Sunday, 10 April 2011

More Rees Pudding

In an interview with Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times (behind a paywall, so no link - paywall down? - up again), the new Templeton Prizee Martin Rees continues his apologia against his critics. AC Grayling is quoted as saying:
...I wish Templeton would not bribe scientists into giving them credibility. The Templeton desire to mix religion with science is like trying to mix astrology with astronomy or magic with medicine. A great disservice is done to education and the proper understanding of the world by this and anyone who accepts Templeton money is helping to perpetuate this problem.
Leake puzzles over Rees the atheist's attitude to religion:
What Rees seems to be saying is that he believes religion is valuable and useful - while also believing it is completely untrue. That's a contradiction most of us would find hard to reconcile but for a scientist, whose life has been spent seeking out provable truths, surely it should be impossible.
I think this is what most new atheists complain about when faitheists make their rather vapid apologies for religion. Rees responds:
I think some people even with no belief may see that there is value in the practice of religion...
But that is not the issue; is the value worth the cost?
Let me give you an example: there are lots of Jews who would say they are atheists, but they still light their candles on Friday and participate in some rituals because they think there is some value in maintaining those traditions.
Of course, but some rituals don't end with candles being lit, but fuses.

But to get back to Templeton, Rees cites the rather anodyne version of religion of which he approves while apparently being oblivious of the insidious harm to science caused by the Templeton Foundation, since they took up the 'Science and Religion' meme. As I wrote before, we have them funding scienceandreligion organisations at both Oxford and Cambridge, with such 'scientific' papers as Human genomics and the Image of God. What do Templeton gain from Rees? Bell Pottinger are their PR advisors (Chairman, Tim Bell, who conspired to bring the Iron Lady to power), and Leake ends his report by saying:
Rees was, as ever, reluctant to comment. but for the man from Bell Pottinger discreetly minding Rees throughout his media interviews last week the answer was obvious. "I think the Templeton Foundation have got just what they want out of this year's award," he said, as he whisked Rees off to another interview.
Brilliant. £1,000,000 to be a poodle to the religious lobby. It really is unforgivable that Rees has no response to the problems that Grayling identifies.


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