The Surprising Truth of Faith-Based Climate Denial is Actually Political

Religious traditions have long been (unfairly) pigeonholed as the antithesis of scientific discovery, and while particular branches of faith tend to deny climate change more than others, new studies indicate that this trend is more so political than it is faith-based. Josh Rosenau, an evolutionary biologist who works for the National Center for Science Education has developed a chart for analyzing the tie between science and religion, and discovered some interesting trends in the area.

Rosenau, when asked about his chart shared, “People seemed to like it,” he said. “I think some people are finding hope in it,” namely that science and religion aren't necessarily at odds with one another. A more thorough analyses of the document determines that climate change denial has more to do with political affiliation than religion, a sentiment that Chris Mooney, a respected climate journalist tends to agree with, concluding that religion isn't necessarily ‘at war with science.' 

The Surprising Links Between Faith and Evolution and Climate Denial — Charted

By Chris Mooney for The Washington Post

For a long time, we’ve been having a pretty confused discussion about the relationship between religious beliefs and the rejection of science — and especially its two most prominent U.S. incarnations, evolution denial and climate change denial.

At one extreme is the position that science denial is somehow deeply or fundamentally religion’s fault. But this neglects the wide diversity of views about science across faiths and denominations — and even across individuals of the same faith or denomination — not all of which are anti-climate science, or anti-evolution.

At the other extreme, meanwhile, is the view that religion has no conflict with science at all. But that can’t be right either: Though the conflict between the two may not be fundamental or necessary in all cases, it is pretty clear that the main motive for evolution denial is, indeed, a perceived conflict with faith (not to mention various aspects of human cognition that just make accepting evolution very hard for many people).

The main driver of climate science rejection, however, appears to be a free market ideology — which is tough to characterize as religious in nature. Nonetheless, it has often been observed (including by me) that evolution denial and climate science rejection often seem to overlap, at least to an extent.

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