Guest essay by Eric Worrall
US MSM and academia frequently attack the faith of US religious groups, by asserting their climate skepticism has something to do with their Christian faith.
To be fair this Conversation author at least admits that there are Christians who embrace climate alarmism. But the author still suggests Christian communities are failing to “exercise some self-awareness and concern for well-being rather than blindly denying the overwhelming consensus”.
Faith and politics mix to drive evangelical Christians’ climate change denial
September 9, 2020 10.17pm AEST
Professor of Philosophy, Wake Forest University
U.S. Christians, especially evangelical Christians, identify as environmentalists at very low rates compared to the general population. According to a Pew Research Center poll from May 2020, while 62% of religiously unaffiliated U.S. adults agree that the Earth is warming primarily due to human action, only 35% of U.S. Protestants do – including just 24% of white evangelical Protestants.
Politically powerful Christian interest groups publicly dispute the climate science consensus. A coalition of major evangelical groups, including Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, launched a movement opposing what they describe as “the false worldview” of environmentalism, which supposedly is “striving to put America, and the world, under its destructive control.”
Studies show that belief in miracles and an afterlife is associated with lower estimates of the risks posed by climate change. This raises the question: Does religion itself predispose people against climate science?
Climate science denial may stem more from politics than religion
Social scientist Dan Kahan rejects the idea of an automatic link between religiosity and any anti-science bias. He argues that religiosity only incidentally tracks science denial because some scientific findings have become “culturally antagonistic” to some identity groups.
According to Kahan’s data, identification as a political conservative, and as white, is much more predictive of rejecting the climate consensus than overall religiosity. He argues that anti-science bias has to do with threats to values that define one’s cultural identity. There are all kinds of topic areas wherein people judge expert qualifications based on whether the “expert” confirms or contradicts the subject’s cherished view.
White American evangelicals trend very strongly toward political conservatism. They also exhibit the strongest correlation, among any faith group, between religiosity and either climate science denial or a general anti-science bias.
Meanwhile, African-American Protestants, who are theologically aligned with evangelical Protestants but politically aligned with progressives, show some of the highest levels of climate concern.
All this would suggest that climate science resistance has more to do with cultural identity politics than religiosity.
Even if politics and culture rather than religion itself may be driving climate science denial, religious communities – as some religious leaders, including the Roman Catholic Pope, have recognized – bear a responsibility to exercise some self-awareness and concern for well-being rather than blindly denying the overwhelming consensus on a civilization-ending threat like human-caused global warming.Read more: https://theconversation.com/faith-and-politics-mix-to-drive-evangelical-christians-climate-change-denial-143145
The author does not appear to have considered another possibility.
Groupthink cuts both ways. The author, a professor of philosophy, appears to have failed to consider the possibility that he is one who is ensnared in a large scale climate alarmist groupthink movement. The climate skepticism of faith groups may be because their degree of separation from the author’s social group gives them a level of distance and perspective which he currently does not share.
Group size is no protection against groupthink. You don’t have to look very deeply into the history of the 20th century to find plenty of frequently horrific examples of entire societies which embraced the irrational.
The only defence against groupthink is tolerance for people with different views, even if you think they are wrong. A society which tolerates non-conformity is a society in which someone can speak up and tell the emperor he is not wearing any clothes, without fear of retribution or punishment.
There is substantial evidence of group enforced conformity and intolerance for divergent views on climate change in modern academia.
There is no proof the climate consensus is “overwhelming” in an objective sense. Deviation from the groupthink position on climate change is frequently punished by public humiliation and ostracism. In such an environment of fear, it seems entirely possible that many academics who harbour doubts about extreme climate claims keep those doubts to themselves.