Aww, the Templeton Foundation felt the sting

Oh, no, says Scott Walter, the Templeton Foundation has no nefarious or dishonest aims in reconciling science and religion — they bravely encourage and support alternative viewpoints to theirs. Just to show that they really do have empirical evidence that they are seriously considering the issues, he gives an extensive short list of great laughable examples of Templeton bravery.

  • They sponsored a talk by Terry Eagleton, and he’s a Marxist! He may be a Marxist, but you will be hard-pressed to find a more incoherent simpering apologist for traditional religion than Eagleton.

  • One of their trustees is David Myers, who wrote What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage. These guys really don’t get it: we’re not objecting to the conclusions of religion (necessarily), we’re saying that how they answer questions is invalid, and a guy using religion to justify liberal views is just as wrong as the guy using religion to argue that gays must be stoned to death.

  • This is the funniest defense: they have Chris Mooney’s support. What I said about Eagleton up there? Yeah, they found one. I am most amused, however, by the lead-in to the Mooney example: “Further corroborating evidence of Templeton’s good faith can be piled as high as the Tower of Babel.” Do these guys even read their holy book, or what they write? That is a metaphor that suggests that their efforts are both opposed by god and doomed to sow confusion.

  • This is almost as funny: another reason is that Richard Dawkins once spoke at their annual conference. Hint to the Templeton: atheists do not regard Dawkins as our infallible Pope, he will admit himself that he makes mistakes. And this was something that he does regard as a mistake, and has plainly said so. Which, of course, is also turned into evidence of persecution by the foundation.

The guy’s conclusion is ludicrous.

The empirical evidence is clear: The Templeton Foundation is not afraid to have religion and science debated in the same room; in fact, Templeton strains its utmost to achieve the finest and fairest discussions possible, while a few noisy scientists, possessed of all the dispassion of Savonarola, insist on standing outside the room and heckling.

This is simply not true. The Templeton only wants science and religion debated in a way that stacks the deck in favor of god — they want a debate because it gives them an appearance of fair-mindedness, but they also want to be sure that the result of the debate fits their preconceptions. Those heckling scientists are not complaining about the possibility of discussion, they are protesting because we do not trust an organization with evangelical Christian motives to be capable of fair discussion. I don’t think they even know what it means, given the weird examples listed above.

You want a fair discussion, check out the Edge topic on Templeton and the discussion that follows, which includes prominent scientists who favor the Templeton. That’s how you do it: not by dangling large sums of money in front of faith-friendly fellows while making it clear that opponents of accommodation will get diddly squat. The Templeton is an institution poisoned by two corrupting influences, money and religion; it’s a disease, not a cure.

For a similar problem, look at what AAAS has done: they sponsored a science/faith “dialog” that only included pious apologists for religion (Jerry and Ophelia and Russell have more). It never fails that those who are loudest in their praise for faith must always act in bad faith.