Throughout history the conflicts between religion and the scientific community have been explosive, emotional, violent and, occasionally, deadly.
When we think of science versus religion we often think of Galileo Galilei, whose on-going battle with the Catholic Church resulted in his imprisonment and, ultimately, in his death in 1642.
Galileo is best known for is his studies of astronomy, free fall, and his several inventions. His inventions include the telescope, microscope, compass and thermometer. Galileo studied medicine, philosophy and mathematics and taught mathematics at the University of Pisa and at the University of Padua.
While teaching his theories, Galileo gained a following of students that recognized his genius. In 1616 however, he came into disfavor with the church. Galileo, as a man of science, expressed his support of the Copernican theories that stated the earth and other celestial bodies rotated around the sun.
Unfortunately his teaching directly contradicted the teachings of the church and he was summoned to Rome and reprimanded for his "heresy". In 1633 he was sentenced to life in confinement. Even though his health was declining and became completely blind by 1638, he continued developing his theories and communicated, often in secret with his followers.
Over 300 years after his death, a statement by the Pope before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1992 is interpreted as the official rehabilitation of Galileo by the Catholic Church.
Any time an idea or philosophy becomes a religion it tends to lose all flexibility. True believers defend the orthodoxy at all costs and make every effort to silence, or even imprison or kill opponents.
Ultimately, it tends to all be about power. The church in Galileo's time had enormous power and wealth. It felt terribly threatened by Galileo's ideas. If people no longer believed the earth was the center of the universe, they might not continue to support the church with tithes, taxes and lavish gifts.
Today we have a rather strange twist on the old science versus religion battle. But, in this case, the "religion" is the orthodoxy of "global warming" or, as it is now more properly called, "climate change." The great religious leaders of climate change are still hounding, censuring and trying to silence the scientists who dare to question the established religion.
And, just as in the time of Galileo, it is still about money and power. There is the opportunity for great power and immense wealth in climate control. One Prophet of the new religion, former Vice President Al Gore, has already made millions of dollars, won a Nobel Prize and is poised to make billions. But the issue certainly isn't Al Gore. Governments and corporates stand to gain immense profits and power from the enforcement of climate control regulations.
For some time a rapidly growing number of scientists have realized that climate change models just don't work. We've had global cooling for eleven straight years and it now appears this cycle of cooling will continue for at least twenty more years. In addition, some models point to entirely different, and occasionally more dangerous scenarios going forward. And the solutions being proposed by the established global warming religion might make matters a whole lot worse.
The very unscientific efforts to hide conflicting facts, destroy historical data and marginalize those who dared to question global warming all came to light when a huge series of emails were hacked and then released to the public. And, as is often the case, the cover-up quickly became worse than the original crimes.
The more the established global warming community attempted to explain the email, the obvious it became that the cover-up was long running and unacceptably extensive. The most recent "disclosure" that historical data was destroyed to "save space" is so laughable that all remaining integrity of the climate change community has been lost.
Science will ultimately prevail, as it always does. Those who forecast global may ultimately be proved correct. Or, it may be determined that the global warming heretic's ideas were censured or imprisoned under false pretenses.
But certainly the warnings about the dangers of turning scientific research into a political or religious cult should be learned and heeded.
Excellent articles that should all be read:
Financial Times: Secrecy in science is a corrosive force By Michael Schrage
The Telegraph UK: Climate change: this is the worst scientific scandal of our generation
Associated Press: UK climate scientist to temporarily step down
US News and World Report: Penn State Will Investigate 'Climategate'
Finally, a real and genuine tip o' the Wizard's Pointy Cap to Lee over at Lee's Tid Bits who has been at the leading edge of this controversy for over a year. Like the scientists who dared to question the global warming orthodoxy, Lee has been subject to great harassment and persecution. Lee has constantly held his own. His blog is a must read in my book (for this and for many other reasons, including that he is just a great guy).