Past Symposium
Geloven in tijden van stijgende zeeën

Religie en Klimaatverandering in Nederland

7 Juni 2024 van 10:00 - 17:00 Uur
Locatie: Tilburg University (Dante gebouw)
Warandelaan 2 5037 AB Tilburg


Climate discourse shows religious characteristics.

First Results of NWO Research on Religion and Climate Change (Dutch summary below)

Anyone who keeps an eye on the climate debate in the Netherlands and beyond will soon notice the use of religious vocabulary. Both climate activists and climate skeptics use religious terms, concepts, and imagery to convince each other and the world of their own correctness. This is evident from the initial research results of the NWO project group 'Religion and Climate Change' at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TST), which they presented on June 7 in Tilburg during a national symposium titled 'Religion and Climate Change in the Netherlands'.

In 'Believing in Times of Rising Seas: Big Data Research on Religious Language Use on Twitter/X,' Dr. Ömer F. Gürlesin focused on the role of religious language use on digital platforms in the debate about climate change. He analyzes social media accounts of environmental organizations and the posts of individual users. Gürlesin particularly pays attention to the impact of religious vocabulary on how the public perceives and approaches climate change, thus exploring the intersections between faith, science, and climate activism. By using advanced data mining techniques and his expertise in the sociology of religion, Gürlesin offers a new perspective on the dynamic interaction between religion and climate discourse.

In her presentation 'From Creation to End Times,' Prof. Dr. Caroline Vander Stichele delved deeper into the nature and function of religious language and imagery within the discourse of Dutch climate activists on social media. She demonstrated how the climate discourse is generally conducted and what choices can be made within it. Vander Stichele is a professor of 'Impact of the Bible in Western Culture' at TST and the program leader of the project. For this project, her interest mainly lies in the rhetorical use of religious texts, images, and scenarios in the context of climate discourse among both secular and religious groups active on social media.

Dr. Frank Bosman analyzed how climate skeptics use religious terms and imagery to disqualify their climate activist opponents, in his contribution 'I Don't Believe It'. Secular critics associate religion with negative concepts such as irrationality, primitiveness, anti-science, and superstition. Interestingly, Christian climate skeptics also use this register but to indicate that climate activism is a 'false religion' that must be rejected. Bosman is interested in the religious and spiritual dimensions of the popular climate debate in the Netherlands and beyond, particularly in terms of the intersection between spirituality, conspiracy, and ecology.

In her presentation 'Dealing with Ecological Grief,' Dr. Deborah de Koning discussed online and offline practices of meaning-making that arise in Dutch society in confrontation with the consequences of the climate crisis. Ecological mourning rituals form an important part of such practices. She encountered various themes inherent to climate meaning-making, such as connection (between species and generations) and a strong emphasis on the suffering of (Mother) Earth. In this research, she focuses mainly on meaning-making practices in response to the climate crisis. By looking at people's practices, new forms of post-secular sacrality within the climate discourse become visible.

The symposium concluded with a panel discussion where participants from academia (Lisa Doeland), media (Stijn Fens), church (Bishop Gerard De Korte), and politics (Marianne Thieme) shared their perspectives on the topic and engaged in conversation.Dutch Summary

10.00-10.30 Inloop 

Registratie, koffie en thee 

10.30-10.40 Welkom 

Prof.dr. Karim Schelkens  

10.40-11.20  Presentatie I

Religieus Vocabulaire in Klimaatdiscussies: Een Twitter Analyse

Dr. Ömer F. Gürlesin, Drs. Nico de Groot

11.20-12.00 Presentatie II

Van schepping tot eindtijd 

Religieuze vocabularia in het discours van Nederlandse klimaatactivisten 

Prof. dr. Caroline Vander Stichele 

12.00-13.00 Lunch 


13.00-13.40 Presentatie III 

Ik geloof 't niet 

Religie en klimaatscepsis

Dr. Frank. G. Bosman 

13.40-14.20 Presentatie IV

Omgaan met ecologische rouw 

Online en offline rituelen 

Dr. Deborah de Koning 

Perspectieven (panel)

14.30-14.50 Panel I

Lisa Doeland, auteur van Apocalypsofie (2023) 

14.50-15.10 Panel II

Stijn Fens, eindredacteur Levensbeschouwing Katholiek bij KRO-NCRV 

15.10-15.30 Panel III

Gerard de Korte, voorzitter Laudato Si’ Alliantie Nederland  

en bisschop 's-Hertogenbosch

15.30-15.50 Panel IV

Marianne Thieme, theoloog en voormalig leider Partij voor de Dieren 

15.50-16.20 Paneldiscussie


16.20-17.00 Borrel

Our References