Stuart Henderson, my PhD student, has a great blog post at the NEP-HIS Blog, which reviews a paper by Roland Benabou, Davide Ticchi and Andrea Vindigni entitled Religion and Innovation. In this paper, the authors argue that greater religiosity is almost uniformly and very significantly associated to less favourable views of innovation. However, Stuart rightly points out that there may be difference across denominations - some religions may positively effect innovation. Indeed, the economic historian in me would point out that many of the founding fathers of modern science had a theistic worldview which underpinned their science - e.g., Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Lister, Maxwell, Kelvin, Pasteur etc. In other words, these pioneers believed that there is a God who has created all things in an orderly manner and that there are laws of science which can be discovered through human investigation. Without this presupposition, one has to ask would modern science exist? Now there is an interesting counterfactual!
The Berkeley Earth Project , an independent study of global warming, has found that the earth has become a degree warmer over the past half century. However, the statistical uncertainty surrounding pre-1920 estimates makes it very hard to say much about long-term trends - click here for graph . This is one of my concerns with the global warming debate - we simply don't have trustworthy long-run data which looks at temperature changes over the last millennium (or two). My second concern with the global warming debate is that it is very hard to prove any sort of casual link between global warming and human activity. The scientists may be able to show correlation between global warming and our production of carbon dioxides etc., but correlation is not causation. My third concern with the debate is that those who are sceptical or agnostic are stereotyped as flat-earthers or intellectually-challenged crackpots. This only stifles debate and the progress of science itself.