Katharine Hayhoe: Evangelical Christian, Climate Scientist

As an evangelical scientist, Katharine Hayhoe is already a member of a rare breed. As a climate change researcher who is also married to an evangelical Christian pastor, she is nearly one of a kind. In these three videos, Hayhoe divulges her beliefs about God, climate change, and the difficulties of believing in both those things.

The first video, “10 Questions with Katharine Hayhoe”, introduces the scientist in a brief and lighthearted interview. Hayhoe is presented with 10 questions concerning her personal life and beliefs. When asked, she explains that one thing people should know about Christianity is that having a relationship with the God of the universe is one of the most incredible experiences that a person can have. As the video unfolds, the viewer quickly begins to realize that, despite her unique profession of two seemingly incompatible beliefs, Hayhoe is a remarkably sane and “normal” individual. Her role model, she explains, is her father– the person who first introduced her to science and showed her that it could be “really cool”. On a more serious note, the scientist admits that being both a scientist and a Christian can be difficult. The most frustrating thing about her position, she says, is the amount of disinformation which is targeted at her very own Christian community.

In the second video, “Climate Change Evangelist”, Katharine Hayhoe delves into deeper discussion of the perceived conflict between climate change and Christian faith. She explains that admitting her identity as a Christian scientist can be uncomfortable. Since evangelicals are the targets of much disinformation concerning science in general — and specifically the science surrounding climate change — many people in the church have a misguided view of the subject and do not look kindly at her career choice. One woman encountered by Hayhoe at a church in Texas, for example, believed that global warming was a lie taught in schools to mislead her children. In an effort to realign misguided views like these, Katharine Hayhoe and her husband wrote a book addressing the deep-rooted emotions often associated with climate change. People fear that addressing the climate issue will bring forth changes in the economy and uproot their way of life. However, Hayhoe encourages her viewers to act out of love, as the Bible calls us to do, rather than out of fear. Acting out of love inspires us to consider the poor and disadvantaged people around the globe when we respond to the reality of a changing climate.

In the final segment of this three part video montage, Hayhoe addresses the question of what climate change means. Specifically, she is concerned about how global warming affects people on a personal level. While global warming generally brings to mind melting ice caps and polar bears, its implications are far more widespread, affecting the lives of everyone around the world- from cotton farmers in Texas to public health workers in Chicago. If nothing is done to change current emission levels, the number of days per year which exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, will begin to increase dramatically, and if emissions are increased, many areas will even develop extreme conditions like those seen currently in Death Valley. Hayhoe’s goal is to demonstrate clearly that the only way to preserve the world for future generations is to significantly reduce dependence on inefficient means of getting energy and instead transition to cleaner renewable energy sources.

Notes & References

So What Is BioLogos?

Well it all began with a scientist and a book. Francis Collins, the physician and geneticist who led the Human Genome Project, wrote the book, The Language of God. In it he describes his own journey from atheism to Christian faith, and the harmony between Christianity and science.

Today, BioLogos continues to carry out the vision of Collins, showing that you don’t have to choose between modern science and biblical faith.

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Katharine Hayhoe
About the Author

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change, one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. But Katharine may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and Christians—work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself. She’s been named by Christianity Today as one of their 50 Women to Watch and currently hosts the PBS digital series, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion. Katharine is currently a professor and directs the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois.