Post Author: Bill Pratt
A recent NY Times article linked people who are skeptical about evolution with people who are skeptical about global warming. The author noted that there seems to be a correlation, that if you doubt one, then you likely doubt the other.
This really has me thinking about why that is, as there is no obvious connection between them. I am a skeptic of both, but for different reasons.
My initial skepticism about evolution came from my religious views, because I was taught that only a young earth (which does not accommodate evolution) could align with the creation accounts in the Bible. As I researched both biblical interpretation and the science behind evolution, I eventually moved to a new position.
I now believe that the earth is probably old and that this fits with literal interpretations of the Bible. I also understand, though I don’t necessarily agree with, why common descent (the idea that all plants and animals are part of a gigantic family tree) is the dominant theory of the origins of species: it has a lot of explanatory power and there’s not a more developed contender out there right now.
But I think that the evolutionary community has no idea what the mechanisms are that would modify plants and animals to the massive extent we see. Natural selection and random mutation just don’t cut it. Other proposed mechanisms likewise remain utterly unconvincing to me. Evolutionary theorists constantly provide micro-evolutionary mechanisms as examples of how macro-evolution works over long periods of time. The extrapolations don’t convince me.
What about global warming? I started out skeptical of global warming because it was being exclusively evangelized by political liberals, whom I generally distrust as people who value intentions over truth. I moved beyond that initial skepticism and tried to think about it scientifically. As an engineer, I understand how to analyze data and how to test models, and I fail to see how it is possible to accurately model the global climate over long periods of time, given the multitude of variables that must go into these climate models and the incredible uncertainty of predicting climate changes in the distant future.
I must admit that my attempts to understand climate change science have been meager, so my skepticism is weaker than for Darwinian evolution. At this point, I’m open to being convinced global warming is true, but I still lean toward skepticism because of my initial intuitions about it.
So, what is the common denominator for me? I started out suspecting evolution for religious reasons, and I started out suspecting global warming for political reasons.
I am conservative politically and I am a believer in traditional Christianity, but these don’t necessarily go together. It seems like there must be something deeper. The author Thomas Sowell possibly offers an explanation. In his book, A Conflict of Visions, he argues that a person’s view of the nature and capability of man drives opinions about political, moral, judicial, economic, and even scientific matters (see my post on his book). His theory makes a lot of sense; maybe he has found the common link.
I don’t have any certain answers to this question, but I’m very curious to know what others think. What about you? Are you skeptical about both of these issues? Why or why not? Please register your vote in the poll below and leave us some comments about your choices.