Note to meteorologists: You're next

In a recent post, I noted in passing that modern evolutionary theory is no more atheistic than other sciences that seek natural explanations for the natural world. Yet for some reason, Phillip Johnson and the rest of the ID camp think that it is evolution in particular that is inconsistent with Christianity. As Johnson stated in yesterday’s Washington Post article,

‘I realized…that if the pure Darwinist account was accurate and life is all about an undirected material process, then Christian metaphysics and religious belief are fantasy. Here was a chance to make a great contribution.’

Now, imagine how silly it would seem if Phillip Johnson had said this:

‘I realized…that if the pure scientific meteorologist account was accurate and weather is all about an undirected material process, then Christian metaphysics and religious belief are fantasy. Here was a chance to make a great contribution.’

According to a literal reading of the Bible, the evidence that God controls the weather is, if anything, much stronger than the Biblical evidence that God specially created organisms. PT poster Wesley Elsberry ran a search on an online Bible and found a slurry of quotes explicitly describing God’s influence on the weather. The Bible is shot through with such statements, from Old Testament to New. They are re-posted below for posterity.

A couple of minutes with BibleGateway shows that there are several references in the bible to God being a maker and controller of weather. Looking for ‘storm’ and ‘wind’, I found the following references:

Exodus 10:13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the LORD made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts;

Numbers 11:31 Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them [ Or They flew ] down all around the camp to about three feet [ Hebrew two cubits (about 1 meter) ] above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.

Isaiah 11:15 The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. [ Hebrew the River ] He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals.

Jeremiah 4:12 a wind too strong for that comes from me. [ Or comes at my command ] Now I pronounce my judgments against them.’

Jeremiah 10:13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.

Hosea 13:15 even though he thrives among his brothers. An east wind from the LORD will come, blowing in from the desert; his spring will fail and his well dry up. His storehouse will be plundered of all its treasures.

Amos 4:13 He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth— the LORD God Almighty is his name.

Jonah 1:4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

Jonah 4:8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, ‘It would be better for me to die than to live.’

Zechariah 10:1 [ The LORD Will Care for Judah ] Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.

Mark 4:39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Luke 8:25 He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’

Wes Elsberry

Now, of course, I don’t actually think for a second that naturalistic meteorology actually undermines Christianity. People still pray about the weather, even though they know that weather is caused by natural processes. Belief in natural processes, and belief in God’s action in the world, are simply not in conflict for these people. If God can act through natural processes, then a natural explanation of something is not a threat to the belief system.

I suspect that this belief – about meteorology – is almost universal among Christians, evangelical or otherwise. I also suspect that it is almost universal held among Christians of all stripes that theological beliefs about the weather belong in the church and home, and not the public schools. People still pray for rain, but there is no big movement to teach bogus “criticisms of naturalistic meteorology”, attempting to insert divine intervention into the fact that tornadoes are still fairly mysterious, or the fact that scientists are not omniscient predictors of the weather. There is no attempt to divide “micro-operational science”, which can be done in a lab, from “macro-operational science”, which cannot be done in a lab. There is no attempt to rule the latter hopelessly untestable, and therefore to consider macro-meteorology and miracles as equally scientifically valid.

What ID advocates have to explain is why evolution is different from meteorology with respect to theology. The fun thing about the Meteorology Argument is how rapidly ID advocates contort and twist themselves into knots as soon as they attempt to address the argument. David Heddle gave us an example:

I have no idea what Johnson believes, but it obvious that one could believe that evolution, via its implications regarding the (lack of a) need for a creator, promotes atheism, while at the same time viewing meteorology as agnostic. So someone could, self-consistently, believe that evolution promotes atheism and meteorology does not.

What Heddle doesn’t provide, and couldn’t provide under questioning, was any reason why evolution and meteorology are logically any different with respect to the theism/atheism question. The best he did was bluster “it’s obvious.”

Another example from a few years back is Casey Luskin of the IDEA center:

Stormy weather

[Matzke] suggests that if the weather is undirected, then meteorologists should rightly employ the same materialist philosophy Wells criticizes. [Ignore this ad hom in the first sentence for the moment – N.M.] However, the difference between the weather and evolution is that the processes controlling weather are be observed in the present to be based upon chance and law. The origin of biological organisms took place in the past, where the processes involved cannot be accessed. By assuming that only naturalistic processes were at work in the past, evolutionists make stronger philosophical statements than meteorologists, who can directly observe that naturalistic processes are at work in the present. Given that many unknowns about causes of weather will always exist, for we cannot know what is always happening in the sky, it is possible that God “makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; [and] sends lightning with the rain”58 after all! However, given that we observe weather in the present obeying natural laws, scientists are not unjustified in relegating explanations of present weather to the natural realm.

To summarize, Luskin says:

(1) Meteorologists observe natural processes operating today (2) Evolutionists, although they can observe natural processes operating now, can’t observe natural processes operating in the past (3) Meteorologists actually can’t directly observe all the natural processes operating today in controlling the weather (weather is a chaotic system, highly sensitive to initial micro-conditions that cannot be observed – this is the butterfly effect) (4) So maybe God is miraculously intervening in the weather after all, like the literal reading of the Bible says (5) But meteorologists are justified in using exclusively natural processes in their work, while evolutionary biologists are being dogmatic philosophical materialists for doing so.

It makes perfect sense!

The only way the IDists can escape the Meteorology Argument is (1) give up on their core claim, or (2) be self-consistent, and state that meteorologists are also nasty, society-undermining secular dogmatists promoting atheism, philosophical materialism, and moral decay under the guise of science. Option #1 doesn’t seem very likely, so I bet we’ll be seeing meteorology warning labels in public schools and on the public airwaves (your local news weatherman is actually promoting atheism over the air!) sooner or later.