I’m on a couple of podcasts recently talking about the clash within atheism between “New Atheists” and people like me.
First, I was on the “Reasonable Doubts” podcast discussing this topic for a good half hour or so. You can listen here. Many things came up, including the Templeton Foundation and the problem of online incivility. A few brief comments:
* On the Templeton Foundation, I’ve already had my say, and in a post that has been very interestingly ignored, reporter Dan Jones does a far better job than me at explaining why it is doesn’t make sense to discount views just because they may have received Templeton support. On an intellectual level, I think Dan really deserves an answer from those who dismiss Templeton funding and those who receive it in a blanket way. (Note: My post defending Templeton has not been prominently answered either, at least that I have seen.)
* I also am tired of the label “accommodationist.” It seems to imply that there is something weak about my view, as if I’m all ready to just cave to some common enemy. On the contrary, I think that I’m being tolerant and pragmatic.
There’s an added point here, which is that while some strong atheists may not like the “New Atheist” label, there doesn’t seem any consensus here–Vic Stenger has put it in the title of his book! However, I’m not sure any alleged “accommodationists” like or embrace the “accommodationist” label.
As for “Point of Inquiry,” I’m not sure yet how it is going to handle this very heated subject, or if it will do so on one of my own shows. We’ll see.
Recently, I did a long post describing the substance of the Templeton Cambridge fellowship, and why it is valuable. Fortunately, that’s not a tough argument to make. The fact is, journalism (and dialogue) about science and religion are pretty difficult to oppose.
Case in point: Last week, here in D.C. (my old, new home), I attended an event at the American Association for the Advancement of Science to reintroduce its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), which now has a new infusion of energy and a new director, Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, formerly of NASA and an astrophysicist with a special expertise in the study of exoplanets.
Yes, that’s right: America’s leading scientific society has created a program to foster more dialogue between science and religion–and of course, considers that to be a very good thing. Read More
In my last post, I mentioned that I would be addressing some criticisms of the Templeton-Cambridge fellowship. There is, for instance, the take of former fellow John Horgan, which is widely cited and certainly critical (although it also acknowledges the value of the fellowship–which, after all, Horgan applied for and accepted).
Among other things, Horgan writes the following:
My ambivalence about the foundation came to a head during my fellowship in Cambridge last summer. The British biologist Richard Dawkins, whose participation in the meeting helped convince me and other fellows of its legitimacy, was the only speaker who denounced religious beliefs as incompatible with science, irrational, and harmful. The other speakers— three agnostics, one Jew, a deist, and 12 Christians (a Muslim philosopher canceled at the last minute)— offered a perspective clearly skewed in favor of religion and Christianity.
First, I do not agree that I have heard skewed perspectives here. I don’t think any of the talks during the past two weeks could be said to have delivered arguments “in favor of religion and Christianity.” If anything, some of them–a presentation by Petr Granqvist that interpreted religion from the viewpoint of “attachment theory,” suggesting it might merely fulfill a psychological need from childhood; or a presentation by Kathleen Taylor on morality, which gave an evolutionary view that deeply undermined the workability of religious moral systems–could be taken as quite corrosive to traditional religion.
Yesterday, meanwhile, we heard from Robin Le Poidevin, a philosopher who is the author of (that’s right) Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Read More