I would put it differently. I don’t focus on “feelings”. I push back when people bully me, or bully anyone else, not because of my “feelings” but because of my commitment to rational, Socratic dialogue where bullying is out of place. If there is any “feeling” involved, it’s a feeling of indignation that people with Ph.D.s. are behaving like barroom brawlers instead of calm, dispassionate scholars.
Regarding evolution, I’ve said that common descent seems to me to be a reasonable inference, and I have no better explanation of the data to offer, so I take it as my working understanding. I have questioned only whether the entire process of evolution can be explained by the operation of unplanned, unguided events. It’s quite evident to me that most people posting here believe that it can be so explained. It’s also quite evident to me that they have come nowhere near to demonstrating this.
You are correct to say that I have not opposed evolution to design. In fact, I have scores of times, here and on BioLogos, stressed that I am not doing this, and that I think that evolution, understood as “descent with modification” (a definition Joshua has said is a permissible one), is compatible with a role for design. That people persist in misrepresenting me as “anti-evolution” and “creationist” is a testimony to some defect in their reading comprehension, or to their ill will toward me, or to their deep hang-ups about creationism, or some combination of these.
Since “the scientific consensus” is not here defined, it’s impossible to comment on this. “The scientific consensus” might mean:
1-- The earth has warmed by X degrees in 150 years.
2-- The earth has warmed by X degrees, and among the causes of this are human activities.
3-- The earth has warmed by X degrees, and “most” (no % specified) of this warmth is caused by human activities.
4-- The earth has warmed by X degrees, and all or virtually all of the warming (90% or more) is caused by human activities.
5-- The earth has warmed by X degrees, and all or virtually all of the warming (90% or more) is caused by human activities, and therefore the nations of North America and Europe are morally bound to make drastic cuts to their use of fossil fuels, even if that ends up costing their economies billions of dollars and the loss of many industrial jobs, while India, China, and Third World countries have no such obligation and can continue to pump out CO2 as much as they like (the Kyoto Accord), thus increasing the economic advantage they already have over Western countries; the nations of the West owe it to the world to act like suckers and patsies.
I never contested 1, and clearly stated that I found 2 probable and 3 quite possible. I found 5 a loathsome conclusion driven purely by left-wing globalist politics, nothing to do with science at all. Number 4, I indicated, was highly contestable, and named some undeniably certified climate researchers who questioned it. But even there, I never said 4 was wrong; I merely objected to the angry and violent dismissal of scientists who dared to question it, to the imputation of low motives to those scientists, etc.
All of this discussion took place on BioLogos, years ago. In that discussion, I was attacked viciously, by four or five people, not one of whom had any qualifications in climate science – or any natural science at all. (One of them was a classics major who had not taken a science course since about 10th grade in high school, another someone with a psychology degree whose business was selling latrines (or some such supplies) to the American armed forces in Asia, another a music major who worked for an internet company and raised dogs, etc.) And the main thing I argued, in fact, was not that there was no anthropogenic climate change, but that the claim that “97% of scientists say…” had no warrant, since no one at BioLogos (or anyone else on the planet) could produce any survey that established that “97% of scientists” said such and such. Indeed, it turns out that my instincts back then were right; the 97% number was a complete fabrication, and the history of it – its origin and repetition throughout the popular debate – has since been traced in detail. It was based on a misrepresentation of a literature survey, and the misrepresentation was simply repeated over and over again.
In any case, even supposing that such a survey really existed, “97% of scientists think X” is not an argument for X. It’s an attempt to get people to defer to the view that they happen to like, by stressing that it’s the view held by the majority. In practice, the “97%” rhetoric was a form of intellectual bullying. Real science doesn’t work by saying, “Look, 97% of other scientists agree with this, so it must be right.” Real science doesn’t work by doing surveys of scientific opinions. Real science works by measuring nature.
Basically, the gang of thugs on BioLogos was telling me that because a survey (a survey which not one of them could identify) supposedly indicated that 97% of scientists believed that 90% or more of global warming was caused by human CO2 emissions, I was supposed to accept that conclusion. That’s argument from authority, and not even as good as argument from authority, because they couldn’t even identify the people who were included as the authorities (not having a clue where their 97% number came from). It’s arguing from authority secondhand. And even arguing from authority firsthand is intellectually inadmissible in science or any academic discipline. So I refused to kowtow.
The result was that Jim Stump kicked me off BioLogos, though I had said nothing in that debate which violated any BioLogos rule of charitable discourse. (And Stump even admitted as much to me privately in his email to me, conceding that he was just tired of dealing with the complaints about me – not about my manners but about my contrarian positions. Basically he was caving into pressure from a group of thugs, to keep peace.) It was a good result for me, because I stopped wasting time debating with a bunch of drugstore cowboys who knew nothing about the details of climate science and couldn’t even produce the survey on which their 97% number was based. Stump did me a favor.
Unfortunately, soon after that, PS started up, and some of the thugs moved over from BioLogos to PS, so when I started posting on PS, the same sort of fruitless, head-butting arguments (again from people with zero training, zero publications, and zero credibility in the world of climate studies) started happening again. That’s the way it is on the internet.
(And no, Chris, I won’t apologize for the use of the word “thugs”, even if you say it’s not a “Christian” way of talking about people, so you can save typing effort and not bother admonishing me. The way I was treated on BioLogos was thuggish, and it’s exactly the right word.)
I will not discuss global warming again here, among people whose knowledge of the field is entirely secondhand, and whose opinions on the subject are unimportant, but this should make clear exactly what I was arguing, and what I was not arguing.
Thanks for giving me the chance to speak for myself, instead of imputing views to me without warrant.