“Religious Right’s Rejection of Science is Baffling,” by David Suzuki

Religion at its best helps humans to form loving, supportive communities, and helps each person to connect to something larger than himself. Religion at its worst separates groups into the “us” that have the Truth, and the “them” that live in ignorance, and deserve judgement.

Religion at its best is complementary to science. At its worst, it is stupidly contradictory. It is disheartening that the leadership of the Republican Party in the United States is currently dominated by arrogant, anti-intellectual, religious bigots. The Conservative Party in Canada is also burdened by similar types. David Suzuki laments here. Some quotes from the article follow.

Rick Santorum just seems out of touch on every issue, from rights for women and gays to the environment. He’s referred to climate change as a “hoax” and once said, “We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.”

This amounts to saying that playing with fire is for my fun, not for my house’s fun, and ignoring the fact that if I accidentally burn my house down I will suffer the consequences.

Some of these people put their misguided beliefs above rational thought. Republican senator James Inhofe, one of the more vocal and active climate change deniers in U.S. politics, recently said, “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.”

What is arrogant is the belief that God will save us no matter what we do. Jumping off a cliff in the belief that God will save you is irresponsible, and so is continuing to destroy our environment without a second thought, expecting that God will protect us from the consequences.

That statement is in keeping with the Cornwall Alliance’s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which has been signed by a range of religious leaders, media people, and even some who work in climate science, such as Roy Spencer, David Legates, and Ross McKitrick.

It says, in part, “We believe Earth and its ecosystems — created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence — are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.” It also states that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and fossil fuel use will “greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.”

I certainly agree with part of this statement. I do believe that earth’s ecosystem is robust enough and resilient enough that it will survive no matter what we do. What is at issue is whether human society will survive in its present form, or whether we will be relegated to a few bands of hunter-gatherers again. Contemplate for a moment the magnitude of human suffering that would accompany a collapse of human population and the state of the economy will plunge down the priority list.

And then there was this claim from Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen: “This Earth’s … been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn’t been done away with. …”

We all wake up every morning, year after year, until one day we don’t. And that’s the way human society is headed if we don’t get our act together soon. And understanding a bit about science is essential to getting our act together, which underlies how important education, particularly science education, is for our collective survival.


About Santo D'Agostino

I have taught mathematics and physics since the mid 1980s. I have also been a textbook writer/editor since then. Currently I am working independently on a number of writing and education projects while teaching physics at my local university. I love math and physics, and love teaching and writing about them. My blog also discusses education, science, environment, etc. https://qedinsight.wordpress.com Further resources, and online tutoring, can be found at my other site http://www.qedinfinity.com
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8 Responses to “Religious Right’s Rejection of Science is Baffling,” by David Suzuki

  1. tree girl says:

    Hi Santo,

    I find it hard to believe that people don’t understand that what you do to the environment you do to yourself. Frustrating and heartbreaking.

    “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Einstein

    I posted a few photos of the damage caused by the recent flood here http://magpielark.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/march/

    Kind Regards


    • Hi Narelle,

      Yes, the sooner we learn this lesson, the greater the chance that human civilization will survive in some sustainable way. There is so much “us vs. them” thinking out there, but what we need is “we are one” thinking. If we can extend the “us” to the animals and the plants, then we’ll be on to something. But of course, many people who are deeply connected to the earth already live in this way; our challenge is to encourage a critical mass of us to live in this way, and then we will have a chance.

      I like the Einstein quote.

      The photographs you link to are beautiful! What a beautiful part of the world you live in! I hope the damage is not great, and I hope there will be enough water so that wildfires are not a threat again.

      I’m happy to have learned about your other web site, Narelle, thanks! I have my head down working intensively on a project but I hope to have a chance to explore your site (and visit your hakea site) more deeply soon.

      Thanks for keeping in touch, and all the best wishes,

      • hakea says:

        Hi Santo

        How are you?

        Still busy with your project?

        Best wishes for the new year!

      • Hi Narelle,

        Nice to hear from you!

        All is well here, and I hope the same for you and your family.

        I have replied in a little more detail at your blog.

        All the best wishes in the new year to you and your family!

      • hakea says:

        Hi Santo

        Your project sounds fabulous and huge! A very worthwhile project to be immersed in and a testament to your passion for maths.

        My three boys love maths, and their school has a big focus on competency in maths. The whole school does maths at the same time, four mornings per week. This allows for children to go into higher or lower classes as needed. So, my middle boy who is in Year 4 was able to do Year 6 maths this year. I think it’s a brilliant idea. Still too much working out of workbooks for my liking though, and not enough exploring practical applications. They have something called the Maths Olympiad and the children can choose to give up one of their lunchtimes every week to participate, and these are very good for problem solving.

        Best wishes to you and your family Santo, and I hope your project is everything you want it to be.

  2. Sher Alam says:

    Hi Santo,
    I think that David Suzuki is pretty ignorant that he calls “religion” what is only a view of
    some people about certain religion [i.e. Christianity]. In islam we are taught to protect
    the environment and be “sustainable”. In fact I am sick and tired of people destroying the
    environment, but nothing can be done while people are brain-washed continuously by

    • Hi Sher,

      Suzuki is very clear in his article that he is criticizing the ignorant pontifications on scientific matters by certain religious fanatics in North America; he makes it clear that he is not criticizing any religion:
      “That’s not to criticize religion; only those who let it blind them to science and who would use it to advance agendas that don’t even reflect the spirit of their own traditions.”
      And yes, materialism is certainly a problem, but it cuts across all religions; it’s part of human nature (the urge for more, more, more), and it’s present in all countries of the world. Conversely, there are people of all religions (and no religion) who have somehow found a way to transcend materialism and become beacons of light for the rest of us.

      • Sher Alam says:

        Hi Santo,
        Thanks for your comment. But I have to respectfully disagree. As Einstein or some other wiseman said! It is What People Perceive! Of-course Suzuki says what you are quoting, but the impression which many people will come with is Religion is Bad and Backward! You are right if the world was ideal, and everyone was logical, rationale etc, but in real life we have many a variety [which is many ways is good, as long we do not have armed and dangerous groups or nations!] and will draw the conclusion from his article mainly along the line of what I was saying. Thus one must be careful and make all the appropriate distinctions and clarifications. In summary it is the Perception of reality, which counts many times in human interactions.

        You made an interesting statement”And yes, materialism is certainly a problem, but it cuts across all religions; it’s part of human nature (the urge for more, more, more), and it’s present in all countries of the world.”
        And materialism does not cut through all religions as you say: I am most familiar with my own religion [As a matter of principle, which I learnt from Islam, not to attack other people religions,
        so I only concentrate on Islamic point of view based on my knowledge and understanding of it], which teaches us how to control materialism, through many practices, such as Salat, Fasting, Zakat, Hajj and importantly the concept and practice of Tauhid. But Please understand that
        continuous bombardment of american dream etc reinforces human greed.

        To be continued!

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