Templeton gives half a million dollars to demonstrate that science and religion can help each other find truth

Lest you think that the Templeton foundations have changed their mission, have a gander.

As you may recall, when Sir John died in 2008, he left much of his fortune—acquired by creating investment funds and moving to the Bahamas to avoid taxes—to his own foundations, with the aim of showing that science and religion are not only compatible, but that the methods of science can help uncover spiritual realities. (In other words, the fusion would help answer “The Big Questions”, which are not scientific but religious and spiritual.) As Templeton said in 2005:

We are tying to persuade people that no human has yet grasped 1% of what can be known about spiritual realities. So we are encouraging people to start using the same methods of science that have been so productive in other areas, in order to discover spiritual realities.

(Let’s leave aside the question of “what is a spiritual reality?” and move on. )

The John Templeton Foundation (JTF) website adds more:

Although Sir John was a Presbyterian elder and active in his denomination (also serving on the board of the American Bible Society), he espoused what he called a “humble approach” to theology. Declaring that relatively little is known about the divine through scripture and present-day theology, he predicted that “scientific revelations may be a gold mine for revitalizing religion in the 21st century.” To his mind, “All of nature reveals something of the creator. And god is revealing himself more and more to human inquiry, not always through prophetic visions or scriptures but through the astonishingly productive research of modern scientists.”

And the JTF’s statement of “Our Vision”:

We take our inspiration from the intellectual legacy of Sir John Templeton. Our vision is one of infinite scientific and spiritual progress, in which all people aspire to and attain a deeper understanding of the universe and their place in it. We look forward to a world where people are curious about the wonders of the universe, motivated to pursue lives of meaning and purpose, and overwhelmed by great and selfless love.

From the outset, Templeton has funneled millions of dollars into accommodationist enterprises, aiming to effect a fusion between science, religion and spirituality.  Yes, his legacy funds real science projects, but you should always remember that the aim of the JTF and its affiliate enterprises is to use that money to answer the Big Questions about spirituality, God, and religion.

According to the John Templeton Foundation link (click on screenshot below) and a new CESAR project website (Conjunctive Explanations in Science and Religion),  the JTF recently coughed up nearly half a million dollars to fund a project about how science and religion can help each other to find truth about the cosmos.

From the CESAR website:

The CESAR project is a collaboration between Ulster University, the University of Utah, and Queen’s University Belfast and is funded by the John Templeton Foundation. It builds on an earlier project on ‘Explaining and Explaining Away’ at Ulster University, which was also funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Okay, so two Irish universities and one in America are swilling at the trough. What is the aim? It’s to show that not only can science inform religion (which of course it does, entirely by showing that the claims of religion are wrong), but that religion can inform science. Here’s the project statement on the JTF page (my emphases):

While there is general agreement that science and religion need not be in conflict, this project investigates the much more positive thesis that scientific and religious explanations can work together in mutually enriching ways. The unique contribution lies in how the project draws upon the history of science and religion and philosophy of science to explore an important but understudied aspect of scientific reasoning: how two (or more) hypotheses can work together as a ‘conjunctive explanation’ rather than as distinct, competing explanations. The relevance to science and religion will be explored along two dimensions. First, the project seeks to demonstrate that theological and philosophical perspectives can inform scientific practice rather than merely accommodating the findings of science. Second, it explores how the concept of conjunctive explanation can apply not only within science, but also to cases where scientific and religious explanations work together. Research will address the following questions: a) Historically, how have theological assumptions influenced thinking about how explanations can work together rather than compete, especially in the context of evolutionary biology? b) Philosophically, how can it be determined whether two explanations work together, rather than compete, to account for the evidence? c) How can the answers to these questions provide new insights in science and religion?

It’s clear from this description that the project aims to create “joint” scientific and religious explanations that together can be more productive than scientific explanations alone.  I’m not sure how this would work, unless they’re thinking of something like intelligent design (which the JTF no longer funds), i.e., something like Behe’s thesis that “evolution and God’s mutation-making can together explain life on Earth better than just evolution alone.” Now JTF, as I said, doesn’t fund ID any more, though they once did, but the statement above is the closest I can come to a “conjunctive explanation.”

Note, too, that aim “a)” is to confect these “conjunctive explanations” for evolutionary biology in particular. (They’ve dropped “philosophy” here and just deal with “theological assumptions”.) By infusing theology back into evolution, they are doing something akin to Intelligent Design work. And I can’t imagine how adding theology to evolution can better “account for the evidence”. Pray tell us, JTF! (Perhaps “pray” was not the best word here. . .)

Note as well that this project is not trying to find out whether “conjunctive explanations” are productive. Rather, they seek to demonstrate that adding theology and philosophy can inform scientific practice. In other words, they’ve assumed what they’re trying to show.

I’m prepared to believe that philosophy can help scientists do their job, as philosophy is a discipline that can help us think logically and rationally. But I’m not prepared to accept that theology can add one iota of useful information or practice to science. Yes, religionists say that in the past some scientific advances have been motivated by religious impulses, often citing Newton or Lemaitre, but those days are long gone and, in fact, most practicing scientists today are atheists. If there’s been a scientific advance that came from religion in the last few decades, I’d like to know about it. And of course all kinds of nonreligious impulses can inspire scientific hypotheses, including a dream that a snake formed a ring by biting its own tail.

What will come of this project?  As always, the Templeton money gets wasted by funding scholarly conferences that have no impact and academic papers that nobody reads. The project description continues with a description of the “deliverables” (oy!):

Deliverables consist of at least nine articles in academic journals and six conference papers, while two academic workshops will result in two edited volumes. The project activities and findings are expected to stimulate new directions in science and religion and also in the history and philosophy of science since they address an important topic relevant to scientific practice. The project is also expected to promote understanding of science and religion at a popular level and this will be facilitated by a public engagement workshop and two magazine articles.

Deliverables!

In science, most people don’t start a project with a firm idea of how many papers and articles and workshops will result, for you don’t know what, if anything, you’re going to find. I seriously doubt whether this $500K grant will have any tangible effect on the progress or direction of science: the size of any effect would be about the size of a barnacle’s effect on the swimming direction of its humpback whale host.

h/t: Matthew

61 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    where to start – I’ll grab at this one:

    “While there is general agreement that science and religion need not be in conflict, this project investigates the much more positive thesis that scientific and religious explanations can work together in mutually enriching ways. ”

    why don’t we ever see “While there is general agreement that science and astrology need not be in conflict, …” or “… scientific and magical explanations can work together in mutually enriching ways.”, or how about “… scientific and explanations we discover after ingesting lysergic acid diethylamide can work together in mutually enriching ways.”

    “… investigates the much more positive thesis” <- this is not science. it is investigating a desired outcome, not an expected outcome.

    also "mutually enriching ways" – what the hell is going on with this statement? If we look for "ways" that religion does something sensible, say, that prayer increases someone's sense of well being, then look for "ways" that science does a similar sensible thing, for instance curing a disease to increase their sense of well being, that doesn't mean they are "mutually enriching", it just means there are good outcomes that we know are true a priori, or something, but it isn't "mutually enriching".

    what a sad, sad use of obviously concerted effort and resources.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      If I were a scientist I would be praying that I could get a nice chunk of that grant money.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    … test because I think something bad happened, that might be my fault…

  3. JezGrove
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Templeton’s investment philosophy included “buy when there’s blood in the streets” – how godly of him.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Templeton#Investment_philosophy

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    … he left much of his fortune—acquired by creating investment funds and moving to the Bahamas to avoid taxes—to his own foundations, with the aim of showing that science and religion are not only compatible, but that the methods of science can help uncover spiritual realities.

    Didn’t J-J Rousseau promise we’d get to eat the rich were they to fritter their fortunes away on such frivolity.

    Better to have spent it throwing lavish parties for the toffs across the bay in East Egg.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Templeton could not buy his way out of death but at least he was able to find a way around heavy taxes and continue to throw money around in death. After all, if you can’t take it with you, let others scatter it in the wind. I wonder what kind of a Presbyterian he was that made him so sure that finding a connection between religion and science was worth all this money as apposed to something like feeding the poor or curing cancer. There is a large Evangelical Presbyterian church not far from where I live, in walking distance. I had to look it up to see the difference between regular and evangelical and it seems to be mostly about women. Like the orthodox they do not really go for having women ministers and that seems to be the primary difference. Maybe Templeton should have spent the money trying to put his religion back together instead of finding the connection to science? Just a thought.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      He was a Presbyterian, but open to the exploration of other faiths. He didn’t go with the herd, disapproved of dogma & considered we knew next to nothing about ‘spirituality’ – I doubt he believed in anything as absurd as a personal god or the survival of personality in an afterlife.

      His vast fortune came about through an impersonal examination of the available data [& not so legally available data no doubt] & it’s my guess he wanted to harness science & philosophy as a means to get away from the fruitless mumbo jumbo of theology.

      I doubt that the practises & prejudices of his church were of any interest to him.

  6. JezGrove
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The link at “a dream that a snake formed a ring by biting its own tail” seems to link to the wrong article.

    • Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Fixed thanks–it’s the benzene story.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Seems like the dream might’ve been inspired by the ourosboros iconography of ancient Greece and Egypt.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      There is even some rumours that August Kukele actually made up the story.
      That being said, I fail to see how a symbolic weird dream pointing to a solution -by somebody occupied with a subject- can be construed as religion informing science.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        This is getting a bit off topic; but for me the main point of the Kekule story – whether it was made up or not – is that dreams have to be tested against the evidence. Dreams without any supporting evidence remain just dreams. Religious claims without any supporting evidence can be ignored, as the Hitch said.

      • JezGrove
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        I seem to recall that Nikola Tesla claimed to have had a 3D vision of his A/C motor while walking in the park with friends, though I don’t think he ascribed a religious explanation to it.

      • Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. To appease interlocutors who weren’t satisfied with the explanation, “The idea just came to me!”

        At school, our chemistry teacher observed that he might not have been as keen to attribute the idea to a dream of snakes if Freud had come sooner … 

        /@

  7. Gamall
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    The “deliverable” stuff really hits the nail for me, as it really sums up the circular nature of this endeavour. To me (in TCS) a deliverable is a prototype or a new theoretical result, never a paper, though of course you tend to write papers about them — and of course anything in the project’s description is more a statement of ambition than a promise or a prediction.

    Perhaps it is more common to have papers themselves be “deliverables” in the humanities ?

  8. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    In a similar fashion, taxpayers have been funding the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This pet project was to test (and prove) the effects of acupuncture, coffee enemies, aromatherapy, and so on. lots of $$ has been spent. The result? These things don’t work better than placebo.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Coffee has enemies? Is nothing sacred?

      • Zetopan
        Posted February 17, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        “Coffee has enemies?”

        Probably. No one in my family drinks coffee although we don’t really consider it to be an actual enemy.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I would recommend to the marketing department that they should never follow “coffee enemas” with “aromatherapy” in any of their ad materials.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        🙂

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      The typo stays.

      • Posted February 15, 2019 at 2:56 am | Permalink

        Mostly because we can’t edit comments.

        -Ryan

  9. Steve Gerrard
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    “We are trying to persuade people that no human has yet grasped 1% of what can be known about spiritual realities.”

    No, we currently know 14.6% of what can be known about spiritual realities. So say I, with as much authority and knowledge as anyone else has to pronounce on the matter.

    • davelenny
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I too was struck by the obvious logical contradiction – if no human has yet grasped 1% of what can be known about spiritual realities, then no human can claim there is in fact another 99% to know.

      Shorter JTF: conjunctivitis rocks!

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Ha! Eyes “stuck shut” is an apt diagnosis.

  10. Roo
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    In a way I think the rapid ‘shrinking’ of the world in the information age makes proposals like these seem less coherent. 50 years ago, “religion” would have meant “Christianity and Judaism” to the vast majority of people in the US. Now, in the area where I live, I encounter an equal mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, New Age-ism, atheism, and so on. To say that one is undertaking a mission to find out how Jesus and Shakti collaborate to influence biology is just nonsensical. And if you take those elements out, whether or not one wants to call what’s left ‘religion’ is semantically questionable, to my mind. At that point you’re talking about philosophy, psychology, maybe some advanced physics, and psi research (psi research often does have a stigma that perhaps ‘religion’ does not, so maybe it’s more useful for them to use the term ‘religion’ – but I think that is changing. There is now a large-scale study on near death experiences by Sam Parnia, and the University of Virginia has the Division of Perceptual Studies, for example.)

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Roo:

      “…psi research often does have a stigma […] – but I think that is changing. There is now a large-scale study on near death experiences by Sam Parnia, and the University of Virginia has the Division of Perceptual Studies, for example”

      The stigma & general mistrust of psi research is quite rightly as strong as ever – it is not becoming less as you suggest & there are LESS studies today in psi-related areas than at any time in the 20th or 21st century. It is a dead horse that keeps getting flogged.

      DARPA have been there & gone
      The CIA have been there & gone
      The DoD have been there & gone

      $100s of millions have been flushed down the toilet on ‘remote viewing’, NDE, telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, reincarnation, previous lives memory, intercessory prayer, therapeutic touch, Reiki, Johrei, telepathy, ghosts & poltergeists, spirit possession etc. etc.

      You give two examples:

      [1] Sam Parnia, NDE

      Isn’t new – around 25 years & he is today pretty well convinced that NDE is an illusion & not evidence for mind/brain dualism. Perhaps he was drunk when he admitted that, because he had earlier went to the trouble of applying for a Templeton Grant & he pulled in a very nice $1,820,606. Or perhaps his university insisted he applied. Details:

      Sam Parnia, New York University School of Medicine
      Templeton Grant December 2017 to September 2020
      “Exploring Human Mind, Brain and Consciousness During Death: A Combined Prospective and Retrospective Study”

      He certainly has plenty of [null result] data for a “retrospective study” though

      [2] UVa DoPS, past life memories

      Isn’t new – it’s over 50 years old. Formerly run by Ian Stevenson [deceased] & Jim Tucker since 2002. There are holes in this one could drive a fleet of trucks through.

      Stevenson conducted his research in India among families who believed in reincarnation! There were no control groups. He was asking leading questions of kids barely old enough to form sentences. He reported the conclusions leaving out weakening factors such as during breaks in questions the parents had opportunities to prime their kids on what to say. He claimed kids had knowledge of a previous life lived over a thousand miles away in an unconnected family – this is nonsense of a high order for obvious reasons plus his subject families were aware of the names of other families in his research. Perfect conditions for collusion & foreknowledge to breed.

      Tucker conducted a US study to counter the criticisms [I mention only some of them above] & he’s been laughed out of school for a flawed, self-fulfilling methodology. Using children, who are learning how to verbalise, in memory research is very, very hard – you’d better have a huge sample size & very strict protocol to be taken seriously. He has neither.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Examples of what not to do:
        Don’t select your research subjects in India by word of mouth recommendation
        Don’t tell the families what sort of research you are doing
        Don’t tell/imply to the families what results you’re looking for

        A lot more believable if the subject families think you’re studying something else such as researching language development in kids

      • rickflick
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Well, I guess that’s put to rest…
        *dusts hands off*

      • Roo
        Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Yikes, ageism on my part – I didn’t even look at when those examples were started because I guess I envisioned my parents generation being pearl-clutching and devote church goers who would never dream of researching such things. I forget there was also the hippie era, psychedelic research, and even people debunking seances in the Victorian era, so thanks for the info.

        Parnia gives a more recent description of his views on near death experience here (unless he’s given an even more recent one that I’m not aware of,) saying:

        Among those who reported a perception of awareness and completed further interviews, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections in relation to death that were not compatible with the commonly used term of NDE’s. These included fearful and persecutory experiences. Only 9 per cent had experiences compatible with NDEs and 2 per cent exhibited full awareness compatible with OBE’s with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ events.

        One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest. Dr Parnia concluded: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.

        “Thus, while it was not possible to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness, (due to the very low incidence (2 per cent) of explicit recall of visual awareness or so called OBE’s), it was impossible to disclaim them either and more work is needed in this area. Clearly, the recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice.”

        Regarding past life studies – I agree that there seems to be almost no functional way to research something like that. Even if you have a great protocol, there’s no way of knowing what parents or caregivers might have previously suggested to children. Regarding other areas of psi research, that can be studied fairly empirically, I’ll admit I have a love of the esoteric (maybe too much Harry Potter and Ronald Dahl reading in my youth), and think scientists should go for it if they want to study such things. The worst case scenario is that they waste their money and find nothing, but so long as they’re not misrepresenting data or misleading the public I think it’s an interesting (if maybe not particularly functional,) field. I went to the Center for Consciousness Studies in Arizona a few years ago where some researchers got into areas like that, and if nothing else it was a ton of fun.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for the interesting link Roo. I’ll come to that 2014 pre-Templeton study below – the Sam Parnia remarks I referred to the much more recent “illusion” remarks of his from last year. Easy to find, but if you have trouble please let me know.

          AGEISM ETC

          The history of psi-bullshit is deeper & weirder than just about anything – because the potential benefits are world changing [or world conquering]. A lot of the belief in this stuff [or wanna believe] is ideologically driven or from a desire to believe in belief. Very popular with the ideologically godless – which is depressing & interesting.

          Also the undereducated [in the science arena] don’t know enough to realise how wacky reality is & make poor attempts to improve on what’s true, but what’s true trumps anything these losers have invented: Quantum Electrodynamics & Special/General Relativity are almost completely true & beyond the human ability to invent for example,

          Soviet research on telepathy dates from the early 1920s when a program was established at the Institute for Brain Research at Leningrad State University – great for ship-to-shore comms with subs without possibility of interception. Later the Soviets investigated psychic interference with US ICBM launch codes. In between there’s been whole mountains of Ruski anti-science/pseudoscience baloney driven by a superstitious nature perhaps encouraged by Stalinism where truth is all about appearances & what your boss wants to hear or doesn’t want to hear. Collectivisation & the resultant famines opened the door to the pseudo-scientific ideas of Lysenkoism assumed the heritability of acquired characteristics (Lamarckism) & there was a general belief in ‘bioenergetics’ – examples of how ‘hippy’ new-age style beliefs can really do significant harm. That’s why I’m hard on the touchy feely nonsense – even newspaper astrology & Freudian/Jungian agony aunt columns play a part [I believe] in the development of our credulous age. It needs to be killed with truth or bullets 🙂

          Those Raiders of the Lost Ark movies were based on truth – the Nazis were obsessed with loony stuff – Himmler ordered the SS to search all occupied territories for artefacts related to magic, mystical texts, the Holy Grail & the Lance of Destiny [that supposedly killed Christ]. Although the Nazis are portrayed as cutting edge technologists the whole ideology was based on race myths & off the wall revisionist history & sheer legends.

          Which brings us to the Americans who realised after WWII that the Soviets & Nazis were into some esoteric wackiness & immediately jumped on the Clown Car themselves. If you can rent it I recommend a fictional film farce called “The Men Who Stare at Goats” [2009] with Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges & George Clooney – it rips off uncredited a serious examination of the crazy antics of the US military & the CIA spooks who tried to weaponise psi-research in the 70s & 80s. The film is based on a Jon Ronson book of the same name where Jon ridicules the US military dark projects: being conned by the likes of Uri Geller [paid millions by military retards], people trying to run through solid walls using mind control [spoiler alert – it failed every time], trying to kill goats by staring at them, trying to assassinate over great distances beyond sight with the mind, blah blah blah.

          TWO CIA LINKS [there’s plenty more]

          https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/cia-rdp96-00792r000300420002-7

          https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/cia-rdp96-00788r001300090002-8

          YOUR LINK [PARNIA’S ‘PAPER’]

          [1] Post-operative verbal questionnaire reports by MEDICATED heart attack victims of recollected awareness while clinically brain dead or approaching brain death. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. Might as well read tea leaves or analyse dreams. What do you do with the interesting 3% of reports that happen to conform to some aspect of reality at the time? What counts as a ‘hit’?

          [2] One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest. Dr Parnia concluded: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.

          ONE CASE? This was supposedly a mass study & the paper pushes an anecdote rather than a table of statistics.

          [3] “Thus, while it was not possible to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness, (due to the very low incidence (2 per cent) of explicit recall of visual awareness or so called OBE’s), it was impossible to disclaim them either and more work is needed in this area. Clearly, the recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice.” Of course it was impossible to disclaim! Why ever even mention that? The fact is that certain tricks have been played on patients like hiding a code number or a coloured shoe where ONLY an out of body projection can see it – & I’m unaware of any astral being beating a real test like that.

          Those are the only tests of out of body that are meaningful – they must be double blind too.

          I’m all for real tests, but it all seems amateur hour what we’ve been served…

          CHILDREN REMEMBERING A PAST LIFE
          These researchers avoid the necessary level of rigour required. Designing a mass experiment that’s acceptably disciplined is a worthy investment of millions of dollars, but it should NOT be framed as a psi investigation. The researchers in contact with the kids should be unaware of the goals.

          Let’s interview/record thousands of kiddos in exchange for treats on a range of subjects regarding what they remember of their lives so far. I’d love to know more about ‘invisible friends’ for example.

          It would be great fun. And who knows what we may discover re the primitive growing minds of our kiddienaut pioneers.

          • Roo
            Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

            Random side note – I do find the topic of imaginary friends interesting, as my mother told me I had an imaginary friend in preschool that I have no memory of. And it’s weird because I remember a lot of things from preschool, right down to wondering what the heck the point of the sensory bin was and why we had to take naps, but apparently I described my interactions with this imaginary friend in a fair bit of detail and yet I have zero memory of any such thing. It makes me wonder if this speaks to how memories are encoded, or if imaginary friends involve some sort of pre-linguistic state that does not lend itself to memories, or what. (Or, possibly, I wanted to get my mother off my back if she was pestering me about my school day so I just made something up, lol.)

            Regarding your statement that “touchy feely nonsense” needs to be “killed with truth or bullets” – the truth part I have no issue with (like I said, by all means, have people do research and if they come up with nothing, no harm no foul,) but on the ‘bullets’ part I am uncertain what you mean. It seems to me that there is a generally negative feeling about ‘psi’ type research in the scientific community, and, on reflection, I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand – yes, I understand that people can easily get ‘carried away’ with speculative ideas (My smell test for how ok I am with an idea in reality and not theory is imagining it applied to my niece and nephews. While I do have a “Oooo psi stuff! So interesting, and hey, it’s all in good fun and curiosity anyways!” attitude in regard to myself, I understand the trepidation in picturing my niece being exposed to too many speculative ideas. Then I feel like maybe I’m being Patronizing Old Fogey Thought Police by thinking “She can’t hear X, Y or Z. What kind of ideas could she get into her head?!” – but right or wrong, yeah, I understand the intuition.) And while I strongly believe in freedom of speech and a free exchange of ideas, I have become a bit more conservative as I’ve gotten older, especially after seeing the anti-vaxxer nightmare unfold within my lifetime. I am still largely “pro free market” when it comes to ideas – the ‘market’ does work itself out eventually and more recently I’m seeing more and more social media pressure / shaming with parents who refuse to vaccinate – but there is that more authoritarian side of me that goes “Babies lives could have been saved if we’d just suppressed that nonsense.” Not proud of that, but I can’t help it. The cost of a free market shouldn’t be a life.

            On the other hand, I think that sometimes suppressing something or making it taboo can: 1) Increase its allure and 2) Result in even more confused thinking. Take the idea of knowing that something is going to happen via dream, for example. This is not an entirely uncommon occurrence for me. If the topic was ridiculed to the point where no one wanted to discuss it, I would probably come up with a wild other-worldly explanation for it. However, because it’s a topic that people talk about, I am more aware of things like selection bias and unconscious information processing that gets served up via dreams, intuitions, “aha!” moments, and so on. So in that respect, I think it’s much better to talk about such topics, to take what people say seriously and to help provide some level of rational understanding and framing.

        • Posted February 15, 2019 at 2:09 am | Permalink

          “The worst case scenario is that they waste their money and find nothing…”

          Yes, but it’s not “their” money.

          At this point I think funding committees would (at least, should) be very skeptical of projects that don’t comport with our understanding of the world (so much better established now than it was in the 1960s); i.e., that the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood.

          Who today would fund research into spontaneous generation, phlogiston or the luminiferous æther? Psi research might not quite in the same boat but it’s certainly in the same flotilla.

          (Research into the psychology of psi claims might be revealing, however.)

          /@

          • rickflick
            Posted February 15, 2019 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            The psychological research I’d like to see more of is how people can be so credulous.

          • Roo
            Posted February 15, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            Well yes, if it’s taxpayer money or something like that then it’s different. With the Templeton Foundation it’s private money though, so if that’s how the founder wanted it spent, again, it seems like no harm no foul to me.

            I also think there is a lot of variation within ‘psi’ thinking. There are grey areas between ‘psi and not psi’ to my mind. The concept that people’s brain waves align in various situations, for example – if I remember correctly that is a very real thing, even if it sounds a bit like telepathy of a sort. Further down the spectrum there’s stuff that I, as I said above, wouldn’t really want my niece getting too into, but is relatively harmless. Think Paltrow’s “Goop” culture, for example. And on the far end of the spectrum is scary cult stuff. So I should probably specify that when I picture ‘psi’ research I’m thinking of stuff much closer to the ‘grey area’. Near death experiences, for example – there is almost no doubt that they happen, there is just not an understanding of the mechanism or what the associated visuals and such mean. As they seem to have very real and often positive after effects for people, I think they are worth studying. Levitation practice (it involves jumping and saying you’re levitating during the process or something), not so much.

            • Posted February 15, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

              Well, I think we can still wish that Templeton money were spent on something more … fruitful.

              Brain wave alignment … is more psychology than psi, possibly physiological. Frame the research as something spooky and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

              Goop is at best an egregious con and should be objected to on that basis. It also encourages credulity and magical thinking. At worst it can actually be medically harmful (e.g., bacterial vaginosis or toxic shock syndrome from “vagina eggs”, jade or otherwise).

              I thought that NDE’s were quite well understood. Susan Blackmore seems to have had a good handle on these several years ago (having had one herself) and I recall some fairly recent research explaining the visuals (although I couldn’t give you a citation). But again, these are interesting in terms of psychology and cognitive studies more broadly, and should not be framed as “psi”.

              /@

              • Roo
                Posted February 15, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

                Well my point is that words like “spooky” and “psi” are largely subjective, at least in the grey areas. I think brain waves aligning is already “spooky”, no additional anything needed, just that fact alone – and others may not, they may classify that under totally normal and to-be-expected.

                Regarding near death experiences, there isn’t any consensus on what causes them at this point. Many proposed theories, but no one knows for sure. To my mind one of the most interesting aspects of NDEs are that the aftereffects are generally beneficial and appear to resemble those found in meditation. That brain death or coming close to brain death would cause anything other than damage is counterintuitive.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted February 15, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

                Roo your original claims in your first comment proved to be not correct – you felt that psi research is on the rise, but the facts say otherwise. There is wishful thinking in your mindset – you seem to want there to be fairies at the bottom of your garden.

                Can you support your claim that NDE people are in some way changed? Their life is better? And can you give numbers compared with all NDEs?

                I think that if I woke up in a hospital [without recalling an NDE] with a zip down my chest & anxious relatives hovering I also would make vows to clean up my act! As far as I can tell there’s a handful of people who’ve cashed in on their [real or faked] NDEs to write religious books that always have a theme of regrowth & life re-evaluation [some of them very literal with angels beckoning come to the light & all that guff], but that is exactly the subject of all religious personal accounts involving miracles or critical life events such as the loss of a loved one, being locked in a death camp by Nazis, turning away from violent crime: always, always, always the author is redeemed.

                There should be a 100,000s of living specimens of NDEs in the world today & we get to hear only of a few who’ve decided it’s the afterlife calling.

                Honestly, it’s absolute tosh.

              • Roo
                Posted February 16, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

                Michael – I think you’re reading too much into my statement that psi statement is on the rise. As I said, it was a careless assumption on my part (maybe a bit solipsistic – I have never seen this before ergo it never existed before, lol), but to go from there “fairies in the garden” is a jump.

                Regarding NDEs, if you Google “Near death experience after effects” you will find a fair number of descriptions of the phenomenon that I’m talking about. I think it’s fair to say that more rigorous research is needed before making totally conclusive statements but it seems highly unlikely that a subset of people who saw a bright light at death would all randomly report the very similar after effects and another group who had bad or no after effects would decide never to speak of it. Yes, much of the work has been done by survey and so on, but that is how portion of psychology work, at least initially, by collecting reported symptoms (anxiety, obsessive compulsive behavior, depression, etc.,) from the group of people experiencing them. It is part (part) fieldwork in that sense. I also find this interesting:

                A Permanent Change In Brain Activity?

                For the experiment, Bedard is shut into an isolation chamber at Beauregard’s Montreal lab. Bedard’s head sprouts 32 electrodes, which will record his brain wave activity. He’s told to relax for a few moments. Then he’ll be instructed to imagine his near-death experience.

                A few minutes later, Beauregard and his research assistant are peering at a computer screen recording Bedard’s brain waves. They cluck happily at the slow, large-amplitude Delta waves undulating across the screen — typical of a person in deep meditation or deep sleep.

                Afterward, the researcher asks Bedard if he was able to connect with the light.

                “Yeah, it was coming from within,” he says. “It was loving, intelligent … very powerful.”

                It would take Beauregard a year to complete his research on near-death experiences. A few weeks ago, I called to ask him what he had found.

                “It’s like the near-death experience triggered something at a neural level in the brain,” he said. “And perhaps this change, in terms of brain activity, is sort of permanent.”

                Beauregard says it’s as if touching death jump-started the spiritual lives of these people. Their brains in the spiritual state look a lot like those of Catholic nuns and Buddhist monks who have spent tens of thousands of hours in prayer and meditation. Both groups showed extremely slow brain wave activity.

                The researchers also saw significant changes in brain regions associated with positive emotions, attention and personal boundaries,

                I don’t think it follows that there should be 100,000s of near death experiences in the world today. There are a lot, but, depending on the mechanism through which they occur, there’s no reason to think most people who are revived from clinical death would have experienced one.

      • Posted February 15, 2019 at 2:59 am | Permalink

        Glad to see Parnia has come around. I think. Last I heard he was still backing the “brain is a receiver” idea.

        -Ryan

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 15, 2019 at 3:59 am | Permalink

          It isn’t really clear what Parnia believes in his heart of hearts, but he isn’t doing science even though he thinks he is!

          ** He has a picture turned to the ceiling that could only be seen from above he claims by a disembodied mind that’s left the body in a spooky NDE
          ** It is HIMSELF who interviews positive NDE patients after they’re sufficiently recovered from their heart attack ordeal
          ** He is famous for this quirk of his & he’s been on Brit TV & press a few times over the years – thus his patients have plenty of time to find out about his picture experiment before the critical interview
          ** His patients will very much want to help him with his paranormal side hobby [he’s a very well paid doctor]

          You will note from above [so to speak] that his methodology is utterly unacceptable.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          WHAT DOES HE BELIEVE?

          Only four months ago, October 14th 2018, Sam Parnia had an interesting & revealing interview with Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris

          LINK TO WRITTEN TRANSCRIPT & AUDIO VERSIONS & he says this:

          Alex Tsakiris:

          “…You do suspect that it will turn out to be a trick of the mind, an illusion”

          Dr. Sam Parnia:

          “It may well be. You’re pushing and I’m giving you honest answers. I don’t know. If I knew the answers then I don’t think I would have engaged and spent 12 years of my life and so much of my medical reputation to try to do this. Because to appreciate people like me, I risk a lot by doing this sort of experiment. So I’m interested in the answers and I don’t know. Like I said, if I was to base everything on the knowledge that I have currently of neuroscience, then the easiest explanation is that this is probably an illusion. But again, I don’t know”

          TEMPLETON:

          “…to be honest with you, in all the years that I’ve been doing this-even though I wrote a book and I’ve done numerous media presentations – even to this day I don’t see anyone coming out with real money to try to support this kind of work. So it’s limited. So wish us luck”

          this is from the guy who fails to mention he’s in receipt of a $1,820,606 Templeton Grant that runs until September 2020.

          Note that date of September 2020 because earlier in the interview he says this:

          “…I’m hoping that we can at least release the first set of preliminary data within 12 to 18 months. That’s my general hope. And by that stage we should be about half-way through…

          October 2018 PLUS 12-18 months puts Parnia in spring 2020 at the latest which is perfect for his next Templeton grant application in advance of starting a second grant in October 2020. You can’t overlap grants, but you can string them together [or I should say “string people along”]. He’s also wary of competition from other Psi people so don’t advertise your huge grant!

          • rickflick
            Posted February 15, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            For some kooks, like Michael Behe, it’s amusing to try to explain their bizarre thinking. For someone like Parnia, as you’ve shown, the explanation is straightforward. Money and attention. And then there’s Templeton himself. Out there beyond the grave, a silly grin on his face, pulling strings on puppets.

            Fascinating. *one Spock-eyebrow goes up*

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 17, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi Roo

      You covered four areas so I’ve split & numbered them

      [1] FAIRIES IN THE GARDEN

      Roo:

      “Michael – I think you’re reading too much into my statement that psi is on the rise”

      You’ve managed to straw man yourself. You didn’t say that psi research was on the rise – you implied that the stigma of psi research is lessening & that the field is gaining respectability. You cited two current research efforts as evidence for that.

      I showed you those two cited examples are 25 years old & 50 years old. I also showed you that both were deeply flawed with absolutely no scientific value.

      That is why I suspect you want to believe in fairies – because you don’t look below the surface claims, you don’t check your impressions against the facts & you don’t run even basic numbers. In fact when I asked you for rough numbers your reply was I go Google this & that.

      ######
      [2] NDEs & OBEs

      Roo:

      “Regarding NDEs, if you Google “Near death experience after effects” you will find a fair number of descriptions of the phenomenon that I’m talking about. I think it’s fair to say that more rigorous research is needed before making totally conclusive statements but it seems highly unlikely that a subset of people who saw a bright light at death would all randomly report the very similar after effects and another group who had bad or no after effects would decide never to speak of it”

      What you’ve written isn’t true! Plenty of NDEs HAVE reported no effect beyond the experience of the NDE itself. This is your selective recall in action. The fairy thing.

      It is also true that the long list of individual NDE elements [white light, speaking to dead relatives, feelings of knowing something that can’t be articulated, exuberance, exhilaration, time distortion etc. etc.] are encountered by people in completely non-NDE circumstances too. NDE isn’t that special/unique & it would be strange if an anxious or frightened or terrified person in hospital perhaps for the first time didn’t have some things off the list happen to them.

      As an example – when my mother died I was having conversations with her for weeks afterwards in the dead of night & it was obvious to me it was a result of grief. She had nothing new to say to me that only the dead could know. Nobody has come back from an NDE with new information about ‘the other side’. I’ve had dreams where I’m reading a book full of wonderful insights & I’ve forced myself to remember one marvellous titbit & then forced myself awake [I trained myself to do this for reasons too complex to put here] – the key insight I recalled was… always hogwash. No different from the stuff I’ve heard from dopeheads. If you want a subject who can reel off NDE elements they encountered in the last 24 hours it’s easy – go to a homeless hostel & chat away to the alcoholics with DTs – they have seen the lot.

      #############
      [3] Mario Beauregard, PhD

      Oh please no. This is the 3rd study you’ve cited & it’s the worst of the lot. You really should dig – it’s not hard. It’s that fairy thing.

      Beauregard believes firmly in mind/brain dualism. He is cashing in with paid talks everywhere & he isn’t doing good science. He got his routine from the Intelligent Design “Two Tier strategy” which he was taught by the infamous faux-journalist & creationist troll Denyse O’Leary! O’Leary collaborated with Beauregard on his first nonsense book [he’s written two] & has also appeared in posts on WEIT a few times – you can search her out, but here’s TWO links that put the lie to these two charlatans:

      Denyse O’Leary – evangelical Catholic

      Beauregard & badly mangled quantum physics

      ##########
      [4] THE NUMBERS GAME

      Roo:

      “I don’t think it follows that there should be 100,000s of near death experiences in the world today. There are a lot, but, depending on the mechanism through which they occur, there’s no reason to think most people who are revived from clinical death would have experienced one”

      You didn’t bother checking. You went with your gut again.

      There are 7,700,000,000 people in the world & you think less than 1 in 77,000 have experienced an NDE…

      Here’s some other numbers:

      ** 13 million Americans, or 5 percent of the nation’s population, had experienced an NDE as of 1992, according to a 1992 Gallup poll

      ** A 1982 Gallup poll found that 15 percent of all Americans who had almost died reported an NDE. About 9 percent reported the “classic out-of-body experience,” 11 percent said they entered another realm, 8 percent encountered spiritual beings, and only 1 percent had negative experiences. The findings were published in the book “Adventures in Immortality,” by pollsters George Gallup Jr. and William Proctor.

      I think I’ve had enough Roo & I think you & everyone else in this comment section probably feel the same.

      Let’s leave it there. Peace.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 17, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        I like the way you weed the garden.

        “NDE isn’t that special/unique & it would be strange if an anxious or frightened or terrified person in hospital perhaps for the first time didn’t have some things off the list happen to them.”

        Two people I visited in the hospital were experiencing hallucinations, probably because of the effects of medication, infection/ailment, or both. I’m pretty sure a lot of reports of NDE occur when patience are in highly compromised mental states that have nothing to do with NDE. How seriously should we take them?

        • Roo
          Posted February 17, 2019 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

          If (if) it’s a form of hallucination that is highly beneficial to people, I think we should take them quite seriously, and find out more about them. If they can be induced, then this might be a big step for positive psychology.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 18, 2019 at 12:05 am | Permalink

            I doubt it.

      • Roo
        Posted February 17, 2019 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        You’ve managed to straw man yourself. You didn’t say that psi research was on the rise – you implied that the stigma of psi research is lessening & that the field is gaining respectability. You cited two current research efforts as evidence for that.

        I showed you those two cited examples are 25 years old & 50 years old. I also showed you that both were deeply flawed with absolutely no scientific value.

        That is why I suspect you want to believe in fairies

        I’m not following your line of thought here. If I was invested in ‘fairies’, I would have researched some new psi-studying organizations (a quick Google tells me that apparently the UK is the new ‘home’ of such research, so there probably are some,) and gone “See! See! These are new!”. That I gave two examples that a quick fact check could quickly disprove (in terms of being new) speaks to the fact that this was an offhand statement, I think, not the idea that I had some secret investment in proving a particular point. I think I did the right thing by quickly admitting a factual error when it was pointed out, and in “no good deed goes unpunished” style, it’s been quickly turned into accusations about fairies. (As an aside, I am very foggy this week for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with fairies or psi or anything in this article, so again, maybe don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. You may notice my rate of typos spike as well, I assure you it has nothing to do with fairies.)

        Regarding NDEs having no after effects – interesting. What is your source?

        Regarding Mario B., I see nothing but ad hominem. What are your substantial criticisms of his study?

        Regarding how many NDEs there should be, I’m not at all clear on your point. It looked to me as if you were saying above that there should be more NDEs than there are. I said, who knows, it depends on what causes them – given the cause, the number could be hugely variable. Then you said I went with my gut because there are more NDEs than you thought I accounted for? What are you arguing for, that there should be more or less? Again, I’m not invested in that point one way or the other. Depending on what causes NDEs, as I said, the numbers could vary widely. If it was almost synonymous with brain death, then yes, we would expect those numbers to more or less match up. If it’s brain death + some other combination of factors then there’s no way of knowing what percentages to expect.

  11. Sastra
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Given that one of the most popular reactions to Faith vs. Fact is the rebuttal “But religion isn’t about making fact claims, it’s so, so much more — traditions, community, morals, meaning, identity, and feelings of connection to the universe!” — that provides a pretty wide scope of possibilities for how religion can work with science.

    For one thing, that flabby definition means it already does work with science, every time a scientist goes “ wow!” or cooperates with other scientists. So I suppose the project must involve making the connection more explicit.

    As in “we were on the wrong track, but then I had a Road to Damascus moment and the results began to fall into place.” Templeton can count these things up.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps we should co-opt that tactic in support of science. “Science isn’t just about making fact claims, it’s so, so much more — traditions, community, morals, meaning, identity, and feelings of connection to the universe!” All of those things are at least as true for science as they are for religion, if not more so. Or at least they can be. When it comes down to it all that is really necessary for these kinds of things to be true is that people believe them.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I would also suggest that religion has made its accommodation to science by retreating in the face of every scientific advance for the past 400 years. It may have taken time, and it may be hedged around with all sorts of reservations; but in the end religion is incapable of withstanding the truths that science reveals.

      Templeton is engaged on a fool’s errand. It would serve this misguided foundation right if as many real scientists as possible flooded it with demands for funding. They could make up their own justification: after all, that’s what Templeton do.

    • Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, like Adam Lee and his commenters (other than you!) complaining of “the” New Atheists’ naïve view of religion.

      /@

  12. Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    There’s one important conjunctive statement (or rather class of statements) that the Templeton Foundation should heed – the contradiction!

  13. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The Templeton concept of “deliverables” was certainly priceless. If “at least nine articles in academic journals” is required for a project, then the project of one Gregor Mendel in the mid-19th century would certainly have come up short. And for 35 years, Mendel’s Impact Factor was nothing to write home about either.

    Since Mendel was an Augustinian friar, Templetonians might be tempted to argue that theological ideas somehow informed his thinking. But there is not a trace of this in his single paper “Experiments on Plant Hybridization”, unless we imagine that the concept of factors of inheritance is “spiritual”. Mendel’s thinking was undoubtedly more influenced by the fact that at the monastery he was a teacher of Physics.

  14. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Seems Templeton has reinvented the money press, except they convert money to myth prints. I will name them Templeton Money ™.

    But this gives me a reason to continue today’s crowing. After consideration I have recently concluded that cosmology does help us grasp all that can be known of “spiritual realities”: they don’t exist. Specifically it is the modern LCDM cosmology that observes a 100 % mechanistic universe, and that theory is undergoing constant testing. Today the Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam first data release happened [ https://www.sciencealert.com/new-map-of-dark-matter-shows-something-could-be-wrong-with-the-standard-model ].

    If one reads the accepted paper [ https://arxiv.org/pdf/1809.09148.pdf ] it appears the press release is playing up what is not in the paper. Re: “it suggests something is missing from our current understanding”.

    The paper itself tests the LCDM well and find no significant tension. On the contrary with all the data it gets constant dark energy as best model and it lowers LCDM uncertainties. It agrees with the Planck Hubble parameter and lowers the significance in the recent tension against the local supernova Hubble estimate. The earlier slight DES deviation of slow structure growth [ https://www.sciencealert.com/this-is-the-most-detailed-map-yet-of-the-universe-s-dark-matter ] is neither improved nor decreased.

    In other words, the usual LCDM win that we are so used to read with most every new cosmological data survey. And so the universe remains 100 % mechanistic. Definitively not what Templeton Money ™ wants to see if they want to suggest Myths of The Gap.

    Speaking of conclusions, it is easy to read Templeton Money ™ as using philosophy and theology interchangeably, in order to confuse and not illuminate. You know the sophist drill. I can ask why philosophy is used thusly. I can note that we can cite Aristotle on “causal” (now relativistic causality) or Democritus on “atoms” (now atomic theory) but those days are long gone. And I can say that if there’s been a scientific advance that came from philosophy in the last few centuries, I’d like to know about it.

    • Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Context: “The ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) or Lambda-CDM model is a parametrization of the Big Bang cosmological model in which the universe contains a cosmological constant, denoted by Lambda (Greek Λ), associated with dark energy, and cold dark matter (abbreviated CDM). It is frequently referred to as the standard model of Big Bang cosmology because it is the simplest model that provides a reasonably good account of the […] properties of the cosmos …” [Wikipedia]

      /@

    • Posted February 15, 2019 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      I think philosophers can do a better PR job. “Philosophy” is often touted by the religious as Another Way of Knowing that can override science when in fact it’s apologetics disguised behind a philosophical veneer. More than 7 out of 10 philosophers are atheists in the “gods don’t exist” sense of the word, and yet the <3/10 are the ones most vocal about it. Philosophers need to do a better job clarifying that apologetics and science-dissing isn't the majority of what philosophers do.

      -Ryan

      • Posted February 15, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        More philosophers should adopt science and technology as a constraint, inspiration on their work, IMO. Mario Bunge and the late D. M Armstrong does this explicitly but more philosophers particularly in metaphysics (for example) should adopt it. Chemistry is often missed as a source too- to avoid restricting onself to “midsized dry goods” and isomerism should get everyone wondering about “same and different” in new ways, IMO.

        • Posted February 15, 2019 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

          Sean Carroll’s latest podcast episode was an interview with James Ladyman, who’s a metaphysicist basing his ideas on science. Worth a listen imo.

          -Ryan

  15. Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    As you hint in your comments, Jerry, there is something fundamentally sound in Templeton’s aims if not in it’s objectives (presupposing what it will find and commitments to publish those findings), namely:

    “to start using the same methods of science … in order to discover spiritual realities”

    I was going to say we have contrary expectations, but that would be cheating and is not the case. We already have a very good idea of what science says about spiritual realities, as Torbjörn’s comments indicate and Sean Carroll has expounded at Skepticon 5 and elsewhere.

    Also:

    “Our vision is one of infinite scientific and spiritual progress, in which all people aspire to and attain a deeper understanding of the universe and their place in it. We look forward to a world where people are curious about the wonders of the universe, … ”

    And finding that the contribution of spiritual progress is vanishingly small, I’d posit that science alone can provide all those things — as it does for many of us already. 

    But … 

    “motivated to pursue lives of meaning and purpose, and overwhelmed by great and selfless love.”

    I doubt science (alone) can enable that, but I’d certainly point to religion as providing humanity with contradictory meanings and purposes and thus leading to great hatred.

    /@

  16. Zetopan
    Posted February 17, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    “Declaring that relatively little is known about the divine through scripture”

    On the contrary, we know a *great* deal about the divine through scripture.

    The divine knows that the world and entire *very tiny* universe was created in only 6 days, although it is self-contradictory about the actual sequence involved.

    Men also have one fewer rib* than women**.

    Disease is caused by demons, which can be magically driven out into a heard of pigs that are being raised in a country where it was illegal to raise pigs.

    The Earth is less than 10,000 years old and its shape is flat with a simultaneously and contradictory circular and rectangular periphery (the divine is never consistent, except about being quite inconsistent).

    A world-wide flood that never happened destroyed all life on earth excepting those sequestered in a large wooden box for a year.
    Oddly, no plants or salt water fish were deemed worth saving aboard the big box.

    Some day the world will come to an end when all of the stars fall down to the ground. The divine imagines that stars are small lights hung in the sky, I guess that it never bothered to take a closer look than from the surface of the Earth.

    Rain is the result of opening windows in the non-existent firmament and letting the above waters fall down to the earth. How the above waters get replenished remains unexplained.

    Magic actually works including viewing a brass snake cures you of venomous snakebite.

    The ancient Hebrews were slaves in Egypt despite never having seen the pyramids and not knowing about the existence of domestic cats. And when 2.5 million of them silently escaped from Egypt*** they wandered around in the desert for 40 years eating “manna” dropped from the sky. Is manna bat or bird droppings? The divine makes no distinction between bats and birds.

    Egypt suffered terribly from a number of great plagues sent by the ancient Hebrew weather deity.***

    Hundreds of dead people were simultaneously resurrected but nobody outside of the sacred scribes seemed to notice or say anything about this bizarre occurrence.

    The list of divine absurdities goes on and on but Templeton either somehow just misses seeing them or else is too embarrassed to acknowledge them.

    *The bibles actually do not use the word for rib but rather use a euphemism for baculum.

    **I have had actual Catholics tell me this!

    ***The ancient Egyptians somehow forgot to record these events in their very voluminous writings, which also include shopping lists and letters of complaint. Perhaps they ran out of ink.


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