Scientific Literacy, Religion and the Fate of the World

The U.S. Presidential primary debates and the media have thus far given very little attention to climate change. Perhaps that is the for best, since, at least on the Republican side, more coverage in the lead up to the Iowa caucuses would only serve to provide a platform for misinformation from several of the candidates. In 2016 there are very few remaining holdouts regarding climate science, with the recent Paris climate agreement showing unprecedented international consensus, and Exxon admitting that they have in fact understood the science for several decades. The anti-climate constituency seems to have coalesced around paranoid Tea-party conspiracy theorists and religious fundamentalists in the Republican Party (and the candidates who want their vote). Among the outspoken climate denialists running for president are businessman Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and retired neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson.

Trump’s anti-climate stance relates to his taste for paranoid conspiracy-theories, as with his support of the “birther” movement that claimed President Obama was a Muslim born in Africa (a claim that was completely false). Cruz’s and Carson’s worldview is based more on fundamentalist religious, anti-scientific ideas, which cannot accommodate evolution by natural selection or human-caused climate change. (Carson, in fact, may not even be able to grasp the concept of gravity.)

Such views are prevalent in America. Surveys by the Public Religion Research Institute indicate a major divide in thinking among Americans, based on scientific versus religious worldviews. As reported by CNN, although 6 in 10 Americans stated they believe extreme weather events are related to climate change, “More than a third of Americans see recent extreme weather as a sign that the world is in biblical “end times,” and “Thirty-six percent of Americans say that the —> Read More