See John Horgan’s, “The Templeton Foundation: a Skeptic’s Take”.
My ambivalence about the foundation came to a head during my fellowship in Cambridge last summer. The British biologist Richard Dawkins, whose participation in the meeting helped convince me and other fellows of its legitimacy, was the only speaker who denounced religious beliefs as incompatible with science, irrational, and harmful. The other speakers~â€” three agnostics, one Jew, a deist, and 12 Christians (a Muslim philosopher canceled at the last minute)~â€” offered a perspective clearly skewed in favor of religion and Christianity.
Some of the Christian speakers’ views struck me as inconsistent, to say the least. None of them supported intelligent design, the notion that life is in certain respects irreducibly complex and hence must have a divine origin, and several of them denounced it. Simon Conway Morris, a biologist at Cambridge and an adviser to the Templeton Foundation, ridiculed intelligent design as nonsense that no respectable biologist could accept. That stance echoes the view of the foundation, which over the last year has taken pains to distance itself from the American intelligent-design movement. And yet Morris, a Catholic, revealed in response to questions that he believes Christ was a supernatural figure who performed miracles and was resurrected after his death. Other Templeton speakers also rejected intelligent design while espousing beliefs at least as lacking in scientific substance.
The Templeton prize-winners John Polkinghorne and John Barrow argued that the laws of physics seem fine-tuned to allow for the existence of human beings, which is the physics version of intelligent design. The physicist F. Russell Stannard, a member of the Templeton Foundation Board of Trustees, contended that prayers can heal the sick~â€” not through the placebo effect, which is an established fact, but through the intercession of God. In fact the foundation has supported studies of the effectiveness of so-called intercessory prayer, which have been inconclusive.
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~â€” given all the problems caused by religion throughout human history~â€” 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.
Hey Templeton Foundation. Here is what the Bible says:
1. We possess an immaterial soul.
2. All humans are sinful and deserve to go to Hell.
3. Jesus of Nazareth paid for our sins on the cross.
4. Jesus of Nazareth was an immortal child of God.
5. Jesus, Mary, and Mary M. all rose directly into Heaven, leaving no corpses.
6. The teachings of JC are the only way to be “saved” and go to Heaven after death.
7. There is life after death.
8. There is a realm we go after death that is very happy, called Heaven. There may or may not be angels, choirs, lyres, clouds, etc., in this place. Whatever it is, it’s good.
9. We ritualistically consume the blood and body of Christ every Sunday to be closer to him.
10. A supernatural God actually exists and watches us, and we know this because the text of the Bible is sufficient evidence for doing so.
11. We should not suffer a witch to live.
12. A man should not lie with another man, the penalty being death.
13. Man shall not lie with beast, the penalty being death.
14. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.
15. If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
16. For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.
17. Etc… (pick up a Bible and take it at face value.)
People actually believe this stuff. (What percentage I don’t know, but according to one poll, 60% of American adults believe that Bible stories, such as Noah’s Ark and Moses parting the Red Sea, are literally true. This is appalling.)
Liberal Christians that dismiss these ideas are forced to directly reject what the Bible says, and probably would be excommunciated by priests who actually take the text seriously, rather than as a metaphor. Yes, I know that Presbyterians (whose church I was a part of for several years as a pre-teen, mainly because I had friends in it) like the 95-year-old Sir John Templeton are especially liberal, (wealthy), and forward-thinking Christians. But mainstream Christians, the majority, condemn you in private for your liberal interpretation of the Bible, sometimes in direct contradiction of biblical statements. Notably, in the Orthodox church, where I grew up. You don’t even want to know what they think about Mormons. (I am just speaking from personal experience, maybe those who obey the Bible think nothing negative of those who reject select statements from it, but I highly doubt it.)
I know for a fact that some of my friends and acquaintances are depositing checks from the Templeton Foundation. Hey, friends. For every strings-attached dollar you take from the Templeton Foundation you are helping them in their mission of blurring the distinction between Bronze Age theological literature and modern day scientific inquiry. Why not stop?
Unfortunately for the Templeton Foundation, scientific respectability cannot be bought.
As John McCain said to Mitt Romney about his huge expenditure on attack ads (no McCain endorsement here, just quoting him),
“A lot of it is your own money. You’re free to do with what you want to. You can spend it all.”
Spend it all, please. It will do nothing to stop the meteoric rise of secularism in our society. Especially among young people, who commonly laugh at religion the second their parents turn their backs.
Your children are becoming atheists, and there’s not much you can do about it.