Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Did the Templeton Foundation Do Something Right?

Well, I'm not so sure I'm buying it, but I'm willing to window shop for a while. Apparently the Templeton Foundation, normally associated with the religious right, has decided to reach out to Scientists and Skeptics. They are asking a big question: Does science make belief in god obsolete? If you'd like to read the eSkeptic article, it's here. The essays are available here. I'll warn you though, they are full of fluff.

Christopher Hitchens is predictable but also wrote, predictably, my favorite essay.

Religion, remember, is theism not deism. Faith
cannot rest itself on the argument that there
might or might not be a prime mover. Faith must
believe in answered prayers, divinely ordained
morality, heavenly warrant for circumcision, the
occurrence of miracles or what you will.

He does use the obvious tactic of attacking religion, rather than the concept of god which was the original question. However, every single one of the theses that answered, "No," defended a god that is completely undescribed by any existing religion while many still associated themselves with some particular sect of christianity. Ken Miller, that slippery little devil, describes himself as a christian, yet accepts all that science has to offer. That certainly doesn't fit my definition of christian, Deist maybe. A professor of medicine thinks god is a dandy idea. Medicine, although related to science, is not scientific in many forms. Just like mechanics that use physics everyday are not physicists. Remember, I have a great doctor that doesn't even accept evolution.

Basically there is some sort of implied consensus that science doesn't make a belief in god obsolete as long as we're very careful to define that god as something that is: outside of nature or follows the laws of nature, is unable to intervene, is more of an idea that makes us feel good, and requires no evidence. So, basically as harmless and useless as the Easter Bunny. OK, I can live with that.

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