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Is Conservatism Less Compatible With Science Than Religion?

Josh Rosenau makes an unusual argument:

Roughly half of scientists are religious, but fewer than 10% are conservatives. John McCain, the leader of the Republican party, denigrated astronomy education by calling a star-projector for a planetarium “foolishness” and “an overhead projector.” His hand-picked successor suggested that fruit fly research should be defunded, and suggested that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together. By contrast, the Catholic church’s leader said that evolution is “more than an hypothesis,” adding “The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.” Over 12,000 Christian clergy have made clear “the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.”

Republicans and Democrats differ by 9 points in their outright rejection of evolution (R: 39%, D: 30%). They differ by 34 points in acceptance that humans are causing global warming (R: 30%, D: 64%). Religious groups show no such split. Neither is there such a split on embryonic stem cell research: a 33 point divide between political parties, but only 14-15 points between Catholics or white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated. Seems like religion is more compatible with science than conservatism.Is this a bit silly? Sure. Do correlations speak to epistemic compatibility? Perhaps not (but note).

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • The Vicar

    In the modern American context, conservatism is not less compatible with science than religion for the very simple reason that conservatism IS a religion. At least, by any definition of religion broad enough to encompass, say, animism. Conservatism is the cuckoo of religions — believers in Conservatism claim to belong to other religions (most frequently Christianity), but do not conform to the rules of their professed religions, and sometimes are almost totally ignorant of them.

    • Daniel Fincke

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCF19cBWb0I&hl=en&fs=1&]


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