Nobel laureate condemns God study funded by US Christian

first_imgGary Rosen, Chief External Affairs Officer for the Foundation denied that it only funded projects with a religious bias. “We take no interest in the religious beliefs of the researchers we support; we care only about the scientific quality of their work. Much of the research we fund is entirely unrelated to religious questions.”“The Foundation supports scientific research on religious belief as well as civil, open-minded dialogue between scientists and theologians. Both activities are invaluable in deepening our understanding of the human experience,” he continued.Professor Roger Trigg, senior research fellow at the Oxford Theology Faculty and Co-Principal investigator for the project also defended the proposal, saying that it had scientific validity.“The study of cognitive religion is a new area which has aroused interest over recent years. What is at issue is how far religious belief of various kinds is ‘natural’. That might make atheism ‘unnatural’ in that it is not people’s starting point – either as children or in ‘primitive’ cultures.”However American scientists who have previously criticised the Foundation questioned their attempt to combine scientific and religious research topics, saying that it could blur the line between the two. Sean Carroll, a Senior Research Associate at the California Institute of Technology Physics Department, said that they used their wealth to influence research agendas. “I think the Templeton Foundation is sincere but misguided.  They are not anti-science, nor do they pay people to say things that they don’t believe.  But they find people whose beliefs are already compatible with their own, and raise their profile by awarding large amounts of money. They are interested in promoting research into spiritual questions and the intersection of science and religion,” he said.Peter Woit, a mathematical physicist at Columbia University, said that it should not use its grants to encourage the joint study of religion and science, saying, “My problem has been that their agenda is to bring science and religion together, which in my view is not a good thing.”In a statement, the University said, “The research is rigorous and will ultimately be published in peer-reviewed journals, and donors and funders have no influence over how research is conducted and cannot influence the final result.”In 1984, Sir John Templeton endowed the graduate Oxford Centre for Management Studies enabling it to become a full college, which was renamed Templeton College. A row has erupted after a Nobel Prize winning scientist attacked new Oxford research funded by an institution that he claims is “attempting to drag us back into the Dark ages.”Sir Harold Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, accused the American John Templeton Foundation of ‘corrupting’ science by funding pro-religious study.However, academics behind the research have defended its credientials, saying that investigation into the ‘naturalness’ of religion and the nature of belief was vital. The research, into why people believe in God, received a £1.9m grant from the Foundation, an  organisation which provides grants to a variety of theological and religious projects.The study is being conducted by the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, and asks questions such as ‘Does the naturalness of religious beliefs mean that they’ve been explained away and you shouldn’t believe in God?’The Foundation, which has an endowment of $1.1 billion, describes itself as a ‘philanthropic investor in research on concepts and realities such as love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity’.It was founded in 1987 by lifelong Presbyterian and investor Sir John Templeton, a former Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, who has said that “scientific revelations may be a goldmine for revitalizing religion in the 21st Century.”Kroto stated, “Their only mission is to undermine the ethical position of the scientific community. They could not care a f*** what the outcome is they will still go on funding this sort of innane crap in an attempt to drag us back into the Dark ages. Galileo is turning in his grave.”“They continue to throw money at this when there are massive problems around the world that really need action for example aids, malaria, TB, Darfur, and the fact that one quarter of all children are deficient in almost everything you can think of.”He claimed that the funding had been provided to gain associate the Foundation with “the reputation of Oxford University…to give their pathetic initiatives some apparent semblance of scientific credibility.”last_img

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