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Reconciling science and religion

BYU Humanities Professor George B. Handley spoke to students and faculty at WSU about the interaction between religion and climate change.

Handley began by telling of his roots in Ogden, Utah on Oct. 22. Handley explained how one of his grandfathers in the 1830’s was on the board of Ogden City.

Handley was raised in the suburbs of New York City by his parents. His parents were semi-religious, yet he was not a full member of any church. He spoke about the various churches who have many different views on climate change.


He shared a quote from a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Elder Dallin H. Oaks in 2017. It read, “These are challenging times filled with big worries: wars, possible epidemics of infectious diseases, droughts, floods, and global warming. Sea coast cities are concerned with the rising level of the ocean which will bring tides to their doorsteps over their thresholds. Global warming is also affecting agricultural and wildlife.”

Some people say, both members and nonmembers of the Church, that climate change isn’t real, and that it’s just a false belief, but Handley believes that it is much more than that. He explained that some parts of it are based from religious beliefs, but he continues to believe in both religion and the science behind climate change.

Handley spoke about the “Four Grounds for Engagement” which are Scientific Literacy, Critical Judgement, Know and Acknowledge Your Values and Be Civil.

He also told how when the conversation of climate change was brought up he simply would reply with “I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.” He encouraged the audience to research topics, so they could be knowledgeable about topics and understand what the Earth is going through.

He continued to say, “Climate change has presented many challenges and still challenges our capacity to change.”

When the topic of the beginning of climate change came up, he explained the other belief that people simply didn’t believe that climate change was real. People would say that the earth is self-sufficient.

He commented “I’ve never doubted climate change since I heard it in college. Never any research in climate change, just accepted it. No religious reason to be skeptical, no educated understanding of climate change.”

Climate change is said to be human caused. With each car going by, each factory being built, humans carbon footprint is seeming to get bigger each year. To try and point out companies or people leaving the biggest carbon footprint would be seemingly impossible due to people driving out for fun uses the same amount as if someone was rushed to the hospital the same distance. In short, humans cannot survive forever like this.

Handley also asked “Why should I feel betrayed if someone has a different religious view or political view about climate change? People of all different religions have different beliefs.”

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