Rod Dreher, director of publications for the John Templeton Foundation, has stopped posting at Beliefnet to edit Templeton’s new online magazine, Big Questions, which has absorbed the older magazine In Character: A Journal of Everyday Virtues. The first issue features pieces by many of the usual suspects, including Simon Conway Morris, David Sloan Wilson, Heather Wax, and, of course, Robert Wright. Several of the authors have their research or their projects funded by Templeton.
You may be surprised to see Susan Jacoby among the authors. If you don’t know her, she wrote two books that were highly regarded by militant fundamentalist atheists (and many others): Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and The Age of American Unreason. Don’t be surprised if in future months you see others like her writing for Big Questions. Why? Well, as Rod Dreher pointed out when soliciting pieces for the site:
The future is not good. Word of warning to you aspiring freelance writers: don’t quit your day job. I’m very serious.
Happily for writers, the Web publication the John Templeton Foundation will soon launch, Big Questions Online, will be paying good money for essays. We’re interested in smart, insightful pieces on science, religion, markets, morals, and any combination of the four.
The more people like Jacoby publish on Templeton’s website, the more respectability accretes to their mission of reconciling science and superstition. This is the big megaphone that Templeton hands to journalists, who get paid handsomely to shout. Templeton is perfectly within its rights to do this, of course. And—given the American notion that money talks—most wouldn’t even find it unfair. But I can say that it’s disgusting.