Craig Smith and I wrote “Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil,” without a religious argument in mind. We wanted to present the scientific arguments that oil was a hydrocarbon fuel of abiotic origin, produced deep within the Earth on a constant basis. We wanted to warn America that increased dependence upon foreign oil has serious economic consequences for the strength of the dollar and serious political consequences for reliability of America’s national security.
While Craig Smith and I are both Christians who strongly believe in God, we presented in the book no arguments, proof or justifications that derived from or depended upon our religious beliefs.
Recently, “peak-oil” apologists – who support the “Fossil-Fuel” theory of oil’s origins – have begun attacking us on the basis that the abiotic theory is really being advanced to support creationist or intelligent design religious beliefs. A forum on the “peak-production” Internet blog TheOilDrum.com recently ran a thread attacking the book. Two posters presented the charge as follows:
LJR: I’m waiting for the “intelligent design” folks to link up with the “abiotic oil” guys. A marriage made in heaven.
mikeB: Ab-so-lutely! Which is why I’ve taken to calling it “oil creationism.”
Let’s be clear: Craig Smith and I published the book as a WND Book under the imprint of Cumberland House Publishing. WorldNetDaily.com has many contributors who express a strongly Christian orientation, as well as many conservative writers. Still, WorldNetDaily.com is a news site – one that publisher Joseph Farah has never described as a “conservative” or “religious” website. In the same vein, WND Books aims to publish “fiercely independent ideas” and “fiercely independent books,” not specifically religious or conservative books. So the charge that we are advancing the abiotic, “Deep-Earth” theory of oil as a conservative religious theory is not prima facie established by reference to the publisher or the website affiliated with the book imprint.
Does the position of our critics also imply that the “Fossil-Fuel” theory of the origin of oil is the theory that is consistent with some version of Darwinian evolution? Perhaps, yes. Evidently, the idea would be that ancient forests and dinosaurs, “fossils,” just happened to die in such manner that ultimately permitted them to deteriorate into hydrocarbon “fuel.” In other words, oil was formed by the same type of natural accident that is at the heart of evolutionary thinking. No divine creator pre-ordained a plan that the dinosaurs would be brought forth on Earth such that they would die in bogs and swamps in order to produce the fuel we humans would later need to “go forth and multiply.”
We have to admit that from a natural-selection point of view, the “Fossil-Fuel” theory does seem to work. If there were only so many dinosaurs and ancient forests, then the accident of nature is that “peak oil” will happen. Sooner or later, we have to run out of oil, simply because the number of dinosaurs and the quantity of ancient forests were finite. At that point, the human race is stuck. “Peak-Production” theorists widely argue that avoiding the doom-and-gloom consequences are inevitable as we run out of fossil fuel, unless we adapt.
What could be a more perfect answer for evolutionists? That’s always the solution offered by “Peak-Oil” believers – we have no choice but adapt … it’s either adapt or regress. If human beings learn to conserve, so the “Peak-Production” oil theorists argue, then we survive. If we don’t adapt, then we run out of affordable energy. Otherwise, as we come to the “end of oil,” we are bound to contract as a species, both in the quality of our material lifestyles and maybe even in the absolute numbers with which we populate the Earth.
Conserve, develop alternative fuels, or regress – those are the choices offered by “Fossil-Fuel” advocates, and when we look at the issue critically, all these choices are just different versions of the evolutionists’ basic message: “adapt or die.” Seen this way, the “Fossil-Fuel” argument is just another of nature’s natural-selection challenges. If human beings don’t adapt, then the consequences – while unfortunate – are unavoidable. The “Fossil-Fuel” theorists pose the same “choice” for human beings that evolutionists pose: Stay as we are and become just another failed experiment of nature, or adapt into a “higher order” species and thrive in the world of conservation as we migrate to “alternative fuels.”
Here, then, is how the attack on “Black Gold Stranglehold” takes aim. Our critics charge that we as authors are advancing a “God-ordained agenda” by arguing that oil is a natural, renewable product of the Earth that we can use without adverse consequences, such as are envisioned in what we argue is a “global-warming hoax.” We are seen as providing a religious justification for arguing that we should keep using hydrocarbon fuels freely, as if our current capitalistic society and lifestyle are “right” – a part of God’s plan. In other words, our critics see us as making a religious argument, whether we make one or not. They interpret “Black Gold Stranglehold” as saying that God would not place us on Earth with the expectation that we would run out of air, water or food, so why should an intelligently designed Earth ever run out of fuel?
We have argued that the “Fossil-Fuel” theory is more of a fiction than a rigorously proven scientific theory. We have argued that there is no chemical formula for “kerogen,” the biological element embedded in sedimentary rock that has the potential to transform into oil. We have argued that the scientific evidence is on our side, supporting the natural formation of hydrocarbon compounds under the temperature and pressure conditions found in the Earth’s mantle.
This reversal is interesting in that evolutionists like to see themselves as the ones arguing the scientific theory. Many creationists would disagree. Creationists often argue that evolutionists have not scientifically proven their theories to the point where “missing links” are irrefutably established.
Craig Smith and I continue to maintain that our argument in “Black Gold Stranglehold” is founded in science – in the natural sciences of geology and chemistry, in political science, and in economics … not in religion. Nor do we personally embrace all the arguments creationists and intelligent design adherents believe. For instance, we accept the geological evidence that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, not a more recent creation. Still, a critic panned the book on Amazon.com by writing as follows:
Abiotic oil theory was dreamed up by Bible thumpers because they can’t stomach the earth being shown to be more than 8,000 years old. They must debunk any science that shows the earth to be millions of years old, for that would conclude our planet WASN’T created by God a recent 800 decades ago. Hence, it can’t take millions of years to make oil.
The authors go to great lengths babbling that the earth has an oil factory deep within it, and the centrifugal force of the spinning earth pushes these juices to the surface for us to enjoy, because God has provided them, complete with carcinogens and harmful gases.
So the goal of certain critics seems to be to brand “Black Gold Stranglehold” as a religious book in order to discredit it on that basis.
We had expected the book would be soundly criticized. After all, Americans are taught from pre-school that oil is a “fossil fuel.” But we never anticipated that “Black Gold Stranglehold” would also inspire a religious debate. Sure, we knew that presenting the Abiotic theory of oil’s origin would threaten Big Oil and environmentalists who stand to benefit if the public believes oil is so scarce that we are about to run out. But we never imagined the book would also threaten atheists.
Perhaps in the charged political environment of today, we should have realized that all debates are destined to become emotionally charged. Evidently those who abhor the mention of God in public debate cannot tolerate any idea that even remotely suggests a divine presence intervenes in human affairs.
Is it then really the case that evolutionism is challenged if we end up establishing the science of abiotic, deep-earth oil? Who would have guessed? Certainly not Craig Smith or me – at least not at first when all we set out to do was to write a book we thought would be debated only on the grounds of chemistry, geology, politics, and economics, not as a question of religious beliefs.
Do we mind that our theories of abiotic oil are compatible with creationism or intelligent-design arguments? No, we’re actually not surprised the argument turns out that way. As we said at the beginning of this essay, we are Christians and we share a strong faith in God.
What would bother us is if our critics attempted to argue that abiotic oil was a corollary of evolutionism. Given the criticism we have received to date, we don’t think we have to worry about that. In this rapidly polarizing, secular world in which we live, what we will be criticized for is for believing in God – that and for suggesting that oil has nothing to do with dinosaurs.