Belief in Divine (Versus Human) Control of Earth Affects Perceived Threat of Climate Change

06 May 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Religious conservatism is associated with Americans’ skepticism toward climate-related science and policy. Yet the specific religious beliefs that are causally responsible for this dynamic, if any, remain unclear. In this study, we theorize that belief in divine (versus human) control over Earth’s future climate reduces belief in humans’ responsibility for climate change as well as concern about its severity. Regression analyses with national survey data (n=5,321) demonstrate that believing “God would not allow humans to destroy the Earth” is associated with lower concern about climate change. Next, a pre-registered survey experiment (n=3,333) finds that manipulating belief in God’s—vis-à-vis humans’—control of Earth’s climate affects the perceived severity of climate change and need for policy intervention. Our manipulation also reduced demand for climate- related information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Our results establish an important causal link between a religious belief and climate change attitudes in the U.S. public.


climate change
public opinion


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