Science and Religion Can’t Be Reconciled
A few recent events, including the launch of Nautilus and this interesting thread on Brian Leiter’s blog, have brought the John Templeton Foundation back into the spotlight. As probably everybody knows, the JTF is a philanthropic organization that supports research into the “Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,” encourages “dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians,” and seeks to use science to acquire “new spiritual information.” They like to fund lots of things I find interesting—cosmology, physics, philosophy—but unfortunately they also like to promote the idea that science and religion are gradually reconciling. (As well as some projects that just seem silly.) They also have a huge amount of money, and they readily give it away.
I don’t think that science and religion are reconciling or can be reconciled in any meaningful sense, and I believe that it does a great disservice to the world to suggest otherwise. Therefore, way back in the day, I declined an opportunity to speak at a Templeton-sponsored conference. Ever since then, people have given me grief whenever my anti-Templeton fervor seems insufficiently fervent, even though my position—remarkably!—has been pretty consistent over the years. Honestly, I find talking about things like this pretty tiresome; politics is important, but substance is infinitely more interesting. And this topic in particular has become much more tiresome as people on various sides have become more emotional and less reflective. But I thought it would be useful to put my thoughts in one place, so I can just link here the next time the subject arises.