Thursday, October 01, 2009

Brian Switek reviews the Templeton Foundation's "Test of Faith" DVD series

Brian Switek has a characteristically thoughtful review of the Templeton Foundation's DVD miniseries "Test of Faith" on his blog. As Brian is not one of those evil "divisive" (or worse: "uncivil") atheists like Dawkins, Coyne or PZ Myers I'd hope that his critique is not dismissed out of hand by pro-religion accommodationists.

Unfortunately for an organization that claims to represent a serious, sober and moderate vision of (some form of) religion and science not in being in conflict, the DVDs engage in much the same sort of God-of-the-gaps teleology and straw-man argumentation that creationists normally engage in.

Nor does the Templeton Foundation's vision of religion sound particularly deist or ecumenical. Brian writes:

I would not have been so aggravated with the program if it presented scientists who said something akin to "I am a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Pastafarian/&c. I believe [insert belief system here] on the basis of faith, and I feel what I have come to understand about the nature of the universe is consistent with the faith I practice. Rather than make nature conform to my beliefs, however, I would rather understand the world as it is. If it turns out to be inconsistent with my faith then I will have to question what I believe." I could at least respect that. Instead the Test of Faith series trots out scientist after scientist who believe that they have some special glimmer or proof of God in nature; it is going at the whole thing backwards. The impression the series gives is that the natural world justifies and supports a particular religion, Christianity, rather than stating that some liberal forms of that religion could accept the science of evolution. (Whether evolution is reconcilable with religion depends on what brand religion we're talking about.)
And people wonder why many scientists have little or no respect for the Templeton Foundation?

PS: The 'physicist Katherine Blundell [who] says that there are "truths" in the universe that science does not detect' (*) mentioned is most probably the Oxford astronomer Katherine Blundell, as she is associated with some organization called The Faraday Institute For Science and Religion.

* Oh really. How do you know?

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