Templeton funds an accomodationist project called “Explaining away”

January 4, 2015 • 10:00 am

Quietly but doggedly, the John Templeton Foundation pursues its goal of trying to harmonize and integrate science and religion. Here’s an example of Templeton money being spent on a project in Northern Ireland aimed at proving that there need be no conflict between the two areas. The conference, held in October, would have escaped my attention had it not been for reader John from Belfast, who sent a link and his opinion:

[If you have time], have a quick look at this seminar that some of the “smart/stupid” people in Northern Ireland felt the need to organise recently in the panic they are now running from before the scientific onslaught on faith and belief.

John Lennox (our biggest embarrassment) leads the charge of course but dip into the address on Genesis by Desmond Alexander to really see a rabbit caught in the headlights. [Lennox, a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, is described by Wikipedia as a “Christian apologist.”]

Its so good to see that these guys are on the run……..and they are!

The Templetonian project is called “Explaining Away“: one couldn’t find a better name for this odious accommodationist/apologist endeavor. It’s on the Templeton website, which shows that the Foundation gave the University of Ulster nearly $200,000 for the project:

A common theme in popular discourse is that scientific explanations of the world have “explained away” the need for religion. This project investigates the concept of “explaining away” in  the science-religion context and considers whether there is any need for a religious explanation in addition to a scientific explanation or, more specifically, under what circumstances a scientific explanation might undermine a religious one.

The project will clarify the conditions which need to be satisfied for one explanation to “explain away” another, and will use computer simulations to model the changes of beliefs in social groups. An academic workshop on the project topic, and a training day on the wider issues of science and religion aimed at an audience of ministers of religion and laymen will be organized.

Given Templeton’s history, what do you think the chances are that the program would conclude—or even consider—that science might undermine religious explanations? Yes, you’re right—NONE.

To see this, have a look at October the “Explaining and Explaining Away” workshop held in Belfast. Here’s the program:

Dr David Glass/ Dr Mark McCartney ‘Explaining and Explaining Away’
Today’s workshop is part of a larger project entitled ‘Explaining and explaining away’, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.  In this talk we  give an overview of the idea of ‘explaining away’ – in particular do certain scientific explanations ‘explain away’ the need for God? We will also look at recent census data on the decline of religious belief in Northern Ireland.

Translation: The speakers will explain away not religion itself, but the supposed conflict between science and religion. They will also show that, properly interpreted, the “decline” or religious belief in Ulster is spurious.

Dr Desmond Alexander ‘Interpretations of Genesis 1-3’
How should we read the opening chapters of Genesis? What may appear to be a simple question is fraught with all kinds of complications. To put the question is another form, Is Genesis 1-3 a text about cosmology or theology?. . .

Translation: Whoever thinks that the book of Genesis was intended to be taken literally, or even was taken literally by a single theologian over the millennia since it was composed, is a chowderhead. The whole book was clearly meant to be an allegory.

Rev. Barry Forde ‘Science, Religion and Undergraduates: Train tracks or crossroads?’ 
University is often perceived as a time for exploration, debate, for discussion and the opening of minds to new schools of thought, ideas, and perspectives. To what extent are Christian students in particular happy to simply live in a world in which science gets taught in the academy, faith in the church, and, rather like parallel train tracks, never the twain shall meet? What happens to both faith and science when neither is really allowed to critique the other, especially when a parallel universe gives way and inevitable collisions occur? In his address Barry will offer up his own observations borne out of experience as a University Chaplain, along with feedback and insights from current students on science and religion.

Translation: Faith and science may appear to clash but, properly interpreted, they really don’t.

Dr Eddie McGee ‘Science and Religion in the Classroom’
This talk begins by reviewing how science and religion are currently integrated within the post-primary school curriculum in Northern Ireland. Through an analysis of ‘value systems’, it will explore how interface and boundary issues between these fields of study provides a context and foundation for understanding emergent ethical and epistemological tensions both for teachers of science and religion and for the wider public. Finally, it will examine how the theories of education according to Piaget and Vygotsky can contribute to comprehending and resolving such tensions in the classroom and signpost pedagogical strategies which might facilitate greater integration between science and religion in the future.

Translation: Dr. McGee will emit a fog of impenetrable academic speech to obfuscate the issues but also to reiterate that science and religion can be “integrated.” He will also demonstrate the use of mixed metaphors by signposting many pedagogical strategies.

Dr Diarmid Finnegan ‘Myths and Milestones in the History of Science and Religion’
It is commonly assumed that the history of science and religion has been driven by conflict between two starkly opposing ways of explaining the world.  This master narrative has produced a number of persistent myths about how the relationship between science and religion played out during key moments in the development of scientific knowledge.  Historians of science and religion have long sought to deflate the cultural potency of these myths and contest or complicate the assumption of persistently unfruitful conflict between religious and scientific ways of knowing.  This talk will explore some of this ‘myth-busting’ scholarship.

Translation: The so-called “clashes” between science and religion, instantiated in the l’affaire Galileo and the Scopes Trial, weren’t really about an incompatibility or animosity between the two areas. Instead, they were examples of struggles for political power, of personal animus, and of clashes between different “cultures.” Religion has never, ever been in conflict with science, and those who say so are just dumb.

Prof. John Lennox ‘Has Science Buried God’
If we believe many modern commentators, science has squeezed God into a corner, killed and then buried him with its all-embracing explanations. Atheism, we are told, is the only intellectually tenable position, and any attempt to reintroduce God is likely to impeded the progress of science. In this talk, John Lennox will examine such claims. Is it really true that everything in science points towards atheism? Could it be possible that theism sits more comfortably with science than atheism?

Translation: Plenary speaker Lennox, the prize Oxford thoroughbred in our stable, will give a resounding “No way!” to the question at issue. He’ll also perform the intellectual equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat by demonstrating that science is actually more compatible with religious belief than with atheism. This latter feat alone will be worth the price of admission.


I agree with reader John that this conference demonstrates that religious apologists are indeed on the run. If there weren’t a public perception that science and religion are in conflict—a perception that—as I argue in The Albatross—is based on a real dichotomy in how those two areas seek and identify what they consider true about the Universe, there would be no need for such conferences , or for Templeton to pour millions of dollars yearly into accommodationism. These science-and-religion lovefests are pervasive and frequent, and demonstrate to me that the issue hasn’t been resolved. If it had, why do they continue?

Finally, Templeton continues to demonstrate its resolve to integrate science and religion. It continues to baffle me that nonbelieving scientists take money from their foundation.  The usual argument is this: “Hey, they’re paying me to do real science, not fund accommodationism.” But Templeton uses their achievements to give a patina of respectability to its own mission, which is manifestly not to fund pure science.  Would you take money from a National Accommodation Foundation if some of their budget went to promote Christianity?




76 thoughts on “Templeton funds an accomodationist project called “Explaining away”

      1. I’ll take “Questionable Epistimolgies” for $200.

        “The human faculty that enables Templtonian stable ponies to harmonize science and the belief in an interventionist God.”

        What is cash-fueled cognitive dissonance.


        Still your turn, Charlie …

  1. I’d be a tad happier if folks like this could admit that at least some of the time, religion has just been plain wrong about science, and Galileo was a “martyr” to entrenched authoritarian religion that was stuck in its old & untenable paradigm. Once you appeal to religion “properly understood” and say these problems are not “really” about religion you are embarked on a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    In better news, one of the neglected American spokesmen against American evangelicalism and author of “Farewell to God” is a former associate of Billy Graham named Charles Templeton, so the bottle of Templeton Rye photographed several months ago here by JC may be OK to drink after all.

    1. Charles Templeton, a Canadian (not from south of the border, though he worked for CBS briefly) is reputed to have made a pretty good joke in his old age, long after abandoning religiosity and his earlier career as an evangelist.

      He was asked: “Don’t you ever, even briefly, consider the possible hereafter?”

      “Yes”, he said, “sometimes I’ll get up from my desk, go downstairs into the living room, and then, in a moment of forgetfulness, ask myself: ‘What the hell am I here after?’ “

  2. Could it be possible that theism sits more comfortably with science than atheism?

    If that was true religiosity would increase along with educational level. All signs point to no.

    If we accept that science and religion are on two different tracks if find it ironic that they talk about compatability.

    To me it looks like we’re on the same train whether they like it or not and the driver is an atheist[Gasp!].

    Some of the passengers aren’t pleased, but alas they can’t drive it themselves.

    Religion( or should I say religious people ) needs science. Not vice versa.

    1. Very good point that last one. And they need science or at the end of the day the collection plate will be empty.

    2. My guess is that theism sits more comfortably with science than atheism if “theism” is broadened to include curiosity, hope, pragmatic reliance, wonder, and awe. Plus consistency, regularity, and the fact that there’s something rather than nothing.

      Make “atheism” either the absence or negation of these new elements of religion and hey — magic!

  3. Science hasn’t banished the ‘need for god,’ merely the likelihood of divine existence. God isn’t ‘necessary’ in any logical or empirical sense, but very much needed as the daily drug of believers’ lives.

    1. I would say that the successes of the methodology of science contrasted with the failure of the methodology of religion (i.e., divine revelation) to contribute to human knowledge in any measurable way has banished revelation to the position of a spare time hobby, bad joke, or sign of madness. This will naturally cause people to call into question historical revelations, which has the effect of banishing religious beliefs.

      Not all, of course. Its an incremental rollback. But the rollback is happening: its a short road from accepting that divine revelation is untrustworthy when it comes to the arrangement of the planets and the origins of humans, to accepting that divine relevation is untrustworthy in general.

  4. Amazing — painful, actually — to see grown adults insist that there really is some sort of sublime otherworldly insight to be gained from a story about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard.

    Every psychology text should have Mr. Templeton’s portrait prominently featured in the section on Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

    Schools could also do with a class on fraud — all its variations and common themes and how to recognize it and so on. Mr. Templeton, of course, also deserves prominence there in a chapter on pious fraud.


    1. It’s horrible. It makes people intellectually lazy and intellectual laziness leads to ignorance which leads to all the BS we all have to deal with.

  5. I wonder if one could take Templeton money and come to the conclusion that science and religion are NOT compatible. Would you still get to keep the $$.

    1. I suspect they’re quite good at sussing out those who’re likely to do that sort of thing. Which makes sense once you realize that it’s all just a giant PR campaign for Religion, Inc.

      I mean, how many tobacco-kills-you studies were paid for with money from R.J. Reynolds?


      1. Not to get to supernatural, but every once in a while a miracle (i.e., mistake) occurs. The biggest single source of funds for this study can from … wait for it … the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000). It was much like the Templeton-funded study that showed the futility of intercessory prayer, both studies confirmed what anyone who isn’t an idiot already knew, but still made big news.

        1. I see a pattern. Rich ($billions) over-achiever, late in life, stops over-achieving and begins, instead to think. First time for everything. Puzzled by the thoughts that begin running through, he decides to invest in learning what makes the world tick (besides money). The first thing with any importance is where do I go when I die, and will I get to take my money with me? Why not fund a study!

    2. Michael Shermer of Skeptic Society took Templeton money to pull together and publish a tract/small book on whether or not God exists. I picked one up for free at a convention somewhere.

      It contains a lot of essays by atheists, some of whom iirc argued against the compatibility of science and religion. However, there were also theists arguing the other side. It was maybe 50/50.

      Given the fact that statistically few people in the general public would read anything which was specifically pro-atheist only, this use of the money seems reasonable to me. We have more to gain than they do. You could read something reasonable and clear right after reading some hand-waving bilge.

      Of course, this was a book of essays deliberately aimed at examining the controversy from all sides, not a pretense that everyone is coming to the same “conclusion.”

        1. Yes. Since it seems to me that the party line on science & religion is heavily weighted towards pro-faith accomodationism I’m going to guess that anyone who read the booklet and learned something new would have been a pro-faith accomodationist.

          In science it’s a bad idea to give ‘fair time’ to pseudoscience, for a lot of reasons. But I think that an entrenched religious majority which graciously/grudgingly grants ‘fair time’ to a despised but strong minority position ought to be taken up on it. Especially when it’s going to allow the views to be evenly split (as opposed to the lone battered skeptic.)

          1. I suppose I think it’s fine, too. Like you say, it will make quality thought available to those who probably wouldn’t seek it out on its own.

            But do you think there’s a “debating creationists” factor?

            1. I’m not sure what you mean by “‘debating creationists’ factor.” But assuming you mean what’s usually meant, I generally think it’s a bad idea for experts and scientists to debate creationism in an academic forum where it can too easily appear that the issue is a legitimate scientific debate. In other words, I agree that Dawkins should not grant credibility to Ken Ham.

              However, when the debater for the evolution side is a science popularizer and the debate is going to take place on a turf where there’s no ‘gifting’ of credibility to creationism and an audience which has been enmeshed within a tight circle of propaganda, this might now be a wise strategy. In other words, I think that Bill Nye hurt Ken Ham.

              1. Yep. That’s what I meant.

                I’m not really strongly persuaded by either side of this issue, but if I had to take a side, I’d come down on the side of not directly engaging the loonies. Even when everything about the circumstances of the debate are neutral, it still sends the message that there’s a legitimate debate to be had at all.

                But then, in a less big-picture sense, I do recognize the utility of these debates. I’ve burned out on watching them now, but I used to like doing so. I learned things, and solidified some views.

                Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      1. Robert Pennock’s Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics is a similar collection, with alternating mainstream scientists and creationist essays on the same subject(s). It was very good, if a bit dry.

        You may have hit upon one of the few acceptable uses for Templeton money. By ‘acceptable,’ I mean a use that both Templeton and the mainstream science community would consider to be a valuable and credible output, not necessarily colored by the money source.

        Of course, there’s only so many of those you can do before they begin to be rehashes. Its not like the creationists are publishing radically new material all the time, that we’d need another book every few years. They don’t, so we don’t.

    3. If its a standard grant, then yes you would still get to keep the $$. Once they give it to you, they would probably have to show some sort of legal breach of contract before they could get that money back.

      The ‘subtle coercion of money’ comes from the fact that you probably won’t get follow-on grants and funding if you come to the ‘wrong’ conclusion. That’s what likely influences researchers (consciously or unconsciously) to come to a result that their funding agency wants to hear.

      It ain’t the first pot ‘o gold that corrupts you. Its the promise of more pots in the future…if you behave. And the more pots you take, the more painful it will be be to break ties to that funding agency, and the more beholden to them you become.

  6. A tangent:

    “…properly interpreted…”

    I hate this phrase (and its twin sibling “properly understood”). When a theologian uses it you can bet your bottom dollar a completely unevidenced assertion or some other kind of ridiculous baloney is going to follow.

  7. What happens to both faith and science when neither is really allowed to critique the other

    Actually, I think science is in a comfortable position to critisise religion. The other way round, I don’t see how.

    1. Faith criticizes science by claiming it can’t criticize faith. It’s not only comfortable doing this, it’s laid-back lazy.

  8. “I agree with reader John that this conference demonstrates that religious apologists are indeed on the run.”

    I think that’s overly optimistic. You might could have said the same thing about the invention of “Creation Science” in the US, but it preceded several decades of peak levels of religious fundamentalism.

  9. “This latter feat alone will be worth the price of admission.” Oh, that was priceless! Thanks.

    And yes, I definitely agree, apologists are indeed “on the run.” Now, this may appear to have no downside but I believe that there is indeed a much more nefarious aspect to this development; the retreat has created a vacuum, and that vacuum is quickly being filled by certified lunatics.

  10. An interesting challenge for the Templeton Foundation: put together a conference in which the conferees are charged with specifically designating those parts of scripture that are allegorical and those which describe actual historical events, actions, and spoken words. As a concluding “action item”, they are to disseminate among the various denomination heirarchies from which they come a document that recommends that allegorical and ‘literal’ parts of the Bible be taught to children as such from the earliest ages. And, of course, we blockhead atheists need the document too, since we have clearly missed out on what is so obvious to these bright lights of theology.

  11. I am certainly on your side but I do think you overplay your hand when you say the whole book of Genesis was meant to be an allegory. First, there is no possible way to know this. Second, it has traditionally been considered historical, at least until the modern era.

    We rightly See it today as allegory, but I highly doubt that was the original writers intent.

    1. The final compiler of Genesis may very well have thought of creation stories as allegory as he/she was weaving together two incompatible accounts and knew they were doing it.

      However, I suspect the story of Abraham was not intended as allegory.

      The two leading figures in the Protestant Reformation, Luther and Calvin were split on whether the creation stories were allegory or not.

  12. I took the time to listen to the 40 minutes or so of Dr. Alexander’s Interpretations of Genesis. So this is what I learned:

    There is probably no way to sit through a whole day of this.

    Genesis is about making places and filling places. Is it History – Yes and No. Is it Science – Yes and No. I hope that is clear.

    Genesis appears to contradict itself but hold on – the purpose is non scientific.

    It could be that the author was talking about functions, not structures. God was designing an organizational chart.

    So if you can get enough PHDs to spend/waste their careers dissecting every word and line for another 2000 years, you might have something…..or not.

    1. The enterprise of reconciling Genesis with scientific findings in astronomy and evolution is doomed from the start because the point they’re trying to make – that religion is still relevant here, somehow – needs to lead people to assume that any meagre correlation – and I do mean meagre – is some sort of indicator of causation, even if only by cherry picking. The apologists are only leading the charge in the first place because of thousands of years of tradition which itself has no grounding to be taken seriously.

      Moreover, it just raises more questions. The writers were certainly not in a position to divine the whole of cosmology and evolutionary biology way into the future… and even if they did, they then write vague riddles that kinda sorta say that in the vain hope that it’ll be interpreted so only after said scientific developments occur. What’s the point of positing an extraordinary god hypothesis if your benchmark for evidence is indistinguishable from conspiracy theory pattern-seeking?

      The very premises they need to take to begin such an enterprise are transparently partisan. So much so, in fact, that only thousands of years of religious dominance and monopolizing, however weakened now, seem able to explain how they can get away with presenting the resulting wishy-washy mess of howlers as insightful academic work. It’s either the work of deceivers or the work of dupes.

  13. “He will also demonstrate the use of mixed metaphors by signposting many pedagogical strategies.”

    Yes! I try to do that at least three times daily before breakfast.

  14. To me, Templeton has already admitted defeat. They basically acknowledge that it is Science that provides the valid explanations, and they are trying to find a way to validly hitch themselves to the bandwagon.

    1. Oh, and I would take their money. My integrity can’t be bought – their funding would not affect my results. Any money being spent on me is not available for the Christian apologists. All researchers know Templeton’s history, and nowadays I don’t think valid research increases the value of non-valid research just because the same group funds it.

      1. Fair enough, but remember Templeton will use the fact that you accepted their dough to show the world they are legit.

      2. I don’t have specific citations, but I believe there have been a bunch of meta-studies performed over the past decade that shows that, yes, funding source does influence our results. Even when we are trying really hard to be honest scientists. It happens subtly, unintentionally, unconsciously.

        This is why its so important to publish funding sources (and potential conflicts of interest) in journal articles. The outright frauds and con artists in science are relatively few and far between. Citing your funding source really not about them: its about all the rest of us, making our readers aware of a potential bias that we may have and not be aware of. Feinman’s adage is very appropriate here: the easiest person to fool into thinking the color of the money won’t affect your results, is yourself.

        This is not to say you can’t take it. Its to say that as good scientists we should try and keep in mind that our grant sources could bias us. Its a good argument for doing more reproducting experiments, honestly; having two separate groups with different funding sources do the same work and compare the results.

        1. It’s not just science, though I do lament it when they come under the thumb of corporations with an agenda. Tobacco companies frequently fund so-called “grassroots” campaigns as a way to avoid being obvious in their campaigns to sell people poisons, and to get around popular distrust of such companies by hiding behind a more “neutral” face.

          I’d say such interests need to be declared from the start. Any institute that won’t reveal its sources of funding, especially when its work conveniently supports a corporate interest, should be immediately suspected.

  15. Would you take money from a National Accommodation Foundation if some of their budget went to promote Christianity?

    Yeah, I’d take lots of money. Their entire damn budget, if I could. Bleed them. And I’d be sure to spend some of their money explaining why accomodation doesn’t work.

    1. That’d probably work for all of ten minutes. Your mistake is thinking their intentions and behaviours are honest. This has little to do with results, and more to do with making gestures towards reconciliation as publicity stunts. It’s about rallying those sympathetic to accommodationism around a flag. The only undercover work worth taking would be whistleblowers and investigative spies leaking evidence of dodgy practises, and even then, the ethics are debatable.

      It seems to me more straightforward to wash your hands of the whole business and say you care more about impartial facts than about misguided accommodationism and its patronizing and/or dishonest principles. In any case, a pro-religious institute won’t lack rich and interested parties on the conservative side willing to fund it, so you can’t really fight them financially. Taking their money and subverting its purpose, if anything, would play into their hands, as they can tar the subverter as a dishonest angry atheist (among other things) and so bolster their own standing by comparison.

      They want credibility, respect, and status at least equal to that of scientists, which means they want a misinformation campaign, which in turn means they have to use rhetoric and play-acting to convince people they deserve more respect. In brief, they want people to think of them in terms of a shining white authority defending its patch. You’d be better off pointing out how they’re bribing people to compromise science for an agenda which only pretends to be for religious people’s interest.

      1. You make an excellent case. I thus slyly proceed to point out that my hypothetical involves a situation where you can demand and receive the entire budget, all of it, every last cent. So there you go.

        Taking their money and using it to argue against their actual purpose couldn’t be used against you if, like the Templeton Foundation, the National Accomodation Foundation had made a big fancy public show of being impartial and seriously seeking the truth, whatever it may turn out to be, we’re really just open to discovery.

        Of course, my hypothetical has now entered the enchanted land of unicorns which fart sparkly rainbows and the Republican economic platform, so there you go.

        1. I thus slyly proceed to point out that my hypothetical involves a situation where you can demand and receive the entire budget, all of it, every last cent. So there you go.

          Ah. Fair enough. But…

          Taking their money and using it to argue against their actual purpose couldn’t be used against you if, like the Templeton Foundation, the National Accomodation Foundation had made a big fancy public show of being impartial and seriously seeking the truth, whatever it may turn out to be, we’re really just open to discovery.

          It would be nice if that were the case, but as I said, this presumes they’re playing honestly. They’re interested in putting religion in a lab coat, usually with the scientists still in it. They only have to do just enough science to look convincing, and they’d achieve what they wanted in the current pro-religious climate.

          All they’d have to do is invoke ad hominem on you (“the results are unreliable as a result of potential ideological bias”) and let the popular angry atheist stereotype do the rest. It’d be less problematic to just do the research without taking their money, or challenge them to submit their contentions to proper peer review. If they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot anyway, don’t make it awkwardly ambiguous by grabbing their arms and making them point the gun downwards first.

          1. I still think that an organization which has made a grand public show of impartiality would have problems pulling a sudden ad hominem on a researcher with a result or argument they funded, but don’t like. Since Templeton Foundation is going after an intelligent demographic, they’d get away with less of that.

            But I’ll also suggest another possibility: given the emphasis on the honest search for truth it has made and as far as I can tell still makes, Templeton has honest people in it, folks who are not in on an agenda. This is my guess. It possibly began with a few genuine fence sitters in the mix and has probably attracted some more. They may be unaware of their religious biases or they may even be fighting against them so that they’ll be ‘fair.’

            A friend of mine has a son in the media who was recruited to work for Templeton right after it formed. According to her, he’s an agnostic and insists that the interviews all emphasized the importance of not being sure “either way” in advance. They wanted people who hadn’t made up their mind. His job was to report and write without bias. He accepted and did a bunch of interviews with people like Pinker, Dennett, and Dawkins as well as their critics — all iirc on the Templeton dime.

            1. Sorry to jump in here, his story sounds interesting so I was wondering if you know; An open mind to what? A god or the compatability thing?

            2. I might argue that the problem isn’t even necessarily the integrity of the institution.

              Based on my experience with people, I’m not sure enough of the general public would think it was an issue that the TF made a grand show of impartiality yet tried to poison the non-reconciling researcher’s well. And I’m not sure it matters that the public who pays attention to the TF is intelligent. Commitment to accomodationism is an especially tough bias to overcome.

  16. Of course I would take the money.

    To marry science and religion you have at least to deny/redefine one or more of the following: god, reality, objective observation, marriage etc….

    Or you can hide in vagueness.

    Best to do both.

    Seems not too difficult.

  17. Nowhere in the comments section or in the text did I see the word ‘desperate’ or ‘desperation’. I think an aura of desperation can be found in in most apologia and accommodation efforts.
    Weening is uncomfortable.

  18. Professor Lennox might be this, that and the other on religion, but he is well credentialled academically.
    – MA & PhD (I think both mathematics) from Cambridge
    – D.Sc. (the highest degree in science, beyond PhD level, our own Richard Dawkins holds this also) mathematics from Cardiff
    – D.Phil. (the Oxbridge term for a PhD) from Oxford, don’t know the discipline
    – MA in bioethics from Surrey
    – and as if that is not enough, he speaks Russian, French, German and Spanish

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