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Varieties of Religious Involvement and Environmental Concerns: Testing the Lynn White Thesis

Douglas Lee Eckberg and T. Jean Blocker
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 28, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 509-517
DOI: 10.2307/1386580
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386580
Page Count: 9
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Varieties of Religious Involvement and Environmental Concerns: Testing the Lynn White Thesis
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Abstract

Lynn White's thesis, that the disenchantment of nature in the first chapter of Genesis led to reduced concern for the environment in the West, has received little empirical research at the level of individual differences in religious experience. In this study, we separated the effects of four different measures of religious experience on four different indexes of concern for the environment. Results offered substantial support for White's thesis: (a) belief in the Bible, and only belief in the Bible, predicted scores on all four indexes of environmental concern and did so in the direction expected by White's thesis; (b) this occurred independently of the effects of background items; (c) standard regression showed the effects of belief in the Bible to be independent of those of other measures of religious involvement on two indexes, and on the other two indexes stepwise regression showed the same thing; and (d) in only two of twelve cases did any other measure of religious experience significantly predict an index score independently of belief in the Bible.

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