Evolution and the Environment

Evolution and the Environment May 19, 2015

Josh Rosenau took the Pew data on churches’ acceptance of evolutionary biology and of climate science, and made a chart. The correlation is clear and striking.


Jim Kidder also shared it, together with some thoughts of his own.

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  • Andrew Dowling

    More data showing that “Reformed” churches suck . . . .

  • Why the big difference between Baptist (black) and JWs? I doubt they’re substantially different constituencies. Doctrine?

    • Andrew Dowling

      Yes significant differences in doctrine.

  • Cardunculus

    I’m really disappointed by the data about Catholicism, I expected it to score way higher on both fronts…

    • Andrew Dowling

      Remember Romney won the white Catholic vote last go around.

      • Cardunculus

        I’m not American, and I must admit I’m not terribly familiar with U.S. politics (you really cannot escape reading about them online, of course, but still…)

        Pretty much all Catholics I know over here have no problem whatsoever with evolution; and as for environmental regulations, there is of course debate about which ones are or are not effective, but no one I know is denying that climate change exists and is a serious issue.

        On another note, what’s up with Jehovah’s Witnesses? I know that they go for a fairly literalistic interpretation of (their translation of) the Bible, and that explains the lack of support for evolution; but why are they so in favor of environmental regulations?

        • Andrew Dowling

          My first thought would be JWs are primarily black, and the AA community had traditionally been supportive of environmental regs since their communities are often near the biggest sources of pollution and they get the brunt of the health effects, but the black Baptist figures would seem to prove me wrong . .those I find confusing.

          • One thing that comes to mind is the Jehovah’s Witness belief that most humans will not go to heaven, but will inhabit a new and transformed Earth. Perhaps having a place for the Earth in your eschatology makes a difference?

          • Michael Wilson

            A couple of things about the black churches. First JWs are less than half black. The slim majority are non white, but there is a large white constituent and nearly all of its leadership is white. Second, JW’s don’t beleive in voting, and I think that isolates them from political indoctrination. The JWs are very conservative on creationism, but are very pro-enviroment, judging from their literature, as to why, I imagine it might be more complicated than some doctrine.

            Next, I looked up the question asked,
            “Stricter environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy; or Stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost”
            What we see is that protecting the environment is presented as incuring a cost. I suspect that for many blacks, who are disproportionately poor and urban, the environment is an abstraction. The Sierra Club, WWF, and Greenpeace are mostly white groups cored around the sort of people that can vacation in pristine wilderness. For people of modest means in Atlanta, Compton, NY, Chicago, etc. pristine enviroments are on calendars, jobs are where they are. At a marginal level, any cost may to high to preserve the playgrounds of rich people. While support of environmental protection is high among minorities, I doubt that plank is an especially important reason minorities vote liberal.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Michael, the environmental movement goes way beyond park preservation. As stated, things like clean air and smog reduction laws greatly affect poor minorities, who tend to live in the most polluted communities and often near power plants or designated waste sites. This results in far higher rates of asthma, lung disease, and even certain cancers. The environmental justice movement has along history of grassroots organizing from people on the ground . .both black and white.

          • Michael Wilson

            So do you argue that the racial make up of the aforementioned groups represents that of America generally? Im not saying that not miority person is involved, only that disproportionately few are. Do you think these groups are primarily motivated by pollution in minority areas? Secondarily? And if blacks are motivated by pollution in their neighborhoods, then what accounts for the lack of concern in their churches? Are church going blacks less political or environmentally concious than non church going blacks?

          • Andrew Dowling

            I’ve seen data showing black Christians are some of the most supportive of fighting climate change (up there with the uber liberal main liners like the UCC) so I’m not sure of this graph’s methodology.

            I also know blacks and Latinos are much more supportive of environmental regs than whites are, without taking into account religion.

          • Michael Wilson

            I think it is how you phrase the question, as I pointed out this survey said their was a cost to enviromental protection. I think it might be different if you asked do you support more environmental regulation or something to that effect without implying there is a down side. But it is just one poll, their sample may be off.

            Yes, I don’t doubt more by percentage of minority’s support environmental protection. But there are more whites so the half that support more protections are a lot of people and then you have to measure enthusiasm. That is an important factor a lot of people don’t consider. I have to ask you how much of the speeches people give at NAACP conventions is dedicated to enviromental concerns vs racism and economic concerns. And I assure you, minorities are under represented in enviromentalist groups. That lack of enthusiasm will affect how much cost one is willing to bear for that cause.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “I think it might be different if you asked do you support more
            environmental regulation or something to that effect without implying
            there is a down side.”

            That’s kind of a ridiculous standard polling wise. Everything has a downside . . .a poll question like “do you support the Iraq War” shouldn’t need a caveat attached “given that tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and thousands of American soldiers have died etc.” That’s called a leading question. Polling is meant to get people’s opinions on a topic regardless of their own knowledge or biases on the subject . .you actually want those included if you hope to acquire data that is anything close to accurate.

          • Michael Wilson

            Andrew, I need clarification here, sorry. Are you saying the poll shouldn’t have said their was a cost, that it was a leading? Or do you mean that it didn’t matter it said their was a down side because everyone knows there is a down side?