am much more inclined to agree (not that I’m entirely convinced it was necessary):

On Global Warming June 2007

WHEREAS, God is not a distant bystander with respect to human affairs, but judges all people and holds them accountable for their thoughts and actions (Psalm 24:1; Isaiah 45:5-8; Hebrews 4:12-13); and

WHEREAS, Christians are called by God to exercise caring stewardship and dominion over the earth and environment (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8); and

WHEREAS, We share God’s concern that the poor should not be abused, taken advantage of, nor overburdened (Psalm 140:12; Proverbs 14:31; 29:7; Isaiah 25:4; Ezekiel 22:29, 31; Matthew 25:40; John 14:15); and

WHEREAS, The record shows that global temperature has risen and fallen cyclically throughout geologic history, with some periods warmer and others cooler than the present; and

WHEREAS, The global temperature has generally risen since 1850 as it recovers from the “Little Ice Age” (1550-1850 A.D.); and

WHEREAS, The ten warmest years since 1850 have occurred in the last fifteen years; and

WHEREAS, The scientific community is divided regarding the extent to which humans are responsible for recent global warming; and

WHEREAS, Many scientists reject the idea of catastrophic human-induced global warming; and

WHEREAS, Sixty international experts in climate and related sciences signed an open letter on April 6, 2006, to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stating that scientific evidence does not support the computer models of catastrophic human-induced global warming; and

WHEREAS, The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while remaining politically active in warning of catastrophic human-induced global warming, has recently altered many of its previous statements, reducing its projections of the magnitude of global warming and its impacts on the world; and

WHEREAS, Many scientists argue that natural causes such as El Niño, alterations in solar energy, solar wind output, cycles of cosmic ray influx, precipitation microphysics, and changes in cloud forcing—along with human-land-use conversion for cities and agricultural use and deforestation—are much more significant in climate change than CO2 emissions; and

WHEREAS, Certain areas of the world, where some say warming is most pronounced, were actually much warmer than they are today, like Greenland, which was extensively farmed by the Vikings from around 1000 to 1300 A.D., before colder temperatures made farming virtually impossible for them; and

WHEREAS, Measures to curb global warming, such as those contained in the United Nations-sponsored Kyoto Protocol, are estimated to only reduce the likely rise in the average global temperature by 10 percent or less, from an increase of 2.0o C to 1.9o C by 2100, for example; and

WHEREAS, Some estimate that compliance with Kyoto would cost the global economy from about $200 billion to $1 trillion each year without a policy that would allow for global carbon emissions trading and $75 billion each year even with a worldwide trading scheme; and

WHEREAS, Large developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil are currently exempt from Kyoto; and

WHEREAS, Exempting emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil from CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions reductions would significantly undermine the minute effect on average global temperature gained through reductions by developed nations; and

WHEREAS, Forcing developing countries to comply with Kyoto will significantly inhibit their economic development and the development of the international economy; and

WHEREAS, Proposed carbon offset programs will have little impact on reducing rising temperatures if human activity is not a significant cause of recent global warming; and

WHEREAS, Some are proposing that a maximum acceptable global temperature increase should serve as the guideline for determining reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions; and

WHEREAS, Businesses and municipalities will likely pass along the cost of emissions reduction programs to consumers, driving up the cost of goods and services; and

WHEREAS, Poor people and underdeveloped regions of the world will be impacted the most severely by higher costs; and

WHEREAS, The poor and most vulnerable people around the world are faced with many more quantifiable, immediate, devastating problems;

now, therefore, be itRESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13, 2007, urge Southern Baptists to proceed cautiously in the human-induced global warming debate in light of conflicting scientific research;

and be it further RESOLVED, That we consider proposals to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions based on a maximum acceptable global temperature goal to be very dangerous, since attempts to meet the goal could lead to a succession of mandates of deeper cuts in emissions, which may have no appreciable effect if humans are not the principal cause of global warming, and could lead to major economic hardships on a worldwide scale;

and be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Congress and the president to only support cost-effective measures to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and to reject government-mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;

and be it furtherRESOLVED, That we urge governments to begin to take steps to help protect vulnerable communities and regions from the effects of the inevitable continued cycles of warming and cooling that have occurred throughout geologic history;

and be it furtherRESOLVED, That we strongly request that all public policy decision makers ensure an appropriate balance between care for the environment, effects on economies, and impacts on the poor when considering programs to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions;

and be it furtherRESOLVED, That we support the development of environmental public policy that will improve the stewardship of the earth’s resources without resulting in significant negative consequences not only on the United States and other developed economies, but also, and most importantly, on the poor and on developing economies;

and be it furtherRESOLVED, That we support public policy that helps provide immediate assistance to the poor and most vulnerable people around the world, including access to clean drinking water and electricity, AIDS care and prevention, vaccinations, malaria eradication, and education programs;

and be it finallyRESOLVED, That we continually reaffirm our God-given responsibility to care for the earth by remaining environmentally conscious and taking individual and collective efforts to reduce pollution, decrease waste, and improve the environment in tangible and effective ways.