In which I am convinced I’ll never get any money from  the Templeton Foundation

It’s tough to tread that line between contempt and admiration: Jerry Coyne writes about the Templeton journalism awards. It really is a smart move on the part of the Templetonites to coopt journalists to sell their bankrupt line by tossing a good-sized chunk of money at them.

One interesting revelation is that the journalism awards aren’t simply handed out by cunning Templetonistas who spot a promising compromiser in the ranks of reporters — you have to apply for the fellowship. Hey, should I? They’re closed for now, but I imagine there will be a bunch of 2011 fellowships awarded, and I wouldn’t mind spending time in Cambridge.

All I have to do is write an essay “outlining [my] interest in science and religion and detailing a specific topic [i] hope to cover”. Here’s my start:

Religion is the antithesis of science, an anesthetic for the mind that disables critical thought and encourages the acceptance of inanity as fact, and wishful thinking as evidence.

Do you think it will appeal to their review panel?

Oh, probably not. Here’s John Horgan’s experience.

One Templeton official made what I felt were inappropriate remarks about the foundation’s expectations of us fellows. She told us that the meeting cost more than $1-million, and in return the foundation wanted us to publish articles touching on science and religion. But when I told her one evening at dinner that — given all the problems caused by religion throughout human history — I didn’t want science and religion to be reconciled, and that I hoped humanity would eventually outgrow religion, she replied that she didn’t think someone with those opinions should have accepted a fellowship. So much for an open exchange of views.

Oops. And John is so much more polite than I am.

Now I really wish those application essays were available for public reading. I’m sure they’re exceptionally entertaining.

Mooney ‘fesses up. I’d love it if he’d post his application essay!