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Watch: How Religion Turned American Politics Against Science

Welcome to the post-truth moment.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
6 FEB 2018
 

It's an interesting theory, and Kurt Anderson is one of the most qualified journalists to put it forward: Religion has turned American politics against science.

In a new video for Big Think, the award-winning journalist details how America has entered a post-truth moment, where religious fantasies put scientific fact and evidence-based policymaking at risk.

The theory starts with Christian protestant religion growing ever more extreme in the U.S.

 

"It became more magical and supernatural in its beliefs and practices in America than it had been in hundreds of years and more so than it is anywhere else in the developed world," said Anderson in the video.

Over the years, as the GOP began to pick up more and more protestant members, Anderson said conservative candidates were starting to feel a religious pressure from their base. As a result, many of the Republican candidates themselves became more extreme in their religious beliefs.

"I don't think all those people believe what they said," said Anderson.

"I don't think all of them disbelieve in evolution – some of them – but they were all obliged to say yes to falsehood and magical thinking of this religious kind, and that's where it becomes problematic."

Problematic because once you throw away some science, it's easier to accept other wishful untruths, like climate change is a Chinese hoax. And, as the party grows to believe in fantasies of a more and more extravagant kind, Anderson argues, "it stands to reason – or to unreason – that you will have a party that is more and more inclined to embrace the fantastical in its politics and policies."

Anderson said he doesn't have a problem with people believing what they want in private, he only minds when a religious belief "bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society."

When that happens, he says, we are in serious trouble.