Saturday, May 28, 2011

Atheistic Gaiaists

Half Sigma, a long-time critic of what he terms the Gaia Cult, contends that the enfeeblement of Christianity in the West has created a religious vacuum that said Gaia worship has increasingly come to fill:
Christianity has been disproved by science, thus some new religion is forming to fill in the void. The human brain is very unhappy unless there is something supernatural to worship.
An atheist himself, HS apparently presumes those of a similar mind on spirituality are similarly antagonistic towards people who promote "green" living:
I observed an atheist rally in DC once, and the people in attendance didn’t strike me as at the Mother Nature worshiping types.
I'd intended to look to the GSS for an empirical take on this, but was disappointed by the dearth of relevant questions in the survey. Well, the 2010 data are now out, and include a new module on the environment.

The following table shows the percentages of people, by theistic confidence (or lack thereof), who show an affinity for the tenets of Gaia worship. For the sake of consistency and ease of viewing, some of the questions have been inverted so that it is always the case that higher percentages indicate greater Gaia worship. To avoid racial confounding, only non-Hispanic whites are included:

Firm theist
Almost everything we do harms the environment
Worry about human progress harming the environment is not excessive
The world cannot support its current rate of population growth
Is willing to pay more in taxes to help the environment
Willing to decrease one's own standard of living for the environment
Protecting the environment is one of the most important things we can do
Threats to the environment are not exaggerated
Decrease own driving for environmental reasons
Global warming is "extremely" dangerous for the environment

The trend is clear and consistent--atheists make the best Gaiaists. As belief in God goes up, adherence to the beliefs of the Gaia Cult go down, with the only real aberration being agnostics' assigning relatively low priority to protecting the environment.

When it comes to Gaia worship anyway, the words "secular" and "right" don't make such strange bedfellows.



read it said...

There is an old story, (maybe a Bible story, not sure) about a farmer who tells two sons to go do something. One says, "Yes," but doesn't do it. The other says, "No," but then does what he was asked. The Gaia folks (not atheist/agnostics) remind me of the first son with regard to the environment. They talk commitment, but they don't actually do it. Whereas the non-Gaia folks (not necessarily religionists) are more likely actually walking the walk.

Ron Strong said...

Gaia hypothesis = Intelligent Design with a big rock in space as the intelligent designer.

Little more than a third rate theology.

Anonymous said...

If you adjust for IQ, education, politics and region, I would find it questionable whether you would see the same effect.

Which isn't to question the descriptive trend, just that I think Half Sigma's vacuum concept is bullshit.

sykes.1 said...

As to "environmental protection," I am an environmental engineer and an agnostic, and I think the correct answer to all of the statements is "no."

The Gaia superstition is a direct, unbroken continuation of Nazism and a very great danger to our liberties and economy.

durka said...

@Sykes, Gaia superstition? And you say this as an environmental engineer?
A direct and unbroken continuation of Nazism? Which part of Nazism do you speak of?
Right wing totalitarianism? Anti-Semtism? Control of the media?
Please explain your statements.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Both atheism/agnosticism and enviromentalism (of whatever stripe) correlate strongly with Leftism, so I'm surprised anybody would be shocked by these results.

PS--The notion that science has "disproved" Christianity is tendentious nonsense. It has certainly cast doubt on Christianity's veracity in the minds of many, and attenuated faith, but disproved? Uh, no.

Anonymous said...

Someone should start an "outdoorspersons for immigration control" organization:
Change the Numbers: Green Space

silly girl said...

"Both atheism/agnosticism and enviromentalism (of whatever stripe) correlate strongly with Leftism, so I'm surprised anybody would be shocked by these results.

"PS--The notion that science has "disproved" Christianity is tendentious nonsense. It has certainly cast doubt on Christianity's veracity in the minds of many, and attenuated faith, but disproved? Uh, no."

There is more than one kind of atheist/agnostic. In my experience the grumpy antagonistic angry leftist atheist/agnostic is rarely a skeptic of any sort. Rather, he is extremely credulous of whatever gives him status, etc. True skeptic atheist/agnostics are skeptical of far more than just religion or religionists. I think that is what we are seeing in the chart, an ironic preponderance of credulous folks among atheist/agnostics. One of my favorite articles on this phenomenon:

Look Who's Irrational Now

Audacious Epigone said...

Silly girl,

Thanks for that link. I wish the GSS had something on supernatural beliefs (ghosts, UFOs, etc). Unfortunately, about the best it does is the question on astrology, though that shows greater skepticism among atheists and agnostics than believers.

agnostic said...

Those environmental views don't seem religious in nature, so I wouldn't call them Gaiaists.

Most atheists are at the far systematizing end of the spectrum, which accounts for their aspie / autistic tendencies. So they tend to see those "green" problems as the failure of the technocracy to implement the optimal blueprints that will fix the social machine that looks to be sputtering and breaking down.

That's why when they rant about green topics, it never has the apocalyptic tone that a religious person would use when talking about the destruction of the environment.

Instead it sounds like a bunch of techie spazzes shouting at their computer-incompetent bosses.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

silly girl,

I don't doubt there's an enviro-divide (or Skeptical Schism, if you will) between right and Left atheists. What I doubt is that there are very many right atheists to begin with. Hell, this blog probably scoops up most of them. ;)

silly girl said...

Ed, my point is that atheists are assumed to be skeptics, but really they aren't necessarily, especially the narcissistic ones who just call themselves atheists because they think it makes them sound smart and cool. Like they were to smart to fall for X.

My only point is that atheism isn't a good proxy for skepticism as was assumed in the past.

From another angle, folks who are rebellious by nature can rebel by going against tradition. So, when atheism is common, then what do those sorts do to show they are clever? Maybe believe in the improbable or unproven? That sorta fits with the goofy GAIA stuff.

Audacious Epigone said...


But I suspect the most ardent Gaiaists would self-describe as atheist or agnostic at rates far higher than among the general population. Maybe not.


Around 1 in 150 people fall into the "secular right" category.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...


That number is about what I'd expect.

And I'm intrigued by this post from Sgt. Friday:

"And most mainline Protestant churches now are hopelessly chickified, a home for hand-wringing, bed-wetting liberal do-gooders that no self-respecting heterosexual man would want to be seen in."

I now have a ready political excuse for my lax church attendance. Don't know how much ice that'll cut with the Big Man, however.

Anonymous said...

"Don't know how much ice that'll cut with the Big Man, however."


Luckily it doesn't matter. You go to church to hear that you are forgiven. The last thing we need is more guilt ridden whites. Dump the guilt.

Audacious Epigone said...


I used to be under the impression that the objectives of the "alternative right" (or paleocon, or HBD-realist) found a marginal ally in mainline American Protestantism. I've since shed that misconception.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...


I've slowly been arriving at the same conclusion about mainline protestantism, or at least its elite ranks. Perhaps more worrisome, I get the sense we can no longer rely upon the military as an ally, not only of paleocons, but of conservatives in general. Does there remain any bastion of conservatism with the balls to tell the Left to go straight to hell?

PS--Do you have any data on the percentage of paleocons (however you choose to define them) in the US populace?

Audacious Epigone said...


Interesting question. I'll see if I'm able to come up with a satisfactory set of filter questions in the GSS to take a stab at it.