Every year, the John Templeton Foundation gives a massive cash award — now $1.5 million — to the person who has done the most to confuse people about reality by pretending that religion and science aren’t in opposition. More technically, the Templeton prize rewards someone who best “harness[es] the power of science to questions about the universe and humanity’s purpose.”
This year’s recipient was primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall.
Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, said Goodall’s work exemplified “humility, spiritual curiosity and discovery”.
She added: “Her achievements go beyond the traditional parameters of scientific research to define our perception of what it means to be human. Her discoveries have profoundly altered the world’s view of animal intelligence and enriched our understanding of humanity in a way that is both humbling and exalting.”
[Goodall] grew up in a Christian family, but identifies as spiritual rather than religious. “When I’m out in nature, especially when I’m alone, I feel a really strong spiritual connection with the natural world on which we depend.”
She’s not antagonistic to religion… and that’s enough for the Templeton people to give her the reward.
I could go on about the problems with the prize, but Goodall isn’t really the issue here. She’s done important work in her field.
But here’s where things get amusing: Christian fundamentalists aren’t handling this announcement well. Rather than celebrate anyone who supposedly merges the worlds of science and religion, the people at the Discovery Institute say Goodall doesn’t go far enough in honoring their vision of God:
… Science can’t explain everything, Goodall is convinced. “We’ve got finite minds,” she tells [Religion News Service], “And the universe is infinite. When science says, ‘We’ve got it all worked out — there’s the Big Bang that created the universe.’ Well, what created the Big Bang?”
Yet whatever or whoever this intelligence might be in Goodall’s mind, she still maintains He/She/It hasn’t created human beings as uniquely valuable. She dismisses her simplistic childhood view that our species is “elevated onto a pinnacle, separate from all the others.” Like Darwin in his Descent of Man, she would say it’s far humbler for us to see ourselves as “created from animals.”
… not only does theism better explain the structure of the universe, it provides a way to ground the exceptional nature of the human species that we instinctively intuit, even though brilliant scientists like Goodall have sadly conditioned themselves to reject it.
Leave it to the Discovery Institute people to criticize Goodall for still respecting science despite all her God talk. There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to the Templeton Foundation, yet they’re going after Goodall.
I can’t help but be amused that the Intelligent Design crowd found something to whine about even as the Templeton Foundation continues to further anti-science advocacy.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)