Kerby Anderson on New Atheists, Don’t Label Christians as Anti-Science

Christians believe in science and religious liberty. Skeptics might question the first part of that statement because we often hear that Christians are anti-scientific. That has been the mantra from many of the leaders of what has come to be known as the New Atheists.

The liberal media have come up with labels they slap on anyone who strays from the current orthodoxy. Question a scientific model, and you quickly get labelled as a “science denier.” Participate in a protest over a draconian order promulgated by a governor or mayor, and you receive the label “virus denier.” But let’s analyze what is going on.

A frequent phrase used these days is that we need “to trust the science.” But I have found that often “trust the science” really means “trust the model,” which is not the same thing. Computer models are used to predict everything from the climate to the economy. Often, they are inaccurate. Asking legitimate questions about these models and their assumptions is appropriate and not “anti-science.”

When I was in graduate school at Yale University, many of us worked with professors who had developed computer models attempting to understand more about the environment. These models, written in FORTRAN and somewhat primitive, helped me learn two valuable lessons.

First, you need good data for the model to accurately predict the future. No doubt you have seen the word GIGO that stands for “garbage in, garbage out.” If the data you have for a pandemic model comes from China or Iran, you may not have good data.

Second, a good model also needs to be based upon accurate assumptions. If you don’t account for the impact of mitigation procedures, you are going to come to scary conclusions about the infection rate and the death rate.

Should we have some skepticism about the models used to predict the future? Let’s look at two models currently being used in our public policy debates about the climate or the economy. In any discussion about climate change, you are likely to hear someone say we need “to trust the science.” But they usually mean, that you should believe the science model. Unfortunately, the climate models that were developed back in the 1990s predicted rising temperatures. Instead, we had a “warming hiatus” that lasted for nearly a decade and a half. Global temperatures essentially remained flat. If the model was off during the first part of the 21st century, why should we believe the predictions about global temperatures for the rest of the century? It’s a question worth asking. But if you ask it, you are usually labelled as a “climate denier.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Kerby Anderson

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