Author Archives: michaelroberts4004

About michaelroberts4004

A mixture; geologist, Christian, priest, cyclist, mountaineer, heretical environmentalist(i.e. a Bright Green) , retired, historian of science and a few other things. Oh, and I don't like creationism!

Are the accounts of the resurrection contradictory? | Psephizo

One of the favourite arguments against the resurrection of Jesus is that the four gospel accounts are different, thus they are all made up.

One could argue that four witnesses who agree on the essentials are more reliable than those who agree on every word, having ensured there were no differences.

Paul argues that many of the differences are due to the extreme brevity of the four accounts and the need to select evidence when writing it down (or dictating which is more likely)

In 1959 my uncle, Grenville Yarnold wrote a book Risen Indeed, which is a good short book, accepting a real bodily (but not physical) resurrection, but does not discuss the differences between the gospels. He showed how the gospels point to the empty tomb and that Jesus rose from the dead, but not as a conjuring trick with bones!

Enjoy this straightforward but detailed argument

Christ is Risen.

If not Christians make fools of themselves!!

P.S. Grenville’s wife, Dorothy, got a degree in maths and physics from Oxford in the early 1930s , as did her sister my mother. both were also hockey blues.

Source: Are the accounts of the resurrection contradictory? | Psephizo

Keep Climate Change out of Easter

Several years ago the activist group Christian Climate Change organised a “Fossil-free Advent service”. 

Here they are.

even the hymns and carols were re-written to bring in Climate Change and the horrors of deadly fossil fuels.

Silent Night, Holy Night

When will you see the light?

Arctic melting as temperatures rise

Carbon burning and filling the skies

Churches – think of God’s way

For Christ’s sake please hear what we say

I never know what is the best response to things like that, whether to snigger and ridicule  or try to answer the issues they raise. Over the years I have found the last option an impossible task as groups like this take the most extreme and dismal reading of Climate Change and the IPCC reports. By selection and cherry-picking they present the argument that we are all about to fall over a cliff of climate disaster. If you don’t agree with them you are a climate denier and want to destroy the planet. 

We have moved on from the Fossil-free Advent and now  there are attempts to squeeze Climate Change into the services for every sunday, even when the Biblical passages for that sunday cannot be twisted, sorry interpreted, to say anything about Climate Change or Petrol. A search on the web will turn up ways of bring Climate Change into any biblical passage. Often the interpretations are somewhat forced and bizarre and are trying to get oil out of a stone!! (That is done by drilling.)

There is little in the Bible on the environment as it was simply not an issue two to three thousand years ago. There is much on Creation in both testaments but very, very little on how we should care for it.  We can bring out general principles for creation care from the Bible, but nothing in detail.

This is my short and simple summary of how a Christian should care for creation, but I have only given principles and not examples of need; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

Sometimes attempts to find Creation Care in the Bible gets rather weak. Thus a leading Christian environmentalist argued that the classic verse John 3 vs16 means we should care for creation, because God loved the world and then so should we.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…….

Really!  That is an OK reading by a 12 year old in Sunday School but not an expert! The word “world” often occurs in John’s Gospel and is translated from the Greek word “kosmos”. In Greek kosmos can mean the whole of Creation as it does in Romans chap1 vs 20. However it is used some 70 times in John’s gospel and can mean  the creation, humankind, humans a opposed to God etc. In fact John 3 vs17 uses it to mean (hostile) humanity and not the whole of the natural world. Or take John 18 vs20 when Jesus replied to the high priest. He neither meant the antipodes or anywhere but locally around Jerusalem and Judaea. The use of kosmos in John  18 vs 33 – 38 and John 17 completely undermines this misunderstanding of kosmos.  Even a superficial reading of John and considering the use of kosmos completely undermines the claim that John 3 vs16 is a call for environmental action! That is one thing this verse is not calling for. I have not identified the author but they are a leading Christian environmentalist. But not the same as the Anglican expert on Climate Change who recommends taking garlic to avoid getting covid!!

It is very bad interpretation of the bible to try to squeeze things out of passages which simply are not there. Much of the time if we take a section of some verse, a chapter or even a whole book, they deal with only one or two topics and the other 999 are simply unmentioned. 

In recent weeks in the run up to Holy Week I have seen requests on social media for guidance on how to bring in Climate Change into the appointed bible reading during the Easter period. Considering all the readings which could be used over this period, none bring in Climate Change, even implicitly, and all have another purpose as they are to bring out the meaning of those events from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. If we need to ask, “what do these passages say about care of creation?” The answer has to be zilch and we need to look elsewhere

Yet more and more churches are putting “Climate Justice ” at the centre and thus wish to be able to bring it in to everything in the life of the church. thus Climate Change becomes the controlling narrative and not the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In other words the Gospel is subtly changed in its basis. Initially, one could see, it is Christianity PLUS creation Care with an apparent lack of shift. Gradually certain kinds of Creation Care become dominant, and that becomes the controlling principle squeezing out the core of the faith, though often retaining the words.

 I can hear many say, “Surely protecting the planet is vital?” To which I happily answer YES!! those who know me will know that I do try to protect and care for the planet, whether in economy of use, growing trees to give away, my use of a bicycle, and trying to hold local councils to account by attempting to stop the destruction of flower rich verges.

But though my creation care is integral to my life and faith it is not the guiding principle. That is because faith in Christ includes Creation Care, rather than Creation Care being at the centre, or faith in Christ AND Creation Care. 

Today, Maundy Thursday 2022, we see Green Christian forcing their views on Just Stop Oil on to the remembrance of the Last Supper and the washing of feet. This is misguided, tendentious and judgmental of those who disagree.

May be an image of 9 people, outdoors and text that says "GC Green Christian heenChrleta 18m Just Stop Oil. Christians were involved in the recent Just Stop Oil protests around the country recently. #JustStopOil http:/grencristior.ukjustop.ol On Maundy Thursday, when we celebrate Jesus' washing of the disciples feet, let's commit ourselves once more to sacrificially serving others and God's earth. HDYER Like Comment 1 share Share"

If all is Climate Change and stopping oil then nothing is and everything goes and the claims of both the Christian Faith and the need for Creation Care go out of the window.

The danger of this conflating of issues with major Christian Festivals is that the whole purpose of those festivals is lost. Christians have those in the Christian Year, with high points at Christmas and Easter, to bring home certain central features of the faith. Whether we take a minimalist or maximist view, Christians focus on that aspect, and that aspect alone on the particular day. By doing so reinforces a pedagogic purpose of strengthening Christians on one point and then the other points will dealt at another time. To  photo-bomb these with climate change or stop oil immediately diminishes the purpose of the day and confuses the issue with something else. On this in recent years, many churches have introduced a season of creation in September to fill a hole in the church’s year. 

Thus for the next few days all the focus is on the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and Resurrection. That is more than enough! Throwing in green issues will only diminish the emphasis on these centralities and ultimately may take over from them.

 On this I am reminded of the events of 1933 and 1934 in Germany when the churches were split down the middle by the Nazi movement. Some Christians went the whole swastika and formed the German Christians. A minority opposed this and produced the Barmen Declaration of May 31st 1934. The essence of that wass for a Christian there was only one way and that is Jesus Christ  – John 14 vs6 was their key text – and nothing should be added to that.

Later Karl Barth wrote on that in Church Dogmatics vol II .pt1 pp172ff, which is very pertinent to this question. Going beyond the horrors of the Nazis, Barth pointed out that the German Christians were only a continuation of what had been going on for decades. Little bits, and in Germany that was German nationalism, had been added on to the Christian Faith so that more and more Christianity was becoming Christianity and German Nationalism. It is now seen with the Russian Orthodox Church and the blatant nationalism of the patriarch and is not very pretty as the Ukrainians have found out.

But saw the events of 1933 as the fulfillment of 19th century Christian thought, which added an “also” to the faith, this soon became “and” and as with the German Christians “only”. He said similar things were happening in Britain, USA, and other European countries. (He could have given earlier examples from the Middle Ages.) 

Thus the German Christians were move from Christianity also National socialism, to Christianity and National socialism and, finally, ONLY National socialism – which was Hitler’s ultimate aim. 

This is a perennial risk for the Christian Church and a rooting of church history will give many examples, but few as bad as the German Christians.

The dangerous trap some environmental Christians are falling into is that they are raising their particular environmental concerns (which often align with the most extreme of environmentalists like Extinction Rebellion) in such a way that the centralities of the Christian Faith are downplayed, and, more worrying, that those Christians who don’t accept them are regarded as rather deficient in the faith, both in Christ and Creation care.

That is not on.

Hence my tirade!

This weekend as Christian we focus entirely of the death and resurrection of our Lord and then, and only then, see how it works out in every aspect of our lives both in love of neighbour and love of creation.

Easter - It's Meaning, History & Holiday Symbols Explained

An Indian delegate at the First Council of Nicaea

Anyone who has gone to an Anglican or Roman Catholic service would have recited the Nicene Creed.

The first version was produced at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 near Constantinople. This was called by Emperor Constantine (who became emperor at York) to get the churches in order. What we say is the revised creed o AD381.

The Council of Nicaea: Resolving the crisis in early Christianity | Sky  HISTORY TV Channel

It is usually assumed that the delegates came from the roman empire but this blog says one came from India. He may not have come for India as it could be Iran. Even so , a long way from the empire. Here it in verse 2

What else he did we don’t know, but it is interesting how scatted the delegates were. I am intrigued whether or not he spoke greek

Something else to undermine Dan Brown’s absurdities in Da Vinci Code.

Source: An Indian delegate at the First Council of Nicaea

Darwin’s Wasps and Good Friday

I recently bought the WILDguide to Britain’s Insects. It is a magnificent bulky guide and too big to carry into the field. With its photographs and descriptions it was better than my older guides. It also made me realise how little I knew my insects

The unofficial book club review no 2 | Through 360 Degrees - A blog by Mark  Cocker

At 600 pages it is vast and comprehensive and deals with all the families from the beautiful dragon and maiden flies to the less-enchanting bed-bugs. Much has been known about insects for years and Victorian clergy sometimes spent more time looking for beetles than writing their sermons.

One section took me by surprise. The last section of one hundred pages was on the Hymenoptera – ants, wasps, bees and relatives. Flipping through this I found five pages 472-476 on

Darwin’s Wasps

That was new to me, but these are the delightful parasitic wasps, whose females inject their eggs into some poor caterpillar and the larvae eat the caterpillar from the inside until they pupate, fly off and leave the poor very hungry caterpillar to curl up and die, which caused Darwin so much angst.

Here’s a female in action implanting its eggs into a caterpillar

Coined in Basel: The “Darwin wasps” | by Maridel Fredericksen | sci five |  University of Basel | Medium

Rather than expound these lovely critters here is wikipedia on them https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichneumonidae

I am not a great wiki fan, but it gives enough basic stuff on Darwin’s favourites. They have only been called Darwin’s wasps in the last few years and many articles are behind a paywall.

I cannot see Mrs Alexander including these wasps in her hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful – or this suggestion, which as serious as it is funny.

allthingorrible

Suffering is a problem as we will all encounter at sometime and Darwin felt it so strongly  as over the loss of his daughter Annie and used the Ichneumon fly to highlight his concern. suffering is the greatest challenge to the Christian Faith.

Now to nature red in tooth and claw.

To the cynical, natural history films are a mixture of sex and violence with either animals bonking in exotic ways or tearing each other to bits. Usually it is often a large cat tearing down a buck and then scoffing the gory remains. Yet most will find the ichneumon wasps too much for even the least squeamish. The female lays her eggs in a caterpillar and the larvae eat up the caterpillar from the inside but keeping the poor thing alive until they have metamorphosed into their imagos i.e. flying wasps. Those who have been to the tropics will know jiggers. The first thing you realise that your toe by a nail is very itchy. When you look it is red and the temptation is to scratch. After several days of infuriating discomfort you notice that the centre of the red area is a tiny black circle. Soon after that you can squeeze hard and out plops the larva, and the redness subsides. The ichneumon do it on a bigger scale!

Here is a picture of a caterpillar with the larvae exiting their host. Not a picture for the squeamish!!

ichneumon

Just imagine the larvae chomping away at the caterpillar which is just alive. Very grisly!

But this clip of a parasitic wasp is even more graphic and  takes the violence to an extreme.

Enjoy it!!

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/body-invaders-caterpillar-edition

This video of maggots eating a caterpillar alive from the inside and then sending it mad is the stuff of horror films and would make most people squirm. It’s bad enough describing how to get rid of jiggers to even the least squeamish, but this!! Yuk, double yuk! Now Charles Darwin was squeamish and that is why he gave up medicine when he witnessed an operation on a child. To Darwin the ichneumon fly casts doubt on the benevolence of God as he wrote to the Christian botanist Asa Gray on 22nd May 1860 on issues raised by The Origin of Species. He wrote;

I cannot persuade myself that a benificient &omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intent of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that cats should play with mice.

Here Darwin lays bare the whole problem of theodicy; how we understand the existence of pain, suffering and death with a loving God. Little did he think when he casually wrote that letter to Asa Gray raising issues of belief in God, that his comments would be read and considered by so many and come to epitomise the question of a loving God, and that these wasps would be named after him. This letter and the reference to the ichneumon is a reminder that Darwin’s doubts about Christianity were less intellectual and more on morality and suffering.

Darwin was a sensitive person and in 1827 gave up studying medicine in Edinburgh because he could not accept the suffering involved in operations, having witnessed one on a child. His sqeamishness turned to a questioning of a benificient God and the death of his ten year old daughter Annie in 1851 is often seen as the last straw for his Christian faith. However Jim Moore argued somewhat too neatly that this extinguished what little Christian faith he had. He had found hard to accept the death of his father in 1848, who as an unbeliever had no place in Redemption. During this period Darwin studied several works of theology which had moved beyond the edges of orthodoxy notably F.W.Newman’s Phases of Faith (1850). As Moore points out “there was no resting place en route from Anglicanism through Unitarianism to a purely theistic belief….Darwin gave up Christianity”(1 ). He did not give up belief in God, but could not reconcile a loving God with such unneccessary death and suffering. This questioning stayed with Darwin for the rest of his life. His religious musings in his Autobiography also show that his problems with Christianity were not so much intellectual as moral, and thus Darwin may be regarded as a typical Victorian moral critic of Christianity (2 ). Nowhere does this come out more poignantly than in his letter to Gray of 22nd May 1860, as the essence of his letter is the question,’How can a loving God allow suffering?’

Darwin had sent Gray a complimentary copy of the Origin in November 1859 and Gray, who had known of Darwin’s natural selection theory for several years, soon made his basic acceptance clear to Darwin. In the first part of 1860 Gray was both arranging the publication of the Origin in the U.S.A. and writing a favourable review for the Atlantic Monthly. Frequent letters passed between them mostly on these preceeding matters, but also openly discussing more religious matters. In a letter dated 22nd May Darwin aired his problems over suffering. Unfortunately the letter from Gray dated 7th May has not been found. Darwin’s letter dealt first with matters of the American edition and then of recent reviews, refering to negative ones by Sedgwick, Clarke, Duns and Owen. The second part of the letter deals with ‘the theological view of the question’ and Darwin dealt with theological rather than scientific problems, stating ‘I cannot see, as plainly as others do,…. evidence of design and beneficence.’ He could not see how a good God could have created an Ichneumon fly or allowed cats to play with mice. Ichneumonidae lay their eggs in live caterpillars which remain alive until the larvae pupate, and gave the basis for the SF film Alien! It is difficult not to feel the force of Darwin’s argument as he required a benificient theodicy, and could not reconcile ‘Nature Red in tooth and claw’ with a loving God. To Darwin a loving and wise God not only had to be an Intelligent Designer, He also had to be a Loving Designer.

Many of Darwin’s scientific predecessors, however, did not feel the problem of suffering so keenly as is evidenced by those who wrote the Bridgewater Treatises a generation earlier. The Bridgewaters represent the height of design and evidential theology in the 1830s. All the authors were Christian, mostly clergy. At least two discussed suffering. Buckland, the Oxford Geologist, who in the 1820s was the foremost proponent of Diluvialism, wrote On Geology and Mineralogy in 1836 which, according to Jon Topham, was the biggest seller of the eight and found in many mechanics’ institutes (3 ). This treatise presented the geological and palaeontological understanding of the mid-1830s through the eyes of one of geology’s foremost Anglican exponents. By 1835 Buckland had rejected his diluvialism and in 1838 became convinced of the Ice Ages proposed by Agassiz, following a visit to the Jura. Theologically Buckland was close to moderate Evangelicalism as was his friend Edward Copleston of Oriel College, whom Simeon considered to share all his essential beliefs. In the 1820s Buckland was encouraged by the Evangelical theologians J.B.Sumner (Archbishop of Canterbury 1848-62) and G.S.Faber, and by the ultra-conservative Bishop Shute Barrington of Durham (4 ). To Buckland and many contemporary Evangelicals predation did not contradict the beneficience of God, as is shown by Chap XIII of his Bridgewater Treatise; ‘Aggregate of Animal Enjoyment increased, and that of Pain diminished, by the existence of Carnivorous Races’. Neither did they accept that passages such as  Genesis 3 or Romans 8 raised problems for the concept of predation (5 ) Buckland is echoing Paley’s view of suffering in Natural Theology where he says without predation we would ‘see the world filled with drooping, superannuated, half-starved, helpless and unhelped animals’ (29 ).

And put satirically by the Oxford professor of chemistry, Charles Daubeny;

It is true  Paradise was delicious and nice,

Yet, if those born on earth had ne’er died,

‘Twould have been such a cram, like the berries in jam,

Pic-a-back men and women must ride.

William Kirby’s On the History, Habits and instincts of Animals (1835 ) was unique among the Bridgwater Treatises for adopting a young earth position to the consternation of other writers. The introductory chapter claimed that all strata were laid down in the Flood. Kirby was the leading early 19th century entomologist and his work was widely used by Darwin. This is borne out by his correspondence with the Rev John Rodwell in late 1860, describing cats and blind rats and how these supported the ideas in the Origin. On discovering that Kirby was Rodwell’s uncle he wrote, ‘whom I for as long as I can remember have venerated’. In 1818 Kirby and Spence had written a four volume Introduction to Entymology of which Darwin had a heavily annotated copy. As his was the first edition he probably used it for his beetlemania at Cambridge. In the second volume of his Bridgwater Treatise Kirby described the Ichneumon and how they destroy pests ‘by the goodness of Providence'(6 ). The chapter on insects speaks of them demonstrating the beneficence of God in their beauty, design and behaviour, especially the maternal care of the female wasp which found a suitable caterpillar for the larvae to feed on , slowly eating the poor beastie from the inside as in the video clip, something Darwin could not accept. However in his letter to Gray on 22nd May 1860 it is far more likely that Darwin was thinking of Kirkby’s account in his Entymology rather than his Bridgewater, as the former was one of Darwin’s most used texts. Kirkby described how, ‘The active Ichneumon braves every danger, and does not desist until her courage and address have insured subsistence for one of her future progeny'(7). Kirkby focussed on maternal care of the wasp and Darwin on the poor caterpillar.

There is not only suffering caused by predation , disease and other aspects of pain for living beings, but that caused by the earth itself, especially volcanoes and earthquakes. 2015 saw the ghastly earthquake in Nepal caused by a small shift in the Indian plate sliding under the Eurasian plate. It was nearly as powerful as the Nepal earthquake of 80 years ago and the Assam earthquake of 1950 (which shook our bungalow to bits). April was also the 200th anniversary of the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia, which killed thousands near the volcano and disrupted the climate and thus harvests for several years , causing even more deaths. No wonder the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which killed some 10,000 to 100,000 people in the city alone made many question a loving God. The repercussion were also theological and philosophical and the common argument that it showed God’s judgement lacked plausibility, especially as Lisbon’s Red Light district got off lightly! Among others Voltaire and Kant wrote on the questions raised, particularly of a totally benevolent creation.

With a growing understanding of geology and the structure of the earth, it was increasingly impossible not to see that these “natural evils” have been there from all time and WRITTEN into the structure of the earth, and not introduced by God after Adam and Eve went scrumping! There was no way anyone could accept the view of theodicy immortalised by Milton in Paradise Lost;

Of man’s first disobedience ,and the fruit

Of the forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Brought death into the world, and all our woe.

With loss of Eden…….

Without me giving a well-thought out understanding of death and suffering in relation to a belief in a loving God, we have to say that any  philosophical or religious view which does not accept that earthquakes, suffering and death are part of the inherent fabric of this planet is utterly false.

But there are those, who do not say this as Young Earth Creationists will echo the theodicy of John Milton and say there was no suffering or death, and even earthquakes before the Fall. It is the lynchpin of creationist thought and can be persuasive. A good example is Ken Ham’s musings on the Nepal earthquake;

https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2015/04/30/nepal-suffering-after-major-earthquake/

You see, God’s original creation did not contain earthquakes or any other natural disasters. When God saw all that He had made over Creation Week, He called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The original creation was free from any death or suffering. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve rebelled against God that death and suffering became a part of our world (Genesis 2:173:1–24). The death and suffering caused by this earthquake is a reminder of sin and the severe consequences that rebellion against our Creator brings.

I cannot buy into that and at this point I am somewhat theologically challenged by suffering, or bewildered  as was Darwin. Thus Darwin wrote ‘With respect to the theological view of the question …. I am bewildered’ as ‘There seems to be too much misery in the world’. A few lines further he wrote, ’On the other hand I cannot ….. conclude that everything is a result of brute force’ (21 May 1860). Perhaps like William Blake, Darwin could accept that God ‘designed’ the lamb, but did not frame the ‘fearful symmetry’ of the tyger (8 ). As Blake’s biographer wrote “Few poems have been scrutinised so closely”, and one reading is that a benevolent God made the lamb but not the tyger. Among critics, there is little agreement to its meaning. However his Book of Urizen seems to accept two creators one benevolent and Urizen the other, thus providing a mythological dualism to explain the negative in creation (9 ).

Suffering was an insuperable problem for belief to Darwin, and in the face of it he was left bewildered as to whether a beneficient God could have designed a world with so much animal pain. Darwin’s theodicy was a baffled reverent agnosticism; Buckland and Kirkby regarded animal suffering as God’s intention for the natural order, but this became less acceptable in a post-Chloroform society.

I originally gave much of this material at a Christians in Science conference in 1996 (when I was introduced to Intelligent Design in the form of Behe’s book). At the conference where this paper was presented the most perceptive and awkward question was on how I, as a minister, tried to minister to people in the midst of suffering. Two days after the conference I was due to bury a little baby of five months, so the questioner touched a nerve. To give a brief outline how I personally grapple with suffering, I start with God as Creator, echoing God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind (Job. 38 -42) and considering the Love of God reflected in the beauty of Creation. I then move to the death of Christ, the Son of God and the Crucified God who not only forgave sins but also entered into all human suffering. I often focus on the cry of dereliction “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ( Mark.15.34.) Pastorally, I look for the appropriate way of considering Christ’s death as entering into suffering and seek what is the right and sensitive approach to the people concerned. I find I have to say things with diffidence rather than a boldness, which would be insensitive. I have found Darwin’s concerns over suffering most helpful and challenging to my own pastoral work. Desmond’s treatment of the poignant correspondence between Huxley and Kingsley over the death of Huxley’s little son Noel has also been spiritually formative for me and gave me the kernel for a sermon at the annual Memorial Service in my Church. (Desmond op cit. p286-9) Darwin and Huxley both raised acute problems over the goodnesss of God in their pain over the loss of young children. No help will be found from an Intelligent Designer or a Cosmic Fine Tuner. Like Job they were angry with God for “taking away” their children, see Job chaps 2 and 3. The beginnings of an answer come in Job chap 38 where God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind and asks Job where he was at Creation. For succour one must go to the Suffering Servant who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” ( Isaiah 53.4.) Christians need to listen to both Darwin and Huxley over suffering as they raise the deepest of personal issues as well as the less important intellectual ones.

Ultimately, I do not get much further than echoing Jesus’s cry of dereliction;

My God , my god , why have you forsaken me.

Perhaps as we come to good Friday we can think of the bizarre suffering caused by Darwin’s wasps and then think of our suffering. We then need to think of Jesus’s death on the cross and think quietly and deeply on that and not just parrot “Jesus died for our sins.

The passion narratives of the gospels are most poignant in their accounts of Jesus’s death and make us think of the human condition of suffering  and evil, both petty  and on the industrial scale.

I suggest the slow reading of the account of his death in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Here is Mark on the death of Jesus

The Crucifixion of Jesus
21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 2829Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
The Death of Jesus
33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
I began with a parody of all things bright and beautiful. Here is her hymn on the meaning of Jesus’s death
There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good;
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by his precious Blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven, and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved,
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming Blood,
And try his works to do.

But don’t forget, unlike Jesus Christ Superstar, we don’t stop at the death of Christ and move on to the resurrection which makes all things new.

Crucifixion, Failure, and the Revolution of Submission - Catholic Stand

1.) Desmond, A. and Moore, J.Darwin, London: Michael Joseph, (1991), chap 25 ‘Our Bitter & Cruel Loss’ especially p299.

2.) On the “moral criticism” of Christianity see Altholz, J. ‘The Warfare of Conscience with Theology.’, (1976) in Parsons, G. Religion in Victorian Britain. Vol IV. , Manchester: Manchester University Press (1988), p150-169. (Useful, despite howlers on the history of science!)

3) Topham, J. ‘Science and popular education in the 1830s’, British Journal for the History of Science (1992) 25, 397-430.

4.) Rupke ,The Great Chain of History p14.

5.) Buckland. W, Geology and Mineralogy considered in reference to Natural Theology., 2 vols, London, 1836 etc.

Buckland, W. An inquiry whether the sentence of death… London 1839.

See S.J.Gould’s discussion of the same theme in ‘Nonmoral Nature’ in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, London, Penguin, 1984, p32-45.

6.) Paley, W. op cit, p312.

7.) Kirkby, W. On the power, wisdom, and goodness of God. as manifested in the Creation of Animals London, various editions, from 1853 edit vol ii, p243.

Kirkby, W and Spence, W., An Introduction to Entomology, London, 1856 (6th Edition), p194.

8.) William Blake, Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright; and Little lamb, who made thee?

9.) Ackroyd, P, BlakeLondon, (1995), pp399, p 143f & p175.

Are trans people ‘on a sacred journey’? | Psephizo

Over the last few years there has been a great increase of people, especially young people, wanting to change sex i.e. to be transgender, or as the ghastly terms put it to be “trans” rather than”cis”.

In fact you can only surgically modify our bodies to be sorta like the other sex, but every cell remains male or female i.e. XX or XY. There is no way XX can be changed to XY.

Without denying some of the problems some face, Dr Ian Paul deals both sensitively and incisively with the whole transgender issue and points out where Archbishop Rowan Williams and Steve Chalke have got things very wrong despite their concerns

He focuses on the bizarre and scary statement from there letter

To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole: precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.

Is that actually true? Or in accord with the love and teaching of Jesus

We could soon move onto issues like gender vs sex and whether or not we are binary etc. But not now!

Transgender - Wikipedia

Now read Ian Paul’s excellent article and stop and think.

Source: Are trans people ‘on a sacred journey’? | Psephizo

Bishops’ move against Big Oil. Backwards not Diagonal

Early in my ministry in the Church of England I found very few fellow priests who were bothered about the environment. Apart from Hugh Montefiore, who was regarded as a bit odd on this and no lover of Concorde, few were concerned. It was brought home to me in 1982, while on the Liverpool Diocese Board of Social Responsibility. I took advantage of bringing up the need for care of the environment, citing the cleanliness or not of the River Mersey. I was met with stony silence and my request never even made it to the minutes of the meeting.

I had a concern for the environment since working for a mining company in Africa over a decade earlier, but found no interest in the church, so ploughed my own furrow. I soon was convinced by all the arguments of Friends of the Earth et al – and E F Schumacher (who lived opposite my school) on nuclear energy – and from 1980 turned vicarage gardens into wildlife havens.

Then slowly the church turned and now we have leaders asking for no more fossil fuels. I don’t have space to discuss all the issues of the environment which have come up in the last 30 years, except to say that some approaches today are more bonkers than mine were in the 70s. My concerns predated any concerns over Global Warming/Climate Change, to which I was converted by Sir John Houghton in 1998, having had a geological scepticism before that. I had worked on Precambrian glaciation so was aware of a fluctuating climate. I cannot see how anyone can doubt that Climate Change is a serious issue, but I suggest many will wonder about me after reading this blog!

My concern is this letter from Church Leaders to the Government produced in March 2022. Also involved were Operation Noah, Cafod, Christian, Aid, Tear Fund and A Rocha, who, perhaps, provided the ideas behind the letter.

The Operation Noah press release can be read here;

https://operationnoah.org/featured/former-archbishop-of-canterbury-50-bishops-and-200-church-leaders-write-to-pm-and-chancellor-calling-for-renewables-push/

To many this will be an excellent prod to encourage the government to do the “right thing”. After all Christians should care for creation and this call to reduce fossil fuels must be an excellent idea. Or is it?

Oh that were the case but this letter shows a poor understanding of energy issues, transitions from fossil fuel, and is fatally marred by seeing everything in a binary way as clean or dirty fuels. Nuclear energy is just ignored and no questions are asked about the vast amount of metals from Copper to Rare Earths (and attendant pollution) needed to get away from fossil fuels. Or fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process, which depends on fossil fuels. There is no reference to hunger in a world where many rely on artificial fertilizers, which are made from petroleum. They also ignored the value of plastics in many things including medicine. Further they do not even consider the problem that renewables are intermittent and often produce very little electricity. No mention is made that storage of power is very limited – a matter of hours when it needs to be weeks.

At best the appeal is naive but if successful will cause untold suffering as many are forced into fuel poverty. It will also, make the church look silly.  Somehow we have to balance getting to Net Zero ASAP without great human suffering or pollution caused by unthinking green policies.

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZVkcT5VKz45P3tzdv2mKwznhyKRduubUqrx5_pcNX9U/edit

OPEN LETTER FROM CHURCH LEADERS TO BORIS JOHNSON AND RISHI SUNAK (Deadline for signatures: Wednesday 23 March at 12 noon via this form)

(Here I give the whole text of the letter and make comments on certain parts as quotations- i.e. like this;

The letter misunderstands this for the following reasons~!!)

Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor,

Spring Statement and Energy Security Strategy

As Church leaders from across the UK, we urge you to ensure a rapid shift from fossil fuels to clean energy in the upcoming Spring Statement and the UK’s new energy security strategy.

My comment is that this is based on the simplistic binary division of energy into clean or dirty. Fossil fuels are dirty, renewables are clean. In fact none are clean as this shows;

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/the-soapflake-scale-of-clean-and-dirty-energy/

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Not even electric is clean, even from wind or solar, due to all the materials needed to build the Grid and turbines and solar farms. Turbines are squalidly dirty when built on peat.

In fact, the materials, especially metals needed, are why no energy can be clean. Turbines look both stately and clean and solar gives off no emissions, but the amount of minerals needed is horrendous, along with disruption of the environment, especially if built on peat..

Just take one metal -Copper. On this I must say that I’ve worked underground in an African copper mine (and got CO poisoning), re-surveyed an ancient mine and prospected a few thousand square miles to work out the potential for copper. A recent calculation showed that for the UK to be 33% EV by 2030 then an additional 40,000tons of copper are needed annually. That is what a  tiny mine would produce and had my ancient mine had that amount in toto i.e 2 million tons of Copper ore at 2%, then it was probably viable. I would need to find a similar sized mine every year until 2030 and that is just for Britain. Possible reserves in Anglesey and Cornwall could produce 500,000 tones of copper, which is a fraction of what EVs need.

So how much would you need on a worldwide basis?

The figure is astronomical and would be at least a 50% increase on annual copper demand, which could not be met by recycling.

Where would the copper come from?

Now repeat it for Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and the Rare Earths. Lithium is already shooting up in price.

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Those who have a gung-ho outlook on renewables never ever ask this question and it is left for a few geologists to bring it up but it is not heard. Most I mention it to have never heard of the problem, even if they are solidly green.

Add to all that all the waste rock from mining and the water needed to mine.

This plan needs urgently to tackle the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis affecting millions of the most vulnerable people in our country, including many of our Church members.

This is clearly essential but how will banning any new UK oil and gas do this? All it will do will make us dependent on imports and the vagaries of the market. It also ignores the fact that much petroleum is not used for energy.

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Or more visually. What are these church leaders going to stop using?

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The letter simply fails to see, whether we like it or not, we will still be using fossil fuels in the 2040s. Better for all to use our own.; less emissions by avoiding importing, and lots of tax revenues to spend on the more vulnerable. Even dishy Rishi might be happy.

We welcome the UK Government’s decision to ban Russian oil and gas imports, which are fuelling the catastrophic war in Ukraine.

Why are we importing from Russia?

Before about 2013 virtually no gas was imported from Russia whether to Britain or much of the EU. (I’d need to check details on EU.) The amount has increased year by year. Yet both Britain and the EU rejected fracking their own gas reserves due to the pressure from Green groups, who did not have a penchant for rigorous accuracy.

At times the stories put out by greens were face-palming for their errors and these were echoed by church groups, as I found in the Diocese of Blackburn. I still smile to read that Acetic  and citric acid are pollutants. That would mean no vinegar or lemon juice with fish and chips. When diocesan environmental officers make that type of howler we have a problem.

All the green groups took up the anti-fracking cause and often appeared on RT – Russia Television, where there were given the red carpet to expound their cause. Putin must have loved it! Friends of the Earth when two OAPs reported them to the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading leaflets. I do not know why FoE is regarded as a flagship environmental group.

Artificial Fertilizers

Oil and gas is not only needed for fuel but also as a feedstuff for artificial fertilizers without which many would starve.  This is the Haber-Bosch process which artificially fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere for fertilizers. A major producer is Ukraine and already the war  putting these under threat. Why wasn’t this mentioned in the letter? Organic sounds wonderful, and you can practice it in your garden or in a few farms, but it will not feed the world. To get rid of oil means you close down the Haber-Bosch process which would result in serious starvation.  Further those opponents of GMOs, like Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion did their best to stop GMOs which fixed nitrogen.

However much one might prefer organic food a rapid transition spells disaster as in Sri Lanka.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/07/world/asia/sri-lanka-organic-farming-fertilizer.html

This is not to say the present agricultural system is ideal or even good. Overuse of artificial fertilizer is a serious problem, with run-off into rivers. My own view is that it is not good, and at times horrific, and needs to move to “mixed economy” of artificial AND organic along with a form of rewilding and regenerative agriculture. This has come from both the non-organic and organic sector.

It is not helped by many, especially church green groups supporting LOAF; Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fair Trade.

The Organic is the most contentious as so much of our food is grown using artificial fertilizers. When presented as dogma it is not helpful.

Blackburn Environmental Group expects members to support LOAF, which means I could not be in that Group, despite having had largely organic gardens for over 40 years, with a compost bin!! This means that the group will only allow one perspective on the environment, rather like only allowing conservative evangelicals on the evangelism and mission committee! I will go further and say the churches on the environment have followed only one narrative and that is anti-big oil. Thus any statement is very one-sided, and thus I am as bad as any red-neck driller who cares nowt about creation!!

Many green and aid groups, Christian or not, have often opposed GMOs and non-organic farming  – without providing an alternative. 15 years ago Christian aid was very opposed to GMOs, and along with Green Christian have help to create a negative image of GMOs. I know I may have gone off on a tangent on Organic and GMOs, but this illustrates the way too many christian greens think and close down a diversity of views. But it was not a tangent as it is all part of an extreme green agenda. Getting rid of oil will also mean getting rid of fertilizers and pushing many into hunger.

We need to see that as fracking was stopped in UK and EU due to misinformation from Green groups, other sources had to be found. Russia were happy to oblige, as are Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now as the whole of Europe is dependent on Russian gas we should see the problem. Whether fracking would have provided enough gas we don’t know as protesting green groups made sure that even proper exploration and assessment could not happen.

Here is a meme from 2015 based on a wildly inaccurate Guardian article. BTW Sir Mark Walport never never never said what the meme and guardian ascribed to him.

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The UK has a duty to demonstrate global leadership on the climate crisis, as hosts of the recent COP26 climate summit and as we continue to hold the COP Presidency.

We call on you to use the Spring Statement to provide financial and fiscal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially solar and wind energy

Now that sounds very good, but it does not consider the position of renewable energy today. Turbines and solar farms seem a nice clean way of obtaining energy, and at times produce half of electrical power. However half of electrical energy  is only a quarter of all energy used in the UK as most transport, industry and heating depends on fossils fuels.

Much of the green media trumpet the success when renewables produce 50% of electricity, but go quiet when little is produced as when there is no wind or sun. This happened in December and now during this week of the spring equinox. As a result most electricity is produced by GAS powered power stations and COAL is brought in to cover the shortfall. Most of last week and this week more electricity comes from coal rather than wind.

Consider these graphics for 24th March 2022. These show how little wind is contributing to electrical generation.

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Redraw that graph in your minds removing gas and then nuclear. Without them never more than 12k MV were produced, whereas at least 25k was needed – at midnight and at most 36k. At most 5k was produced from wind and solar, dropping to 1 or 2k at night. Yes, it was windless, but even so there is a massive gap between generation from renewables and what is actually needed. Pragmatism rather than ideology is needed.

The graph below shows the difference between demand and actual supply from wind power. It’s going to take a very looooooooooooong time to bridge that gap. Jumping to renewables now and closing down fossil fuels will simply creating a massive energy gap.

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and for most of March. Gas is dominant

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Renewables sound lovely in theory and their capacity may equal that of fossil fuels but when the is no wind or sunshine, no energy is produced, so the capacity is effectively very small.  Sunshine at night is obvious but to get to reasonable amounts from wind you need a wind speed of 15  mph or more. Above 20 mph turbines are whirring but cycling is unpleasant!! No matter how large the capacity, absence of wind or sun means little energy is produced.

Another unaddressed issue is the question of energy storage. Electricity produced has to be used immediately in the absence of storage and at present there is minimal storage. “Big batteries” may store enough for a few hours, but to be effective storage must be enough for several weeks, as that is how long a windless or sunless spell can last. The church leaders did not consider this and when we look for it we find a glib appeal to battery storage. The technology is not ready yet and without storage renewables cannot supply energy needs. Any transition is going to be slower that the technological change.

Here is a technical article laying out what is needed for 24 days storage.https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/236723/1/Ruhnau-and-Qvist-2021-Storage-requirements-in-a-100-renewable-electricity-system-EconStor.pdf

We must ask how quickly does a transition need to be to make up for that shortfall. Any realistic assessment will suggest many years and not before 2040.

Above all if we are going to transition then we must have something to transition to, or rather the same amount of power for electricity, transport and heating.

Nuclear Energy?

Surprisingly (or not) no mention was made of nuclear energy and I suggest this was deliberate as many green groups are as opposed to nuclear as fossil fuel. Green groups have campaigned against nuclear for over half a century and sucked in many (including myself until I deconverted)

and the retrofitting of homes

That covers many things whether insulation or new heating systems. It cannot be denied that most Britons have been dilatory about insulation over the last 50 years. Many simply did not bother. Over the decades I found we were out of step or ahead as we went for basic insulation and energy saving. Some may remember the ginormous and expensive lightbulbs of the mid-eighties.

As well as many not bothering there was no inducement for landlords to insulate. I remember last century persuading the Parsonage Board to pay for fibreglass insulation for me to install.

Today retrofitting for insulation is very expensive if the maximum is done. In 2013 we moved into a dormer bungalow which had little insulation except cavity wall. On moving in we did the low hanging fruit for about £1000 or so – thick curtains, one ceiling insulated for £400 (I should have done more), improved loft insulation, trapdoor  (no cost as I had the right-sized wood and old carpet), draught elimination etc. I worked it out that without grants it would take 20 years to recoup the expenditure needed on reduced bills to pay for full insulation.

New heating is more problematical. Most rely on gas, but any replacements is not cheap and beyond the budgets of half the population. This includes heat pumps, which have something unproven about them.

This raises some issues but retrofitting will take years and is costly. Appeals sound good but are often not very achievable.

and other buildings across the UK. These measures would reduce heating bills, decrease carbon emissions and increase our energy security.

Clearly, any insulation etc will reduce all of these. Something should also be said about transport and landscaping for saving energy. We need more evangelistic cycling bishops.

The Spring Statement must include no support for new oil and gas developments. The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C.

As oil and gas will not be phased out completely before 2050 there will have to be new developments in many parts of the world, if not the UK, then USA, Middle East, Africa etc. We need to ask whether Saudi Arabia is more just  than Russia as , e.g. 80 executed in one day in the last month.

At present by rejecting Russia we need to get oil and gas from the Middle East and USA, as Britain produces insufficient oil or gas. Yet there are untapped off-shore and on-shore sources. Some on-shore  wells have been producing since before WWII, and the fracked well at Elswick in Lancs  has been producing gas since the 1990s. (Yes, this well was fracked and I have copies of the drill logs and the chemicals used for fracking!!). There several potential fields off-shore and the potential for gas was not  fully explored in Lancs and Yorks (and 6000ft below my house) before the plug was pulled. The advantage of homegrown oil and gas is that no gas is lost in transit, as happens with LNG and instead of paying high prices to producers the government would gain large tax revenues, which could then be put into retrofitting. Slamdunk. QED.

New oil and gas production will not deliver lower energy bills for families facing fuel poverty and will have no impact on energy supply for years.

This is an old mantra and thrown out to stop the discussion.

The use of UK oil and gas gives a tax windfall, over imports.

How many years? This sounds like a typical green objection from their playbook.In the 40s during WWII A new oil field was opened up in months in the Midlands, so it may not take years as opponents to fracking claim.

We urge you to increase support for vulnerable households across the UK facing a cost of living crisis as a result of increasing food and energy prices, through measures including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

i find this a bit rich as many church groups eg Operation Noah, Green Christian. Operation Noah, Diocesan Environment Groups have joined in with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion etc demonising “big oil”, and failing to see that without workable alternatives to “big oil” and their products, a rapid change to renewables makes the cost of living crisis worse.

Many of our Churches have set 2030 net zero targets and are taking action to decarbonise our buildings, including through the installation of solar panels, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures.

General Synod’s Net Zero 2030 aim was simply absurd and will result in failure. far better would be to concentrate on what can be done to church buildings etc, and encourage all church members and beyond to consider their own homes, travel and gardens and how efficiencies and improvements will reduce carbon footprints.

An example of failure cause by impatience and devotion to Net Zero is fitting a church with a hydrogen-based system. It simply did not work and had to be replaced – with another OIL BOILER.

More than 2,000 churches across the UK participated in Climate Sunday ahead of COP26 and called on the UK Government to unleash a clean energy revolution and limit global heating to 1.5°C.

Unleash? What will they unleash? It doesn’t exist!!!!

Between them, UK Churches have more than £20 billion of assets under management. Working with other investors, Churches can make a significant impact in tackling the climate crisis and in supporting a fair and fast transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.

Any transition will not be fast as fossil fuels will still be used in 2050 both for energy and plastics. How can you have a fast transition without new energy sources  in place?

We need to do far more than intone; Clean and dirty, green, renewables, transition etc.

The International Energy Agency stated last year that achieving the world’s climate goals requires the finance flowing to renewable energy projects to treble by 2030. We call on the UK Government to implement the policies to enable this to happen.

This will increase capacity but production depends on wind and sun!

there is no point until there is energy storage to avoid a Dunkelflaute when wind and sun fail.

Now is the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels and fund a fair and fast transition, which will secure our future economic prosperity and protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

It can only be the time to end our dependence on fossil fuels, when alternatives are in place. Renewables simply cannot provide the energy needed for our society to function. Until then we are stuck with fossil fuels

This is simply a myopic view considering only fossil fuels with no consideration to what alternatives are available. Sadly this misplaced vision has been pushed not only by secular green groups and more recently Extinction Rebellion but Christian Groups lie  Operation Noah  ( Bright Now) and other groups who support and are behind the letter.

To conclude the letter is simply ill thought out and demonstrated a total one-sided and a lack of knowledge or understanding of energy issues.

Yours sincerely,

Followed by 500 signatures.

**************************************

CONCLUSION

The letter is a simple message go renewable now.

It has a narrow focus as if it is a simple solution of get rid off fossil fuels and move to renewables.

This assumes it is possible to do it and will be a rapid transition. It cannot be if only as there is no effective storage as yet.

They also see fossil fuels only in relation to energy and fail to see oil used for fertilizer and necessary materials eg plastic, which is essential in hospitals. Also our water supply needs chlorine, which is obtained from brine using natural gas at Widnes.

The letter is marred by a Tunnel vision against fossil fuels

They fail to register any benefits; longevity, health, material wealth (both excessive and moderate) travel, even these come with environmental and climate costs.

They see only one solution to climate change and ignore changes to agriculture, trees, and lifestyle.

It is very one-sided, relying on  poor advice or research probably with  a conscious or unconscious bias. This typifies work of green groups.

It is almost the churches’ equivalent of Extinction Rebellion, who over-egg their arguments and are often inaccurate.  It is surprising that any bishop would support them.

For myself prior to ordination I was mining and exploration geologist focusing on copper. I have long been an environmentalist and look to the breadth of environmental issues.

William Buckland – Ice Man

Buckland was one of the great 19th century geologists who taught at Oxford. Here is a sketch of him teaching. His students included Charles Lyell, Samual Wilberforce and one  saint, Saint John Henry Newman.

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In June 1842 Charles Darwin undertook his last geological field trip. He was at his father’s house, The Mount  in Shrewsbury, that month and after a winter of sickness, he felt somewhat better. Thus, he went in his gig to Snowdonia to assess whether Buckland was correct in identifying proof of a former Ice Age. In October 1841 William Buckland travelled to Wales with Thomas Sopwith (his grandson designed the Sopwith Camel, a WW1 fighter plane) to see whether Agassiz could be right about a former Ice Age. In a few days of horrendous Welsh weather Buckland identified all the main glacial troughs.

Buckland was one of the leading geologists of the early 19th century but there is no decent biography of him apart from Rupke’s study  The Great  Chain of Being (1983). His eccentricities were numerous, but are mentioned more than his geological work.

He was the first to find a Mesozoic mammal, worked with Mary Anning on Dorset fossils, wrote a Bridgewater treatise on geology and, my interest here, introduced the concept of Ice Ages to Britain in 1940.

Before then what we now see as glacial deposits and glacial geomorphology was explained by an effect of the Deluge. In the 1830s Charpentier, a mine own in the Rhone valley, and Louis Agassiz, of Neuchatel and then Harvard, recognised that glaciers were far more extensive and explained erratics like the Pierre au Bot above Neuchatel. Darwin was originally totally unconvinced and preferred floating icebergs to explain erratics and had explained the Parallel roads of Glen roy as fluctuations of sea level, only to be trounced by Agassiz in 1840.

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When he visited Switzerland in October 1838 and met Agassiz, Buckland was convinced of an Ice Age – note the singular, as then no one envisaged a whole series over 2 million years. Two years later in 1840 Buckland, Agassiz and Lyell travelled north on a glacier hunt.

Just south of Lancaster they found signs of glaciation as it is the southern limit of a drumlin swarm. I live 10 miles south of Lancaster and see them whenever I go north. In the Lake District they noticed the glacial cwms on the east side of Hellvelyn. Going further north they checked out Darwin’s work at Glen Roy and found what he admitted was a “great blunder” . It was not a lowering of sea level but a lake dammed by a glacier as Agassiz had found by the Aletsch glacier.

No. 857: Tyndall on Parallel Roads

And so in October 1841 Buckland headed for Snowdonia with his friend Thomas Sopwith.

Buckland

Buckland dressed for Welsh Glaciers by Thomas Sopwith, note the writing. This shows Sopwith’s sense of humour, but some humourless sciency types thought it was getting at Buckland for believing a young earth. That didn’t stop a recent biographer of Buckland saying it was on the way to Scotland!!

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View from top of Y Garn 3104ft showing the Llugwy trough leading to Capel Curig, Llyn Idwal, a morainic lake. Buckland visited the vlley behind Tryfan in the middle distance and note glacial features

To the left is Nant Francon, viewed below – with embellishments.

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In 1831 de la Beche painted this watercolour to show that little rivers could not produce big valleys. He was right, but ideas of glaciation were a few years ahead.

This map shows the routes of both Buckland and Darwin in 1841-2 with some further details. I have retraced both routes.

1842JOURNEY

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The lake Llyn y Gader is WSW of Snowdon summit. The glacial troughs were sorted by Buckland in an amazing bit of work.

for detail please read my paper in Proc Geol Assoc BucklandDarwinWalesIce

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Snowdon from the old coaching inn Plas y Brenin taken early morning. Buckalnd identified the glacier coming down here from Snowdon, but it also went down Nant Gwynant.

Buckland and Sopwith started at the glacial lakes at Ellesmere before heading for Snowdonia. despite filthy weath they sorted out the essential glacial features in a few days

One place he stopped was by Rhyd Ddu (the start of the quietest path up Snowdon, which I climbed last year on the 60th anniversary of my first ascent of Snowdon in 1961. It was about my 50th ascent.) . There he found a roche moutonnee by Llyn y Gader

which Tom Sopwith sketched

He also did a water colour of Buckland inspecting the roche moutonee which some think is Mary Anning. Compare the scenery with the pen and ink sketch and photo.

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It even appears on book covers!!

May be an image of text that says "MARY ANNING 1799-1847 A LIFE ON THE ROCKS Nigel NigelJClarke J Clarke"

This is an interesting sketch in Llanberis  made in the 1820s. The unannoted copy is to be found in the Oxford Museum but this with the word “Glacier” added is found in the Agassiz collection at Neuchatel. Thanks to Hugh Torrens telling me to go and find it while in Neuchatel.

No photo description available.

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On the left is one of the many erratics blocks in Llanberis Pass. Snowdon is up to the right.

For more read my paper which deals with Darwin as well.

Darwin spent a few days in Capel Curig and then several around Cwm Idwal before moving on to Moel Tryfan and then Llanberis and Snowdon.

For further reading

Darwin, Buckland and the Welsh Ice Age, 1837 – 1842, Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 123 (2012) 649–662

the original paper

BucklandDarwinWalesIce

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help

A challenging blog on how Charities can fail in their aims.

I would add some charities become more activist than actually helping. Here some of the green ones do the least effective good as they are wedded to certain activist obsessions. I wonder which I mean!

Grace + Truth

The scale and profile of church-based social action projects has grown significantly over the last 20 years.

There has been a particular rise in projects which distribute practical resources, with food banks being the most high profile example.

Critical reflection

The growth of such activity raises questions which need to be reflected on. Is this work having the desired impact? Is it empowering authentic change?

Robert Lupton has 4 decades of experiences in urban community activism. He thinks there is nowhere near enough critical thinking about the end results of such social action:

‘The compassion industry is almost universally accepted as a virtuous and constructive enterprise. But what is surprising is that the outcomes are almost entirely unexamined.’

Blunt message

Toxic Charity is a short book with a blunt message. Although published in America ten years ago, it is very relevant to the UK context today. We need to engage…

View original post 737 more words

Lying about Lyell

For several years “Is Genesis History?” Has been churning out videos and articles from a creationist standpoint, trying to show the earth is only  a few thousand years old and geologists have got it wrong.

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The group are centred around videos striving to show that Young earth Creationism is a viable option and better than the sad, sad story of long age geology and evolution. They have recruited experts, some of whom have Ph Ds in geology  eg Kurt Wise , Marcus Ross, Andrew Snelling and Steve Austin. I’ve met all bar Snelling. It’s odd they have Ph Ds in geology and then say it’s all wrong. Here’s a list of experts with bios;

https://isgenesishistory.com/category/experts/

The videos and short blogs are posted on FB and social media at regular intervals. Here’s one on how to measure geological time, which is replete with inaccuracy, inuendo and falsehood, which completely gets dear Lyell wrong. The geologists I mentioned should know that!!

It is classic science denial from an ideological standpoint which twists the science to convince their clientele, who usually know little science. Thus their beliefs are reinforced and doubters forced out as heretics.

Part of the Explore the Film series.

5.How do you measure Time?

“The Bible would say that the past is the key to the present.” – Andrew Snelling, Geologist at SP Crater & Sedona, Arizona

This youtube video is very critical of radiometric age dating and other things but I’ll focus on the short blog

Learn more about radioisotope dating and flood geology in

https://isgenesishistory.com/5-measure-time/?fbclid=IwAR2d2EFczYUjQbSkLSg6XsyQ55NqY7DbKDHHD3YypoA3VzB3ud0FJghRfYY

The text of this is very short so I reproduce it full.

If the Bible presents a concise timeline of history, where does the idea of millions of years come from?

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm. Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions. Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

If the Bible presents a concise timeline of history, where does the idea of millions of years come from?

This sounds very plausible but begs so many questions.

Yes the bible does have a time line, but even for conservative scholars it is difficult to be precise on dates before King Saul in about 1000BC. This is not to question whether all those mentioned never lived, but giving dates is very tricky.  At best one can say Abraham lived in about 2000BC and before that the text is too vague to compile a timeline, as did Ussher in 1656.

To ask:

 where does the idea of millions of years come from?

is a loaded question implying that the naughty boys like Lyell simply made it up to deny the Bible. That is simply untrue.

You are given the idea that it was conjured up to discredit the bible.

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

These two sentences simply do not acknowledge either what Lyell did or where “long ages” came from.

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It is fair to say that before 1660 most educated Christian s in western Europe thought the earth was thousands of years old. In 1490 Columbus not only thought that the earth had a smaller circumference but also reckoned it to be a few thousand years old and wouldn’t last much longer! The classic date was Ussher’s

Jacobus_ussher

4004BC date of 1656, which didn’t have much longevity, though it was included in some bibles from 1700. Cracks/faults appeared in a few years as geological savants began to study strata and by 1700 many of these (mostly Christian) realised it was older than Ussher thought. These included Rev John Ray, who tentatively added on tens of thousands to 4004BC in the 1680s, thanks to his Welsh friend. Edward Lhuyd, of the flower lloydia serontia.

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During the 18th century more and more evidence was found for an old earth as more and more throughout Europe looked at rocks. By 1800 hardly any, who could be called geologists, reckoned the earth to be thousands. De Luc and his ilk went for hundreds of thousands and others including Hutton went for millions. None went for 4004BC. So when Lyell was born in 1798 “long ages” were well and truly proven.

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Hutton chipping away

Unless Lyell was a geologist while in diapers/nappies, which I doubt, “long ages” had nothing to do with him and was the prevailing, unanimous view, when he started to study geology under Rev William Buckland in about 1820. Buckland reckoned on millions but the Rev William Coneybeare, a friend and sparring partner of Lyell only went for quadrillions!!

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Buckland in Wales in 1841 and lecturing at Oxford, possibly to Sam Wilberforce & St John Newman

None for these geologists from 1660 started with “the idea of long ages” but continually found evidence pointing to an older earth.

Lyell and his contemporaries had a “new paradigm” but simply built on those who went before. Here I must add that “Catastrophists” and “Uniformitarians” all accept a very ancient earth, so far as “long ages” were concerned they sang from the same hymn book.

As “Is Genesis History?” has several with degrees in geology, it is amazing that they could support such a serious error of fact. It is difficult not to ascribe a severe moral lapse as this seems to more than amateurs getting confused about the science.

At best this is duplicitous.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm. Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions.

This is a duplicitous slur on how radiometric age-dating has been used since 1907, when Boltwood first tentatively applied it to rocks. To say that geologists “interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm.” is simply untrue. One only has to read the history of the development of radiometric age dating. This can be seen in Cherry Lewis’s biography of Arthur Holmes,

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who wrote successive books on the age of the earth from 1913. Initially he thought the age of the earth was 1.8 billion and by the 1940s found the evidence pointed to 4.6 billion. I could mention Claire Pattison too, who was more precise and whose age for the earth is still accepted 70 years later.

“Paradigm” is used here to cast doubt on radiometric age dating. That is not honest.

Creationists often produce “anomalies” but these have been showm to be misrepresentations of research as over Austin’s claims on Mt St Helens

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and Woodmorappe’s list of a 1000 anomalous ages. Years ago I checked about 200 of his list and every time I found he had misrepresented the source.  Exod 20 vs 16 springs to mind.

Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

I suppose having flung out these false accusations he comes out with the ultimate explanation;

Noah’s Flood

He fails to say many sediments are not laid down by water – e.g desert sands or glacial strata, or that limestone reefs form very slowly.

This presentation is a mixture of bad science and duplicity. One would expect more from Christians, whether or not they have geology degrees.

If you want to read more , try this

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Antifracking goes upmarket!

In the heady days of the protests outside the fracking site at Preston New Road one got used to the scruffy temporary buildings, the Nanas smoking fags, occasional visits from the elite from the Green Party – and, of course, Geza Frackman /Tarjani who made friends with everyone and has yet to be vaccinated. along with that was the barrage of disinformation from the various frackfree groups, who got upset when dissected.

Friends of the Earth had a go too, and got their knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority

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We were told how massive quakes would bring down houses, many would get cancer (sometimes said just after having a fag), water courses would be polluted, fracking fluid contain dangerous chemicals, wildlife would be destroyed, and the traffic would be excessive. all these claims were neutered by reputable bodies, but they were repeated ad nauseam.

Below is a poster on Preston New Road, and a meme based on a dodgy comment from an activist scientist, wrongly ascribed to Sir Mark Walport by the Graudain

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Of course, anyone who supported fracking was a climate denier, capitalist pig, a Tory lacky, a shill for big oil and so on. The churches fell for it and repeated the same stories in their publicity.

Fracking came to a sudden stop in 2018 after a Mag 3 tremor, which wouldn’t even get a mention in San Francisco, where they occur almost weekly. In 2019 a moratorium was imposed by the government, which still allowed geothermal energy which results in larger “quakes”.

Now it seems that the antifracking horror stories have been taken on by such august groups as the Conservative Environment Network (of which more in another blog and the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit https://eciu.net/  ECIU

It has an impressive board “The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s Advisory Board reflects the breadth of interest within Britain in energy and climate change issues. Members of the board advise ECIU on matters of science, economics, policy, community interest and communication. ECIU is deeply appreciative of their advice, support and involvement.” It includes Michael Howard, Andrea Leadsom, Lord Puttnam and Lord Krebs among others. Their purpose is summed up:

   We support journalists, parliamentarians and other communicators with accurate and accessible briefings on key issues, and work with individuals and organisations that have interesting stories to tell, helping them connect to the national conversation.

Sadly this tweet does not live up to that ideal and is sweeping, biased and inaccurate. The Nanas would have been proud of it.

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The four negative arguments against fracking are simplistic and could come out of the Friends of the Earth play book.

1 Geology Of course the geology is different, as it is in various parts of the USA! The strata in Pennsylvania are much more folded and faulted than those in New Mexico! In UK oil and gas has been safely extracted near Studland, the Weald, Leicestershire, Yorkshire  and in Lancashire, Formby and Elswick, close to the cuadrilla sites. Many of these involved fracking e.g Elswick

2. Industry can’t do sums That needs explanation and is irresponsible with substantiation.

3. Little impact on prices The price to the customer is only part of the issue. British produced gas may not be cheaper but it has two advantages. First, tax revenues would be very valuable. Secondly, importing gas involves increase of emissions due to transport  and loss of gas in transit. Meanwhile we simply import gas from all over the world and haven’t even checked whether there is gas under the north of England.

4 Unpopular For ten years green groups had a sustained campaign of misinformation and scaremongering. A good example is Friends of the Earth who were hauled over the coals by the Advertising Standards Authority. Living 10 miles from the Lancashire site, I came across many examples of locals being given false information. No wonder it is unpopular.

The unpopularity was proclaimed after 25,000 letters of objection were sent to Lancashire County Council in 2015. As I wrote in my blog back in 2015 ”  Out of all the objections , over 18000 were template letters templates & 11500 from outside Lancashire.”  The template letter was full of misrepresentation too.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/25000-letters-of-objection-to-fracking-in-lancashire/

Really ECIU should be more politically savvy. 

The Diagram.

The diagram presents fracking as a very dirty and dodgy method, and if it were true I would oppose fracking everywhere! But;

Consider each snippet of text.

  1. Yes, it uses loads of water as does every other source of energy e.g. nuclear and coal. Often the water can be re-used.
  2. Oh yeah! Some of the chemicals are hazardous to health. This harks back to the list of over 600 dangerous chemicals in a list made in the USA nearly 10 years ago. Most are no longer used in the USA and almost all banned inn the UK. In the UK, the main chemical  – 98% – is that lethal substance water. Along with that some surfacants are used  (same as in kitchen products.) In 2015 a Friends of the Earth leaflet claimed carcinogens were used. It was slated after complaints from cuadrilla and two OAPs by the Advertising Standards Agency. Under pressure  on BBC Northwest  Dr Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth identified the carcinogen  – SAND!!!!! In fact Governor Hickenlooper  of Colorado actually drank some!
  3. Methane can leak or be vented. Yes, a little is. This can either be by accident or necessary during exploration.  As firms want to sell the gas, they don’t want leaks as that means loss of profit
  4. Spills and leaks of fracking fluid. That is always possible, whenever fluids are involved – eg agricultural run-off, sewage or industrial pollutants polluting land and waterways. None should happen. Great care is taken on fracking sites – evident to all who visited them. The site at Preston New Road was carefully protected as I saw on several occasions. There were no spills or leaks with Cuadrilla. Some happened in the USA but were mostly due to badly constructed wells.
  5. The casings are considerable and effective. 
  6. Oh dear, the picture of ponds is so American. Yes the ponds for contaminated waste water. However these ponds are not allowed in the UK and the water has to be taken off site to be treated.
  7. Horizontal  drilling! Yes, but they should have made it clear that the actual fracking is done about 6000ft below surface so there is no chance of cracks making it to surface. The maximum extent of cracks has been found to be 1000ft, so still a mile belwo surface.

It is surprising, or not, that the ECIU used a hostile American diagram, which was produced not to inform ABOUT fracking, but to persuade against fracking. The diagram is UNTRUE for fracking in the USA and doubly untrue for fracking in the UK.

This is very careless slovenly reflecting badly on the ECIU. It seems that inexperienced and ill-informed employees are allowed to make public statements on social media.

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finally the diagram is typical of “popular” diagrams produced to “explain” fracking. Most contain serious errors, but none give are fair picture of just how deep down fracking will take place. Form diagrams one would conclude a few hundred feet, whereas it is 6000 to 8000ft, i.e double the height of most British mountains. Imagine having to climb a mountain twice as high as Snowdon or Scafell!!

Before that here’s another dodgy diagram

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Now a undodgy diagram:

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