Is Climate-Change Belief a Religion?

Actually, yes, at least if you live in the United Kingdom.

(Hat tip: David Cushman)


Richard, UK

That is not what was ruled. Merely that it is a philosopical or political view.

SVS

Is economics a religion? The answer is yes if you live in US.

Amy

Is economics?

DaveyNC

Ruling aside, it's become a religion. Just deny it and see what response you get.

Mike

No. Money is a religion. Economics, like climatology is a science. Money = religion. Climate change = religion. Economics = science. Climatology = science.

Art

come on... i think you are confusing giving people the same protection against discrimination and persecution for their views regarding climate change as that given to religious beliefs to a theoretical/empirical framework based on science being the same as a belief framework based on faith. I understand you are using it as a rhetorical device same as in your book... but a little disingenous maybe?

The other way of looking at this is that Climate change deniers are such rabid, fundamentalist, faithmongers that the law has to make sure people that agree with global warming are protected for their openly held views...

Caliphilosopher

How exactly is economics a science? I'd love to get an answer on that one that just isn't a bunch of ceteris paribus laws.

Mike

@Art - What about protecting those who believe AGW is a fantasy?

Can they be protected from the hate speech associated with calling someone a "denier" by tying them to the Holocaust?

Ben

I'm not being entirely serious here, but there are some parallels to Christianity. Climate change has a creation story, an Adam and Eve in preindustrial peoples, particularly Native Americans, a fall from grace in the industrial revolution, a collection of moral imperatives, and an eschatology in the melting ice caps. It even has developed a system of indulgences in carbon credits and some very charismatic preachers.

Caliphilosopher

So what deity do they worship? Anyone care to give more of a definition of how it is supposed to be a religion?

If there is a necessary (or sufficient) condition to "deny it and see what happens", then (on that view) almost everything is a religion.

I'm pretty sure no one wants to ascent to that.

anon

The first commandment is, "thou shalt not investigate scientific matters for thyself".

The Gaians are like the old school Catholics, the Bible, like the "science", is the property of the Church and only certain reliable individuals are allowed to analyze it.

jblog

You betcha. Just question any aspect of it -- even while expressing belief in the larger issue -- and watch the modern Torquemada's come out of the woodwork

Christopher Mitchell

Is gravity a religion? Are the laws of thermodynamics a religion?

Depends on what definition of religion you use ... sure you can pick one characteristic of a religion and try to apply it to a variety of situations, but it is not academically honest.

Mike

@caliphilosopher. Science comes from the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge.

Also, the definition is a "system for acquiring knowledge". AGW believers don't seek to acquire knowledge - apparently they already have it, much like the bible-thumpers who KNOW their religion is right.

Climatology seeks to understand and build knowledge of the climate.

Economics seeks to understand and build knowledge of human behavior as it relates to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

In fairness however, I used climatology, which is a sub-category. Economics, too can be broken down into subcategories.

Dirac

@ Caliphilosopher: A religion does NOT require a deity which must be worshiped. Scientology does not worship a deity. Buddhists do not worship a deity. A religion is a belief system. Your definition is just a wee bit narrow and frankly, naive.

Jimbo UK

The headline: Climate change belief given same legal status as religion

The subheading: judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs

The anti-science stance of the mainstream media can be seen in the fact that the headline did not claim that environmentalism is legally a philosophy.

Interestingly, neither side in the case believes that climate change understanding is a religion. Yet the judge, who has made a ruling in the past which gave ammunition to the un-scientifics, decided to come out with this crazy ruling.

@DaveyNC
"Ruling aside, it's become a religion. Just deny it and see what response you get."

That is not what makes a religion. Deny gravity, cats, Mali or love and see what response you get! Dare I mention the Holocaust? Not real, just a religion?

Edwick

Is money a religion? At least it has the greatest power in the world.

--E

The study of climate change is a science. A position that human actions are/aren't harming our climate is an opinion (the quality of which depends on if it is an informed opinion--not all opinions are equal).

However, a belief that "nothing should stand in the way of diverting this catastrophe" is a philosophy. There are people who agree that man-made climate change is a very important issue, but they might put other things at higher priority. That's a difference of personal ethics and morals.

Caliphilosopher

@ Mike -

That's exactly why I was worried about the term "Economics" (generally speaking). I do understand that there are branches that are closer to other mature sciences (experimental economics, game theory, decision theory, neuro-economics).

I just worry that if economics is supposed to be a scientific model for human rational action, why doesn't it take into account more from sociology and psychology as to why people make the decisions that they do (things like position effects, primer effects, and various social psychology experiments - like the one posted a few days ago on the sneezing pollster).

@ Dirac -

I don't think that I'm being too naive. If a belief system is sufficient for having a religion, then you open up the door to a number of things that we do not consider as religions. It appears that your sufficient condition for a religion captures much more than you really desire.

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nobody.really

As others have noted, people use the term “religion” in various ways.

A British court ruled that an employer that fires an employee due to the employee's belief that humans cause global warming – and behavior that flows from that belief – should be subject to the same sanctions as an employer that fires an employee for the employee's religious beliefs. In so speaking, the court recognized the privileged status that has been granted to religions views.

In contrast, the term “religion” is sometimes used to denigrate another person's views as irrational.

For what it's worth, I like the British court's decision. I tend to believe that each person believes in something – even if that something is merely the importance of maintaining a healthy scepticism – and I weary of the practice of privileging some of these beliefs as “religions” while denigrating all others. I'd like courts to recognize that everyone has a world view, and to accord equal status to each person's world view.

Admittedly, because it would be impractical to grant a “privileged” status to everybody's views, the net effect may well be to remove the privileged status from religious views. As a result, employers would gain the prerogative to hire or fire on the basis of religion to the same extent that they may now hire or fire on the basis of hair color. That is, if your job is an employment-at-will arrangement, then you could be fired on the basis of your world view (or pretty much any other reason, or for no reason at all). Conversely, if you cannot be fired for except for cause, then probably you could not be fired for your world view.

Either way, let's get the whole question of “religion” out of the equation entirely.

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