The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion resides at Cambridge University in England, and was set up and is sustained by generous grants from the Templeton Foundation. I’ve posted before on the odious “Faraday Schools Project,” which comprises a series of resources designed to teach children that science and God are compatible, while also pushing not just a religious view of the universe, but a Christian one. Well, a tweet from that project on August 12, sent to me by reader Mark, alerted me that it’s up and ready to begin the indoctrination of children:
You can see the overview of the project at the Test of Faith Homeschool Page, where, if your stomach is strong enough, you can download the course, Science and Christianity: An Introductory Course for Homeschoolers. I’d urge you to have a look at it, particularly if your children are going to experience it. It looks as if it’s aimed at the UK and US.
I’ve read all 88 pages, and it’s palpably clear that the purpose of this course is to convince children that science is compatible with religion. Along the way there’s some good stuff, like strong advice to conserve the environment (based on the Biblical injunction that we’re supposed to be “stewards” of the earth), and to accept evolution. But it’s outweighed by the accommodationism, which mandates that the evolution accepted be theistic evolution (Simon Conway Morris makes an appearance here using the flawed argument of convergence to show the hand of God in evolution), that things like the “fine-tuning” of the universe give evidence for God, and that humans have a frankly dualistic free will that is somehow independent of the brain’s material structure. In those senses the course is profoundly antiscientific despite its nod to being science friendly. As we’ve learned, even in liberal Christianity one sees strong conflicts with science.
Here’s all you need to know about the contents:
And in case you think that Templeton is out of the accommodationism business, this is from the introduction:
The formal course begins with the Argument for Jesus from Hot (Haught) Beverages, which is becoming very popular, employed not just here but previously by Johns Polkinghorne and Haught. You’re supposed to fill in the blanks at the bottom (this is interactive accommodationism):
I won’t bore you with the rest of the course, for it employs all the accommodationist tropes with which we’re familar: there are “different ways of knowing,” science can be dangerous, the evils in the world weren’t caused by God, but are a byproduct of his mechanisms of natural selection, plate tetonics, etc. etc. etc.
I’ll just make one point. The course discusses the faulty tactic of using God to fill in the blanks of our scientific ignorance, decrying “God-of-the-gaps” arguments as both theologically and scientifically untenable. Well, that’s good. But then they go on to use a God-of-the-gap argument when it comes to the “fine-tuning” of the physical laws of the universe:
It then gives some examples of fine-tuning (I’ve shown one of four):
Now of course this is precisely the kind of God-of-the-gaps argument that the course argues against: because we don’t know why the universe appears “fine tuned,” and there may be a scientific explanation, we can’t automatically say this is proof of God. But the Faraday folk are cleverer than this. They say that while it’s not “proof” of God, it constitutes “evidence” for God. In that way they adhere to the God-of-the-gaps argument without appearing to:
They don’t mention, of course, that science doesn’t “prove” things, either: we adduce evidence for things, and when that evidence is strong enough, we regard something as provisionally true (evolution is a good example).
By adducing scientific evidence for God (free will and human morality are others), this booklet shows that Test of Faith, and Templeton, are not regarding science and faith as separate magisteria, but claiming that science gives evidence for faith. If we’re going to go that route, then, why not give all the evidence against God from science, like the fact that we see unjustified evils in the world (like childhood cancers), that we see rudiments of “moral” behavior in our closest relatives, and that intercessory prayer doesn’t work. Of course this homeschool booklet doesn’t do that, for its purpose it is not to let students judge the facts for themselves. Its purpose is to strengthen students’ Christianity by showing that not only does science not conflict with it, but actually supports it.
Templeton is reprehensible, as is this homeschool course. Let us hear no more about the Templeton Foundation becoming more secular, for it’s clearly up to its same old tricks.