Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Evangelical Science Denier and the Alarmist Fundamentalist Religious Cult: The Cornwall Alliance

Sou | 4:37 AM Go to the first of 23 comments. Add a comment

I wrote an article on David Legates' denial of science a few hours ago.  I've been told that David rejects science on quasi-religious grounds.  He is a member of a cult called the Cornwall Alliance.

David Legates apparently rejects even more aspects of climate science than does Roy Spencer.  Based on his article from yesterday, David rejects the greenhouse effect.  The things they have in common are that they are both employed as climate scientists and are both members of an evangelical quasi-religious cult in the USA called the Cornwall Alliance.  Based on their published material, this cult is a mixture of fundamentalist christianity, alarmist economics, pseudo-science, opposition to mainstream climate science and more than a hint of sexism (and suggestive of more deviant thinking).  It assumes male supremacy and that men were put on earth to plunder as they please.  Only in the USA, home of the weird and wacky.

A Mission to Reject Science

These chaps on their evangelical mission are not shy about using their "god" to distort and misrepresent the science.  It appears to be the very reason they formed their cult.  To promote disinformation about climate science and oppose any attempts to mitigate global warming. They are up front in their rejection of climate science.  They have an Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming which states in part:
We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. 

Now I've got no beef with anyone who wants to go to their temple or church or mosque or synagogue or wherever on whatever day of the week.  I do have a beef with people who create a false god so they can hide behind "him" (their image of god has to be male) and use that false image of a god to spread lies about important matters of science and  economics.  I also have a real beef with people who fake concern for "poor" people in less developed countries as an excuse for their evangelism.

The "holier than thou" attitude expressed in the cult's writings comes across to me as a sickening perversion.  Their quasi-religion smacks of "world view" and christian fundamentalism of the worst kind.  It's not about charity or hope.  It's about preserving their own personal status quo.  It is raw hypocrisy.

Alarmists of the Cornwall Alliance

Here are some examples of the alarmist ideas that these guys (and they are all men) promote.  They "believe" that progressively shifting to a clean energy economy over the next few decades will:

  • destroy millions of jobs.
  • cost trillions of dollars in lost economic production.
  • slow, stop, or reverse economic growth.
  • reduce the standard of living for all but the elite few who are well positioned to benefit from laws that unfairly advantage them at the expense of most businesses and all consumers.
  • endanger liberty by putting vast new powers over private, social, and market life in the hands of national and international governments.
  • condemn the world’s poor to generations of continued misery characterized by rampant disease and premature death.

How's that for alarmism.  Not only do they provide no evidence but they hold on fast to these convictions in the face of evidence to the contrary. 

World view drives their rejection of science and alarmist economics

These evangelists are up front that they reject science and promote alarmist economics because of their world view and religion.  It's got nothing to do with scientific facts or real world economics.  They state quite openly that:
Our examination of theology, worldview, and ethics (Chapter One) finds that global warming alarmism wrongly views the Earth and its ecosystems as the fragile product of chance, not the robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God’s wise design and powerful sustaining. 

They reckon they can do whatever they like and their god will save them.  Fundamentalism in its pure form.

The fact that they refer to mainstream science, such as the greenhouse effect, as "global warming alarmism" puts them in the 8% Dismissives category of the Yale Project.  On the other hand, the fact that some of this motley lot of evangelicals have managed to wangle their way into positions where they have some influence, where they can chew the ear of politicians of dubious character, makes them not far removed from the description of "scumbucket" authority figures of Robert Altemeyer's Right Wing Authoritarians. ("Scumbuckets" take on the role of authority figures that Right Wing Authoritarians follow for support against their perceived persecution by formal authority, such as government.)

Anthony Watts is one of the people who promotes disinformation from these evangelical religious science deniers.  The Auditor, Steve McIntyre, who obsesses about things of which he has little understanding and no experience, has partnered with Ross McKitrick, a member of the Cornwall Alliance.  (One of Anthony Watts' attack dogs, Rev Richard S Courtney aka richardscourtney, is also a member of the Cornwall Alliance.)

The type of evangelism practiced by this crowd is typical US-style christian fundamentalism.  It places man (not woman) as second only to their god in the order of things and talks of subduing everything to "man's" desires.  It is sybaritic in nature.  The world is there for "man" to plunder.  In case any one of them feels a twinge of remorse for their greed and selfishness, they hide behind their god, telling themselves that's why their god created them.  They wrote their own rules to justify their crusade of disinformation.  The words peppered throughout their quasi-religious texts are highly suggestive, like "subdue" and "rule".  For example:
Human beings have the divine mandate to multiply and to fill, subdue, and rule the Earth, transforming it from wilderness into garden. They act as stewards under God to cultivate and guard what they subdue and rule
Yes, it's hard to believe this is the twenty first century.  It sounds like something from one of the less enlightened ages in the distant past.  One can imagine them burning witches and riding off to the crusades.  Actually, while I can imagine them burning witches I think they'd be the ones sending foot soldiers to battle rather than going off to fight in the trenches themselves.  Their writing smacks of elitism and a sense of righteous authority.  It's right up there with the McCarthyism of the 1950s and more recently, Inhofe and Cuccinelli wanting to prosecute scientists, viewing them as criminals.

I'm tolerant of people having their own religious beliefs and practicing whatever rituals makes them feel good.  I prefer they do it privately but I'm not intolerant of public displays or missions, provided they stick to their god thing and spirituality or peering into crystals or tarot cards or whatever.

What I'm much less tolerant of is people using their religion to mess with politics, education and science.

What I have no tolerance for is people who make up a false image of a god as an excuse for their crusade to spread disinformation.  Who hide behind their made-up god and make emotive appeals to the worst side of human nature (greed, selfishness, envy) or prey on the innate good in people (think of the starving millions) to promote their lies about straightforward mainstream science and economics.


  1. Thank you!! I feel exactly the same way. I have absolutely no patience for that type of beliefs!!

  2. And although I started writing a diatribe - feeling sending fire and brimstone upon their vacant heads - I felt that you captured my feelings succinctly

  3. "They act as stewards under God to cultivate and guard what they subdue and rule."

    Oh, the hypocrisy as the evangelical wing of the climate science denier army decides to do precisely the opposite of guarding what they, ahem, subdue and rule. Chucking away the chance to do anything about climate change is criminal.....Oh, I've just been handed a piece of paper that says God is doing the guarding anyway so man (forget woman, this is all about man) can get on with the more exciting bits of subduing and multiplying.

    What a crock of crackpot theology.

  4. From the Evangelical Declaration, A Call To Action point 2 says

    We call on Christian leaders to understand the truth about climate change and embrace Biblical thinking, sound science, and careful economic analysis in creation stewardship.

    As with these things, which bit of Biblical thinking, Old or New Testament God, did they have in mind? And how on Earth they think sound science and Biblical thinking can go together, I have no idea. The Bible gets rather unscientific on the first page, has two creation myths in the first two chapters and, so far as I can tell, is pretty poor on the classification of animals thereafter. Not a textbook for scientific thinking.

    By the way, I counted 4 women out of 66 on the notable signatories page of the Cornwall Alliance's drivel. That's 6%. Perhaps the extra X chromosome makes for easier detection of tosh like the Cornwall Alliance.

  5. I have always been confused by the construct of a monotheistic deity being male.
    Maleness is half of a sexual partnership and needs the female half. So is their god not unique?
    A monotheistic god can only be a non-sexual being - an "it".

  6. You wonder why God did not make the economy "in a robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God’s wise design way", so that they do not have to worry about their alarmist economical "predictions".

    It has nothing to do with God. I did some research some time ago and the overwhelming majority of churches cares about the climate and calls to protect it. Either the Cornwall cult is right or most of the Christian world does not understand Gods words.

    1. Their god did make the economy that way - when things go wrong it's because gumment interfered, with its paper currency and "money of account". The only holy money is gold and silver (which naturally justifies their worship of them).

      These people make me sick too. Keep telling it like it is, Sou, and many thanks for the good work.

    2. The government is more powerful than their God? Blasphemy!

    3. It actually makes sense that god didn't make the economy "in a robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God’s wise design way".

      Think about it. Apparently we humans are god's perfect creation made in his image, right? That is why we breath in and out of the same hole we use to eat. It's also why we can't digest cellulose, the most prominent food source on god's perfect creation and why our playgrounds are so close to and part of the sewage plant. Intelligent design indeed.

  7. Couple of posts ago I have spoken, amen - it is known what my wish is: confrontation.

  8. Sou, interesting and timely article - mind if I repost it at WhatsUpWithThatWatts?


    1. I don't mind at all, Peter. Feel free.

    2. Thank you Sou, here's my introduction:

      Here is an article written by Sou from HotWhopper.com - idea's worth sharing. Food for thought.

      What can be said of people who believe they actually understand God's mind? It's one thing to personally believe whatever vainglorious thing one wants - but expecting the rest of the world to fall in-line and to reject rational knowledge and observation based learning and trusting qualified experts who have spent entire lives committed to understanding their specialities.
      No thanks.

      Sad thing is, these sorts of faith-based dogmatists are one of the core reasons climate science, Earth observations and attempts at Earth stewardship have been so successfully rejected these past decades.

      How does one learn or change when disbelieve in observation based science is an article of Faith?


  9. Follow the money.
    is the 480-recipient spreadsheet for DONORS, the money anonymizer for Kochs and allies. Line 93 is James Partnership.

    http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2012/10/25/meet-the-network-hiding-the-koch-money-donors-trust-and-donors-capital-fund/#more-11713notes connection between DONORS, James Partnership ... and Cornwall Alliance.

    http://www.jamespartnership.org/ has:
    ' TJP is initially focusing on these principal projects: The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Churches and Villages Together, and 1Voice Films .'
    IRS Form 990, 2009, p.7shows that Calvin Beissner gets paid, but unclear where the money really goes.

    This is located at 9302-C Old Keene Mill Road
    Burke, VA 22015

    "http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/10/16/206882/glenn-beck-cornwall-alliance-exxonmobil-climate-change Address shows up often.

    Cornwall Alliances' purpose:"Q33 - INTERNATIONAL RELIEF" right.

    My take: yet another front group, paying Cal Beissner $9()K+/year, not as high as Marc Morano, but still not bad.

    If people want to see an example of the other side, try <a http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org nterfaith Power and Light.
    Sally Bingham is really OK. Seehttp://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/2010/10/blessing-of-solar-panels a few miles away in my town.

    1. John, are you saying that Donors Trust funds James Partnership aka Calvin Beissner, who in turn funds the Cornwall Alliance?

      Calvin Beissner got short shrift at an ecumenical meeting at the Vatican back in April 2007:

      Dr. Calvin Beissner (US) argued along the lines of Dr. Idso and Prof. Singer but framed his contribution theologically. His approach was strongly questioned by theologians around the table for an insufficient exegetical and systematic basis.

      The quality of theological and ecumenical presentations that were presented by Bishop Dr. Bernd Uhl (Germany), Lic. Elias Abramides (Argentina-speaking for the World Council of Churches), the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones (England), and the Australian Bishop Christopher Toohey rescued the conference that was in clear danger of being side tracked by the debate on climate science as promoted by climate skeptics.

      They aren't getting anywhere with their pseudo-science and their religion is considered shonky as well. Does that make it pseudo-religion?

      PS I had to look up exegetical. This from Wikipedia:

      Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι 'to lead out') is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "biblical exegesis" is used for greater specificity.


      PS I want to make it clear that I support freedom of religion. There's a difference between freedom to practice religion and creating a pseudo-religious facade to push an anti-science agenda aimed at preventing mitigation of global warming.

    2. Here's the link that I forgot to add where the Vatican seminar slammed the contribution from the fake sceptics and Calvin Beissner.


    3. 'John, are you saying that Donors Trust funds James Partnership aka Calvin Beissner, who in turn funds the Cornwall Alliance?'

      More-or-less. It is unclear what James Partnership (== Beisner, really) really does other than Cornwall, and maybe funnel money to make videos. See http://www.desmogblog.com/calvin-beisner
      From this, you may be able to ascertain the category in which he fits, starting with his PhD in Scottish History, a fine topic, but not exactly one to provide credibility on climate change.

    4. My numbers for DONORS (from late 2012) say:
      2008: $80K
      2009: $258K
      2010: $340K (of $432K total grants)

    5. Thanks, John. Interesting to see the linkages. Not much religion and little science from the look of it. It's all show. I've no doubt that the members of the Alliance have strong beliefs, just maybe not all the same beliefs or driving force. Some would follow a religion of sorts (though that sounds a bit wobbly) and some would be less religious than ideological and see the Alliance as a useful vehicle for their purpose.

    6. Beisner seems to be yet another "policy-preneur" who gets money from the usual mesh of foundations, and does advocacy while being tax-exempt.

      Unlike Canada, where there's one big thinktnak (Fraser) and a few small ones, the US has a giant order of small-to-medium-sized ones (and a few large ones) and they compete for funding, so that each year, they tell their funders what good stuff they've done.

      There are quite a few that are in effect 1-2 real people, maybe some clerical/web support, a board of friends/relatives (i.e., last I looked, the board for Center for Study of Carbon dioxide and Global Change = Idso family). Then you get a bunch of advisors attached to many of these.

      An advantage of this scheme is that while they compete for $, they also cooperate, and it looks more impressive to claim support from 20 different groups, rather than just a few. Also, each organization can target a different group if it wants, even if many of the advisors are the same.

  10. Hi Sou.

    I apologise in advance for straying off-topic, but I thought that you'd be interested in this commentary from Piers Akerman:


    The thing is, not only is the piece an atrocious political commentary, but the online version has been quietly altered from the piece printed in the Mercury today. In the print version Akerman refers to the "shrewish and undiplomatic handbag hit squad member Tanya Plibersek". It seems that sexism is still alive and well in the old codger's head.

    If you're interested I'm happy to scan the page so that you can see it in all its 'glory'.

    Bernard J.

    1. Yes, I'd like that, Bernard. Thanks. See bottom of the "About" page.

  11. A few years ago I read an interesting article discussing the interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. Evidently we are not given "dominion" over the earth and all its, but rather "stewardship of" or "custody of."
    Puts some religious dogma in another light...


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