Let’s Discuss Religion

We are trying to make Blackjay more of a discussion group and less like a newspaper.  Please comment.  If your ideas are too long for a Comment, email me a copy and I will consider a new Post.

Well here goes:


Someone once said that there is a  “God shaped hole in humans aching to be filled”. Maybe they were right. I think this is relevant to the genesis of the current madness that seems to be afflicting Western society and I would like to start a debate.

At some point in our evolution something happened that we are still unable to quite define. Whether it was the acquisition of consciousness, self-awareness, the ability to recognise our personal individuality or personal freedom, no one seems to have managed to define what it is that separates us from the animals.

The thing about animals is that they have instincts that determine a behaviour that allows them to function in a community. Whether it’s mating ritual or pecking order or symbolic surrender signals that avoid a fight to the death over food, they come into the world equipped with ironclad instincts for functioning within their group.

Now as soon as these proto-humans, by some evolutionary quirk, gained the power of independent thought and free will, they are in a position to override instinctive behaviour. This is a fatal trait with potentially fatal consequences.

And this is where God comes in.

I am suggesting that rather than being an afterthought, religion co-evolved with the development of what we consider human characteristics and is inseparable from the human condition. All religions have at their centre a complex set of rules which are administered by an all seeing and all knowing spiritual entity, and widespread fear of God has allowed the human race to prosper.

However atheism is on the rise, particularly in the West. The reason for this is the spectacular advance of science, particularly the work of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, the influence of Marxism, and the rising prosperity and associated improvements in education and consequent rationalist thought. The rise of the educated middle class corresponds to atheism becoming the new religion of the state. The result is that we seem to be turning more and more to the legal system to police matters that were the province of personal morality, ethics, and manners. The establishment of human rights commissions and various bodies to defend perceived persecuted groups from discrimination, unfair treatment, and constrained access to prosperity, attempt to replace the role previously occupied by rule-books like the Bible and the Koran.

The increasingly manic and loopy activities of human rights activists suggest that their mission is failing.

Whilst well-meaning, the problem with these inane rules,  is that to police them in the absence of an all seeing and vengeful God requires the instruments of the state to become oppressive beyond all reason. (One example is the way the media unpick power relationships to decide whether or not they approve of an intimate relationship developing within a work environment.)

Another thing that has happened is that attributes such as honesty, truthfulness, ethics, cleanliness, and a good manners, have been discarded and largely replaced by “social justice“.

If what I am saying is accurate, the belief in God is necessary for a tribe to survive, and any society that doesn’t have a faith -based social order will eventually self destruct.

We may not approve of many of the dictates and beliefs of various religions, but it seems that a godless society, relying on the internal moral compass of its members, always fails quickly and badly.


I think you make a valid point only I would replace “atheism” with “Scientific Materialism”. Consider the following quote:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

—Bertrand Russell, Free Man’s Worship

How did he know this?

This view is  as dogmatic and absolutist as the creed of any religion. Typically these assertions depend heavily on a “scientific” world view but Russel was a philosopher not a scientist. He was quoting contemporary astronomy, chapter and verse, while omitting the sceptical, provisional and empirical aspects of the scientific enterprise. No doubt he didn’t get it. At that time, the only philosopher who did get it was Karl Popper. The rest were happy to cherry-pick  popular science “facts” which supported their materialist preconceptions.

Th dogma of Scientific Materialism is now mainstream. The loopy progressive dogmas to which you refer, are recent spin-offs.

An “accidental collocation of atoms” indeed. Just as Beethoven’s Ninth is an accidental collocation of notes.


37 Replies to “Let’s Discuss Religion”

      1. According to Wikipedia: “It was during a meeting of the Moral Sciences Club in October 1946 that Wittgenstein famously waved a poker at Sir Karl Popper during a heated discussion about whether philosophical problems are real or just linguistic games.”

        One thing interesting about this is that the memories of the, presumably very clever, Cambridge people who attended that meeting are no more accurate than mine or yours. They were unable to agree about what happened.

        Anyhow, my Essay on Reality, concludes that both Wittgenstein and Popper were right. Humanity, over millennia, adapted the Gift of Language to support the many sciences that distinguish Homo Sapiens from other animal species. The precise definitions needed here are given on page 2, Science of the Essay on Reality, which can be found at the website sceptical.org.

        What the professional thinkers who call themselves “Philosophers” have failed to realise is that each of those (small “s”) sciences has a unique (small “m”) mathematics which admits compelling proofs of its theorems; AND has a unique (small “p”) physics (as I call it) which supports the always-provisional testing of those theorems as predictions. BOTH features of a science are essential to it; and, one may reasonably say, the talk/proof feature supports Wittgenstein’s view of Reality, while the experiment/testing feature supports Popper’s view.

        Those features of each and every particular science, underpin the deeper fact that the one and only Reality admits one and only one correct story. Reality is open to the agreements of Scientists about what they see and what they say — agreements that we may reasonably call objective.

        So, the weasel word “objective” admits a meaning that is objective in the very special sense that individual humans, SPEAKING TRUTHFULLY and TRUSTING EACH OTHER, are compelled to agree about the proofs and the experiments which constitute a particular science. What Reality/Nature ordains is objectively true in just this sense.

    1. Hi Desmond.
      I would say that because the actions of birds are unpredictable, it is not necessarily true that they are not predictable (given sufficient data). The matter of the existence or otherwise of free will has never been resolved but is central to what I am saying. I am claiming that there is a difference, and free will is a fatal evolutionary flaw that can only be survived by invoking a the supernatural.
      Best wishes

      1. Hello, Richard. Sorry for delay in responding. I’ve been out of action for a few days.

        I think I made a mistake inviting you to read page 4. God of my Essay, because that page can only make sense as intended, to individuals who have made the considerable effort to take in the three (long!) pages that precede it. Of these, page 1,”Reality is Simple” is absolutely essential, because it urges the reader to think for him/her self, and ignore experts.

        2,300 years ago, Aristotle began the incorrect/wrong way of thinking called “Philosophy” which has prevailed in the West ever since. Of its many mistakes, the most obvious one is the quasi-religious faith that many/most people have in “objective truth”. What that “objective” means is never stated. Whoever thinks that what he says — the words he uses — are “true” sees no need to say what exactly he means by his words. 

        Since Aristotle, “Philosophers” and those who believe “Philosophers” have successfully suppressed the ideas/talk of individuals who are prepared to own their own words without depending on the prevailing objectivism. Here, to own your own words, means to truthfully explain what you mean by those words, giving clear empirical definitions/explanations of what you mean. That is the alternative to objectivism called subjectivism. So far as I know, my Essay of 8 (long!) pages is the first comprehensive presentation of subjectivism. It is the philosophy — the way of thinking — we would have had without the great mistake/hubris of Aristotle.

        Sorry about this, Richard, but the first two of your three sentences have (it seems to me!) set you up as a fall-guy for objectivism. I will respond, as best I can, one sentence at a time.

        1 Any one who says “I would say that because the actions of birds are unpredictable, it is not necessarily true that they are not predictable (given sufficient data)” is imagining himself as God or privy to the mind of God. Who else could know what that “sufficient data” actually means? I suggest, instead, that you look at a pigeon flying past and accept, as an empirical fact, that you are unable to predict what it will do next. 

        The motion of, say, a mortar fired by a soldier at an enemy position is strikingly different from the motion of a pigeon because, for the soldier’s purpose, it is predictable. That is down to Newton’s Law of Gravity. Which is not to say that Newton’s Law is “true”, only that it works in the very limited way that we may reasonably call local. See page 3, Motion.

        2 When you say “The matter of the existence or otherwise of free will has never been resolved but is central to what I am saying”, I challenge you, please, to tell me what precisely you mean by “existence”? Like “true” and “supernatural” it is a weasel word used by individuals who imagine they know what it means, but are unable to say what it means.

        I use the term “free will” with a clear empirical definition: When I say that a particular individual pigeon has free will, I mean precisely that I cannot predict what it will do next and neither can anyone else. That is the autonomy, as you might call it, which distinguishes life from non-life. No invocation of the supernatural in that.

        3 Your third sentence has some substance that is not quite clear to me. “I am claiming that there is a difference, and free will is a fatal evolutionary flaw that can only be survived by invoking a the supernatural.” That “fatal” implicitly seems to accept the once popular view that evolution has a teleological purpose. Why call it a flaw?

        I would pretty much agree with you, here, if you were able to accept a paraphrase like: The autonomy/free_will of individual birds and other animals, including individual humans, is compatible with the idea that Reality may/can be viewed as theDeity in charge of not only what is observed to happen but also of the stories, called sciences, that we tell about what we observe. The definitions needed here are given in my essay page 2, Science.

        Best wishes,
        Desmond Sander
        In view of the fact that my essay on Reality is a work in progress,
        please regularly refresh your link to sceptical.org.

        1. There is one aspect of this discussion which I would like to address. It concerns the word “predictable”. Classical physics presupposes that everything is predictable. Laplace summarised this notion of causal determinism as follows: We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes. see http://blackjay.net.au/physics/zpage6-header/

          My view is that there is always a scale threshold beyond which prediction is impossible. In field theory it is Planck’s constant, h. In fluid dynamics it is the Reynolds number. Beyond this scale Laplacian determinism breaks down and Physics is compelled to deal with probabilities whereas Metaphysics is free to deal with Free Will.

          1. Without disputing Admin’s scale threshold, I think the issue of prediction lies elsewhere. The essay on Reality which you will find on my web-site is a comprehensive alternative to the Science that you and I learned at school and have no doubt advanced in some ways since then. The problem is that this Science is simply incorrect/wrong, because it is based on the incorrect/wrong philosophy called “Philosophy” which has been promoted SINCE ARISTOTLE! by people who call/called themselves “Philosophers”.

            My essay depends upon the one and only correct/right philosophy that Aristotle missed, and it advances the many clearly specified sciences, that constitute its clearly specified Science.

            Here is a direct quote, pertinent to prediction, from page 3, Motion of my essay. Please don’t imagine that this quote can be understood as a stand-alone claim; you need to read my DIFFICULT Essay IN FULL to make sense of it. That was/is necessary to unravel two millennia of incorrect/bad thinking.

            “Newton tried to explain the motion of such lifeless objects as the moon and a cannonball and had some success. Three centuries later Einstein did the same and had his own success. Those objectivist stories cannot both be correct/right. Indeed, both are incorrect/wrong because both fail to explain motion. They ignore the genuinely causal explanation of motion that was clear to Leibniz.

            Leibniz’s story of monads explains, say, the flying of an individual bird as intended by that individual. That particular bird is free to fly where it chooses, but only in the limited way that is allowed at the (place and time) location in which it finds itself. That particular bird has some freedom to move where and when it wishes, but must adhere to the Laws, as we call them, of Physics and those Laws are local. What works for individual birds works also for individual human beings.”

            Comments welcome!

            1. One more post from Desmond!

              Any one who reads my Essay on Reality will see that it is substantially an attack on the incorrect/wrong thinking that over the last century or so led to the invention and canonisation of Artificial “Intelligence”. I use those scare quotes because I have established that intelligence — understanding the meanings of what people say — is a feature of human beings that cannot be shared by a computer program. Though it can be simulated, as in the celebrated defeat of Gary Kasparov by Big Blue. Such simulations are down to MEMORY, NOT INTELLIGENCE. The memories of computers, like the ones in Silicon Valley, are limited only by the money of their “social media” owners.

              I’m writing now to ask Blackjayers if they have fairly recently observed odd behaviours of A”I” programs like the one I have observed. For many years now, I paid two accountancy firms for their services by direct transfer of cash from our CBA account, relying upon the simple facility offered by CBA to notify the recipient that payment had been made. That no longer works because both those accountants have outsourced their billing to a company call XERO. Now I get bills which say something like

              Please pay the $100 you owe us IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY PAID.

              This means that both these accountancy firms, one large and one small, are no longer in command of their own accounts. I think that there is now increasing evidence that the computer programs which have taken on functions that used to be done by human beings are beginning to fail in all-too-human ways. Does any one else agree?

  1. As a scientist, IMO it is not accurate to blame “science” for a decline on religiousness.

    We can divide up humanity based on a wide variety of different criteria. For example: men vs women, wealthy vs poor, educated vs uneducated, black vs white, tall vs short, etc. So when we are trying to analyze major international political issues (like climate change) which way of looking at the population is most useful? Consider the following…

    Here is a recent statement from the Dean of Duke’s prestigious Nicholas School of the Environment:

    “At a time when we’re so deeply divided as a society, and issues seem to grow more contentious daily, we can no longer treat environmental issues as solely scientific or technical problems. We have to wade into the complex value choices that are at the heart of policy decisions. Science will always be a central and essential input into the decision-making process, but policy decisions require choices. And choices reflect values.”

    Some questions about the Dean’s assertion are:
    1-Exactly who is it that determines what these “values” are?

    2-Specifically where are these fundamental society “values” published?

    3-Who is it that has the judicial authority to ascertain whether we are properly adhering to these said “values”?

    4-Who is it that has the power to punish the miscreants who do not properly adhering to these said “values”?

    This should make it VERY clear that whether we like this to be a religious fight, it is anyway. We have to make a choice, or it will be made for us.

    Most people believe that the main issues of our time are things like: climate change, wind energy, immigration, sex trafficking, equality, social justice, health care, etc., etc.

    However, they are missing the big picture. Yes these are all issues, but the proper perspective is that each one of these are battles, in a much larger war.

    And what is this war? It is a war of VALUES.

    Question: What’s a good definition of Religion (and in particular “traditional” Religion)?…

    Basically “Religion” means a “world-view belief system.” When it comes to traditional Religions, the definition is a “God-centric world-view belief system.”

    Ultimately the fight we are in is between two conflicting world views—
    1) God-Centric world view (e.g. traditional religions):
    a) Judeo-Christian
    b) Muslim
    c) Hinduism
    d) others
    2) Non-God-Centric world view (anti-theists: atheists, agnostics, & apathetics):
    a) Communism (man-centric) [Socialism is an intermediary]
    b) Environmentalism (nature-centric) [e.g. Interfaith Power & Light: a ruse]
    c) others

    (Put another way, the two views would be “Pro-God” vs “No-God”.)

    1. As the Dean says: “Science will always be a central and essential input into the decision-making process …”

      What if some science has been rigged for the purpose of providing a cloak of respectability for environmental activists. I believe this to be the case with Ecology. How many of Popper’s Principles are in fact satisfied by Ecology (see https://fs.blog/2016/01/karl-popper-on-science-pseudoscience/). What discoveries, if any, has Ecology made? How many of these are falsifiable? Had the Dean said “reason and evidence” rather than “science” I would agree with him.

      1. Science is a process, and that has not changed. What’s rigged is that certain SCIENTISTS have decided to modify/abort/ etc the process to produce desired results. What is at fault are scientists who have left the reservation, not Science.

          1. It could be. However, if scientist with a political agenda define it in an unscientific way, and then direct it in an unscientific manner, that (again) is a perversion of scientists, not Science.

    2. As a youth I came to the idea that science would eventually explain all the mysteries that are represented as the foundations of religious belief. My curiosity about religiosity was aroused by the decline in the quality of popular music, a decline that is hard to disagree with. The same applies to painting and poetry. These are subjective I know, but the power of religious inspired music is undeniable. The fact is that Science has not shown much interest in the human emotional reaction to art, but this “ecstasy” in the presence of beauty is an important component of the human condition.

  2. As a woman in her 60s with friends in all generations, something I’ve noticed recently is the lack of cleanliness in the generations following us. Cleanliness used to be considered next to Godliness, which was really an excuse to get people to be conscious of it long before general knowledge of harmful bacteria and viruses.

    We’ve eradicated a lot of really nasty diseases with improved hygiene, cleaner water, and better infrastructure, but for this to work our homes have to be clean too. A large part of a woman’s day was keeping a home hygienic. Social pressure from other women made sure a certain standard was complied with.

    With more women working, this isn’t happening any more. Add a couple of kids and/or a couple of dogs or cats, and you have a breeding ground for everything from allergies to quite nasty illnesses.

    I’ve wondered recently if this isn’t the reason for our current situation vis-a-vis COVID-19.

    1. Clean and hygenic were two different things. A duster, for instance, simply moves dust particles around and spreads them. Beating rugs and carpets is like exploding a dust bomb in or adjacent to the house. Picking things up off the floor or arranging them in neat piles is great for neatness but does nothing to prevent bacteria, insects etc. Washing linen, hangings etc. in boiling water with detergent is probably the most effective low-tech activity. Washing dishes and cutlery is great until the drying cloth touches them all over…..

    2. Reading your thoughts, Jennie ( and I recognise a fellow night owl), I had to agree, cleanliness in the homes of the younger generations is abysmal. I am a decade ahead of you and, trained in youth as a nurse and midwife, a clean home was just a given. Time passed, my children grew and left home and I took on a different life. Immunology came to the fore and I began to see the fixation on cleanliness as perhaps rather counter productive: without continual small exposures to the myriad ‘infectious’ agents all around us we develop no immunity to them. I recalled seeing, as a youngster, urchins in the streets strong and tough, while coddled children were constantly ‘catching’ something or other. Alongside the barrage of ads for ‘good mums’ using all the disinfectants, came the gradual ‘necessity’ for one vaccine after the other.

      I have wandered off the topic of God and religion somewhat. But I wonder who would have coined that phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Maybe it started with Semmelweis.

    3. Jennie cats are scrupulously clean. It’s instinctive. If they gained their freedom they could choose to be filthy. They might demand proof that all that time preening was “worth it”.

  3. An interesting project Blackjay and I wish you well. I doubt the language available to us is adequate to discuss such matters because it has been deliberately corrupted to confuse. For example, why do climate alarmists refer to ‘global warming’ as ‘climate change’? How will they refer to global cooling when it happens, because that is also climate change. To proceed, I will make some comments because the topic interests me, but I don’t have the wherewithal (mainly time and energy ) to ‘construct’ them and tie them to specific opinions and comments. Having read Richard first, most probably land there. I think Richard says that religion is administered by an ‘all-seeing and all-knowing spiritual entity’. I disagree. Religion is administered by a ‘Church’, comprising humans, with the same flaws as its flock. So that you may quickly understand my position here, I would be regarded in the Catholic Church as a ‘lapsed catholic’, but only since my wife could no longer go for health reasons (she died about 2 years ago). I needed her to be a part of making me feel fulfilled in various rituals. I see a chasm between spirituality and religion and I regard myself as a spiritual person. I talk to My Maker (‘M’) on a daily basis. The values I do my best to adhere to are those taught by Jesus Christ and mostly explained in the New Testament. I also see my spirituality as evolving, and not a constant. I am also a scientist like John Droz (Keep up your good work on climate change). I’m a geologist no longer in formal (paid) employment) , in my 80s. Returning to climate change and touching on Popper, I was schooled to understand that the Scientific Method rests on evidence. I see no evidence, nor has anybody shown me where to find it, that CO2 drives climate change in the whole geological record of planet Earth. Therefore I remain a climate ‘sceptic’. Nor do I have a problem with any scientific findings on the ‘creation process’, whether of Earth or Life. I sustain my form of ‘belief’ in ‘M’ by wondering what happened 1 second (or even shorter) before the Big Bang. All a bit jumbled, but there it is. I’d much rather discuss these issues over a glass of vintage port.

    1. Aert, thanks for a nice, meaty Comment. Re: language and religion see Ed Burke’s Post which follows this one; the confusion is not always intentional. I suspect it only becomes intentional when funding is involved. I presume you are including Climate Change as a religious topic. Fair enough too. The two page spread in the Hobart Mercury this morning was reminiscent of the “fire and brimstone” Evangelical Revival of the 1730s.

      I think that Richard is making the point that things go awry when religion is absent both in terms of belief and institution, that religion has survival value for a society (and, in my view, for the individual). Islam is one religion with great survival value. Even without further immigration, Moslems will become a majority in France before 2050.

      Regarding Climate Change, I must admit that (to my surprise) I have found statistical evidence that global average temperature is significantly related to atmospheric carbon concentration and that this, in turn, is significantly related to anthropogenic production rates. However the dependence is weak and there are unlikely to be sufficient resources remaining to have much effect. Temperature should peak over the next century or so with a maximum value which is less than 2 deg C above pre-industrial values (Reid and Dengler (2021) Forecasting the Carbon Pulse. Currently with Nature Energy). There is no justification for all the hype and hysteria. The effect is so small that without extensive data sets and state-of-the-art statistical methods we wouldn’t even know about it.

    2. Aert I wholeheartedly agree. My point about the all knowing spiritual entity is that by evolving self actualisation (is that the term?) such a supervising entity would be needed for the human race to survive within communities. The subsequent evolution of structured religions is another matter.

  4. Some of the most relevant quotes on this topic were made some time ago by Jordan B. Peterson, viz.:

    “Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.”

    “In the West, we have been withdrawing from our tradition-, religion- and even nation-centred cultures, partly to decrease the danger of group conflict. But we are increasingly falling prey to the desperation of meaninglessness, and that is no improvement at all.”

    tag- social-justice-warrior
    “If you have a comprehensive explanation for everything then it decreases uncertainty and anxiety and reduces your cognitive load. And if you can use that simplifying algorithm to put yourself on the side of moral virtue then you’re constantly a good person with a minimum of effort.”

    This discussion continues with Desmond’s insights in the following post.

  5. Thanks for re-opening the comments facility Blackjay. I want to repeat my main point that I do NOT see the whole climate change thing as a religion. It is not, and never was a grass roots movement inducing political leaders to follow. In fact, it is the opposite. It is imposed by the UN and its IPCC and the WEF to facilitate ‘globalization’ which is not only a ‘mechanism’ to make it easier for those with money to make more money, but it is also a mechanism to make it easier for more and more of the populace to be controlled by the few who already wield power over us, like the UN and the European Parliament whose sitting members are not even elected by the people, but appointed. Climate change is a power-grab tool, and I’m seeing that response to the Covid-19 pandemic is showing signs of a similar strategy. I think that the loss of national borders (think immigration) will have disastrous consequences for Western civilization, and all this is being fanned by junk science. As said by John Droz, the Scientific Method has not changed. What has changed are the number of scientists who have abused the process for political gain of Left ideology. Universities have linked in for easy money to fund phony research projects and keep the ball rolling. I repeat that I see no evidence that CO2 has ever driven climate change in the geological record of our planet. Thanks for a copy of your paper and I shall withhold comment on your (surprise) observations until it is published or until you allow me. Thanks again for re-opening the post.

    1. Aert, you say “I repeat that I see no evidence that CO2 has ever driven climate change in the geological record of our planet.” I agree with that. Our paper “Forecasting the Climate Pulse” describes a measurable 2 degree variation in global average temperature lasting for a century or so. Technically that is a change in climate but it is small, temporary and unlikely to leave a geological trace other than, perhaps, a slight variation in fossil formanifera in sediments on the ocean floor.

      While I agree that climate change has been whipped up by interest groups to serve a Leftist agenda, I believe that millions of ordinary people fervently hold to it as an unassailable reality. To quote G.K.Chesterton “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything”. Perhaps I should use the term “ideology”.

      We live in age when it is impolite to discuss sex, religion, politics and climate change.

  6. Blackjay, two comments. First, it is not possible to distinguish additions of CO2 to atmosphere from anthropogenic sources vis-a-vis from any other source like volcanoes or, more importantly, from warming oceans. Second, the correlation between your measurable 2 degrees variation in global average temp and CO2 from whatever source is very poor and I would hesitate to call it so. I’ll get around to reading your paper soon, but already I’m intrigued by how a chaotic system can have a ‘pulse’.

  7. Aert, you say:

    “First, it is not possible to distinguish additions of CO2 to atmosphere from anthropogenic sources vis-a-vis from any other source like volcanoes or, more importantly, from warming oceans.”

    How do you know that? Our method suggests that it is. In the absence of other measurements we assume that contributions from other sources are random and unselfcorrelated. We assume that the deep ocean is primarily a sink for CO2.

    “Second, the correlation between your measurable 2 degrees variation in global average temp and CO2 from whatever source is very poor and I would hesitate to call it so.”

    The correlation coefficient between the two time series in Fig. 1 is 0.897 but that is misleading as we point out. Our paper is about multiple regression rather than correlation. We started out using regression to estimate climate sensitivity and found it to be a rather silly idea (second last paragraph).

    “I’ll get around to reading your paper soon, but already I’m intrigued by how a chaotic system can have a ‘pulse’.”

    I presume you are referring to mathematical chaos, strange attractors and that sort of thing. Mathematical chaos bears no resemblence to reality nor to the chaos of the Greeks. It is a fashionable buzzword intended to mislead us into believing that the pathological behaviour of differential equations somehow provides a profound insight into the nature of the physical world. Real fluids are not chaotic, they are turbulent. Climate modellers don’t like this because their models cannot handle it. Climate chaos was championed by Reto Knutti (Google him) so I wouldn’t take it too seriously if I were you.

    Would you concede that there may be a pulse in, say, global hydrocarbon production, i.e. that there is such a thing as “peak oil”? If so is it not conceivable there will be a pulse in atmospheric CO2 concentration? Isn’t this a little more realistic than the assumption that the world is appproaching some sort of catastrophic singularity?

  8. I agree with the original post by Richard and Admin answer . . . including Richard’s saying how religion evolved as a key survival instinct.
    What nobody mentioned is how this great instinct was soon HIJACKED by the Big Men we were co-evolved to also look up to, most obviously via Sun worship and the idea, put out by proto-priests that the Sun may not rise one day if . . .
    This was the beginning of humankind’s BIGGEST PROBLEM, the one most mentioned above.
    What I am saying is that it started already with organized religion, Sun worship and so on, long before the Scientific Materialism form of today’s worst forms of hijacking.
    SERVING THE INTERESTS OF THE BIG MEN is what all of these hijackings have in common, hijackings of everything . . .
    Whatever it takes to get on top and stay there . . . with one’s mates and closest rellies . . .

  9. Those people who, through awe, meditation, cogitation, close
    observation—whatever— come up with deep insights about the nature of the universe (religious or scientific) often find that their insights have to be simplified, often over-simplified, in order to get them across to their peers, let alone to ordinary folk. And this is where their original insights begin to be distorted, the subtleties and caveats ignored, and eventually it ends up that a well-intended but twisted version of the original truth is the one that gets into general circulation. People from Moses to Buddha, Adam Smith to Marx, Darwin to Einstein must be shaking their heads in heaven at the ways their insights have been misinterpreted and misapplied. Christianity suffered a double whammy in having to translate Jewish thought into a second language, Greek. This caused many conceptual problems. For example the Jews, in general, did not see humans as have having a separate soul distinct from the physical body. Whereas the Greeks could see a soul as having an existence after the physical body had passed away, the Jews could only see an after life (if they saw one at all) in terms of the physical body being resurrected. So the translation of the Jesus story from Aramaic/Hebrew into the Greek language and philosophical system, and later into Latin, involved a great deal of conceptual contortion.

  10. Great ideas are really only ever propagated from person to person. Just as great musicians were often taught by earlier great musicians, perhaps religious ideas can only be propagated by word of mouth. Once written down as cue-sheets for the faithful, holy books are sterile and meaningless to potential converts without the word of mouth component. Has anyone ever learned anything important solely from a book? My understanding of the “essence” of statistical inference was conveyed to me by Prof E. J. G. Pitman (then retired) in a single afternoon. He himself had known and learned from world leaders in the field such as Fisher. As a consequence, I think I “get” statistics in a way that others do not.

    1. Surprising to me that no one has taken you up on this, John, by asking the obvious question: what did Pitman tell you?

      I now think of Professor Pitman with something like affection. In particular, I remember scribbling notes on what one could hear of a Pitman Calculus 1 Lecture while standing outside his locked lecture room, along with Stuart Godfrey, another late arriver from the eastern Shore. That was in an old army hut which might have been called a Nissen hut.

      Although I did not take his Statistics courses, Professor Pitman was a great help to me personally, in particular by getting me in to Bernhard Neumann’s new ANU Mathematics Department as a grad student. I well remember Ed Pitman advising me that it was not a good idea to argue publicly, as I did, with my thesis supervisor, Werner Greve, about my honours thesis. To this day, I do not know for sure whether I was correct in that argument with Werner.

  11. Yes, “word of mouth” is so rough that it takes such mentoring as John got from EJG to ever truly “get” what the wise ones were really on about.
    That is, to become a top professional in a more or less uncorrupted discipline.
    So great ideas suffer the same fate as rumour, where tiny changes made by each person in the chain lead to a great ramification.
    Such branching into new space is, though, good raw material for art and other new ideas, creations, via brainstorming and so on.
    Being a pioneering creator is thus opposite to being a respected professional.
    While such “get[ting] what the wise ones were really on about” is important to the latter, it is unnecessary to the former.
    New creations most often grow out of a coarsening of “what the wise ones were really on about”.
    Such is my experience anyway, as an Expressionistic painter, and in my “A Planetary Meta-Geology Super Huge Impact Tectonogenesis Continental Drift Contradictions.”

  12. Blackjay, some brief comments. What is the point of “describing a measurable variation in global average temp lasting for a century or more” if that rise is well within the limits of natural variation. Also, the sample on which you impose your mathematical/statistical analysis is so miniscule as to be meaningless for me at least. “A century or so” compared to even our current climate phase (the Holocene, say 12ka) let alone the last 540 Ma since multi-cellular life came on to the scene. I always give evidence (visible, reality) preference over modelling, particularly when they (models) attempt to be predictive. Over 100 models over the past few decades have not come close to reality as it unfolds. The BoM cannot predict weather one week ahead. By “chaos” I mean unpredictable effects over which we have no control (nor fully understand) influencing climate, including influences from the cosmos. I do not understand the link between chaos and mathematics, but then my maths and statistical understanding is very limited and in the past has been confined to the study of large data sets of sample analyses to determine background and thresholds of which are anomalous. I keep thinking that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere is so small, and that the proportion of anthropogenic CO2 of that is so small, that it loses meaning. Water vapor is by far (80% cf 20%) a more potent greenhouse gas, if you think greenhouse gasses are drivers. Other points to keep in mind – oceans contain at least 50 times more CO2 (dissolved) than the atmosphere. Some ice core data (I don’t know if the ‘rest’ in this study have just not been analysed) show that temperature moved before CO2. In other words, ocean temperatures drive CO2 concentration in atmosphere rather than the other way around. That makes sense to me considering that CO2 is more soluble in cold water (less soluble in warm water and thus emitted, remembering the comparative volumes of contained CO2). And why concern ourselves over warming when cooling is far, far more serious. Indeed after the initial warming that got us clear of the last Ice Age 12 ka ago, the Holocene atmosphere has gradually but consistently cooled. As for looking for pulses in global hydro carbon production, I just don’t see he point. Our time frames are definitely not in sync.

  13. Just a few more comments on your temp data set. CO2 levels rose about 11% between 1975 and 1998 when temps also increased. Yet when CO2 levels increased by 9% between 1998 and 2017, temps did not increase. How come? The rates of temp increases for the periods 1860-1880, 1910-1945-1975, and 1975-1998 are similar (graph slopes parallel, not steepening) when levels of CO2 increased differently, respectively by 0.7%, 1.0%, and 5.0% per decade (thanks Howard). How come? Indeed over the last 155 years, there has been no warming for a total of 70 years (half the time comes close) when CO2 levels increased. Just another way to look at data. For me that is recognizing the forest without losing sight of the trees

  14. Aert – you raise some really good points and I will address them when we finally go public after the paper has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. At that time I will upload a new post and transfer your comments to that thread where appropriate. Meanwhile we have just been rejected by Nature Energy and intend doing a major rewrite before submitting again to a more sympathetic journal. Without Nature’s length constraint the paper can become longer and more explanatory

  15. There is considerable evidence that there is an allele for believing in god and its alternative where the owner cannot believe in god. I’ve examined this somewhat and believe it. Since genes exist, only exist, can only exist, because they contribute to survival of the species, and since both versions of the so called “god gene” flow through the human population all the time, there must be some value in both. It may be the herd effect as mentioned above; even athiests group together; or something else not yet hit on.

    1. Great idea Allan!

      One in ten men are red-green colourblind. Colourblind people are less likely to be fooled by camouflage. Ten men is about the size of a hunting party. It would be advantageous to have one guy who could spot prey (or predators) invisible to the others. Hence a proportion of red-green colourblindness has survival value for the group as a whole. Maybe a proportion of God genes also has survival value for the group as a whole. Gives them hope and the will to live through bad times. (Too many God genes and people stop having sex.)

      Maybe Dawkins’ “selfish gene” is too simplistic.

      A quick look for supporting references came up with these:
      The God gene hypothesis proposes that human spirituality is influenced by heredity and that a specific gene, called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2), predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences. The idea has been proposed by geneticist Dean Hamer in the 2004 book called The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes.

      Humans display wide range of gene mutations which are increasing with time as natural selection takes a back seat in the modern world. Now, a study has linked a lack of belief in god to an increase in genetic mutations in the general population. The study found that religious people tend to live healthier, longer lives than atheists.The study found that left-handedness among atheists has grown since industrialization. Left-handedness is a good marker of a high mutational load.

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