Why Do Evangelicals Like James Inhofe Believe That Only God Can Cause Climate Change?

Mar 16, 2015

By Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig

“Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,” Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a recent address to the Senate. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.” Inhofe has been arguing for years that only God and His natural worksnot the activities of humankindcan affect the climate. “[M]y point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said in a 2012 address given to a Voice of Christian Youth America radio program. And in his theological belief that the environment is outside of humanity’s control, Inhofe is not alone.

For evangelical Protestants, accepting climate change but attributing it to God’s direct or indirect intervention, rather than human activity, appears to be the new party line, despite the efforts of evangelical climate scientists like Katharine Hayhoe. Recent polls suggest evangelicals are more likely than any other religious cohort to chalk worsening natural disasters up to the apocalypse, instead of human impacts on the environment.

A more suggestive statistic comes from 2011 polling data, which found that roughly the same percentage of evangelicals who believe in evolution (32 percent) believe in human-caused climate change (31 percent). Is there a link between evangelical distrust in the theory of evolution and similar skepticism about the human-related causal factors in climate change?


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36 comments on “Why Do Evangelicals Like James Inhofe Believe That Only God Can Cause Climate Change?

  • A think a better question is why do evangelicals like James Inhofe keep getting elected and put into positions of authority where they can directly affect policy for things that have no knowledge of. What’s next? Appoint an avowed faith healer to be the head of the NIH?



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  • Why Do Evangelicals Like James Inhofe Believe That Only God Can Cause Climate Change?

    Indoctrination, incredulity, arrogance, and plain pride in the pig-ignorance of using the universal “god-did-it-by-magic” know-it-all gap-filler!



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  • Inhofe and politicians like him, keep getting elected by the ignorant aging religious voters of the South. (not all of them).
    The only way this will change is through attrition.

    Religion is loosing foothold in the younger people in the USA, and the South is no exception.



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  • I am sorry to say that American religious arrogance has an arrogance all its own, if not the same as some Muslim leaders arrogance.



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  • “[M]y point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

    Sure. It’s arrogant to think that people could change the climate, despite all the evidence showing this, but it is just humble to be absolutely sure that a god is up there, without any evidence to confirm this.



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  • 7
    Miserablegit says:

    This is the religious wing nut who brought a snowball into congress to somehow disprove global climate change. All it proved was that whenever he opens his mouth he proves his stupidity rather than keeping it shut and leaving at least some doubt.



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  • This saddens and frightens me. I fear for America. I’ve said this before. I think America, probably because it was the richest and most powerful nation in the world for so long and needed to listen to no one else, has become stuck in a time warp back in history while the rest of the world has moved forward. What was the bench mark for a civilized society has moved, but America hasn’t moved with it. What was considered good governance has moved, but America hasn’t.

    I think GodzillaTemple’s question above summarizes my sadness.

    A think a better question is why do evangelicals like James Inhofe keep getting elected..

    While the rest of the world has shed religion, especially where it involves the election of a person to sit in government, America hasn’t. Inofe and the excess of christian right wing evangelicals would have America a theocracy if they could, no different to Iran.

    I can see no hope of any rapid improvement in America. I estimate they are 30 years behind Europe in terms of being a civilized society and being governed on the basis of evidence, instead of religion. Religion is the albatross around the neck of America that condemns it to a slow and lingering decline into irrelevance. Short of Monsanto coming up with a gene splice to insert rationality into the American people, Inofe and the like will continue to be elected.

    RIP America.



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  • This research has just been release today after publication in the journal Nature.

    A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

    Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/16/the-melting-of-antarctica-was-already-really-bad-it-just-got-worse/

    Inhofe and people who espouse these views represent a clear and present danger to the survival of humanity. America. It’s time to sideline these people. Don’t vote for them.



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  • 14
    Lorenzo says:

    Why do they? I’ve got my theory, but it’s very not compliant with this site’s guidelines…
    Let’s just say that people like that belong in a bedlam and not in a parliament.



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  • Something also to remember is how congressional districts are drawn up in the USA. This “gerry-mandering” system in which state legislatures can draw up congressional districts to elect a maximum number of congressmen from a particular political party is infamous. Even the Senate with its two senators per state is heavily skewed to sparsely populated Western states where Republicans dominate. Add to that a Supreme Court full of Republican appointees, and you have an unfair system stacked against (usually) more reasonable liberals.



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  • James Inhofe is a special case. He will say the moon is made of green cheese if the dairy lobby pays him enough to. All his “personal” beliefs are up for sale.

    Your average Christian, however, is essentially a believer in wishful thinking. Think of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio singing:

    When you wish upon a star

    Makes no difference who you are

    Anything your heart desires

    Will come to you

    Wishful thinking is the essence of pop Christianity. Though Christians fantasize about Jesus destroying all the heathens, they also believe God would never let humanity seriously hurt itself. They forget Noah and the many other biblical acts of genocide not to mention catastrophes of real history.

    The other reason is a bit of an accident. The fundamentalist Christians have allied themselves with Republican who also allied themselves with the oil lobby. Christian are thus oddly tied with the oil lobby.



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  • maybe he doesn’t want to govern in a world where those who govern don’t have an automatic privalage over the common people?

    the message from the IPCC is one for everyone, especially those at the top earning a very nice living from the technologies causing climate change. religion sends a different message, that those at the bottom must change their ways.

    whatever he actually believes in is of no consequence. his ambition requires that ordinary voters must give up their sense of agency in order to keep him in the lifestyle he feels entitled to. Admitting to AGW means we have to do something together. blaming it on god means you must have upset him so best be nice to his friends

    As Nepolian pointed out, religion is what stops the poor killing the rich



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  • Have you noticed the shift in the denier’s arguments lately?

    For years, it was all about how global warming/climate change itself was a complete hoax and that untrustworthy scientists were fudging the data to make it look like the Earth was getting warmer for their own nefarious purposes

    Now, however, the weight of the evidence is apparently so undeniably great that deniers are willing to admit that the climate is, in fact, changing and that the earth is, in fact growing warm, meaning that the scientists were right all along. But the bit about it being man-made or human-influenced? Well, that’s the part that’s a hoax perpetuated by untrustworthy scientists…



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  • godzillatemple Mar 17, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Have you noticed the shift in the denier’s arguments lately?

    On the (very) old site, I used to have a little sport with self-assured deniers who pronounced the climate measurements to be wrong and a hoax and who had cme to this science site to impress us with their “expertise”.

    I would ask them to list the factors which were put into the calculations and identify which ones were not measured accurately!

    Of course they had no idea of how to measure or what to measure! – Which was laughable, as if you miss out key factors such as sequestration in oceans, recycling through forests, volcanism, annual global coal combustion figures, heat absorption in the latent heat of ice-melt, methane release by a warming Arctic, albedo effects of ice-cover, Milankovitch Cycles, etc. any claims become meaningless.

    Claims that scientists “can’t measure”, made by people who don’t know how to measure, or what to measure, are simply laughable – especially when they try to concoct credible arguments based on ignorance and incredulity!! (and I did not even mention Earth monitoring satellites in the earlier part of this comment!!)

    One particular denier decided to “trump me” with a “gem” he had copied from a denial website. He quoted a temperature figure and demanded that I answer if this was the (warm) temperature at his quoted date during the medieval warm period.

    I replied, that – “I was fairly certain that at some time of day, at some time of year, that was the temperature somewhere on Earth”! –
    He was of course utterly clueless about how to measure or compare global averages and was not disclosing the junk source of his information!



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  • Why do evangelicals believe that only God can cause climate change?

    Because taking personal responsibility for anything is not their strong suit.

    Because they’re lazy. If God’s doing it as part of some plan, then they don’t have to do anything about it.

    If they admit that they’re wrong about one thing, then their whole creed falls apart.

    They’re evil fuckers who delight in the thought of disaster and suffering, either so they can rush in and provide “aid” and claim brownie points for heaven, or so they can heap “We told you sinners so” piles of guilt and recrimination on the victims, thereby feeling superior and holy as God’s Chosen.

    All of the above.



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  • Yes – that’s the scary thing, that there are enough idiotic, deluded voters out there to get these morons into office and keep them there. There are also deep-pocketed campaign donors who have no problem using the stupid and gullible (both voters and politicians) to push legislation that will be advantageous to them.



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  • Though religions come in many varieties, believers distinguish themselves from infidels, heretics and non-believers in general by claiming access to special knowledge grounded in supernatural revelation combined with faith. The special knowledge puts the believer in mystic communion with the Divine during life fulfilling the requirement for a redemptive transition to an afterlife where the soul is freed from earthly suffering trapped in a physical body and transfigured by God in an eternally blissful paradise. “Worldliness” variously referring to material wealth, power, status -the esteem of society- and the pursuit of ‘vain” knowledge that derives from an interest in natural phenomena manifest in the physical world comprise the grand “illusion” that distracts humankind from communing with the Higher Power (or Supreme God). Worldliness so defined represents sinfulness which leads away from the path to Ultimate Truth and Salvation in the hereafter.

    Obviously the special knowledge implies an esoteric quality reserved for the equivalent of an elite community which must isolate themselves from the non-believing masses indulging in the sinful temptations of the flesh and the physical world – sex, the accumulation of wealth, creature comforts, etc.-
    Monastic traditions in Catholicism, Buddhism; Amish and Orthodox Jewish communities are examples of the ambition for the spiritual elite to isolate themselves in a sacred space separated from the corrupting influence of the unenlightened living in a profane space.

    Jim Inhofe, a self-identified evangelical fundamentalist participates in this traditional syndrome (with many hypocritical exceptions). He believes he belongs to a community which has special Divinely-revealed knowledge which trumps the illusory, vain (and therefore false) knowledge of scientists who embrace the evil of a naturalistic worldview. Those who do not have a personal relationship with the supernatural Jesus, have succumbed to the temptations of secular society and cut themselves off from the pursuit of the higher knowledge behind the illusions and temptations of the visible world. Secularists who pursue interests and purposes which satisfy them in the here an now have moved away from the Way, the Truth, and Salvation revealed and embraced by faith in the Gospels. From Ihhofe’s elite perspective, secularists are sinners and make no mistake about it -they will burn in Hell.



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  • Oh yes I have,

    One by one, they are finding it harder to sustain their arguments and not look ignorant. I’m no expert but I have done some homework and what shocks me is that if even I, and my dick and Jane level of understanding of this issue can find flaws (flaws that my climate denying workmates cannot deny) in their so called expert evidence, they start looking like idiots. I think they are sick of looking like idiots so they are now taking the “We have to take it slowly or we will wreck the economy”.



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  • I just can’t get over the cognitive dissonance that must be involved with acknowledging that climate scientists were right all along when they said the earth was growing warmer and the climate was changing as a result on the one hand, and then going on to claim that scientists are either ignorant or dishonest when they say current climate change largely man-made on the other hand. Either you trust scientists or you don’t, and if they have been proven right despite all your claims that they couldn’t possibly be, doesn’t that mean they are probably right about this as well?

    I guess religious people are just very good at compartmentalizing their beliefs and keeping them shielded from the adverse affects of reality (I know I certainly was back in the days when I was religious). Either that, or it really is all about the money and folks like Mr. Inhofe are just saying what their donors want them to say.



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  • It appears to be a very sly set of minor acknowledgements, targeted at getting you to believe over a period of years that they did in fact support AGW all along and that early objections were more about rational even handedness until the data all came in. They are relying on you not still being pissed enough that you do the socially awkward thing and remind them of exactly how pig headed they were. Of course they have to be smart enough (or educated enough) to see the writing on the wall, many don’t.



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  • The real debate on Global Warming is whether it is the result of human actions or can be explained naturally. I don’t think even among religious people that it is any more than a fringe group would attribute that to “God”. If people remember back to the early days of this debate, the real issue was political and business oriented when Republicans were looking for an excuse to prevent government regulation of businesses which were polluting the atmosphere.
    While I think it is indisputable that man made global warming is occurring, I feel that some scientists may also be responsible for undermining the integrity of science by making statements about climate that frankly were not easily supported by the scientific method. It is a simple fact of life that it is the degree to which results can be established by the scientific method that guarantees their integrity, and no matter how important climate management is, scientists should not claim that speculative (albeit plausible) results are fully established by the scientific method when they are not.
    For example, some scientists claimed that Hurricane Katrina was the start of an almost cataclysmic increase in Hurricane strength in the following years due to Global Warming. As it happens there is no evidence that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with Global Warming. It was a Cat 3 in a Hurricane prone region that hit a populated area that was highly vulnerable to flooding! Also, the next year had the lowest number of Hurricanes in the Gulf for 25 years.
    I understand that Climate is a complex system, but the scientists who made wild, unsubstantiated claims which turned out to be completely false have done a HUGE amount of damage to the integrity of science, and they have made it easier for these nutcases to spread their superstitious nonsense.



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  • DavidPun Mar 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    The real debate on Global Warming is whether it is the result of human actions or can be explained naturally.

    That “real debate” was settled sciences years ago! CO2 levels and global carbon combustion figures are available, as are the measurements of temperatures and diminishing ice sheets.

    For example, some scientists claimed that Hurricane Katrina was the start of an almost cataclysmic increase in Hurricane strength in the following years due to Global Warming.

    Do you have a quote or a link to where “scientists” made such claims in a reputable scientific journal? I know that all sorts of ridiculous claims are made in the popular media and attributed to *scientists”.

    As it happens there is no evidence that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with Global Warming. It was a Cat 3 in a Hurricane prone region that hit a populated area that was highly vulnerable to flooding! Also, the next year had the lowest number of Hurricanes in the Gulf for 25 years.

    As far as I am aware, reputable climate scientists have consistently said that individual events cannot be directly attributed to AGW, but that increased frequency or intensity of climatic events is to be expected.
    As far as I know, the position on Katrina, at present is:- “We don’t know if it was a feature of global warming or if it was a freak event”! The sea surface temperature which spawn hurricanes are however rising.

    Of course denial of warning from science, is common in human populations, which is why New Orleans was so abysmally unprepared for Hurricane Katrina, despite being warned a year earlier by the National Geographic Magazine, of the expected water level during the flooding if it was hit by a hurricane. Even the Nat. Geog. had underestimated the sheer shoddiness of the flood defences!

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2004/10/louisiana-wetlands/bourne-text

    Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

    .When did this calamity happen? It hasn’t—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.



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  • Jim Imhofe has embarrassed this state for many years, except the mental ilk of most people in this state doesn’t allow them to know they are embarrassed. To not comprehend the things that any U.S. Senator should fully understand is frightening to say the least. Only when the old dinosaur group dies out and fewer fundamentalist idiots come into office will there be functional sanity in our government.



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  • and when the waters rise and we all head for the hills and mountains, they will decree it is the wrath of God, not the fault of stupid humans burying their heads in pits of fairy tales, we can not win this one. Luckily I live in a giant teapot on stilts in the scottish highlands, therefore I will be unaffected by humanities utter stupidity.



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  • 31
    Starsector001 says:

    “either so they can rush in and provide “aid” and claim brownie points for heaven, or so they can heap “We told you sinners so” piles of guilt and recrimination on the victims, thereby feeling superior and holy as God’s Chosen.”

    This, definitely! I was arguing the domino effect of global climate change with a local right wing who basically washed his hands of it saying ‘everything affects societies and always has’. In other words Que sira sira. While he certainly didn’t ‘delight’ in the idea of death and destruction, he wasn’t motivated to help alleviate any because of ‘god/s plan’



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  • Is there a link between evangelical distrust in the theory of evolution and similar skepticism about the human-related causal factors in climate change?

    I’m always skeptical of these articles that psycho analyze the relation between some public figures various beliefs. Even a good therapist who talks to a patient in person over a long period would be very tentative in drawing such conclusions. To try and do it for some public figure based on his public remarks which are mostly influenced by what will win votes and campaign contributions is very difficult to say the least and really nothing but speculation.

    But speculation can be fun so no I don’t think there is any link at all. I think Evangelicals could just as easily be advocates for climate change if climate change were in the economic interests of the various powerful people that support them. I think these kinds of things have almost nothing to do with religion, except that religion makes it easy to rationalize just about any belief. Since it is all based on faith there really is no logic so you can “interpret God’s word” to be whatever best fits your agenda.



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  • I agree with Red Dog. It’s the economic interests that drives this and religion is dragged in to justify it. It’s not the other way round, that he’s taking a religious position that happens to coincide with the economic interests of his or his party’s sponsors.

    Compare the issue of slavery. The forefathers of these climate deniers were interpreting God’s word to justify slavery, and later to support segregation etc., until one day it’s no longer an economic issue and/or there aren’t enough votes in it, and then suddenly in God’s eyes we are all God’s children. Whatever position you want to support for secular reasons, you can probably find a bible passage to support your position. Pro-slavery? Check. Anti-slavery? Check. Pro-peace? Check. Pro-genocide? Check. Etc.



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  • Ted Cruz Thinks

    Nah! Any resemblance to thought is purely coincidental!

    … and anyone who thinks he had 10,000 students supporting him has missed the usual deceptions of his stooge creationists who forced them to attend!

    http://reason.com/blog/2015/03/23/liberty-u-students-forced-to-attend-ted

    Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University this morning in front of a captive audience of nearly 10,000 students—none of whom had any choice in whether to attend.

    That’s because all Liberty students are obligated to show up for convocations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Absenteeism results in “four reprimands and a $10 fine,” according to student Daniel Joseph Hayes.

    Apparently students at “Liberty University” don’t have the “liberty” to choose which politicians they think are worth listening to, and are to be subjected to raving de-regulator propaganda, along with the usual obligatory creationist YECery!!!



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