Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

The month of September has been designated the Season of creation which is a magnificent idea as so often God as Creator and his Creation has been sidelined, almost to the point that the Gospel is just about Post-mortem salvation, with only a narrow concern on personal ethics. Or the more “liberal” who have a social concern but are indifferent to the environment and thus Creation.

In my church we are having Sept 2 to Oct 14 as our Season of Creation as it is bounded by Harvest Services and a Pet Service. That gives great opportunity to consider a variety of themes on God as creator, human responsibility to Creation, whether plants , animals, minerals,water and the need to ensure that there is enough for all.

There is much to consider apart from the Big bad wolf of fossil fuels, which at times become THE only issue.

As part of the Season of Creation Operation Noah  has launched a campaign to encourage parishes and local churches to divest from fossil fuels.


This follows the partial divestment by the General Synod of the Church of England in July 2018. Operation Noah did not thinkt hey went far enough

This is the blog of the new campaign  http://brightnow.org.uk/action/divest-your-church-season-of-creation/

As our scorching summer gradually begins to fade into autumn, the Bright Now campaign is inviting local churches to support the movement for fossil free Churches. Could you join us in this next stage of the campaign? ………………

Source: Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

Their aim is to encourage all to divest totally from fossil fuels as soon as possible. In their reports Bright Now of 2013 http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bright-Now-Report.pdf and Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future on June 2018 http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Bright-Now-Transition-Report-2018-web.pdf they give very clear and forceful arguments which divestment should be done immediately, with a large number of references.

If these two reports are the only things you read, then you will conclude that for the sake of the planet and humanity, immediate divestment is the only ethical action. Here they are in line with groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, McKibben’s 350.org and many fossil fuel campaigns.

However I consider the whole Operation Noah  and Bright Now campaigns and reports to be very inadequate and misleading, and thus fatally flawed.

Major Issues simply disregarded

First there are aspects about fossil fuels and energy which they simply ignore.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel
  2. Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades
  3. Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

Now to consider each in turn.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel

Fossil fuels are used for far more than providing energy as this picture shows.

Fossil fuels are used for Medicines, Cosmetics, Plastics, synthetic rubber, cleaning products, and asphalt. They could have included artificial fertilisers without which many in our world would starve and the making of essential chemicals like chlorine which means that our water is safe to drink.


This gives some of the things made just from petroleum. Try to eliminate all these from your daily life!!

In fact about a third of each barrel of oil produced is , on average, not used for fuel. As for gas, some is used  to make plastics, fertilisers and other things.

Yes, I know, many plastic things are awful, especially the excessive use of single use plastic and it is great that these are campaigned against.

For those who do not have perfect health (or even eye-sight) we depend on plastic for so many things medical.

Perhaps  readers could get up one morning and vow to use nothing dependent or made from oil, gas or coal.  First, you will have no heat, Secondly no water, thirdly no electricity, fourthly, no clothes from artificial fibres, fifthly you can’t take your medicines, sixthly you can put your glasses on etc etc.

Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades

It would be fantastic to get rid of all fossil fuels by the end of the year. That will not happen and cannot happen for several reasons.

Renewables are dependent on energy storage to tide one over when wind and solar produce no or little power. Batteries or other storage systems are simply not in place and hardly on the horizon.

Even if they were in place ramping up would take decades and not years.

Often we are told that renewables produced 30% of our power this year. This is true, but often no power is produced as on a cold windless winter’s night. Further electricity is only a third or so of our energy usage – industry, heat, trans[port and when that is taken into consideration renewables produce less than 10% of Britains’s energy.

This shows how energy is sourced on a world perspective


This earlier chart for 2015 shows how small the renewable contribution is. Note the question


This shows the change in the mix for UK energy this decade. The largest changes have been the decline of coal and rise of gas.


And a reminder that energy transitions take decades, not years.energytransistion

I rest my case that divestment from fossil fuels is anything but premature and also folly  resulting in worldwide suffering. In fact I consider it a poor form of virtue signalling and is better for those divesting than our fellow humans who struggle with insufficient energy as well as everything else. I include those  in fuel poverty in our towns and cities.

Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

There is no doubt that fossil fuels are dirty. Some of us remember the London pea-soupers. I think the last was early 1963 and the soup came within a hundred yards of our house in Surrey. I won’t forget the petrochemical smog around Chamonix when we were walking by a glacier, or the pall of coal smoke hovering over Llanrhaidr-ym-Mochnant while climbing the Berwyns in winter. Far worse is an open fire heating a hovel, but that is preferable to hypothermia.

Of all fossil fuels coal is by far the worst and emits more CO2 but also particulates, ash and radioactive particles. We know of diesel. The cleanest is gas and all scientific studies conclude that gas is by far and away the cleanest fossil fuel, except for one researcher – Robert Howarth. (However, the 2013 Bright Now report accepts Howarth’s outlying ideas due to relying on questionable secondary sources. But they did acknowledge that the switch to gas has reduced emissions.)

From this, it is a pity that Operation Noah did not prioritise getting rid of coal.


Having considered their serious omissions I will now consider some

Bad arguments

Discussed in my blog https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/the-church-of-england-and-divestment-july-2018/

The ON reports very much follow a leave it in the ground stance and say

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. Also ignored is the wide-spread rejection of coal. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fuels in the ground comes from a paper in Nature from University College London researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.

This attitude is often accompanied with the mantra keepitintheground which is great for chanting but does not solves problems of energy or emissions.

As serious is the lop-sided bias of Operation Noah reports, as I discuss in my blog referred to above. The authors seem to ignore anything apart from the most strident keepitintheground position, preferring the one-sided approaches of  the most strident greens and ignoring the more moderate (and in my view more constructive ones) of Lord Deben, Sir David Mackay, Dieter Helm and various others. It is wrong not to mention and consider them as it prevents the average churchmember and minister from considering a variety of viewpoints which are all concerned with doing the best for the planet and to fulfill the Paris agreement.

At best this is a case of shoddy argument, but is very misleading and prevents an honest discussion as other well-evidenced arguments are simply not presented.

Some may consider it to be duplicitous and slightly less than honest.

What has happened is that the churches’ witness for the environment , and particularly fossil fuels, has been hijacked by a group who are prepared to give a highly biased and often inaccurate argument for divestment. I also note that some members of Operation Noah are prepared to break the law to make their point.

It is very difficult for someone, even if they have some technical skills, to counter such strident arguments which are buttressed by claims to be ethical.

It is a pity that there are insufficient people in the churches, who have the technical expertise to present a more reasonable argument rather than virtue signalling.


I rest my case and there is much more i could have said………….




Perhpsw the church can learn form McDonalds, but we need to give a better diet!!


via Lessons from McDonalds

That should get tongues wagging. Most creationists will deny that and Ham of Answers in Genesis tries to blame evolutionists for racism.

I have no idea what the quote from Revelation means but then fundamentalists use the Bible is odd ways

This article deals with some of Henry Morris’s comments on race, with the sons of Ham being born to serve! (This comes from Genesis 9 where Ham found Noah drunk after the flood. and was cursed Gen 9 vs25. Bad old anthropology had the “sons of Ham” who were to serve. This was used to justify Apartheid among other things as the sons of Ham were Africans)

Image result for sons of ham


This attitude is typical of the whites in the Southern States and was held by some Southern Presbyterians at the time of the civil war.


However, here we see the founder father of modern creationism being overtly racist. I didn’t realise that for sometime as I was initially more concerned in the way he misquoted and misrepresented modern science.

Many creationists will try to wriggle out of this but Morris was writing like this during the 21st century. I am well aware that Morris is a minority but it is very concerned that he held such views so recently, when almost all Christians had rejected racism in any form many decades ago


via On the Racism of Creationist Henry Morris

A field-trip course in England on Darwin and evolution

This contains a re-blog of Jerry Coyne’s account of the Harvard Summer School on Darwin this year, which you will find at the end of my photos


A good account of the American biologist (and atheist) Jerry Coyne on this years Harvard Summer School on Dawin based in Oxford. For three days they have to enjoy my presence as I show them the delights of Dariwn in Shropshire and above all in Snowdonia. It was great to be with Harvard University students again.

I have been lucky to help on this course since 2005.

My part lasts three days. On the first day we go round Shrewsbury and after supper wlak up Nesscliff where Darwin visited in 1831 trying to make a geological map.


The highwayman Kynaston’s cave.



The next day we stop at Chirk and visit the canal (aqueduct and tunnel) and see the railway viaduct, both of which Robert Darwin invested in.




We continue up Telford’s London-Holyhead Road  (A5) to Llyn Ogwen


visit the “vomitory”   Darwin’s term for the ice fall


and then to Cwm Idwal and see what Darwin did in 1831 as an inexperienced geologist



And then in 1842 when he came to check Buckland’s ideas of an Ice Age and was finally convinced after sharp comments on Aggassiz in his “Voyage of the Beagle” and his “long gigantic blunder at Geln Roy.


Darwin’s boulders



Unlike glaciers I cannot carve out such a large Valley!! This non-action replay photo is inspired by De la Beche’s 1831 cartoon mocking the geologist Lyell’s uniformitarianism


Then Andrew leads them up Y Garn (3104ft) and in recent years I stay around Llyn Idwal with those who don’t want to go up. This year we did well on Drosera and Butterwort and the remains of bog asphodel. I am detailed to stay down so that all who want, including teaching assistants can savour a Welsh mountain.



But then I’ve only climbed it some 30 times, including snow routes requiring crampons



The next day we go to above Castell Dinas Bran above Llangollen, which the Welsh built in the 13th century to keep EdwardI out. We look at the geology and what Sedgwick and Darwin did  and then search for fossils in the Carboniferous Limestone. This year we found a good range of corals.




The students are always a great bunch and I’ve probably learnt as much as they have, particuarly on botany.

My blog last year with references to my papers https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/


Why Evolution Is True

Every year my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer and student advisor at Harvard, teaches a summer course at Oxford for Harvard undergrads. Its theme is Darwin and evolution, and the best part is that since the course takes place in DarwinLand, he can take the students to various historical sites and show them the science and history behind the Great Idea. I went to Down House, Darwin’s adult home, with Andrew’s course one year, and we were given a tour by none other than Janet Browne, historian of science and author of the wonderful two-volume biography of Darwin (see here and here) that I consider the best account of his life and work. Janet still takes the students to Darwin’s home, and you can see her in the penultimate photo.

Every year Andrew puts up a photo website of that summer’s course for the delectation of the…

View original post 1,665 more words





I have never met a flat-earther but some Afrikaner farmers in the remoter parts of South Africa were in the 1970s. My source was a fellow geologist Dr. Piet Joubert, also an Afrikaner, who regaled friends about it. When local farmers asked about his work, Piet happened to mention that the earth was spherical, to which they retorted, “Ek is plat!” About the same time other geologists working in Zimbabwe told theirAfrican laborers that men had walked on the moon and were told, “Yes, baas, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin.” With these exceptions there can be few who accept that the world is flat and hence it is a good example to discuss the Bible in relation to science.



Before doing so, the myth of a flat earth must be dispelled. Most people in the West believe that until the time of Columbus most Europeans believed in a flat earth and it was the voyages of Columbus and Magellan, which disproved a flat earth around about 1,500 and is still repeated by some (Moore, 2002, p. 148). It is one of the instances where the Church opposed science and AndrewWhite waxes eloquent on the subject. The myth of the flat earth was wonderfully exploded by J. B. Russell (Russell, 1991), who demonstrated that few theologians believed in a flat earth in contrast to the majority like Augustine and Aquinas who took the earth’s sphericity for granted.

However the cosmogony of the Bible tells a very different story. The New Testament makes no clear reference to cosmogony but Rudolf Bultmann claimed that it teaches a three-decker universe, but this cannot be substantiated. In his classic argument presented in 1941 Bultmann in New Testament and Mythology (Bultmann, 1984, pp. 1–2), the world-picture of the New Testament as something highly mythological: The world is like a three-storied building. In the middle is the earth; above it is heaven, below it is the subterranean world. Heaven is the dwelling-place of God . . . the lower world is hell, the place of torment. He argued that “modern man” cannot accept Christianity without “demythologizing” the biblical world view. Though few still adhere to Bultmann’s “demythologizsation,” many still believe that the New Testament writers held to a flat earth. That would be highly unlikely, especially for the Greek-educated Luke and Paul, as the Greeks had demonstrated the earth’s sphericity in 500 BC. It is entirely reasonable to regard the apparently mythological descriptions of “the heavens” in the Lukan and Paulinewritings as metaphorical. However, it is possible that Gallilean fishermen and carpenters could have adhered to a three-decker universe. In the centuries beforeChrist, astronomers considered the earth to be spherical but the stars were tiny and fixed on the celestial dome. The small size of the stars is probably reflected in Matthew 24 vs 29, “and the stars will fall from heaven.”

However, the Old Testament was a very different world, going back to 2000 BC.8 The dates of the actual composition of Old Testament books are in dispute. Many liberal scholars hold that all were written after the Exile and thus are post 500 BC, with Genesis being of a Babylonian origin. The most Conservative Evangelicals reckon that Job was written before 1500 BC, and that Moses wrote the Pentateuch in about 1450 BC. Moderate evangelicals argue that little of the Old Testament was committed to writing before 1000 BC.


The differences are more than those of theology as if the biblical books were written before 500 BC. then the authors could not have known that Greek astronomers had demonstrated the earth’s sphericity, and thus would have held to the conventional beliefs of their societies, viz., that the earth was a flat disc, with the hemispherical firmament above, and the underworld below. To those who consider that the Bible will reflect the world view of the writers’ day that presents no problem. But to those who hold fast to a strong form of Inerrancy, then the “science” in the Bible must be accurate. Thus some evangelicals argue that biblical writers believed that the earth was spherical. As Moses and Isaiah lived in the fourteenth and eighth century BC this was before the time of Plato (427–348/7 BC) when most educated Greeks began to accept that the earth was spherical. To maintain that the Israelites believed that the earth was spherical (often with the implication that this had been revealed to them by God) it is necessary to interpret several Biblical passages contrary to their “plain and literal” meaning. Take Isaiah chapter 40 vs 22, “It is he [God] who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.” Most commentators take the word for circle khug to mean a flat disc or the dome of the firmament. However Mark Eastman in his article, “Science and the Bible,” states:

Despite contrary assertions, the fact of a spherical earth was clearly proclaimed in the Bible by the prophet Isaiah nearly twenty-eight centuries ago . . . “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers [etc.]” Isaiah 40:22 (NKJ).When Isaiah wrote this verse he used the Hebrew word “khug” to describe the shape of the earth. Although this word is commonly translated into the English word “circle,” the literal meaning of this word is “a sphere.”9

Jonathan Sarfati in Refuting Evolution,

Jonathan Sarfati, YE creationist author and speaker. Source: http://creation.com/dr-jonathan-d-sarfati

argues in a similar way, as does Henry M. Morris, who in The Biblical Basis of Modern Science asserts that khug in Isa. 40:22 often translated “circle” means a “sphere” (Morris, 1984a, pp. 245–246). All of these writers claim that the Hebrew khug—or hˆug of Isaiah 40:22a means “sphericity.” No biblical scholars support this; in the nineteenth century Delitzsch translated it as the “vault of heaven” which is supported by Allen in DOTTE. Arguments that the Bible teaches the earth’s sphericity are to be found in many YEC writings and Web sites.10 Sarfati also argues that Luke 17:34–36 implies that Jesus believed the earth to be spherical, because Jesus “stated that different people on earth would experience night, morning and midday at the same time!” This raises a fundamental question: Just how should one interpret the Bible in light of modern scientific knowledge? The YECs Nelson and Reynolds state that one should not readmeanings into biblical texts that are not there in order to make them conform to modern scientific knowledge (Moreland and Reynolds, 1999). Some YECs do not follow their advice. Besides the earth’s sphericity, Eastman finds references to such modern scientific knowledge as ocean currents (Isaiah 43:16; Psalm 8:8), elementary particles (Hebrew 11:3), and nuclear explosions (2 Peter 3:10). Such fanciful eisegesis as this is matched by Morris’ readings into the text of Job, whom he credits with knowledge of the hydrological cycle (28:24–27), and the rotation of the earth (38:12–14). He also claimed that Job describes dinosaurs in Job 40 vs 15ff and, according to Henry Morris (Morris, 1984, pp. 356–359) from Job chap. 41 vs 20–21 some dinosaurs were like dragons and breathed fire. No one can fault their devotion to the Bible, but by reading modern science into the Bible, they make mockery of it by ignoring the historical context of the Bible. Ernest Lucas emphasizes that the thought world of the Ancient Near East of Babylon and Egypt demonstrates that the Cosmology of the Hebrews was similar to that of its neighbors, with some kind of flat earth and heavens above and the underworld beneath (Alexander and Baker, 2003, p. 137). This is manifest in Exodus 20 vs 4, which of the “heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.” This is similar to Egyptian cosmology (Alexander and Baker, 2003, p. 134). In parts of the Old Testament there are still references to Babylonian and Egyptian mythology associated with their cosmology.

There have been many interpretations of the firmament of Genesis chap. I vs 8. Calvin writing in his commentary on Genesis in 1553 claimed that this was a description of clouds carrying rain, no doubt because although no Copernican he was a well-informed Renaissance man and knew that the heavens or the firmament was not a solid dome. During the next three centuries most commentators evaded the question of what the firmament was, partly because Copernicanism was unquestioned. With the rise of more detailed biblical studies in the nineteenth century and research into other ANE cultures, scholars began to see that this fitted into typical Egyptian cosmogony. Conservative exegetes objected, as did Delitzsch in his commentary of 1852 (Keil and Delitzsch E. T., nd, p. 53) presumably to allow Genesis not to contradict modern astronomy. He also argued for six Solar Days and a global flood and questioned the reliability of geology. Several decades later he took a far more open line in a later commentary on Genesis.

Many recent commentators ignore the question, but Paul Seely, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary, has demonstrated conclusively that the firmament was a solid dome (Seely, 1991) and this has been incorporated into the commentaries by Walton and Currid. To conclude then, the writers of the Old Testament clearly accepted a flat earth as part of the common ANE cosmogony. This is of no concern to many Christians, who accept that the writers were children of their time. However if Inerrancy extends to history and science, then it is inevitable that some Inerrantists would feel obliged to demonstrate that the Bible taught a spherical earth. The question of a flat earth in the Old Testament highlights the problems some evangelicals face in relation to science and the Bible.

I feel as bit like this!!!

Fourth Law


  1. www.marshill.org/Apologetics%20Pages/science and the Bible.htm
  2. “The Bible and the Earth’s Sphericity” posted on the Creation Research Society web site: www.creationresearch. org/creation matters/ Astronomy and the Bible, www.answersingenesis.org/docs/400.asp

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