Are Atheists More Green-Friendly Than Christians?

Not that kind.

Southern California Public Radio has been running a series called “God is in the garden,” exploring the intersection of religion and environmental values. Molly Peterson writes that atheists responded to the series, too, because there’s plenty to say about how religion has hurt the environment and how a godless outlook can alter how you feel about the world you live in:

To start, several people say they find skepticism about climate change among some evangelical Christians troubling. David Wolf of Loma Linda wrote, “those who believe in the literal truth of the Bible may be apt to deny the reality of climate change as they believe that Jesus may return tomorrow, in which case, why save the environment today?”

In this current of thought, a sense of entitlement stemming from faith in God is a harmful force. “My atheism may strengthen my environmental ethics, because I don’t expect any magical solutions to the problems we create,” wrote Ann Tiplady of Vermont.

You would think Christians would do a better job of caring for the environment seeing as they believe God created it for them… but if I had to choose one side as the most green-friendly, my money’s on the people who believe we’re all interconnected and that we should preserve this world since it’s the only one we’ll ever be a part of, instead of the people who think climate change is a liberal hoax and that long-term planning is useless since Jesus is coming back for them in the near future, anyway.

(image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Sue Blue

    I’ve had evangelical relatives literally say that they believe “this world” is so contaminated and corrupted by sin that it isn’t worth saving – instead, God will create a “new heaven and a new earth”. They also believe that there is nothing a person can do to help the environment (even if they hate to see pollution, deforestation, etc.), since it was apparently damaged beyond repair the moment Adam ate the apple. Hence, they see no reason to stop driving Hummers and huge SUVs or cut down on plastic packaging or use LED lightbulbs or turn down the heat/AC or buy organic food or campaign to save endangered species or do anything at all whatsoever.

  • Dreamer

    I’ve often hoped god is real so when the use-it-up Christians get to heaven, he can say, “I told you to tend the garden, not destroy it, so off to hell you go.”

  • Paul Caggegi
  • Paul Caggegi

    On the flip side, many Christians believe in healthy eating, organic food, and are against GM /Monsanto mainly because they believe their body is a temple and GM food, alcohol, drugs etc contaminate it. Some go so far as believing if they grow their own stuff and steer clear of all that stuff they might live as long as Noah.

  • DougI

    When I was a godless child I was working to establish a recycling program at the school. Meanwhile our Christian President Reagan didn’t worry about the environment because Jesus was returning soon. Fundy Christians on tv were saying the environmental movement was evil because it was Pagan nature worship. Now that it becomes more popular it’s become owned as a Christian movement, just like how Christians took credit for the civil rights movement after opposing it for decades.

  • BobaFuct
  • Joshua Katz

    I do wish people could engage in actual arguments rather than labeling opposing viewpoints as ‘troubling’ and leaving it at that.

  • SJH

    Your logic equating belief in man-made global warming and love for the environment is flawed. I can believe that man does not cause global warming and also love the earth. In fact I have a great respect for the earth and I do what I can to limit damage to it. This however does not mean that I am going to cease being a skeptic and assume that just because some scientist believe in man-made global warming then it must be true. I would like to see some more reliable evidence on the matter. Even if it turned out that man has nothing to do with global warming, I would still love the earth and try to protect it. St Francis is one of my favorite saints and was quite the environmentalist. If we all saw the world through his eyes, it would be a much better place.

  • Feminerd

    By “some scientist” you mean 99% of climate scientists and 95% of all scientists? The American Association of Petroleum Engineers, which just recently grudgingly admitted that global warming is both real and anthropogenic (that is, human-caused)?

    I get skepticism until there’s sufficient evidence to support a theory, but dude(tte), there’s as much evidence out there for anthropogenic climate change as there is for evolution.

  • Artor

    The conscientiously, “Good Steward” Xians are few and far between, in my experience.

  • Paul Caggegi

    Still worth giving credit when it’s due.

  • Pattrsn

    Ignoring the work of virtually all the scientists in the world whose disciplines touch on climate isn’t skepticism anymore than sticking your fingers in your ears and going ‘la la la I can’t hear you’.

  • abb3w

    I think your numbers are minutely inaccurate. The numbers from Doran 2009 suggest that circa 97% to 98% of climatologists who actively publish research on the question think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures, and about 77% among those who were non-publishing and working in adjacent non-climatology earth-science fields. (Those from Anderegg 2010 are similarly circa 97-98%.) Not that the difference is much of a peg to hang a skeptical hat off from.

    Or did you have another source for those numbers?

  • dan davis

    Credit for maintaining the double standard of keeping weed illegal. Thanks

  • dan davis

    “quite the environmentalist” WTF? According to what source? What did he do? i mean, he makes a great cement garden statue with all the animals, my mom has one, but that doesn’t mean jack about him being an environmentalist. Heck, according to his leader here’s a the xian take on our relationship to this planet:

    Genesis 1:26
    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
    And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds
    of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over
    every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    Genesis 1:28
    And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and
    multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the
    fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living
    thing that moves on the earth.”

    Luke 10:19
    Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and
    scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt

    Psalm 8:6
    You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,

    The serpent one gets me, seeing how they mostly kill vermin, and I love snakes. If I were a non-human animal, I’d be wary of all this dominion stuff.

  • Feminerd

    I looked for the poll I found the 95% of adjacent non-climatology scientists numbers in, and could only find the 77% number. Apparently I either dreamed it up or it was a crappy poll that disappeared into the ether :/. I accept your correction and will, in the future, make sure to double-check numbers.

  • SJH

    I’m not sure what your Bible verses state about environmentalism. They simply seem to state that we are the primary purpose of creation and that we were given dominion over that creation. This does not imply that we are supposed to mistreat or act carelessly with regard to the environment. It means that it was handed over to us for our use and that we are supposed to care for it.

  • Jenny

    I’ve noticed that the Earth friendly people I am friends with tend to be New Age and into Homeopathy and non-science based medicine as they see modern medicine and disease as all being part of a corperate (sp?) conspiracy. A lot of this is where the whole antivaxination thing comes from. They avoid modern medicine, preferring alternative treatments, thinking they are doing whats natural and good for their family and planet. I think you can be very liberal and just as anti-science as conservatives in many ways.