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?

  • 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