Thursday, May 16, 2013

Atheists trashing other religious influence

Caltech cosmologist Sean M. Carroll writes Science and Religion Can’t Be Reconciled:
Why I won’t take money from the Templeton Foundation. ...

And if anyone is tempted to award me the Templeton Prize, I will totally accept it! And use the funds to loudly evangelize for naturalism and atheism. (After I pay off the mortgage.)
So he will take Templeton money if they offer him enough. Everyone has his price, I guess.

I don't care if he wants to promote his atheist beliefs, but his attitude is not that of a cold scientist. He regularly promotes unscientific physics philosophies such as many-worlds,
string theory, and the arrow of time. That stuff is no more scientific than most of the stuff that Templeton promotes.

Another Templeton critic complains:
Tim Maudlin asks for evidence of the distorting effect of Templeton funding.

It seems to me that the enormity of Templeton funding means that religious epistemology and religious perspectives on knowledge, understanding, etc., take a very large position in analytic epistemology overall. (According to Chalmers & Bourget, over 72% of philosophers are atheists; the number of projects in religious epistemology and religiously-motivated epistemology would seem outsized, given that percentage.)
So if 72% of phulosophers are atheists, then no private foundation should do anything to decrease that percentage?

I am all in favor of separating science and religion, but I put many-world and string theory on the side of religion. There is no more evidence for those concepts than there is for astrology.

(I am not quarrelling with old understandings about he second law of thermodynamics. But Carroll goes beyond that, and speculates about time running backwards in other universes. He also says that The past and future are equally real.)


  1. >> "So he will take Templeton money if they offer him enough. Everyone has his price, I guess."

    Sounds like a cheap shot. I'd take money too from anyone I'd later want to "spend it against" (as long as it's a nontrivial case, i.e. nontrivial issue, i.e. nontrivial amount of $$ involved). Ceteris paribus, of course -- i.e. as long as resulting publicity didn't spoil it. As in "I'll take the Nobel prize money, but only if the award can be kept completely hush-hush -- otherwise, 'fuggidaboutit'."

    That said, "Everyone has his price" is generally used to show shallowness of a value-system, e.g. he/she professes one thing, but for enough $$ will go the other way. But here, he's just stating a basic fact of asymmetrical warfare, like what the Gene Hackman character offers up a mini-lecture on in 'Enemy of the State': "If your opponent is 'large', you're 'nimble' -- think of him as 'presenting a big target'. Make him your supplier." (something along those lines) I don't see any hypocrisy in his position at all. He's just thinking like a soldier, "that enemy ammo dump on Hill 420 is just too small to bother about ... but, if it gets big enough, at some point it'll be worth seizing."

    I take no position on the merits here (yet).

  2. i.e. you can't award somebody something who disagrees with your understanding of why the should get the award. if they refuse to accept it, no awarding took place. If they accept it in order to later use it as a podium against the awarder, maybe it's a case of what's the brits call "bad form" -- but that's all. It's an aesthetic tactic, not a moral inflection point.

    Substitute "awarding organization" for "young speaker" and "awardee" for "Ben Sonnenblick" and "money award" for "high priase" and you get the gist of the following account I blogged of many moons ago:

    "There was theese YOUNG scholar," belted Roberto, still almost crying, "and hee was giving a Friday Night Lecture about what
    hee was studying in Biology." [more laughter] "Alllll through the night, hee keep making theese reference to 'Ben Sonnenblick' and
    'Ben Sonnenblick's research say this, Ben Sonnenblick's research say that'." [chuckle] [pause] "Hee say that hees own
    research is similar to Ben Sonnenblick. At thee end of thee lecture, hee ask if anybody has questions ... and some little old man in thee back of thee room, hee stand up, and hee ask thee speaker a technical question about -- sometheeng about Ben Sonnenblick." [pause] "Well, thee speaker, hee say 'No, nooooo, you not understand Doctor Sonnenblick's research. Doctor Sonnenblick's research not say that. Doctor Sonnenblick's research say this.'" [more pause] "Then, thee old man in thee back, hee say: 'I have one more question.' -- thee speaker, hee is a little angry, and hee look at thee old man and say: 'What?'" [chuckle] "And thee old man, hee look at him and hee say: 'I'm Ben Sonnenblick.'"