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Analyzing the climate change debate

By Osy Ekwueme

I am still amazed that discussions about climate change are so political. It should be purely scientific but it turns more into a religious-like belief, despite the fact that scientific evidence of Global Warming does not make belief in God obsolete. One needs to understand the difference between climate and weather. Many on the list of deniers are not scientists but local weathermen-confusing weather with climate. Weather is a component of climate, but there are others, most notably time; time as in decades, centuries and millennia. It is absurd to accept information about climate change from politicians, big business or radio/TV talk show hosts and the like.

Anyone approaching this matter with “an agenda” (an agenda other than scientific rationale and methods) is doing anyone who listens to them a real injustice. This is not a political issue and screaming epithets at “liberal” or “conservative” viewpoints will not help. Sadly, there is a part of the population who can only see things in an adversarial political way. If you told them it was raining, it would be a conspiracy to take away the freedoms of dry people and because rain was falling on everyone it would be meteorological socialism.

So a global conspiracy of data-backed science used against the interest of humanity, launched by the smartest people we know in all nations, is more credible than the fact that the climate is changing due to pollution and environmental abuse. Wow. It takes a special kind of voluntary ignorance of an almost incandescent quality!

“97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position”.


Once again, science never intended or intends to make belief in God obsolete. Men of faith should be at peace with their belief in God, whatever you conceive Him to be. As a medical doctor and a researcher, I employ science to decipher human biology and treat disease. As a person of faith, I look to my religious tradition for the touchstones of a moral life.  Neither science nor faith need contradict the other; in fact, if one appreciates the essence of each, they can enrich each other in person’s life.

So, the question of obsolescence is miscast, because science and faith should exist in separate realms. Science uses logic and experimental methods to measure and describe the material world….like this absolute weather change and warming of the earth. This has been proven to be true beyond reasonable doubts, by majority of scientists worldwide. Science has no moral valence. It is neutral. DNA technology can craft a cure for a cancer or produce a weapon of bio-terrorism. It is only a person’s application of science that takes on moral dimension.

In that light, an atheist creates his or her own moral precepts in the absence of God.  A believer looks to religious texts for guidance in what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong, for both, do not come from physics or chemistry or biology. Science does not instruct how to treat one’s  neighbor  as oneself, how to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, why it is wrong to murder, steal, bear false witness, honor one’s father and mother, and perhaps most difficult of all, subsume envy and covetousness.

Furthermore, science itself does not contradict the hypothesis of God. Rather, it gives us a window on a dynamic and creative universe that expands our appreciation of the Divine in ways that could not have been imagined in ages past. Far from making belief in God obsolete, some interpretations of modern science provide positive reinforcement for belief in God. The methodology of the natural sciences requires the formulation of fruitful questions about the nature of the world that can be answered by careful and repeatable observations.  The use of controlled experiments aids the construction of illuminating schemes of classification or of  casual hypotheses that explain why things are as they are. The development of mathematical techniques for describing and predicting observable regularities is usually an important part of a scientific approach to the world…..just like the warming of the globe.

There are many different sorts of natural science, from the patient observations of botany and ethology to the more theory-laden hypotheses of quantum cosmology.  What is their relation to belief in God? The answer depends on how one defines God. I shall adopt the rather minimal view that God is a non-physical being of consciousness and intelligence or wisdom, who creates the universe for the sake of distinctive values that the universe generates.

I don’t get it. Where is the value in denying climate change? Even if all the scientists are wrong, what’s wrong with reducing our polluting of the atmosphere? Parents baby-proof their homes even though the chances of a total accident are less than 1%, so why not “baby-proof” the climate?

Osy Ekwueme MD, PhD.

Knight of Columbus (WI. USA), Medical professional and Policy analyst

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