Over at HuffPo, Michael Ruse mounts “A Scientific Defense of the Templeton Foundation,” and doesn’t miss an opportunity blast P. Z. (“evolution’s answer to Rush Limbaugh”) and me. What a thin skin that man has! But there are many lolz:
Having said this, it seems to me that it was perfectly open to Sir John Templeton to have put his money into a foundation that seeks to reconcile science and religion. The money was earned honorably, even though one might have some questions about Sir John’s decampment to the Bahamas and its tax-free economy. But so long as America is daft enough to let people get away with this, who am I to object? Speaking as one who has probably no more religious beliefs than Richard Dawkins, I don’t see anything morally wrong with someone trying to reconcile science and religion. Clarifying that a little, I don’t see anything morally wrong with religion as such. These days I don’t much care for the Catholic Church, whether it be abusing small children, covering up the crimes of the priests involved, or leading the charge against universal health care because the restrictions on abortion were not sufficiently stringent. But I care for the work that the Church does among the poor and the sick, and I care also about the work that many Evangelicals are doing in Africa.
Who ever said it was “morally wrong” to reconcile science and religion? It’s philosophically and logically wrong!
Oh, and just when you thought that the Catholic Church couldn’t get more clueless, listen to this. The BBC reports that the Pope’s personal preacher, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, has compared criticism of the Pope and the Church’s handling of the child-abuse scandal to anti-Semitism:
The Rev Raniero Cantalamessa was speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Pope.
In his sermon, he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.
His comments angered Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.
Father Cantalamessa said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew a comparison with recent attacks on the Roman Catholic Church.
He read the congregation part of a letter from a Jewish friend who said he was “following with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope…
“The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” he quoted from the letter.
On the upside, over at Metamagician Russell Blackford, feeling feisty, says that “Some speech needs to be marginalized.” That includes a lot of religious speech:
But some ideas, though not censored, should be given only a marginal place in our society. In every generation, we continue to debate which those are. I am hopeful that future generations will include not only the examples I’ve given, such as the ideas of reinstituting slavery or punishing homosexuals, but also such examples as the ludicrous idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old (contrary to all conclusions from rational investigation). Likewise for the idea that there is something even “sinful” about (as opposed to grounds for banning) consenting homosexual conduct between sufficiently mature people, or that “sin” attaches to the use of contraceptives or to masturbation. Like the advocacy of slavery, these foolish ideas no longer deserve a level playing field in our society. Let them be freely derided, ridiculed, and driven to the margins. The sooner, the better.
As for religious leaders, they certainly do not deserve the kind of deference they currently receive, or the megaphones they are provided by the news media for their pronouncements. They do not deserve to be looked upon as moral or community leaders, or to be given a privileged voice in public debate. Some – such as those Protestant fundamentalists who claim the Earth is only 6000 years old or the celibate, white-haired dinosaurs of the Vatican who think that the use of contraception is a sin – deserve to be accorded little more intellectual credibility than would be given, in a modern city such as Melbourne, to a slavery advocate.
Not all ideas deserve to be taken seriously and considered respectfully, and not all people deserve to be accorded intellectual legitimacy. We can argue about who and what falls into which category, but there is no doubt that some speech deserves to be marginalised … and that certainly applies to a lot of religious speech. There’s no need to be backward about saying so.