Buying science

This week’s Nature has a substantial and fairly even-handed article on the unease Templeton funding causes. Jerry Coyne is prominently featured, so you know it isn’t an entirely friendly review.

Religion is based on dogma and belief, whereas science is based on doubt and questioning,” says Coyne, echoing an argument made by many others. “In religion, faith is a virtue. In science, faith is a vice.” The purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to break down that wall, he says — to reconcile the irreconcilable and give religion scholarly legitimacy.

They also quote scientists who found the Templeton Foundation fairly open and tolerant of results that were not supportive of their prejudices…but I still don’t trust them. They’re busy putting on a show of open-mindedness, and they are staffed by some competent and politically savvy people, and they know that a few Potemkin scientists with contrary results will help in their overall goal of counterfeiting scientific credibility for their religious cause.

This is especially pressing now as Republicans strain to cut science funding — do we really want American science to become increasingly reliant on funding from organizations with an agenda?