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Evangelicals more likely to believe in climate change than evolution

According to a new study by Rice University, American evangelicals are more likely to believe in climate change than evolution. The study found that 20 percent of those surveyed said that they were skeptical that climate change is occurring or that humans have any role in climate change. But 45 percent of those surveyed said that natural evolution is probably or definitely a false concept.

The study also found that religion is more closely tied to evolution skepticism than it is to climate change skepticism. Around 70 percent of those who identify as evangelicals said that evolution is most likely false, but only 28 percent of that population said that climate change is not occurring or that humans have no role in climate change.

The study, titled “Examining Links Between Religion, Evolution Views and Climate-Change Skepticism,” was published in the latest edition of Environment and Behavior. It focused on the larger “anti-science” mentality as it relates to membership in conservative religious groups.

A team of researchers, led by Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, studied the link between evolution skepticism and climate-change skepticism with regard to religious affiliation. The team surveyed 9,636 people in the U.S. population which, according to Ecklund, is up to 40 percent evangelical, depending on how “evangelical” is defined.

Said Ecklund, “This is different from the popular account that the people who oppose climate change research and the people who oppose the teaching of evolution are the same, and that evangelical Protestantism is clearly linked to both.”

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