Jerry Coyne has an interesting post about Jennifer Wiseman, who heads the “Dialogue on Science, Religion, and Ethics” (DoSER) program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific organization in the world.
I was recently informed (by someone likely to know) that the top people at AAAS are all Christians. I didn’t realize this – or possibly I once did and forgot it.
As I’ve posted before, DoSER is sponsored by not only the AAAS, but by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Smithsonian Institution. These are government organizations, so some of your tax dollars may be going to support a brand of theology. And, of course, the whole shebang is funded by the Templeton Foundation to the tune of 5.3 million dollars.
Not just a brand of theology but a particular, and bad, epistemology. Tax dollars are going to support claims that “faith” can know things just as science can know things, but by a different methodology or “way.” Really. If that claim is true, then it would seem reasonable for tax dollars to finance bridges built according to faith, medical research conducted according to faith, agricultural technology discovered by faith. Tax dollars pretty much don’t do that though (except when they do, as with “complementary” medicine). Why is that? Because “faith” is not in fact a way of knowing. Therefore, tax dollars shouldn’t be used to support claims that it is. Lying should be left to the private sphere.
DoSER is headed by Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Senior Project Scientist in charge of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope, and, notably, the former head and now Executive Board member of the American Scientific Affiliation, an association of evangelical Christian scientists. The organization is pretty hard-line, for it takes some bizarre stands for an organization of scientists, especially one that includes Wiseman with her AAAS program meant to reconcile the truths of modern science with the beliefs of the faithful. The problem is that the ASA doesn’t seem to accept those truths:
- According to their website, “The ASA has no official position on evolution; its members hold a diversity of views with varying degrees of intensity.”
A “diversity of views”? With “degrees of intensity”? It’s all about holding views with degrees of intensity, and nothing to do with cumulative evidence? It’s just a matter of opinion? That’s the kind of faithy stuff that’s totes compatible with science?
JC sums up:
[Either Wiseman should] resign from the ASA, or the AAAS should find someone less embarrassing to head their accommodationist program. Actually, they should deep-six this execrable Templet0n-funded program, for its science “outreach” explicitly endorses a form of theology.
A very odd comment says
I cannot resist. Disclaimer: I am not a Christian. Questions:
(1) Is Wiseman performing her duties at NASA in a satisfactory and secular fashion?
(2) Do her religious beliefs literally interfere (not presumed, suspected or anticipated)with those duties?
If “yes” and “no”, where is the “disgrace” and why the prurient interest in her personal beliefs, writings and activities?
NASA has nothing to do with anything, but let’s assume it was a typo for AAAS; the comment is still very odd. No, of course Wiseman is not performing her duties at AAAS in a satisfactory and secular fashion; that’s the point. You can’t advance science by promoting a worthless epistemology. You can’t advance science in a secular fashion by promoting a worthless epistemology on the grounds that it is religious and therefore special and different but nonetheless reliable. You can’t advance science by running a program that says it’s compatible with bullshit. That doesn’t advance science.