One of Britain's most eminent scientists, who is an atheist, has said that the world may have to turn to religion to save itself from catastrophic climate change.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Lord May, the president of the British Science Association, said that religion may have helped protect human society from itself in the past and it may be needed again.
AdvertisementThe committed atheist said he was worried the world was on a "calamitous trajectory" brought on by its failure to co-ordinate measures against global warming.
He said that no country was prepared to take the lead and a "punisher" was needed to make sure the rules of co-operation were not broken.
The former Government chief scientific advisor said in the past that "punisher" was God and it might be time again for religion to fill the gap.
"Maybe religion is needed," said Lord May. "A supernatural punisher maybe part of the solution," he added.
He said that in the past, a belief in a god, or gods, that punish the unrighteous may have been part of the mechanism of evolution that maintains co-operation in a dog-eat-dog world.
Having a God as the ultimate punisher was possibly a logical step for a society to take, he added.
"Given that punishment is a useful mechanism, how much more effective it would be if you invested that power not in an individual you don't like, but an all-seeing, all powerful deity that controls the world," he said
"It makes for rigid, doctrinaire societies, but it makes for co-operation," he added.
Such a system would be "immensely stabilising in individual human cultures" and societies, he pointed out.
Lord May said that while religion maybe one possible answer, it remained, at the moment, very much part of the problem as it had teetered ever more towards fundamentalism.
"In less troubled times religions had become softer and less dogmatic, and embraced a more humane set of values," he said.
But that pattern was now reversing with the rise of fundamental Islamic and Christian beliefs.
Authoritarian religion had directly undermined attempts to achieve global co-operation on climate change, he maintained.
"People who believe in the End of Days, who believe the world is going to come to an end, don't care about climate change. I think there is quite a strong connection between the religious right and climate change denial," he said.
Asked if religious leaders should be doing more to persuade people to combat climate change, he replied: "absolutely".
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