NOTE: This is based on a Facebook conversation. It is preserved here for future reference. I deleted my Facebook account in April of 2018.
The opening post (OP) is made by my cousin Tom, and these are his words [typing errors are uncorrected; this was cut-and-pasted]:
“We need to state it plainly. This talk of global warming from CO2 is so far from scientific and based on greed, not concern for doing the right thing. I know many people involved are sincere and confused on the so-called science but its time to see it for what it is. Smart people cannot continue to support this rubbish.
“This is not a political issue although politics are involved. It is clear evidence that our civilization is dying mentally. When well-read citizens and be so concerned with following the crowd that they cannot see truth from lie we are doomed.
“Let me say it plainly, anyone who in any way promotes the idea that we need to change policies to limit CO2 to prevent global warming is engaged in evil. They are working to hurt poor people by higher taxes and costs. They are taking money from programs that can truly help people and better stewardship of the planet.”
He commented thus when he found an article to his liking on a Facebook group called Carbon Dioxide, which is the Facebook presence of a website called “iloveco2.com”. That’s I Love CO2, in case you were napping. The article itself came from a blog called “Rat Nation: exposing the lunacy of liberalism one post at a time,” and its topic was an interview between Sean Hannity and energy industry shill Patrick Moore, a man who pretends to have co-founded Greenpeace (they deny it, and have the papers to prove it). He claims to have left the activist group when they supposedly sold out to climate change hysteria. Now he makes as many public appearances as he can attempting to bolster the claims of climate deniers, especially the kind that make his nuclear industry clients happy.
Tom’s theme throughout the ensuing discussion stays fairly focused on his perception that our nation is losing its ability to reason logically, and his opening argument was to point to how supposedly the IPCC models have been proven wrong, and everyone knows this, and yet they can’t logically reason their way toward ignoring the alleged Big Government political conspiracy of Global Warming and Climate Change.
When commentators debunked Patrick Moore’s claims, and then provided evidence that the IPCC models are actually accurate, Tom went into high gear denial. He simply didn’t engage with the offered rebuttals, and instead skipped right to denying CO2’s role in AGW (as does his favorite weatherman– and climate change denier– Joe Bastardi), and also denying that there’s any consensus amongst climate scientists.
When consensus was shown to be real and genuine, he changed his argument yet again. Now his assertion was that science doesn’t work by consensus, only politics does. After being shown that this was an absurd idea, he circled back around to a favorite theme of his, namely that generally, science isn’t done very well at all. As if to say, when I can find science that bolsters my preconceived conclusions, that’s what you call good science; if lots of scientific evidence appears to disagree with my conclusions, then that’s what is known as junk science; and Tom is the one who decides what’s junk and what’s not.
He then offered a quote by scientist Richard Feynman, and a link to an article in which Feynman expertly attacks modern pseudo-scientific ideas while explaining how science should rely on transparency and openness to whatever direction the evidence takes us, even if it disagrees with previous hypotheses or pet theories. Again, apparently without seeing the irony there.
Around this point in the discussion, Tom said, “Jim and Bill I just want to say I am sorry if my words are harsh. This post is mostly intended for the casual person who doesn’t take AGW as gospel truth. I don’t expect either of you to change. If someone has strong liberal beliefs they would only change if they heard it on NPR and major media. I could show the lack of correlation w CO2 and AGW with graphs prior to 98 as well. We didn’t need the 15 – 18 years of no warming to show there is no correlation. As far as the evil comments about ‘deniers’ the AGW world has ample supply of corrupt people. That is a distraction. What I am asking is to not take sides in the politics but have people think for themselves.”
What isn’t clear is how well Tom takes his own advice and thinks for himself, instead of letting Sean Hannity, and meteorologist/deniers Joe Bastardi and Anthony Watts do his thinking for him. It also isn’t clear that Tom would ever change his strong beliefs, no matter where he heard the evidence coming from.
And a little later, “There is a consensus among those who are politically motivated to want to believe in AGW that it is true but that is not science. Science is a model that works.” Again, ignoring the evidence presented that the models DO work; it’s easier to deny evidence by just pretending it doesn’t exist, and moving on.
And just after that, “Newtonian physics was a consensus refuted by deniers.” Which happens to ignore the irony that Newton’s physics still have explanatory power and that Newton himself was a denier of many of the church’s teachings, which were subsequently shown to be in error by those who took Newton’s teachings to their logical conclusions. The argument from authority here comes back to bite Tom in the butt, especially when he occasionally morphs into Catholic Defenderman.
And, “The primary evidence that CO2’s effect is not well understood is the failure of the IPCC models. It is helpful to do experiments that fail but what is needed is the observational ability to claim them as failures for true science to evolve in a logical manner.” Apparently, only Tom and fellow AGW deniers are logical enough to admit the failures of the IPCC models (never mind that the models haven’t failed.)
Thus, Tom cannot be convinced that IPCC’s models are of any use. They failed, he claims; and as failures, they need to be recognized as such by the larger CC community, discarded, back to the drawing board as it were, so that other more pressing problems can be addressed. Some of Tom’s favorite FB newsfeed soapboxes include EMF toxicity, Jack Kruse’s diet woo, and helping the poor of the world– but the Catholic way since he’s fundamentally anti-government. He’s a hardcore Catholic and defends everything Catholic right down to Bill O’Donohue and the Catholic League.
A Tom Leqoc chimes in eventually, and between the two of them, they set forth historical examples illustrating how the progress of scientific discovery often resulted in an orthodox view, and what they retroactively re-imagine as “denialists.” For example, there once was a time when the earth was believed to be the center of the universe, but Galileo the denialist came along, and eventually won the day. Yay for denialists. There once was a time when Eugenics was acceptable. Denialists saved us from that tragedy. Yay, denialists.
Then Tom injected Catholic theology into the mix, confusingly: “To be scientific one needs to develop a model and show all the data to the world. Show them how to plug in the CO2 data and what it will do to temps. Then they can run it and watch temps agree with real measurements. See Feynman’s article for a better description. This how Aquinas did in the 1200’s in his Summa. He started with objections and transparency. The models were wrong because they claimed an amplified effect of CO2 and now we know that was wrong.”
And later, “Real science takes the time to test prove retest not rush forward and try to drown out skepticism. Real science wants skeptics. St. Augustine gave praise to the heretics because they forced the church to better define doctrine. We need more Feynman’s and less Gore’s.”
Note a switch there, unintentional or not (not sure?): from Aquinas to Augustine. At any rate, Tom sees parallels between how Catholics do theology and how scientists do science. This from a guy who credits western ‘Christian Civilization’ with basically inventing modern science. Which of course flies in the face of the facts about Greek science predating Christianity, and having no influence on Judaism before it. Christianity slowed innovation and learning and questioning down to an anemic trickle during a millennium of dark ages fear-mongering about science.
I keep rereading the OP, and I just cannot wrap my head around it. A later post somewhat backs off from the strident tone of the OP, however, I have listened to Tom hold forth on the topic enough now to know that he does feel strongly about it, and I think his OP actually was an eloquent and accurate reflection of his true feelings on the matter.
Which is why I keep circling back to it, and each time my confusion deepens.
Here are some questions and comments in an attempt to crystallize my confusion, addressed rhetorically in the first person toward Tom; whether I’ll ever direct these at Tom on Facebook remains to be seen:
“Evil.” Context = “anyone who in any way promotes the idea that we need to change policies to limit CO2 to prevent global warming is engaged in evil. They are working to hurt poor people with higher taxes and costs. They are taking money from programs that can truly help people and better stewardship of the planet” (italics mine).
Evil implies malicious motives; it would be difficult to prove motive, as it is in the courts, but punishments of criminal behavior are handed down every day based on judgments of others’ motives. Share two or three of your most damning exhibits of evidence, Tom, which lead you to impugn the motives of climate scientists and/or their policy-maker allies in government. Just two or three, but no less, please; the charge of evil intent is rather extraordinary, so let’s have more than guessing and circumstantial evidence. No witch hunt testimony, if you please!
“They are working to hurt poor people” is your sub-claim. Please let your evidence also demonstrate that there are climate scientists or climate policymakers motivated by a desire to hurt poor people. You will need to show that instead of being well-intentioned public servants and scientists whose concern for the future of their children and the planet are instead putting all that on as a show; it’s a sham, an act, and underneath their pretended fears for the future of the human race, there is nothing but base greed for gain (this is the essence of your claim).
“Greed.” Context = “This talk of global warming from CO2 is so far from scientific and based on greed, not concern for doing the right thing.”… “They are working to hurt poor people by higher taxes.” Not that you’re a fossil fuel industry shill, or even necessarily a fan, but your tax dollars have been subsidizing US oil companies since their founding right up to the present (and subsidies of alternative energy sectors have thus far paled, by comparison). That, too, represents Robin Hood in reverse, since the industry hasn’t needed those tax breaks for decades even though they continue taking them, and each dollar of subsidy is a dollar we cannot spend on more worthy programs, like job training, small business loans, scholarships, food stamps, unemployment, and extending health care to the least of these our brethren. Do you fight as passionately against that kind of corporate socialist welfare waste as you do against misbegotten scientific pursuits?
And to flip it around a little: Inasmuch as greed and self-interested actions form the basis of the American free market system, and inasmuch as competitive strategies currently legally include lobbying for as much political and policy support as can be afforded by profit margins, then why are we criticizing what some are calling the “Global Warming Industry” for following the highly successful examples of the military industrial complex, the health insurance industry, the financial industry, and the energy industry? Why is corporate socialism only evil for green energy motivated by climate change, and not evil in any other industry?
And if we admit that all these evils are equal, and we should stop robbing our poorest to subsidize our wealthiest, let’s start with the oldest offenders and work our way to the present.
“Doomed.” Context = “I know many people involved are sincere and confused on the so called science but its [sic] time to see it for what it is. Smart people cannot continue to support this rubbish. This is not a political issue although politics are involved. It is clear evidence that our civilization is dying mentally. When well read citizens and [sic] be so concerned with following the crowd that they cannot see truth from lie we are doomed.”
Seeing “it for what it is,” is, presumably, the evil mentioned above, the damage done to poor people. What damage is being done to poor people by climate scientists that isn’t being done a thousand-fold more by a fossil-fuel dependent American economy hijacked by the radical libertarian policies of the Tea Party?
What about your church, whose leadership perpetuates money-laundering of the wealthiest criminals’ blood-money and obfuscates law-enforcement efforts to bring their pedophile priests and the bishops who protect them to justice? All while enthroned in a golden temple surrounded by priceless art and architecture which, if ever auctioned off, could finance world-changing efforts to raise the poorest women of the world out of grinding poverty by means of loans and education. It seems that religion and ideology-driven pseudo-science spells “DOOM” for civilization far more than climate science does.
Anti-liberal, anti-secular ideology is found in virtually all of the sources to which Tom links, such as Sean Hannity and his employer, Fox News (the original source breadcrumb-linked to Tom’s OP), and the ideologically poisoned website “ILoveCO2.com”. By cherry-picking his sources, or rather, pruning them of any possibly inconvenient truth-containing content, Tom is able to pretend to rely on a wide variety of evidence, and convince himself that like a good scientist, he’s just following the evidence wherever it leads him. What he isn’t admitting is that he’s already decided where the evidence must lead him, and he’s guiding his own research in order to make sure he gets to the same a priori conclusions every time. This is the modern Christian’s modus operandi when they approach science in order to use it to bolster their own religious and ideological world-views.
New topic, same voice discussing it.
The link in the OP (Opening Post, i.e., the discussion topic) connected to militant defender of Catholicism (head of the US-based Catholic League) William O’Donohue being schooled on the logic of providing children with loving families, whether the parents are hetero- or homosexual.
The discussion was wide-ranging, and included evidence that Mother Teresa doesn’t deserve the praise she gets, or a sainthood; lots of back and forth on historical evidences of church fallibility and imperfection, including the child-abuse scandal; a particular detour spotlighting the fact that the church as changed its doctrines over the past 2000 years; and eventually back to homosexuality. At one point, a Danny Klopovic (from another group I post in occasionally) jumped in to argue that the church’s original pacifist doctrines have been changed by the Catholic Church to justify war.
Tom’s initial loyalty to his church emerges early in the discussion, as he clings to the idea that a few bad apples (or even if a majority of the apples are bad, or even all of them) doesn’t change the fact that God is in charge of his church. When pressed on the child abuse scandal, for example, his first reaction is misdirection: abuse is worse in other sectors, like the Protestant and secular world.
Then he repeats a popular two-pronged trope of Catholic apologists: the child abuse scandal is 1) not really children but “post-pubescents,” and 2) mostly due to allowing homosexuals into the clergy, a problem he insists is now solved.
Then he repeats his initial loyalty idea: “remember all sins are due to individuals not following the church (Christ’s) teaching.”
Tom cannot draw a line from the massive historical and contemporary record of violence, corruption, and abuse within the church’s leadership connecting to the weak, fallible authorities the church uses to teach itself its doctrine. The authorities of the church include fallible popes, changeable teachings, the writings of corrupted medieval ‘church fathers,’ and the Catholic version of the Scripture as taught by the Catechism. To Tom, there is no connection; Catholic theology is a science established by Aquinas and perfected over intervening centuries of church councils; the writings used by the theologians are perfect in that God inspired them and all who teach them, and no amount of evidence will convince Tom otherwise.
So what Tom has done is begun with a conclusion: The Church has not changed over the last 2000 years, it has survived many attacks over those years intact and preserved pure Gospel teaching as God’s vessel for the truth about Himself. Beginning with that conclusion, and turning to the church’s own repositories of documents justifying its own existence (which is in almost endless supply by this late date in its history), Tom unsurprisingly finds an endless supply of evidence to confirm his presuppositions and biases. If anyone offers evidence in conflict with his conclusion, he cannot see it or hear it. He sweeps it aside and refuses to consider it. He has many fallacies handy to use in his own defense, like misdirection, pseudo-science, and special pleading.
That last is probably his most often used. At one point, pressed on the cover-up of abuse by high church officials, he goes back to defending his initial presupposition like a champ: “there is no skirting of this being a huge evil but it is the allowing of secular sinful practices to invade the church. The churches guilty of not being Catholic enough.”
He even uses the terminology of science and skepticism as he pursues confirmation bias, often repeating phrases similar to this: “We should be about following the truth here no matter where it leads,” apparently immune to the irony there.
When presented with the stance against homosexual discrimination and shaming taken by the professional organizations AMA and APA, Tom’s response is dismissive, “Jim AMA and APA are political organizations,” and a crack about posting opinions on business from the American Communist Party (so what if we did? Wouldn’t that be following evidence wherever it leads? As we see, some evidence just isn’t allowed to be considered).
When presented with evidence answering his claim that the science is settled and homosexuality has no genetic connection, the links offered were properly conservative about their claims. In other words, they did not try to claim too much; they merely showed that the science is not all in on this, that much remains to be researched, BUT thus far, there is much that leads us to conclude that there are strong components of genetics and biology explaining the minority who are homosexual in orientation. I suppose the fact that room was left for future research, or the fact that room was left for a percentage of gay lifestyles to have been choice-driven rather than biologically determined was all Tom needed. His surprising reply to this was, “I see you found a link that shows HS is not genetic. Done there.”
When presented with evidence that Vatican II changed church dogma on whether you have to be Catholic to be saved (from Yes to Not Necessarily), the evidence linked to had been compiled by Catholic women trying to change church teaching on women in the priesthood. They reference Vatican documents, but Tom cannot see it, he chooses instead this reaction: “Nothing has changed. Poorly researched links by anti-Catholics not scholarly. Just read what was taught in the 1st century,” and links to the Didache.
After dealing with that misdirection and pressing Tom on the change in Vatican teaching, he returns to special pleading: “VII teaches clearly that there is no salvation outside the church as previous but explained it better. Catholic theology has always taught baptism of desire for example. Christ knows the depth of every mans heart better than himself and if someone responds as best they can to what grace they have God will save. One does not need to go by the ordinary means of sacramental life (ie thief on the cross wasn’t baptized). …Many will get to heaven and only then understand the true meaning of church. Remember Catholic means universal so it means what was practiced across the Mediterranean in the first century. There is no change in teaching here only a better explanation. That was the whole point of VII is not to change but to explain the faith to the modern world.”
When FURTHER pressed with a clear side-by-side comparison of infallible statements in conflict with each other, he takes his special pleading to a new octave: “Jim all those old statements are true and VII doesn’t change them. What a reader who does not understand the meaning of church might infer is that you have to be a card-carrying Catholic to get to heaven. God understands how individuals can be confused and yet seek God in a sincere way. The church has always taught that one must freely accept the faith but finally put into doctrine in the 700’s that conversion by force is sinful. If anyone in history forced conversion that was in direct conflict with Catholic teaching.”
A few (as far as I can tell) non-sequitur remarks are tossed in: “This same logic [note application of science/skeptic terminology] applies to someone inside the church proper. I could not follow the letter of the law out of ignorance yet be sincere in my heart and God understands. By the letter of the law missing mass on Sunday is mortal sin so by the same logic if objectively not following Catholic teaching lost your salvation about 80% of modern practicing Catholics wouldn’t be saved.”
Back to special pleading: “Papal infallibility was established by Christ and cannot be taken away by man. That is like saying the church should get away from sin, the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. She didn’t choose it and doesn’t have the power to remove it.”
Toss in a non-sequitur: “On the practical side its nice in the cozy modern era to be critical of the Christians who were getting massacred by Islam. [return to special pleading]There were many sinners in the church over the last 2000 years but that was predicted by Christ and should be no surprise to anyone with a cursory understanding of the New Testament.”
So we can see then that no matter what sinful corrupt behavior of Catholics one could dredge up for Tom, including Popes and Church Fathers themselves, perhaps even saints like Teresa, Tom’s gift of special pleading allows him to vault over it, and appeal to a yet-older authority. In this case, he got all the way back to AD 633, insisting that the Council of Toledo’s injunction against forcing Jews to convert was the TRUE teaching, and the many ways in which the Inquisition and the Crusades just happened to ignore that injunction were, well, bad apples in essence.
He doesn’t mind vaulting back even further, claiming that Bible teaching is Catholic doctrine, even though that claim is subject to its own brand of special pleading and pliable interpretation. Facebook user Danny Klopovic later points out the changes made in church teaching on the use of military violence; Tom’s special pleading goes back to Christ: “Danny you are just saying there were sinners in the church. Christ predicted that. More proof of her divine guidance.”
And later, to Danny’s insistence that Tom should answer the charge of a change in war dogma, Tom pleads this: “2000 years of saints working for the poor in slums disagree with you. You will know by the fruits. The Catholic Church built western civ. what did any other denomination bring?” and also this: “The violence was defending from the attack of Islam and Protestants. Not denying sins in church but that is not doctrine. It is sinful to not defend oneself and the weak.”
When Danny finally gives up attempting to pierce Tom’s airtight circular reasoning (“The Church has always been perfect, therefore everything the Church has ever done or taught must have always been perfect; anything imperfect done in the name of the church therefore cannot be credited to the church”), Tom returns to it yet again, pleading this: “Danny to the extent the church has been violent it is not following Christ and that is obvious my point is separating doctrine from sinful practice. I agree that others have their faults like not practicing the sacrament of the Eucharist and it is not their fault in most cases. My ancestors are Puritans and I am proud of their sincerity despite their doctrinal errors. Let us pray that we can all be one. Unity comes through the love of Christ and pleased to have this discussion with you brother.”
There appear to be no heights to which Tom’s special pleading will not go to reinforce his initial presupposition that the Church cannot err (even when it does err). Including these gems taken at random:
“Most of history is scrubbed of the involvement of the church. In secular history, you don’t learn how the church developed universities, hospitals, and science. All you typically get is some garbage about the dark ages followed by Luther saving the world. The church changed a western pagan culture that would have seen Hitler as another Caesar and never thought him evil to a moral culture that sees him as a monster. The difference is the church and its effect on moral thought. It has changed the world in a dramatic way. There would be no UN and concern for the environment if it weren’t for the church. The secular culture has adopted some Christian morals but does not know where they came from.”
Also, he tosses out a link to a book with the title: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization
Tom has the last word on the conversation at the time of this writing. I had supplied a link to the book I recently finished reading on these topics, Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church. This book provides overwhelming proof that all versions of Christianity, Catholicism included, are simply man-made and bear no marks of divine creation.
Here are Tom’s twin replies:
- “Jim your quote I like: From it: ‘The fact is that there is no clear reliable authority in the Christian Church, or any of its many branches. Orthodoxy has developed according to the tastes of the dominant factions of the moment.’ It should be logical that if there is no authority at first it cannot develop later. There is either the authority of the Catholic church or Christ lied and left it alone for men to develop. As far as your statement re man made religion that is spot on for denominations that point to men as their origin. By that I don’t mean a spiritual connection to someone in the first century but that their sect started with Luther or Zwingli. The divine sign of the Catholic church is that it spread very fast yet where the leaders had no or little control (ie Paul’s letters describing problems). Under this persecuted and powerless church all doctrine was established. The mode your author most likely takes is very Hegelian and sees all human development in an Darwinian sort of evolution. The mean dominant group beat up the weak and established orthodoxy through power, etc. This was not possible in the early church. Later yes but at that time doctrine was already well established (and Catholic). If there is not divine intervention and guidance you get division as you see in the 30k divisions of Protestantism.”
- “That is why I love when people point out the many sins of the church or more precisely its members. The more you know about the bad church history the more you should question why it is still here. Some of the best tried to kill it. Napolean, Islam, Henry VIII, Luther, Hitler, Stalin come to mind. And those not as damaging as incompetence within. How can you trust any organization to not split in many parts and change teaching? Men can’t provide unity but God can. The church is a hospital for sinners not a collections of the elect.”It truly is possible to be Gish Galloped when debating facts with a believer. When they freely use fallacious strategies like the non-sequitur, it can severely hamper your ability to weed out their actual replies from the off-topic rants. When they toss in so much special pleading that universes of documented evidence are ably swept aside in favor of their a priori conclusion, it withers your mind’s ability to see any point in the discussion. And when it all streams out at breakneck speed like a fire-hose, and especially when it’s accompanied by just the right amount of snark, one cannot help but conclude that arguing with a believer is often a lost cause.
One can only hope to plant seeds of good reasoning in the bad soil of believers’ terrible abuse of logic and rational thought. Another conclusion I’m forced to is that taken by my previous post, Credulity. To return to that topic a bit, I am reinforced in my theory stated there that once a person embraces religious beliefs, perhaps especially Christian religious beliefs, one is thereby opening oneself to all manner of other erroneous ways of perceiving reality, including pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.
Tom’s climate contrarianism is usually bolstered by his own claims of conspiracy. He claims we are being lied to. He seems to truly believe that a conspiracy is afoot, with so-called ‘limousine liberals’ calling the shots, to dupe the world’s nations into thinking that CO2 is bad for the environment, and to make money off of their endeavors to reduce or eliminate emissions of CO2. A simpler explanation (a la Occam) would be that the consensus on climate change is actually correct, but to believers who have already tossed out Occam’s razor in favor of the convoluted teachings of Christianity, that’s not good enough. Conspiracy makes more sense to them. Pre-loaded with their a priori conclusion that climate change cannot be caused by human actions, their confirmation bias cherry picks through the abundant orchards of denial supplied by the industry and their many crackpot ‘think-tanks’ and bloggers. The poor, defenseless oil, coal, and natural (fracktural) gas industries should say hail Marys to thank God for their courageous defenders in people like Tom.
It’s the same with his Catholic supremacy theories. His presupposition is that Jesus himself found the Catholic Church, and has never stopped guiding it. If the church’s critics turn up the heat too high, Tom cries ‘Conspiracy!’, ‘anti-catholicism!’, ‘bigotry!’, and alternates such cries with heroic special pleading, betraying such an unthinking loyalty that he deserved an honorary clerical title: “The church is the source of all things good- Science, Morality, Philosophy, Logic, Environmentalism, the U.N., Hospitals, Universities, Western Civilization!”
Tom has elsewhere asserted that EMF radiation from wireless and microwave technology is part of a cover-up of the known science proving it is a carcinogenic toxin constantly bathing us all in a danger yet-unforeseen (but it can’t be good).
He has also claimed that the USDA (or was it the FDA? probably both) have conspired to misinform the public on the topic of nutrition; luckily, Dr. Jack Kruse and his version of an optimized lifestyle and diet (think paleo on steroids) is around to set us all straight on that.
There’s no point arguing with someone who has a priori conclusions; they will always feel that they are allowed to trump any evidence which disagrees with their presuppositions. Especially is this the case with people like Tom, who also know a lot about science and logic and philosophy, and aren’t afraid to name-drop and term-drop from the ranks of those who (if they knew he was referencing them in his own defense would spin in their graves) actually HAVE set our society toward a brighter future for all their efforts to draw humanity away from superstition, religion, and pseudoscience.
To Tom, HE is the one being logical (presumably because he’s in the correct church, the one which invented philosophy and logic), HE is the one properly using science (after all, his church invented science), HE is the one with the correct perspective on moral questions (since his church is the God-ordained repository of morality). Tom has decided the above conclusions ahead of any argument you wish to bring to him. He is unable to justify his long loyalty to his church without such a priori conclusions and his free exercise of confirmation bias, cherry-picking, special pleading, and flat out ignoring evidence when it is too detrimental to those conclusions.
And THAT is the clearest case study I can present that Christianity is indeed a harmful delusion. From my experience, it makes me sad, since I was right there where Tom is, valiantly (I thought at that time) fighting the good fight, defending the faith. I was very certain of everything I believed, and certain also that God was pleased with me for that certainty and for taking up the fight against his enemies in the Facebook discussions, in the chat rooms, in the comments sections, and in every corner of the Internet it could be found.
I am saddened because of the years I lost, giving my mind over to such wasteful and harmful misuse. And because of the many people I misled on the Internet and, (worse), in my private school classrooms. Humanity needs to shed its superstitions, stop clinging to its outmoded religious modes of morality, and embrace being good without God–the only way to truly be good and to truly benefit the well-being of all our fellow humans.
We need a truly secular society, a science-based society, one which allows for the few to retain their individual faith traditions, will not allow its increasingly humanist majority to be held back any more by the powerful and corrupting anti-scientific forces within organized religious and pseudoscience lobbying organizations.
UPDATE 3/26/2014 ON AGW PORTION:
“Given this broad agreement on the fundamentals of climate science, what cognitive mechanism would underlie people’s dissent from the consensus? We suggest that if a person rejects an overwhelming scientific consensus, such as the one for climate science, then that person needs to deny that the consensus emerged as the result of researchers converging independently on the same evidence-based view. Rejection of the scientific consensus thus calls for an alternative explanation of the very existence of that consensus.
“The ideation of a secretive conspiracy among researchers can serve as such an explanation (Diethelm & McKee, 2009; McKee & Diethelm, 2010; Smith & Leiserowitz, 2012). Moreover, the ideation of a conspiracy may also serve as a “fantasy theme” that permits groups to develop and share a symbolic reality. Such fantasy themes (e.g., the denier as “Galileo” who opposes a corrupt iron-fisted establishment) operate as bonding agents that build group cohesion by creating a shared social reality. Fantasy themes are known to play a major role in climate denial (McKewon, 2012b, 2012a),”
Note the use of ‘Galileo fantasy’ in the AGW-related discussion.