Any idea that needs a law to protect it from criticism is ipso facto a bad idea.
That is our own maxim. We repeat it often. It cannot be repeated often enough.
There used to be laws, in Western secular states, protecting religious ideas; usually the ideas of a particular religion favored by the state. The crime was called “blasphemy”.
Such a crime, carrying severe punishment, including the death sentence, still exists in Islamic countries.
And the crime still exists in Communist countries. As Communists do not acknowledge their ideology to be a religion, they do not call it blasphemy. It is called an offense against the state, or “dissidence”. It was often treated as a mental illness in the Soviet Union. It was also often punished by execution, not only in Russia but wherever the iron fist of the Soviet regime was the law.
In America the First Amendment to the Constituion, as everybody knows, enshrined freedom of belief and freedom of speech. Yet there lingers in the mores of the American people, generation after generation, the notion that religious beliefs should not be publicly criticized. Such criticism is felt to be a discourtesy at best, and at worst an actual defiance of the First Amendment itself!
Even some scientists respect this social taboo.
We quote a good article on the subject from the New Yorker, by Lawrence M. Krauss:
As a physicist, I do a lot of writing and public speaking about the remarkable nature of our cosmos, primarily because I think science is a key part of our cultural heritage and needs to be shared more broadly. Sometimes, I refer to the fact that religion and science are often in conflict; from time to time, I ridicule religious dogma. When I do, I sometimes get accused in public of being a “militant atheist”. Even a surprising number of my colleagues politely ask if it wouldn’t be better to avoid alienating religious people. Shouldn’t we respect religious sensibilities, masking potential conflicts and building common ground with religious groups so as to create a better, more equitable world?
I found myself thinking about those questions this week as I followed the story of Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who directly disobeyed a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and, as a result, was jailed for contempt of court. Davis’s supporters, including the Kentucky senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul, are protesting what they believe to be an affront to her religious freedom. It is “absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties”, Paul said, on CNN.
The Kim Davis story raises a basic question: To what extent should we allow people to break the law if their religious views are in conflict with it? It’s possible to take that question to an extreme that even Senator Paul might find absurd: imagine, for example, a jihadist whose interpretation of the Koran suggested that he should be allowed to behead infidels and apostates. Should he be allowed to break the law? Or — to consider a less extreme case — imagine an Islamic-fundamentalist county clerk who would not let unmarried men and women enter the courthouse together, or grant marriage licenses to unveiled women. For Rand Paul, what separates these cases from Kim Davis’s? The biggest difference, I suspect, is that Senator Paul agrees with Kim Davis’s religious views but disagrees with those of the hypothetical Islamic fundamentalist.
The problem, obviously, is that what is sacred to one person can be meaningless (or repugnant) to another. That’s one of the reasons why a modern secular society generally legislates against actions, not ideas. No idea or belief should be illegal; conversely, no idea should be so sacred that it legally justifies actions that would otherwise be illegal. Davis is free to believe whatever she wants, just as the jihadist is free to believe whatever he wants; in both cases, the law constrains not what they believe but what they do.
In recent years, this territory has grown murkier. Under the banner of religious freedom, individuals, states, and even — in the case of Hobby Lobby — corporations have been arguing that they should be exempt from the law on religious grounds. (The laws from which they wish to claim exemption do not focus on religion; instead, they have to do with social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.) The government has a compelling interest in insuring that all citizens are treated equally. But “religious freedom” advocates argue that religious ideals should be elevated above all others as a rationale for action. In a secular society, this is inappropriate.
The Kim Davis controversy exists because, as a culture, we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free, not more. Religious liberty should mean that no set of religious ideals are treated differently from other ideals. Laws should not be enacted whose sole purpose is to denigrate them, but, by the same token, the law shouldn’t elevate them, either.
In science, of course, the very word “sacred” is profane. No ideas, religious or otherwise, get a free pass. The notion that some idea or concept is beyond question or attack is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking. This commitment to open questioning is deeply tied to the fact that science is an atheistic enterprise. “My practice as a scientist is atheistic,” the biologist J.B.S. Haldane wrote, in 1934. “That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.” It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.
Because science holds that no idea is sacred, it’s inevitable that it draws people away from religion. The more we learn about the workings of the universe, the more purposeless it seems. Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world. Even so, to avoid offense, they sometimes misleadingly imply that today’s discoveries exist in easy harmony with preëxisting religious doctrines, or remain silent rather than pointing out contradictions between science and religious doctrine. It’s a strange inconsistency, since scientists often happily disagree with other kinds of beliefs. Astronomers have no problem ridiculing the claims of astrologists, even though a significant fraction of the public believes these claims. Doctors have no problem condemning the actions of anti-vaccine activists who endanger children. And yet, for reasons of decorum, many scientists worry that ridiculing certain religious claims alienates the public from science. When they do so, they are being condescending at best and hypocritical at worst.
Ultimately, when we hesitate to openly question beliefs because we don’t want to risk offense, questioning itself becomes taboo. It is here that the imperative for scientists to speak out seems to me to be most urgent. As a result of speaking out on issues of science and religion, I have heard from many young people about the shame and ostracism they experience after merely questioning their family’s faith. Sometimes, they find themselves denied rights and privileges because their actions confront the faith of others. Scientists need to be prepared to demonstrate by example that questioning perceived truth, especially “sacred truth”, is an essential part of living in a free country.
I see a direct link, in short, between the ethics that guide science and those that guide civic life. Cosmology, my specialty, may appear to be far removed from Kim Davis’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, but in fact the same values apply in both realms. Whenever scientific claims are presented as unquestionable, they undermine science. Similarly, when religious actions or claims about sanctity can be made with impunity in our society, we undermine the very basis of modern secular democracy. We owe it to ourselves and to our children not to give a free pass to governments — totalitarian, theocratic, or democratic — that endorse, encourage, enforce, or otherwise legitimize the suppression of open questioning in order to protect ideas that are considered “sacred”. Five hundred years of science have liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance. We should celebrate this openly and enthusiastically, regardless of whom it may offend.
If that is what causes someone to be called a militant atheist, then no scientist should be ashamed of the label.
We have said it is a good article. And what we have quoted, we heartily agree with.
But we left out one paragraph (where the dots are).
Here it is:
This reticence can have significant consequences. Consider the example of Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers are calling for a government shutdown unless federal funds for Planned Parenthood are stripped from spending bills for the fiscal year starting October 1st. Why? Because Planned Parenthood provides fetal tissue samples from abortions to scientific researchers hoping to cure diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer. (Storing and safeguarding that tissue requires resources, and Planned Parenthood charges researchers for the costs.) It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, this tissue would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?
Either the author did not watch the videos that recorded Planned Parnethood personnel talking about their trade in the body parts of aborted fetuses, or he did not hear, or chose to forget, some statements they made. The videos make it perfecty clear that the organization was not just selling the parts in order to cover costs, but carryng on the trade for profit.
Now we have nothing against trade for profit. On the contrary, we think the making of profit is the morally best and most socially useful reason for selling anything and providing any service.
But it happens that the selling of the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit is against the law. So exactly the same objection that Lawrence Krauss makes to Kim Davis’s action – that she broke the law – applies to Planned Parenthood’s action.
What seems to cloud his judgment in the case of Planned Parenthood – if he did watch the videos and take in what was said – is the fact that the body parts went to scientists for the great cause (and we do think it is a great cause) of scientific research.
But however good the cause that the illegal trade was serving, it was still illegal.
In fact, what emerges from those videos is criminal action more morally outrageous than just selling the parts of aborted fetuses. (Note, please, that we are calling them fetuses, not “babies”, in order not to use controversial language.) It is revealed, in an interview with an employee of a firm that bought the body parts, that Planned Parenthood was urging pregnant women to have an abortion – even when they were uncertain that they wanted one, and even in one case when the woman was inclined NOT to have one – so that Planned Parenthood could sell the fetus’s body parts and so make a profit.
That is iniquity.
Now scientists like Lawrence Krauss might argue persuasively that there should not be a law forbidding the selling of fetuses, whole or in parts, for profit. Just as Kim Davis might argue that there should not be a law that compels her to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But there are such laws. And if it is wrong for Kim Davis to break the law on the grounds that it does a disservice to her idea of a higher good, so it is wrong for Planned Parenthood to break the law even if by doing so it is serving the genuinely higher good of science.
We have said that Lawrence Krauss’s judgment may be clouded by his belief in the supreme goodness of scientific research. We will not go so far as to say that he holds that end to be “sacred”, because we agree with him that the word has no place in the vocabulary of atheism. So we toss the accusation aside.
It could be said that our moral judgment of Planned Parenthood – accurate though our allegation is that the organization broke the law – may be clouded by our extreme distaste for their abortion services. (Note that we call them “services”, firmly resisting the temptation to call them “abuses”.) It is true that we have an arguably irrational prejudice in favor of human life. We very much dislike abortion – while acknowledging that there are reasonable grounds for it in certain cases, and on no account arguing for it to be made wholly illegal. But obviously our objection to it is not on religious grounds. We do not believe that it frustrates “God’s purposes”. We are against it because we are against the deliberate destruction of human life – unless the human in question has forfeited his or her life by taking someone else’s.
Those who are for abortion on demand accuse those of us who are against it of being inconsistent when we call ourselves “pro-life”, because many of us are for the death penalty. By the same token, we can accuse them of inconsistency when they are for the destruction of life in the womb, but against putting convicted murderers to death. We are for saving the innocent and punishing the guilty, while they are for destroying the innocent and saving the guilty.
(Hat-tip for the article to our reader, Stephen)
Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science is a new book by Richard Dawkins.
It is mentioned in this video as a sequel to an earlier book, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist.
They are two parts of an autobiography.
Not much about either is said in the discussion filmed here. There is much more about his first book The Selfish Gene.
As always when he talks about evolution, Dawkins is rewarding to listen to.
In this video, published yesterday, physicist Sean Carroll eloquently and amusingly wins a debate with his arguments on whether there is “life” after death.
He also demonstrates that naturalism reflects the world as it is, whereas theism merely describes a world as some would want it to be but it isn’t.
Here is a very informative, very gratifying video of a great physicist demonstrating that there is no global warming, no unusual climate change, no extreme weather …
Norwegian Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever’s speech at a Nobel Laureates Meeting, July 1, 2015:
(Hat-tip to our Facebook commenter, Patrick Pulley.)
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.
Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:
Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public. It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes. The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world. He writes that
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.
In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish. But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.
It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009. This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …
If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm. But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever. The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago. In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.
On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.
A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.
In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water. Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge. The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.
Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.
But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming. “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”
Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent. Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.
The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions. But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.
According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”
If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world. All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.
“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.
The Catholic Church is now officially, doctrinally, the Universal Church of Jesus Marxist.
Or the Universal Church of Jesus and Karl.
Which name will it choose? It needs to choose one or the other, or something along the same lines, to describe itself accurately.
It has a Pope who embraces International Communism. Which requires world government. Perhaps Pope Francis sees the Vatican as the Communist capital of the world – rather than the UN, as other world-government campaigners do.
Although as yet he and his fellow performance artists, costumed in their gorgeous gowns and priceless bling, do not allow any of these labels, they are nevertheless accurate.
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Pope Francis has become a deeply problematic figure, all the more so after his encyclical on global warming was leaked to an Italian publication. The letter, some 129 pages long, is directed to Catholic bishops, but Francis grandly says that it is intended for every person in the world. The letter has not yet been translated into English in its entirety, but portions of it have been run through Google Translator. Even from these bits, some conclusions are obvious.
First, the Pope has no idea what he is talking about. His letter is full of factual errors. For example:
Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.
This is false. There has been no net global warming for something like 18 years, according to satellite data, the most reliable that we have.
In recent decades, that the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level….
Sea level has been rising for approximately 12,000 years, first dramatically as the Earth warmed rapidly at the end of the last Ice Age, and much more slowly in recent millennia. Currently, the rate of rise of sea level is not increasing.
…and is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we can not attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.
Wrong again. Extreme weather events are not increasing. This isn’t an opinion, it is a fact: there is no plausible empirical claim to the contrary. In fact, for what it is worth, the climate models that are the sole basis for warming hysteria predict fewer extreme weather events, not more, because the temperature differential between the equator and the poles will diminish.
It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanism, and the variations of the orbit of the Earth, the solar cycle), but numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.
Putting aside the fact that there hasn’t been any net warming during the last two decades, this is precisely the issue that is the subject of intense scientific debate–a debate that, it becomes increasingly clear, the realists are winning. For the Pope to wade into this controversy would be nearly inexplicable, absent some overriding motive.
That motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates. Francis has manifested such hostility in previous statements, and it comes through again in his anti-global warming letter. Francis sounds like just another leftist: the solution to global warming is more state control to dictate how people live, and new international organizations to direct vast transfers of wealth and power.
The fact is that through human history, freedom has rarely been popular. That goes for the history of the papacy, too: John Paul II is the most notable exception in modern times. People offer various definitions of American exceptionalism. In my opinion, American exceptionalism resides chiefly in the fact that, for one brief shining moment, at least, a large majority of Americans really believed in freedom. I don’t think Pope Francis has much sympathy with that sentiment.
The Pope’s letter is full of concern for the poor, of course. But the poor would suffer most from any prohibition against efficient energy (i.e., fossil fuels). Francis’s suggestion that “rich” countries – that means us, how rich do you feel? – should subsidize the majority of the planet, apparently forever, is fatuous. … There is no prospect that leftist energy policies will help poor nations. The poor need, as much as anything, cheap energy, which frees resources for everything else. To deprive poor nations of cheap energy is to condemn them to long-lasting if not permanent poverty.
The Papal flag should be be changed to deepest red.
It is said that conservatives tend to be anti-science, with the Bush administration serving as a prime example. The evidence adduced usually comes down to three things: opposition on moral grounds to unrestricted embryonic stem cell research, support (mainly by evangelicals) for the theory of intelligent design, and skepticism about the inevitable catastrophic impact of global warming, said to be wholly or largely anthropogenic in origin.
Before condemning conservatives for their irrational opposition to “established” scientific truths, one would do well to pause and examine the record of liberals and leftists with respect to propounding and believing scientific nonsense. The following list of absurdities, masquerading as scientific certainties, which people on the Left have believed over the past 100 years will illustrate my point:
1. The theory, first propounded by Sigmund Freud, that mental disorders which are not somatic in origin are caused mainly by the desire on the part of a child to kill its parent of the same sex and to have exclusive sexual rights to its parent of the opposite sex
2. The widely held conviction that the scientific laws of history were discovered by Karl Marx and that these laws constitute a Master Theory explaining the evolution of every important aspect of human society, including politics, economics, and culture
3. The belief that intelligence is either a meaningless term or, to the extent that it is meaningful, determined entirely by one’s environment
4. The notion, first propounded in 1969 by biologist Paul Ehrlich, that the “population explosion” would doom the human race to massive starvation (hundreds of millions of deaths in the 1970s and 1980s and the 50% probability that Great Britain would be no more by the year 2000)—a prediction that has been spectacularly refuted in all its particulars without, however, diminishing the reputation of Ehrlich among his many progressive followers
5. The belief, repeatedly expressed at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, that the disease would sweep through the heterosexual community in this country and claim tens of millions of lives (actual numbers: about 17,800 people in this country died of AIDS in 2009)
6. The fear that biologically engineered foods, sometimes referred to as “Frankenfoods,” pose a serious threat to the human race, despite the consensus among the overwhelming majority of agronomists that such fear is groundless
7. The fear that irradiating foods to kill their bacteria somehow makes these foods dangerous to consume
8. The belief, despite all evidence to the contrary, that vaccines are dangerous and are responsible for the increase in childhood autism
9. The fear that man-made pesticides, particularly DDT, are so harmful to the environment that we were justified in not using them even if it means the deaths of millions of children in Africa from malaria
10. The belief, based on postmodern revelation, that scientific truths are merely social constructs and not actually descriptions of reality, despite the obvious fact that these so-called constructs have given rise to technologies (e.g., email, telephones, and automobiles) that confirm these truths beautifully
11. The theory, propounded by radical feminists, and widely subscribed to in academia, that gender differences are not inherent but (like science itself) merely social constructs, despite the overwhelming evidence in human history and of current research pointing to profound and unalterable differences
None of the above absurdities have ever been taken seriously by those “easily manipulated and ignorant right-wing simpletons” in flyover country. Over the years, they have been largely the province of self-styled progressives, people whose prejudices and ideologies often come to us dressed up as science, but who, like most of us, believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence of the real world.
Robert Kantor, TAC Associate June 18, 2015
Rogue scientists going along with the Anthropogenic Global Warming hoax have brought science itself into disrepute. However, good science persists – however much the Left fears it and tries to hamper it with laws snd regulations.
Here’s an article from Townhall, by John Stossel – a libertarian we often but not always agree with. We agree with this:
This year is the 10th anniversary of a book called The Republican War on Science. I could just as easily write a book called The Democratic War on Science.
The conflict conservatives have with science is mostly caused by religion. Some religious conservatives reject evolution, and some oppose stem cell research.
But neither belief has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. Species continue to evolve regardless of what [religious] conservatives believe, and if [they] ban government funding of stem cell research, private investors will continue the work.
By contrast, the left’s bad ideas about science do more harm.
Many on the left – including a few of my fellow libertarians – are paranoid about genetically modified organisms. These are crops that have DNA altered to make them grow faster or be more pest-resistant. The left calls that “playing with nature” and worries that eating GMO food will cause infertility, premature aging and a host of other problems.
The fear makes little scientific sense. There is no reason to think that precise changes in a plant’s genes are more dangerous than, say, the cross-breeding of corn done by American Indians centuries ago or a new type of tomato arising in someone’s organic garden. Nature makes wilder and more unpredictable changes in plant DNA all the time.
Yet the left’s fear of GMOs led activists to destroy fields of experimental crops in Europe and, most tragically, bans on GMO foods that might help prevent hunger and malnutrition in African and Asian nations.
Leftists often claim to be defenders of progress, but they sound more like religious conservatives when they oppose “tampering with nature”.
The new movie Jurassic World, in which scientists tamper with DNA to create a super-dinosaur that gets out of control, doesn’t just recycle ideas from the original Jurassic Park. It recycles the same fears that inspired the novel Frankenstein 200 years ago – the idea that if humans alter nature’s perfect design, we’ll pay a terrible price.
But it’s nature that is terrible. We should alter it. “Living with nature” means fighting for food, freezing in the cold and dying young.
The left’s anti-science fears also prevent us from building new nuclear reactors …
Humans thrive by improving technology, not abandoning it.
Lately, some people think they’re “erring on the safe side” by avoiding vaccinations. The result is outbreaks of diseases like mumps and measles that we thought were all but eliminated. …
The left also objects to science that contradicts their egalitarian beliefs. A few years ago, I interviewed scientists who had discovered ways in which male and female brains differ from birth. The scientists told me that they wanted to continue such research, but political pressure against it was too intense. Men and women clearly have different aptitudes, but today leftists demand that government punish any company that treats genders differently.
Few scientists today would even study relative IQs of different ethnic groups. They know they’d be de-funded if they discovered the “wrong” facts.
I say, follow the truth wherever science leads.
So do we.
The Left is the side of the emotions. But science is the child of reason. The two are as antithetical as science and religion.
In fact, Leftism is a religion.
… or, The War between Truth and Superstition.
The topic of the persecution of Galileo by the Catholic Church arose recently on our pages in controversial comments under our post Wicked people causing climate change, 1437-2015 (May 20, 2015).
Here are four short videos that tell the story dramatically: how the immense power of the Catholic Church ensured the victory of lies over truth – but only for a time. The makers of the videos are careful to indicate that the Vatican eventually conceded what it could no longer deny:
From A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, by Andrew D. White, 1896, pages 350-361:
Few errors have ever cost so much shedding of innocent blood over such a wide territory and during so many generations [as the theory of] evil agency in atmospheric phenomena … the belief that certain men, women, and children may secure infernal aid to produce whirlwinds, hail, frosts, floods and the like. …
In 1437, Pope Eugene IV, by virtue of the teaching power conferred on him by the Almighty, and under the divine guarantee against any possible error in the exercise of it, issued a bull exhorting the inquisitors of heresy and witchcraft to use greater diligence against the human agents of the Prince of Darkness, and especially against those who have the power to produce bad weather. … [And] on the 7th of December, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII sent forth his bull Summis Desiderantes. Of all documents ever issued from Rome, imperial or papal, this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest shredding of innocent blood. … Inspired by the scriptural commandment, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” Pope Innocent exhorted the clergy of Germany to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers, and especially those who by evil weather destroy vineyards, gardens, meadows, and growing crops. … [W]itch-finding inquisitors were authorized by the Pope to scour Europe, especially Germany, and a manual was prepared for their use – the Witch-Hammer, Malleus Meleficarum … revered for centuries, both in Catholic and Protestant countries …
With the application of torture to thousands of women, in accordance with the precept laid down in the Malleus, it was not difficult to extract masses of proof for this sacred theory of meteorology. The poor creatures, writhing on the rack, anxious only for death to relieve them of their sufferings, confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy the inquisitors and judges. All that was needed was that the inquisitors should ask leading questions and suggest satisfactory answers: the prisoners, to shorten the torture, were sooner or later to give the answer required, even though they knew this would send them to the stake or scaffold. …
Pathetic, indeed, are the records; and none more so than the confessions of these poor creatures, chiefly women and children, during hundreds of years, as to their manner of raising hailstorms and tempests. Such confessions, by tens of thousands, are still to be found in the judicial records of Germany, and indeed of all Europe. …
Throughout the later Middle Ages the Dominicans had been the main agents in extorting and promulgating these revelations, but in the centuries following the Reformation the Jesuits devoted themselves with even more keenness and vigour to the same task. … It was mooted among the orthodox authorities whether the damage done by storms should not be assessed upon the property of convicted witches. The theologians inclined decidedly to the affirmative; the jurists, on the whole, to the negative.
In spite of these tortures, lightning and tempests continued, and great men arose in the Church throughout Europe in every generation to point out new cruelties for this discovery of “weather-makers”, and new methods for bringing their machinations to naught. …
But here and there, as early as the sixteenth century, we begin to see thinkers endeavouring to modify or oppose these methods. … As to argument, these efforts were met especially by Jean Bodin in his famous book, Démonomanie des Sorciers, published in 1580. It was a work of great power by a man justly considered to be the leading thinker in France, and perhaps in Europe. All the learning of the time, divine and human, he marshaled in support of the prevailing theory. With inexorable logic he showed that both the veracity of sacred Scripture and the infallibility of a long line of pope and councils of the Church were pledged to it … In the last years of the sixteenth century the persecution for witchcraft and magic were therefore especially cruel …
Protestantism fell into the superstition as fully as Catholicism. … The Reformation had, indeed, deepened the superstition; the new Church being anxious to show itself equally orthodox and zealous with the old. …
Typical as to the attitude of both Scotch and English Protestants were the theory and practice of King James I, himself the author of a book on Demonology, and nothing if not a theologian. … [H]e applied his own knowledge to investigating the causes of the tempests which beset his bride on her voyage from Denmark. Skilful use of unlimited torture soon brought these causes to light. A Dr. Fian, while his legs were crushed in the “boots”, and wedges were driven under his finger nails, confessed that several hundred witches had gone to sea in a sieve from the port of Leith, and had raised storms and tempests to drive back the princess. …
With the coming in of the Puritans the persecution was even more largely, systematically, and cruelly developed. …
Torture was used far more freely [in Scotland] than in England, both in detecting witches and in punishing them. The natural argument developed in hundreds of pulpits was this: If the All-wise God punishes his creatures with tortures infinite in cruelty and duration, who should not his ministers, as far as they can, imitate him?
From the Daily Caller, March 17, 2014:
An assistant philosophy professor at Rochester Institute of Technology wants to send people who disagree with him about global warming to jail.
The professor is Lawrence Torcello. Last week, he published a 900-word-plus essay at an academic website called The Conversation.
His main complaint is his belief that certain nefarious, unidentified individuals have organized a “campaign funding misinformation”. Such a campaign, he argues, “ought to be considered criminally negligent”.
Torcello, who has a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, explains that there are times when criminal negligence and “science misinformation” must be linked. The threat of climate change, he says, is one of those times.
Throughout the piece, he refers to the bizarre political aftermath of an earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, which saw six scientists imprisoned for six years each because they failed to “clearly communicate risks to the public” about living in an earthquake zone.
“Consider cases in which science communication is intentionally undermined for political and financial gain,” the assistant professor urges.
“Imagine if in L’Aquila, scientists themselves had made every effort to communicate the risks of living in an earthquake zone,” Torcello argues, but evil “financiers” of a “denialist campaign funded and organized a campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made”.
“I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism,” Torcello asserts.
From the Washington Post, April 30, 2015:
[At the Vatican], the center of global Catholicism, church leaders joined with politicians, scientists and economists to draft a statement declaring not only that climate change is a “scientific reality” but also that there’s a moral and religious responsibility to do something about it. And an even more powerful statement is expected soon from Pope Francis himself, who is slated to release a major papal encyclical on the environment this summer.
All of this is enough to make environmentalists, members of a traditionally secular movement, nearly rhapsodic. After a history of being rather too technocratic and wonky, there seems to be a growing realization in green circles about the importance of an alliance with the world of faith.
This has been a long time coming. The effort to mobilize religious believers to worry about climate as part of a broader, biblically grounded “creation care” mandate has a long history (though it has traditionally focused more on evangelicals than Catholics). …
The reason … is that it makes the climate debate moral, not scientific or technocratic. And when issues are moralized, people feel before they think and refuse to compromise. It may not be what we strictly call “rational,” but it is politically powerful… The moral emotion that is probably most relevant to the environment is … what many of us would simply call compassion or empathy. Recent research suggests that this emotion drives people toward environmental causes. There seems to be a deep connection between caring about other humans and then extending that to nature.
Yup. We need to know history so we can repeat its mistakes.