Saturday, August 30, 2008

Global Warming & Evolution

Per the Washington Post: "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location," Gov. Palin said. "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made." The theory of the (tiny minority of) scientists who accept the reality of global warming but question the significance of human contributions to it is that over the course of geological time, the Earth goes through periods of cooling and warming, and that it's just a coincidence that the current period of warming coincides with unprecedented human release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

That's a doubtful theory on its own, but note a key premise: geological time, measured in hundreds of millions of years, substantially longer than the six or so thousand years since the beginning of time according to the Biblical account of creation. So, someone who believes in the literal truth of the Biblical story of creation would seem to be unable to rely on evidence of the Earth's warming and cooling cycles over a course of years that they believe did not occur.

It's not entirely clear whether Gov. Palin believes in the "young Earth" version of creationism or even whether she's committed to creationism. As this article at the time of her gubernatorial race makes clear, when asked in a debate, she gave support to the (unconstitutional) idea of teaching creationism alongside evolution, but later backpedaled a bit to say that she wouldn't push a requirement for creationism in Alaska public school science curricula, and that she simply wouldn't prohibit "discussion" of creationism should the issue happen to arise. That's fair enough.

And so perhaps the challenge isn't for Gov. Palin herself (although it could be; we, or at least I, don't know enough about her actual views right now). But in any event, there is a glaring problem here for the apparently substantial number of our fellow citizens who both believe in young Earth creationism and question the contribution to global warming.

Posted by Mike Dorf