Chris Mooney on science and religion

Chris Mooney writes a sensible couple of posts on his time as a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.  I find that my status as a TCJF gets me occasional sharp questions from other journalists, and even sometimes scientists, on how I could take the fellowship money.I tell them Templeton to my knowledge does not restrict grantees from publishing even when the results don’t support its mission, and in my experience does not influence the direction of the reporting and production of research projects and follow-up publications. It is, in short, much more hands-off than a number of other sources of scientific funding.
So I was glad to see Mooney’s post, and agree with much of what he says, especially about the boycott of Templeton by the New Atheists. Why is it bright to bash Templeton but not the defense industry, which spends its research dollars looking, ultimately, for better ways to kill people? Or from big companies looking to push their agendas? (I found myself thinking of a scene from Gary Wolf’s New Atheist piece in Wired several years back, where the atheist at the cocktail party was invariably also the person who “enjoys pissing people off.”)

I was a bit surprised that Mooney referred to science as a form of “universal knowledge.” There are many realms where science remains limited in what questions we can even ask.  But I second the idea of the fellowship itself being really a series of stimulating presentations and discussions of science, theology and culture.  The Templeton folks don’t shy away from having ideas whacked at.  They just like to keep things civil.

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