Templeton Foundation and Santorum Losing Faith in ID?

| 218 Comments | 1 TrackBack

Update: November 15, 2005. The Templeton Foundation has issued a statement objecting to the implication that they have ever been a supporter of ID. The statement makes it clear that they do not support ID, and that on those occasions where foundation money went to ID supporters, it was for purposes other than supporting ID research. The statement begins:

Today the WSJ ran a front page story mentioning the John Templeton Foundation in a way suggesting that the Foundation has been a concerted patron and sponsor of the so-called Intelligent Design (“ID”) position (such as is associated with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the writers Philip Johnson, William Dembski, Michael Behe and others). This is false information. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The John Templeton Foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars in support to research academics who are critical of the anti-evolution ID position. Any careful and factual analysis of actual events will find that the John Templeton Foundation has been in fact the chief sponsor of university courses, lectures and academic research which variously have argued against the anti-evolution “ID” position. It is scandalous for a distinguished paper to misinform the public in this way.

In light of this, I apologize for suggesting that the Foundation was losing faith in ID, when it seems, in fact, they never had any faith in it to begin with. I still regard it as significant, however, that a foundation dedicated to bridging the gap between science and religion would wish to distance itself, with considerable passion, from ID.


The website of the Beaver County Times and Allegheny Times is reporting that Senator Rick Santorum has reversed his position on teaching ID in science classes:

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Saturday that he doesn't believe that intelligent design belongs in the science classroom.

Santorum's comments to The Times are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a “legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom.”

But on Saturday, the Republican said that, “Science leads you where it leads you.”

And later:

Though Santorum said he believes that intelligent design is “a legitimate issue,” he doesn't believe it should be taught in the classroom, adding that he had concerns about some parts of the theory.

Santorum is one of the most conservative Senators around, and he is a darling of the Religious Right. Consequently, this flip-flop is highly significant. I provide some further commentary here.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today (see Tara Smith's post below for further commentary on this article) that the Templeton Foundation, which funds projects designed to find harmony between science and religion, is losing interest in ID:

Foundation staff members now say that intelligent design hasn't yielded as much research as they'd hoped. Mr. Templeton, who chairs the foundation and will turn 93 later this month, believes "the creation-evolution argument is a waste of time," says Paul Wason, the foundation's director of science and religion programs. Mr. Wason adds that Mr. Templeton is more interested in applying the scientific method to exploring spiritual questions such as the nature of forgiveness. Nevertheless, staff members remain reluctant to dismiss intelligent design entirely, in part because the doctrine's popularity could help achieve the foundation's goal of persuading evangelical Christians to pursue scientific careers. The foundation also complains that academia is too quick to censor the doctrine.

Good news all around. I offer some further thoughts on the WSJ article here and here.

218 Comments

Santorum has been subtly moderating for a while now. I’d hate to think the explanation is as crass as the 2006 election and his standing in the polls. Rather, I would call it a dawning awareness in little Ricky’s mind that he is not the junior senator from Alabama.

But on Saturday, the Republican said that, “Science leads you where it leads you.”

Say what? Science certainly didn’t lead him where he’s gone the last several years.

I suggest that instead, he has sensed a shift in the political winds. Maybe he understands that the Creationists are certainly going to lose in Kitzmiller v. Dover. Undoubtedly he noticed the results of the Dover school board elections.

Santorum just continues to be a lackey for the Discovery Institute. The Discovery Institute wants people to think they don’t want intelligent design creationism taught in schools. Santorum is more than happy to spread their propaganda, especially when it makes him look like he’s less of a lackey.

I have thought for a while now that teaching ID in the schools is premature. My position is that ID should wait for 10 or 15 years and do the hard work of coming up with a more secure scientific foundation for their position. Once they have done that they will win over more of the scientific community and only then should the theory be taught in high school.

he doesn’t believe it should be taught in the classroom, adding that he had concerns about some parts of the theory.

[guffaw]

Try this little thought experiment. Suppose, for a moment, that Bush and the Christian Right were riding as high in the polls as they were a few years ago. For that matter, suppose Santorum himself were not tanking in the polls. How high do you estimate the probability that his considerable scientific acumen would have developed “concerns” about these “parts” of “the theory”?

Honestly. I keep thinking there must be some heights of cynicism beyond even these guys. I keep being wrong.

My position is that ID should wait for 10 or 15 years and do the hard work of coming up with a more secure scientific foundation for their position.

There’s “hard work” and there’s “a snowball’s chance.” It should have occured to you that 1)There’s nobody that’s interested in doing that work, and 2)ID has had your 10 or 15 years already, and has exactly squat to show for it, and finally, 3)A non-existent foundation cannot be made “more” anything.

Problem is theonomo, ID doesn’t have a model from which to derive testable hypotheses. Without such a model, you can’t even start the process of doing the hard work of supporting the “theory”. That’s why you haven’t seen a single novel discovery come from any ID ‘scientist’ using ID - there’s no basis from which to make such a discovery. ID is scientifically vacuous (or sterile or impotent, whatever terminology you like).

Mr. Wason adds that Mr. Templeton is more interested in applying the scientific method to exploring spiritual questions such as the nature of forgiveness.

Is that really a “spiritual” question? It sounds more like anthropology or sociology to me.

Or is he talking about the state of Being Forgiven, which is yet another thing the scientific method is ill-equipped to measure?

He’s just aligning himself with the Discovery Institute message. When he thought the message was “teach ID,” he went around supporting the notion of teaching ID. Now he realises the message has mutated to “teach the controversy” or “teach the arguments against evolution,” he’s adjusted his support to match. Once the retooled Supreme Court gives the go-ahead to teach creationism in any and all forms in school, he’ll get behind that message. This is simple opportunism: the typical creationist “do what it takes to get what you want” approach.

the argument that Santorum Rub ™ just got a phone call from DI telling him to back off seems the most plausible to me as well.

the politics haven’t changed enough to warrant a total about face; remember the furor in the extreme right that had a significant impact on the Harriet Miers withdrawl?

this last vote was more on local issues than national ones.

I wish it were possible to buy stock in ID and short sell the Grand Darwinian Creation Myth. You guys would all be lining up to be my suckers.

Unfortunately for the DI wedge strategy, while Americans aren’t overwhelmingly thrilled with naturalistic evolution, they are quite enamored of science’s in almost all other respects.

What’s more, I think most Americans have a intuitive grasp of rational inquiry, since so much of what people do in an information age society depends heavily on just that.

As the outcome of the Dover case shows. When faced with the profound disconnect between ID/Creationism and naturalistic evolution, voters went with rational inquiry.

I was just as surprised as anyone by the school board election outcome. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

And perhaps Sen Santorum isn’t as immune to that disconnect as many here believe (NB: I am not a Santorum fan.)

the Grand Darwinian Creation Myth

Ah. We’re dealing with faith. And perhaps the time may come when some politician or judge passes or “finds” a law that says science need no longer be based on facts and evidence, and that magical hand-waving, without testing, suffices. Theonomo would be dancing in the streets, until he got sick…

naturalistic evolution

that’s like saying “scientific physics”.

the point being that identifying evolution as specifically naturalistic is a redundancy.

science is based on naturalistic assumptions, the scientific method only works if we base it on such assumptions to begin with.

the whole argument of “naturalism” reminds me of the tactic that republicans over the last 30 years have used to make the word “liberal” seem like something one should use soap to clean up after saying.

don’t fall for it.

Actually, I suspect that I’m more concerned with facts and evidence than you are. You rule out an entire class of possible explanations (i.e., anything that has to do with God) before you even begin to look at the evidence. I don’t. I’m happy with Naturalism and I am happy with Theism – it just looks to me like Theism is the more sensible position given the evidence.

science is based on naturalistic assumptions, the scientific method only works if we base it on such assumptions to begin with.

And if those assumptions are incorrect, then you will arrive at incorrect conclusions.

thenomo appears to forget that he can readily invest in “ID” if he so chooses.

all he has to do is donate all of his worldly good to the Discovery Institute, whose strategies have a proven trackrecord of success.

so.. the question then arises, why hasn’t he already done that?

does he have a better strategy to invest in than that of DI?

oh please tell us ‘nomo whatever would that be? will you make an ngo or corporation out of it for everyone to invest in?

why not?

And if those assumptions are incorrect, then you will arrive at incorrect conclusions.

feel free to tell us all how science without naturalistic assumptions works there, ‘nomo.

I’m waiting.

You rule out an entire class of possible explanations

WinAce Wrote:

- JS

Sir TJ Wrote:

science is based on naturalistic assumptions, the scientific method only works if we base it on such assumptions to begin with.

the whole argument of “naturalism” reminds me of the tactic that republicans over the last 30 years have used to make the word “liberal” seem like something one should use soap to clean up after saying.

don’t fall for it.

Actually, I think (and I stole this from someone else, so I don’t claim originality) that the introduction of ‘natural’ into the discussion produces no end of trouble.

Science investigates that which can be investigated. If Gods existed, and could be examined in an empirical, objective, repeatable fashion, then Gods would be the province of science.

But demanding ‘presumed naturalism’ is phrasing things too strongly - in my new-found opinion.

I hope Dave Barry extends his vacation – you can’t make this stuff up.

Theonomo said:

I wish it were possible to buy stock in ID and short sell the Grand Darwinian Creation Myth. You guys would all be lining up to be my suckers.

You can buy stock in Darwnian theory. Go to the New York Stock Exchange, look for Pfizer, Genentech, Merck, ADM, or any other large agricultural products or pharmaceutical products firm that is deeply entrenched in research.

You can’t buy stock in ID, not even to sell it short. There is no practical application for hoo-haw, and there is not a single corporation in the world willing to waste its investors’ money on ID-based applications.

I wish creationists of all stripes, IDists included, would wake up and smell the coffee.

Theonomo, only that stuff that God chooses to hide supernaturally is ruled out of science. All the rest of God’s creation is available for research, and is the topic of biology, chemistry and physics. You ask that we claim most of God’s creation is wrong, and that the only stuff we know is what we can’t see. That’s silly.

You’re asking that we eschew most of God’s creation to hunt for ghosts. You’ve been watching too many Bill Murray movies.

“Actually, I suspect that I’m more concerned with facts and evidence than you are.”

I suspect you’re wrong and have some amusing definitions of “facts” and “evidence” that don’t even remotely resemblance to those of science. I suspect, like Santorum, you are merrily telling the world what the Discovery Institute tells you.

Santorum loves Big Brother.

But demanding ‘presumed naturalism’ is phrasing things too strongly - in my new-found opinion

My point is that the definition of the word in the scientific community was so well understood as to become part of the accepted definition of science itself. Now we find a rephrasing of the definition of the word by those who have no understanding of what it means to have influenced the decision to use it to begin with?

bah. the next word you use to describe naturalistic methods will be just as readily abused by those who simply want to rewrite the whole definition of science to begin with, just like those in Kansas did.

If you want to argue political expediance for dropping the term, then we proceed on the same slippery slope that the creationists want us to.

I may be sounding a bit extreme here, but unless the words themselves are made clear, why wouldn’t any “reasonable” person conclude that calling science:

“Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

is just fine, eh?

essentially replacing “natural” in the original definition:

“Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.”

with “logical argument” essentially makes science equivalent in nature to philosophy, which is just one step from calling it religion.

that’s exactly what creationists want.

no, we need to stand by and repeatedly explain exactly why the term “natural explanations” is such a key point to the definition of science to begin with, otherwise we not only fail evolutionary biology specifically, but fail to educate our students as to what the scientific method is to begin with.

But demanding ‘presumed naturalism’ is phrasing things too strongly - in my new-found opinion.

moreover, there is a great difference between the words presumption and assumption.

there can be “presumed naturalistic explanations”, and that would be based on someone’s individual experience that non-naturalistic explanations haven’t been shown to be very predictive.

that is far different than sayin that we begin scientific investigations with the assumption of naturalism to begin with.

there is no “presumption” of supernatural or natural explanations to any given phenomonen at the root of scientific investigation, it’s simply that the scientific method cannot be applied without an assumption of natural explanations to begin with.

Science investigates that which can be investigated

this IS the definition of naturalism, essentially. sorry to belabor the point.

Do a google search on “santorum” and go to the first website on that list. HAHA. Poetic justice!

“an entire class of possible explanations”?

I’m sorry, but the term “supernatural explanation” is an oxymoron. Think about it: a “supernatural explanation” (a.k.a. “miracle”) is invoked by those who have no explanation and are uncomfortable with admitting (as science often does) “we don’t know.” Or, to put it another way, if you can explain it, it’s not a miracle.

I’m sorry, but the term “supernatural explanation” is an oxymoron

you know, that’s a rather obvious point i hadn’t even thought about. I guess we just use the term “supernatural explanation” for discussion purposes.

care to suggest a better phrase?

how bout “supernatural conceptualization?”

Regarding the Santorum bit, this is old news.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]_vs_san.html

He’s just using the DI’s standard issue talking point, which serves to clarify things by throwing mud all over them.

For now, suffice it to say that your rules A-F do no more than skim the very surface of scientific methodology, and cannot do the job you seem to want them to do: prove that God is supernatural. If you dispute that, then feel free to write a paper on it. If I see it out there someplace, I’ll be happy to critique it for you at length.

Was that a deliberate misrepresentation of my point of view? I was arguing against science having any ability to predict/prove anything about God. Bah! Begone with you.You are using debating trickery.

And so hemorrhode flees, having accomplished nothing but exposing himmself as a coward, liar, moron and bigot.

Hey Neurode, if ID isn’t about religion, then why on earth do you keep dragging your god-thing into the discussion?

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on November 18, 2005 06:57 PM (e) (s)

Hey Neurode, if ID isn’t about religion, then why on earth do you keep dragging your god-thing into the discussion?

That was me, but no I don’t think my religious view has any more claim to accuracy than anyone else’s. I was just trying to get neurode to give an honest answer to where he stands, by giving him my opinion on God and science. I failed miserably.

Hey Neurode, if ID isn’t about religion, then why on earth do you keep dragging your god-thing into the discussion?

That was me

No, I’ve seen Neurode’s blathering before. Like every other IDer, he can’t go ten minutes without preaching about his religious opinions. When he declares here that ID isn’t about religion (because it is convenient for him to declare so here), he is flat-out lying to us. And he KNOWS he is lying to us, since he himself drags his religious opinions into it at every available opportunity (unless, of course, it’s convenient for him to deny it).

Just like Dembski, Meyer and all the others.

They are evasive dishonest liars, all.

They are evasive dishonest liars, all.

That was the conclusion that I came to. After originally being persuaded that ID had something to offer. The dishonesty of the main supporters led to believe they were full of hot air ( to use a polite phrase).

Nevertheless, staff members remain reluctant to dismiss intelligent design entirely, in part because the doctrine’s popularity could help achieve the foundation’s goal of persuading evangelical Christians to pursue scientific careers. The foundation also complains that academia is too quick to censor the doctrine.

I find the fact that the Templeton Foundation is ambivalent to ID not surprising since they tend to be more on the irenic side. That being said, I believe they have it backwards here. ID keeps evangelical Christians from pursuing scientific careers. The reason it does is because it creates a false dichotomy between faith and science. If a young scientist who is also an evangelical Christian believes the earth is old or that evolution is how “intelligent design” works they tend to hide that belief because ID is so popular. For many, this can only go on so long and eventually they choose between the two, usually at the expense of their faith.

Old Earth creationist, Hugh Ross, has complained that the age of the earth has become an essential doctrine for evangelicals. (Evangelicals tend to divide doctrines into essential and non-essential categories. What separates irenic from polemic Evangelicals is usually the size of these sets.) The same is even more true concerning evolution. The censoring of doctrine within the evangelical church should more concern the Templeton Foundation than the censoring of ID within academia. Maybe ID should teach the controversy within the church. ID is popular because many without scientific backgrounds believe that it is effective. What the example above shows is the support is “soft” and once the lack of effectiveness becomes more apparent then it will become far less popular.

Hddl tht’s th snst thng ‘v sn y pst.(gggl)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on November 14, 2005 1:45 PM.

IA and ID in the WSJ; update on CfS was the previous entry in this blog.

Fasting-breaking research on breaking (and flying!) spaghetti is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter