Friday, May 22, 2015

Religion and Climate Change Denial

I have long suspected there was a link between religion and climate change denial, but I have never been able to find detailed evidence of it. The way I figured it, religion is the cause for people to reject science when it comes to evolution. I frequently find people who reject evolution also reject climate change. Ergo, there is a link between religious beliefs and climate change denial.

Well, someone finally did the work to establish exactly how religion factors in to beliefs on both evolution and climate change. Here is a plot of his work:

Source: Josh Rosenau
The lower area on the chart represents less support for climate change. Likewise, the left side represents less support for evolution. What strikes me very quickly is the way this makes a horizontal band from lower left to upper right (with a few exceptions). In other words, for the majority of people, their acceptance of evolution correlates well with their acceptance of climate change.

Now, the author makes a very important point, one that I share. This chart is addressing religions in general and not specific people. How an individual feels about evolution and climate change is unique to them and they shouldn't be judged by something like this chart. In fact, I remember one of the most knowledgeable individuals I ever had discussions with on evolution was a friend who also happened to be a Baptist minister. He was very supportive of it and saw no conflict between the science and his religious beliefs. But, if you look at the chart, Baptist is way down towards the lower left (I never asked him how his congregation felt about his beliefs).

This is a nice piece of work and one more tool in our fight to overcome the work of the denier lobbyists.


  1. There is this from the Southern Baptist Convention : - which tells me that some politicians that claim to be Southern Baptists do not know the the teachings of their church.

  2. They really wanted to cover their bases, didn't they? The are denying climate change and embracing anti-science arguments, but then want the government to at least address the issue. Make up your mind - is it real, or not? It will be interesting to compare this document to the Pope's encyclical when it comes out.

  3. Personally I see no conflict between the idea that a supreme being exists, and the fact that evolution does also. However, those fundamentalist who want to cling to idea that the self-proclaimed parts of the Bible which assert their own words as being the infallible word of God, or the only one true way, are alarmed when the ways we learned about Darwin's evolution threaten the supposedly sacred, and literal, 7 days of creation they believe in. They have generated an absurd argument which implies that since no one was around to see the beginning (except God), therefore all of the empiracle evidence which affirms that the earth is several billions of years old, is meaningless? This type of logic would allow defense attorneys to literally exclude any and all physical evidence against their clients, because it cannot be objectifiable affirmed as having been collected from the crime scene, or before their client's trial? They also believe all scientists can lie, so shouldn't one assume that witnesses for the prosecution are being told to invent evidence---and thus allow tossing out all forensic evidence gahered at crime scene, or any photos, etc. etc.

    I am also baffled by the reasoning of someone I know who does subscribe to fundamentalist doctrines, but rejects the theory that those who support AGW, are only taking part in a vast conspiracy to control the economy of the world---since (supposedly), she knows how to think critically about any kind of information? So then employs circular reasoning which assumes that we know about the beginning, because God was there to tell us about it, and men were not--completely ignoring that whether God was there or not, exists or not, or did his creation exactly as described in Genesis, must first be claimed as a matter of faith, and really has nothing to do with objective facts? I wish she would also have the wisdom to use critical thinking when assessing creationist theories, or accepting everything in the Bible as indisputable.

    Still even, if literal Biblical interpretations are rejected, this does not really affirm absolute proof that our Universe just spontaneously began to exist. I would also expect many believers to be among the rank and file of climate scientists--perhaps conceiving of their faiths differently, but none the less including faith in a creator.

    Unfortunately the political right has managed to scare millions of fundamentalists into thinking those "Godless atheists," or fiendish liberals, are about to destroy their first amendment rights by rejecting their specific set of beliefs. This is just one more way the GOP has used lies and concocted information, to convince millions of people that those who verify man's role in Global warming, are also plotting to destroy their ability to believe in creation, and somehow, to believe anything they want at all?

    An issue like this was not, and should not, have been conceived as being part of some partisan scheme. But wealthy big oil and big coal, etc. find it beneficial to their own special interests, to take advantage of fundamental religious differences in order to make fundamentalists feel that they are being threatened into denying their core spiritual values. I have often wished they could see beyond this hype and realize that caring for the earth, and/or being concerned about posterity, are not just political matters---they are matters of our common welfare, and the need to find solutions that can restore at least some of our ecological balance--which benefits everyone!

  4. Its good that the resolution stresses the fact that human beings are expected to play a role assigned by God as good stewards of the Earth and to be concerned about the environment, but many of the specific parts in it, repeat misconceptions spread by deniers, such as the general notion that the problems we face are not really that urgent and that many climate scientists disagree about the urgency of global warming.

    I think the current knowledge about global warming are quite serious and quite consistent with the idea that immediate measures to reduce Co2 are necessary, and that this will most likely not be accomplished without government compliance in appropriate ways, including the imposition of regulations enforced by the government.

    In general the resolutions are better than nothing, but not nearly adequate in regards to doing what must be done.

  5. The current Pope appears to be quite a rebel, so perhaps we can expect him not to just waltz around the issue, without making definite and clear recommendations.