09/03/2011 10:41 am ET | Updated Nov 03, 2011

Denying Evolution and Denying Global Warming: Is There a Biblical Link?

I am fascinated and a little puzzled at the connection that apparently exists today in certain segments of society between evolution and global warming. More particularly, at the connection between denial of evolution and denial of global warming. I don't think the two are necessarily connected. I don't suppose you could think the world was created yesterday and believe in global warming (meaning human-made global warming), but you could surely believe that the world was created 6,000 years ago and believe in global warming. Conversely, you could think that the earth is very old and that evolution occurred and deny global warming.

But the front runners for the Republican nomination for next year's presidential race link the two. No evolution. No global warming. And my question is: Why? Or, more specifically, are the denials connected? I very much suspect that they are and that the link is evangelical Christianity -- the kind that entails an idiosyncratic, supposedly literal reading of Genesis.

People think that Genesis implies no evolution and that Genesis also implies no global warming. My question is whether the link is common cause or cause and effect. Do people find in Genesis independent evidence against evolution and against global warming, or is it a matter of finding evidence for the one that -- even if the link is not logically necessary -- strongly suggests the truth of the other?

I take it that the independence case would be something like: Take the six-day story of creation, throw in Noah's Flood and you simply cannot believe in evolution. Since Genesis is true, evolution must be false. Now take the stuff about God giving us dominion over the animals and all of the earth, and perhaps throw in the promises to Abraham, and if you want to go to Exodus, the bit about milk and honey, and global warming must be false. God is simply not going to let His creation come to a burning end, or at least not through our actions. If He decides to do it, that is up to Him.

I take it that the cause and effect argument would be something like this: Modern science insists on the truth of evolution. But we know that evolution is false. Hence we should not accept modern science, at least not at face value. Why then should we accept warnings about global warming? In both cases we are getting predictions (or retrodictions) about times other than the present. If science is so unreliable about the past, why should we take it seriously about the future? The Bible is the guide to the past. The Bible is also a guide to the future. Leave it at that.

It seems to me that either link is plausible, not in the sense that either is true (I believe in evolution and in global warming), but in the sense that people might be reasoning in either way. I don't think it a priori obvious that being an evangelical Christian literalist means that one option is to be preferred over the other. But I would be interested to know if one option is preferred over the other, if this is generally so and why.