Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg Awarded Theology Doctorate by Helsinki University — Because Climate Alarmism is a Religion

24 March 2023

3.7 MINS

The latest proof that climate alarmism is a religious cult? Greta Thunberg receiving an honorary doctorate in theology from Helsinki University.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg will be awarded an honorary doctorate by Helsinki University’s Faculty of Theology later this year. The announcement was made on the university’s website on Monday.

Thunberg’s doctorate will be conferred on 9 June as part of Finland’s centuries-old Conferment of Jubilee, in which public figures are recognised for their professional and artistic achievements.

The 20-year-old Swede is among 30 individuals to be given the title ‘doctor honoris causa’, the highest recognition awarded by Helsinki University.

Greta Thunberg’s Climate Theology

Other faculties awarding doctorates at Helsinki University in 2023 are the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Law.

But it was the university’s Faculty of Theology that chose Greta Thunberg as one of its eight recipients this year, alongside eminent New Testament, theology and church history professors.

How Thunberg’s activism advances theology has not been explained by the university. However, Professor Martti Nissinen, who will be conferring Thunberg’s doctorate, reportedly told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, “By selecting Greta as an honorary doctor, we are expressing our desire to be as brave and impactful as she is.”

The announcement sparked a string of online commentary and satire, with articles published by the Washington Examiner, the Post Millennial and Not the Bee, and tweets from several high-profile journalists and cultural commentators.

“Fair enough,” quipped TV presenter Reverend Calvin Robinson on Twitter. “She has done great things for her religion.”

Daily Wire reporter Megan Basham had similar thoughts, and wondered how woke church leaders might synchronise the two religions, tweeting, “Of course Greta Thunberg is getting an honorary doctorate in theology. Because what she’s selling is a religion. So how should Christians view the church leaders who are trying to convince us we should mix her religion with ours?”

Another commentator likened Greta Thunberg’s secular sainthood to that of George Floyd, when former House Speaker (and alleged Catholic) Nancy Pelosi prayed, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.”

Climate Alarmism as a Secular Religion

Independent journalist Michael Shellenberger agreed with the assessment that the climate alarmism of Greta Thunberg represents a new secular religion.

He tweeted out a resource he recently produced with philosopher Peter Boghossian, explaining how climate alarmism is “a religion complete with taboos, original sin, devils, a creation myth, The Elect, supernatural beliefs and purity rituals that have nothing whatsoever to do with science”.

Shellenberger remarked, “It makes sense that Greta Thunberg will receive an honorary doctorate in theology given her role as leader” of this religion.

Their resource, entitled Woke Religion: A Taxonomy, identifies climate change as one of at least seven branches of the Woke Religion, alongside racism, trans, crime, mental illness, drugs and homelessness.

Curiously, Shellenberger and Boghossian identified Greta Thunberg as one of “The Elect” of this new secular religion long before Helsinki University decided to award Greta Thunberg with her theology doctorate.

The Tenets of the Climate Alarmist Cult

In their chart, Shellenberger and Boghossian demonstrate how each of these branches of wokeness seek to answer the same basic questions that religions do. Regarding climate change, their observations are especially insightful.

Original Sin: What happened in the past to make things so terrible today

  • Fossil fuel use
  • Industrial revolution
  • Modern farming
  • Western development

Guilty Devils: The people who made things so terrible

  • Exxon, BP, etc. (fossil fuels industry)
  • “Climate deniers”
  • Monsanto
  • Koch Brothers
  • Corporations

Myths: Creation story

  • The Earth’s climate was safer in past
  • Climate change is making natural disasters deadlier and more expensive
  • Climate change is the main cause of high intensity forest fires
  • We rarely discuss climate change
  • We can power world with renewables
  • Human civilization is unsustainable

Sacred Victims: People who continue to be harmed by original sin

  • Subsistence farmers
  • Maldives, Tuvalo and other small island nations
  • Young people
  • Bangladeshis
  • Global South

The Elect: Those chosen to make things right

  • Climate scientists, activists, journalists
  • UN officials
  • Greta Thunberg
  • Vandana Shiva
  • Thomas Malthus

Supernatural Beliefs: Beliefs beyond scientific understanding or known laws of nature

  • Climate change will make humans extinct
  • Humans causing sixth mass extinction
  • Study of “tipping points” is scientific
  • Prosperity doesn’t depend on high energy use
  • Prosperity is not necessary for happiness
  • Organic agriculture can feed the world while protecting nature

Taboo Facts: Things forbidden to say

  • Deaths from natural disasters have declined 90% since 1900
  • Renewables can’t power high-energy world
  • Emissions are declining in developed nations and could soon peak and start to decline globally
  • Food surpluses are rising
  • Some climate policies hurt the poor and increase emissions
  • Nuclear energy is safe, clean, and effective, with myriad beneficial side effects
  • Renewables are dirty to produce and distribute
  • Prosperity (without inflation) follows shifting to cheaper, higher energy-density fuels, not more expensive lower energy-density fuels

Taboo Speech: Words that trigger anger among the elect

  • Nuclear power plants have the smallest environmental impact of any energy source
  • Fracking reduces carbon emissions
  • Economic development outweighs impact of climate change
  • Renewables hurt the environment
  • Wealth is good
  • “We’re safer than ever”

Purifying Rituals: Acts perceived to make people innocent of guilt and responsibility

  • Carbon offsets
  • Walking, biking, or public transit
  • Renewable Energy Credits
  • Carbon budgets
  • Climate reparations
  • Climate conferences
  • Extinction Rebellion-style performance art and public protests
  • Recycling

Purifying Speech: Words people use to be perceived as virtuous

  • “Renewables”
  • “Organics”
  • “Climate-fueled”
  • “Sustainable” / “Sustainability”
  • “Net-Zero (Emissions)”
  • “Carbon Zero” / “Carbon Negative”

A high resolution version of Shellenberger and Boghossian’s chart can be downloaded here.

So there you have it. Climate alarmism is a religion and Greta Thunberg is one of its high priests, now with her own theology doctorate. Not bad for a school drop-out!


Image via Not the Bee.

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  1. Jim Twelves 24 March 2023 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Kurt, well done, thank you. How do you think Greta’ religion is going? I can see a slow thawing of the faithful. I am seeing more and more reality through the veil that is flapping in the wind created by her turbines.
    For me the fall of climate religion was prophesied by Greta herself at Davos earlier this year when her smile began to melt the faithful, as she realized, with embarrassment and shame, that her stand was now on very thin ice and was being seen for what it was, a false religion.

  2. Philippa Rhodes 24 March 2023 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Jesus still weeping

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