The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Research shows that around 70% of US Evangelicals believe evolution is probably or definitely false, while 28% of them said that the climate is not changing.
According to the research from Rice University, “Examining Links Between Religion, Evolution Views and Climate-Change Skepticism”, published in a recent edition of the journal Environment and Behavior, US Evangelicals are more skeptical of evolution than of climate change.
Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice and director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program, is the author of the research, along Christopher Scheitle at West Virginia University, Jared Peifer at Baruch College and Daniel Bolger at Rice University.
It analyses the larger “anti-science” tendency that some see as related to membership in conservative religious groups such as evangelical Protestants.
EVOLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Ecklund examined national survey data, studying 9,636 people in the general US population, around 40 per cent of whom said they were evangelicals.
The research revealed that about 20% of the U.S. population is skeptical that climate change is occurring at all or that humans have a role in climate change, and about 45 percent of the U.S. population views natural evolution as probably or definitely false.
However, the researchers found that the association between religion and evolution skepticism is much stronger and clearer than between religion and climate-change skepticism.
Almost 70% of surveyed respondents identifying as evangelicals said that evolution is probably or definitely false, while only 28% of them said that the climate is not changing or that humans have no role in climate change.
“This is different from the popular account that the people who oppose climate-change research and the people who oppose the teaching of evolution are the same and that evangelical Protestantism is clearly linked to both”, Ecklund said.
“SCIENCE MAY OR MAY NOT INTERACT WITH RELIGION”
Ecklund and her co-authors hope the research will provide insight into how different “science issues may or may not interact with religion and politics, and help science policymakers more narrowly channel their efforts to address environmental care and climate change.”
Sociologists found Americans generally were less suspicious of climate change (20 per cent) than evangelicals and fewer thought evolution was false (45 per cent).
The study is available online at Ecklund’s website.