Most Evangelicals Believe Extreme Weather Caused by ‘End Times’

We know that denial of global warming is as much an article of faith — and I mean this literally, in the sense that it rejects all evidence and reason — for the Christian right as the resurrection of Jesus is. A new survey shows that nearly 80% of evangelical Christians in this country think the extreme weather we’re experience is really caused by the end times.

Poll results released by the Public Religion Research Institute on Friday showed that sixty-nine percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence that Earth’s temperatures are increasing. This is good news, as so far this year has been the hottest ever recorded, despite the recent chill covering the United States. But the pollsters also asked about the cause of recent natural disasters, and the responses from some religious people could impact how America responds to climate change.

While 62 percent of total respondents ascribed the cause of recent natural disasters to climate change, 49 percent also thought biblical “end times” were the cause. For white evangelical Protestants, these numbers basically reversed — 77 percent pointed to the apocalypse, and just 49 percent attributed extreme weather to climate change (the numbers add up to more than one-hundred because people could offer more than one cause).

This fatalistic view of the impacts caused in part by burning fossil fuels could influence the national policy responses to the problem. More than half of the total respondents (53 percent) thought that God would not intercede if humans were destroying the Earth, while 39 percent said that God would step in.

Now the punchline: If these same people heard about a poll of people in Norway that found that 77% of them thought that bad weather and natural disasters were caused by the start of Ragnarok and that they actually had an opinion on whether Zeus would intervene to help them, they would think that was the most ridiculous thing they’d ever heard. And now they know why their opinions on this sound so ridiculous.

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  • peterh

    According to the writings that inspired the notion of “end times,” those times are now about 1900 years behind schedule.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666775545 jamesredekop

    If these same people heard about a poll of people in Norway that found that 77% of them thought that bad weather and natural disasters were caused by the start of Ragnarok and that they actually had an opinion on whether Zeus would intervene to help them, they would think that was the most ridiculous thing they’d ever heard.

    Well, it would be quite ridiculous for Norwegians to expect a Greek god to intervene in Scandinavian end-times… Not that Odin’s going to be a big help, what with him getting swallowed by Fenrir.

  • raven

    a poll of people in Norway that found that 77% of them thought that bad weather and natural disasters were caused by the start of Ragnarok …

    This is silly.

    Every Pagan knows the cold weather and snow is caused by the invading Frost Giants!!!

    It happens about once a year. But don’t worry, Thor and the rest of the Aesir gods and goddesses are on it. They will send them back to Helheim. It takes a while, so it will be sometime around next March.

  • Artor

    And now they know why their opinions on this sound so ridiculous.

    Sorry Ed, but that would require an iota of self-awareness & introspection, which the Xian right is entirely immune to. Those Norwegians are all commie socialists, so what do they know? And Zeus is an entirely made-up figure, completely unlike the Xian god, who wrote in the Constitution that he’d punish us with hurricanes because Obama and teh gayz.

  • raven

    While 62 percent of total respondents ascribed the cause of recent natural disasters to climate change, 49 percent also thought biblical “end times” were the cause.

    1. This is astonishing!!! Amazing!!! Scary!!!

    These peopel drive cars, reproduce, and vote? No wonder the USA is on a downhill slide.

    2. I’ve never personally heard anyone babble on about the End Times or ascribe Global Warming to The End Times, the Apocalypse, Satan, or the Trolls. There are more Pagans and New Agers around here than fundies anyway.

    I won’t question the data, the survey results. But I wonder how serious those beliefs really are. 49% of the US population doesn’t act like they think The End Times is imminent, no matter what they say.

    I do know a few fundie xians, low level employees without much education and not too bright. I’d ask them but this is dangerous. They start babbling on about their religion, which seems to be mostly extreme right wing politics mixed with a lot of weird superstitions and it is very hard to get them to stop.

  • John Pieret

    And now they know why their opinions on this sound so ridiculous.

    If only they did!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523300770 stuartsmith

    What? Why would Zeus be intervening in Ragnarok? Ragnarok is Odin’s job. Zeus is from a completely different pantheon, and also barely competent and kind of a dick. If Ragnarok were starting, Zeus would probably just disguise himself as a snow-man and get himself laid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666775545 jamesredekop

    Zeus would probably just disguise himself as a snow-man and get himself laid.

    There’s a setup for a Frozen song parody if ever I heard one…

  • busterggi

    I think Odin inviting Zeus to Ragnarok is a great idea – the svartalfvar never expect the Olympian Inquisition.

  • http://atheist-faq.com Jasper of Maine

    So wait, the standard physics of polluting the atmosphere with mass amounts of measurable gas with measurable effects is complete hooey, but invisible magic man in the sky altering the weather to destroy us is perfectly legit?

  • raven

    but invisible magic man in the sky altering the weather to destroy us is perfectly legit?

    Not to mention, not making any sense.

    1. The Invisible Sky Fairy, our loving Father in the Heavens, picked an ineffective method to kill all his earthly children.

    Global Warming will take centuries to play out. We are looking at a sea level rise of ca. 3 feet maximum by 2100. It also won’t kill that many. We will adapt.

    2. In times past, the Sky Fairy had much more power. He poofed an entire planet into existence in 6 days. Once he got mildly annoyed with us and killed all but 8 people in a planet wide flood.

    These days, as many have noted, he is shrinking in power. Now it is appearing as jesus on toast and making televangelists rich.

  • chisaihana5219

    Actually those “end times” folks are right, but for the wrong reasons. Most of those folks live in the South. As the earth heats up, they will get hotter and more in line for tornados and other weather problems. The warmer the earth gets, the closer we come to conditions that will make human life go from difficult to impossible. Just wait til the methane in the permafrost escapes. Humans can’t breathe it. So the end will come, but God wll not intervene, ’cause he doesn’t exist. Neither does the heaven they hope to escape to.

  • Who Cares

    @chisaihana5219(#12):

    Don’t talk nonsense. There have been time periods where the earth was so hot that there wasn’t (permanent) polar ice. There was still enough oxygen to breathe at those times.

    What will cause problems is the shifting of where food can be grown. In that the observation that the masses want food and games is still valid. Might want to add housing on that list too seeing that the estimation is that 50% to 75% of the human population will be living in cities next to the sea by 2050. Better call the Dutch now to make sure they can still live there by 2100.

  • Nemo

    @chisaihana5219 #12: The problem with the methane escaping is its efficiency as a greenhouse gas, not that it’s unbreathable. Although that could be a problem in the immediate vicinity of the escape.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    This is a far more general issue than just climate change. Roger Zelazny wrote a book, Bridge of Ashes, in 1976 that started me thinking about the effects of Christianity on environmental damage of all types. His notion is that the establishment and spread of Christianity turned society away from caring for Earth and its environment. Basically, why worry about polluting the river if you’re going to die and go to Paradise? Indeed, why worry about polluting anything when everything will be destroyed by Armageddon? (And, Armageddon is coming Real Soon Now.)

    Of course, Christianity was around long before the Industrial Revolution, but I attribute that lag to boot-up time.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    @ #15,

    Basically, why worry about polluting the river if you’re going to die and go to Paradise? Indeed, why worry about polluting anything when everything will be destroyed by Armageddon?

    This is a dipshit premise. It is some sort of stupid sound bite. I can counter it with one just as “reasonable”, to wit: If you really think Jesus is coming back tomorrow, would you want him to catch you dumping toxic waste into Lake Geneva, given that the bible tells you he created the lake, and given that the bible also tells you that it is man’s responsibility to tend the earth?

    I doubt you could find more than a handful of nutty Christians who say: “Jesus is coming soon, so fuck the earth!”. In my experience you find more or less the same spectrum of environmental concern among Christians that you do among the mainstream population. A Christian who wants a manicured lawn is just as likely to use chemicals as an unbeliever who wants a manicured lawn.

    But “Jesus is coming soon, so pollute away” sounds real plausible and is advantageous to our side–so by all means let’s assume it is true.

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