It’s horrible to brainwash children into religious faith. How much less horrible is it to brainwash the kids into being accommodationists—to accepting that science is compatible with religion?
That, at least, is the latest project of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, a think tank (or, rather, a revelation tank) originally funded by the Templeton Foundation. Faraday has some science street cred, too, as it’s based at St. Edmund’s College at Cambridge University, so, unlike Templeton, it’s affiliated with a respectable academic institution. But Faraday is the British equivalent of Templeton, for its mission is to show that faith and science are harmonious, compatible, and best friends forever. So my British friends, though you pride yourself on the lack of religiosity, be aware that there are stealth accommodationists among you.
Here are a few of Faraday’s recent activities:
- A “short course in science and religion” this month, featuring two Templeton Prize winners and accommodationists (John Polkinghorne and Denis Alexander), four Reverends, a theologian, and someone with science training. Looks as if religion is predominant in this one.
- A lecture series that included a talk by Polkinghorne on “A destiny beyond death” (what do you suppose the answer might be?), and will include a talk on the legacy of Thomas Aquinas and, inevitably, a talk by Elaine Ecklund, the Templeton-Funded sociologist who specializes in distorting data to make American scientists seem more religious than they really are.
- A public lecture in February by Jügen Moltmann, “From physics to theology: a personal story.”
But alas, perhaps the most nefarious of Faraday’s activities is its “Faraday Schools” project. This is a series of lesson plans, movies, and other educational materials designed to convince young kids that science and God are compatible. Watch the three-minute movie on the front page, which starts out all science-y but then transits into JesusLand after two minutes. There’s some dissing of Dawkins for confusing “mechanism” with “agency.” And, like John Haught, Professor John Bryant, the Dawkins-disser, uses a cup of coffee to show that difference (Haught used tea)! I’m going to refer to this accommodationist argument as “The
Hot Haught Beverage Fallacy”:
a. I want a cup of tea
b. I put the kettle on the boil
c. Physics makes the water boil
d. But I made the tea!
e. Ergo Jesus.
LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) is a collaborative project between the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (based at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge) and the Institute of Education, Reading University.
The LASAR Project was motivated by a concern that there is a strong public perception (reinforced by some popular media) that science and religion are in some sense opposites, that is that science is an atheistic activity.
In particular, we were concerned that school pupils may come to accept this as a normative standard: something that is both incorrect, and which could deter students who hold religious faith form considering science as a suitable basis of future study and career.
Such an effect would not only be unfortunate when there is widespread concern about the limited numbers of young people seriously considering science careers, but in principle could set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people of faith are significantly deterred from science, then science could over time become dominated by atheists!
And here’s FaradaySchools’ mission, carefully disguised to hide the Jesus parts:
“Do you even wonder, what’s the purpose of life?”
Almost everyone ponders this question at one time or another. But where do you go for answers? Science and religion look like obvious choices except that according to over 50% of teenagers science and religion don’t agree. Science seems to say we’re here because of evolution; religion says we were put here by God. Are these two ideas really in opposition? Some scientists say that science and religion can coexist. Have a browse around this website and see if you agree.
There’s a lovely bit on “God and Miracles,” a sleazy accommodationist video called, “Science tells you how and religion tells you why” (one of the narrators, Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, is employed by the Templeton-funded Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science), and. . . well, you get the drift. Watch the video and realize that it’s aimed at children.
Now I’m not sure how much money Templeton has siphoned into Faraday Schools, but they support its sponsoring organization, have given money to some of its directors, and have funded some of the research underwriting Faraday Schools’s programs. And Faraday is certainly carrying out the mandate originally funded by Templeton.
The real, question, though, is how this research is going to be used. The curriculum being developed by FaradaySchools is presumably intended to be implemented in British schools. But how and where?