The video below was posted by, of all venues, the World Science Festival. It’s run by physicist Brian Greene and his spouse Tracy Day, but of course it’s partly funded by the Templeton Foundation. And because of that Templeton dosh, they always include a completely irrelevant, non-sciencey but accommodationist event, just to let people know that All That Science doesn’t mean that their religion is wrong.
Here’s Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology in California. That site identifies him as “a panentheist [who] defends a form of process theology that is hypothetical, dialogical and pluralistic.” Notice that it’s “panentheist”, not pantheist. The latter sees God as the cosmos, the former, as Wikipedia notes, differs a bit:
Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all”; ἐν (en) “in”; and θεός (theós) “God”; “all-in-God”) is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheisticGod, polytheisticgods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
In process thelogy, of course, that all-pervasive God is affected by the world. Good luck in defending that “hypothetical” theology which, I suppose is no more bizarre, and no more supported by evidence, than any other theology.
Clayton has also written a number of accommodationist pieces for PuffHo. The video belong has the YouTube caption:
Theologian Philip Clayton explains what science and theology can learn from each other. Watch more on this topic at WorldScienceFestival.com
The message is one of comity and mutual supportiveness of science and theology. “There’s a lot that science has to learn from theology.” What do we have to learn? “That humans have multiple ways of intuiting and grasping the world around us.” We can learn, he says, about areas such as theology, philosophy, and poetry.
That’s pretty much malarkey, of course. While philosophers can contribute to science by instilling in us rigor of thought, and helping catch our logical errors, that’s a way of “thinking,” not of “knowing.” As for poetry, it’s great to read, but show me a scientific advance promoted by Yeats or Milton. And forget theology: it adds nothing to science and, in fact, has acted as a brake on its acceptance (think creationism).
The Big Question (to borrow a Templeton trope) is why this kind of stuff is in the World Science Festival. It’s not science—not in the least. It’s there because Templeton wants it there, and because somehow this kind of theobabble is supposed to make people science-friendly. I really wish Greene and Day would stop this kind of stuff: it’s embarrassing and demeaning to stick theology into a festival supposedly devoted to “science.” If they’re going to do that, why not add discussions of homeopathy, astrology, and spiritual healing?