Because it contains a really nice essay by physicist Sean Carroll,”Does the universe need God?” (online for free), I was interested in buying The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, edited by J. G. Stump and A. G. Padgett (Wiley). But now I see that it’s going for the absolutely ridiculous price of $199. And there’s another reason to avoid it: Carroll’s piece, which decries the infusion of faith into science, is probably an outlier among a bunch of accommodationist essays. Here, for example, is the evolution section:
Denis Alexander is director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, which was originally funded (and still gets funds from) the Templeton Foundation. He’s also on the Board of Trustees of the Templeton Foundation.
We already know Michael Ruse, who is sympathetic to religion and, in fact, despite his atheism is very generous (and ingenious) in offering the faithful arguments for reconciling religion and science. I would hope his piece would highlight the incompatibility between Darwinism and religion, but I’d bet heavily against that.
The work of Simon Conway Morris, a paleontologist at Cambridge who studies evolutionary convergence, is supported by a grant from the Templeton foundation to the tune of nearly one million dollars. He believes that convergence (the independent evolution of similar features in diverse lineages) is evidence for God.
Stephen C. Meyer is an intelligent-design creationist and director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
Francisco Ayala won the one-million-pound Templeton Prize in 2010.
John Haught, whom I debated in Kentucky last year, is a theologian at Georgetown University who is famous for concoting the “Argument for God from Hot Beverages.” He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the John Templeton Foundation.
Paul Draper, a philosopher of religion at Purdue University in Indiana, is a Templeton Research Fellow.
Of the seven authors in this section, all are sympathetic to religion, and five are or have been associated with or supported by the Templeton Foundation. One is a creationist. Yet this book is not published by Templeton, but by Wiley, a (formerly) reputable publisher.
It’s distressing that the ties between a commercial publisher and the Templeton Foundation are so close (how did they choose the authors?), and even more distressing that there doesn’t seem to be one article in the evolution section that takes a critical stance about the connection between Christianity and evolutionary biology (granted, I haven’t read the book yet, as it isn’t out). One of the pieces is even by a creationist who touts that cells are too complex to have evolved!
(A side note: I just read Ayala’s book, Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, which argues that the conundrum of evil in the world as evidence against a loving and omnipotent God was absolutely and permanently resolved by Darwin’s idea of natural selection. No longer do we need to wonder why there is suffering in the world: it’s an inevitable byproduct of the way God chose to evolve His creatures! But of course that’s no solution, because God could have chosen some other way to produce his creatures that didn’t involve suffering. After all, he’s omnipotent! This is yet another case of a scientist sympathetic to religion making a theological virtue out of a scientific necessity.)