The Templeton Foundation Distances Itself from “Intelligent Design”

| 35 Comments

On Wesley R. Elsberry’s blog at antievolution.org, Wesley discusses the recently stated position of the Templeton Foundation on “Intelligent Design”.

The Templeton Foundation, the deep pockets people for science and religion studies, says that its stance has been misconstrued on “intelligent design” in letters to the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street journal.

Pamela Thompson, Templeton Foundation spokesperson, says in her letter to the LA Times:

We do not believe that the science underpinning the intelligent-design movement is sound, we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and the foundation is a nonpolitical entity and does not engage in or support political movements.

The statement is probably overdone a bit. The Templeton Foundation did fund a number of projects and people in the “intelligent design” creationism movement. While early recognition of the depth of worthlessness and the essential political nature of “intelligent design” creationism was probably too much to ask, certainly by mid-2000 these elements should have been clear to granting entities like the Templeton Foundation. Templeton’s retreat from IDC, though, only became apparent in 2005.

Good to know that even foundations like the Templeton Foundation are taking a clear distance from the scientific vacuity known as Intelligent Design. Not surprising, ID has remained void of scientific research and proposals. At best, we have some pseudo-mathematical musings and an overarching appeal to ignorance.

The article in question continues to point out that

In the past we have given grants to scientists who have gone on to identify themselves as members of the intelligent-design community. We understand that this could be misconstrued by some to suggest that we implicitly support the movement, but this was not our intention at the time, nor is it today.

Good to know the ‘rest of the story’. I wonder how ID is going to spin these latest revelations which show how people are abandoning what has become known as a scientifically vacuous movement and the theologically risky philosophy.

35 Comments

It seems that some ID proponents are arguing that Templeton did fund some ID relevant research, showing thus that ID has indeed a research program. Predictably, the examples cited do not meet the status of ID relevant research. Instead, it involves issues of fine tuning (Gonzalez et al) or issues related to protein evolution (Behe). As should be self evident, none of these research programs have much if any relationship to Intelligent Design. Of course, ID often confuses evidence against Darwinian evolution as evidence in favor of Intelligent Design but it should be clear to all that there exists no ID relevant research program. Which should come as no surprise because ID lacks any foundation for such a program. Such is the fate of ideas based on ignorance, and founded in a negative.

It seems that more and more people are becoming aware of the scientific farce, known as Intelligent Design, which through its appeal of ignorance has caused much damage to science and theology alike.

We do not believe that the science underpinning the intelligent-design movement is sound

I admire the Templeton Foundation for admitting this.

Given what we’ve seen so many times from folk like Dembski and Behe, does anyone think that IDers would be clear and frank in their grant applications to the Templeton Foundation that they’d be doing research they hoped would bolster ID?

I wonder how ID is going to spin these latest revelations which show how people are abandoning what has become known as a scientifically vacuous movement and the theologically risky philosophy.

http://www.researchintelligentdesig[…]n_Foundation

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]id-research/

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]er-struggle/

Looks like the old, ‘pull out the live dog once one has been accused of killing nine men and a dog,’ act. It appears that some of the pathetic details were incorrect, and they’re hoping that the overall thrust of the Templeton’s experience with ID, that it is essentially useless, will be forgotten.

As usual, they’re producing spin much faster than they’re doing any science (if, indeed, they are doing any science at all, let alone actual science to test ID (vs. trying to poke holes in the useful theory)).

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s390

Didn’t the Templeton Foundation recently request submissions for research funds for ID research, and get no takers? I realize this isn’t the sort of information the DI would mention. But the implications are significant - Here is a bunch of money. All you have to do is lay out any research program whatsoever that will produce positive evidence of ID (rather than negative evidence against any alternative explanation), and the money is all yours! Even an idea for research is worth money. Here it is. Anyone? Anyone at all?

The Templeton Foundation called their bluff. Apparently neither the TF nor the DI is particularly eager to admit it, though. Maybe the TF people are a bit embarrassed that their preferences overrode their common sense, to the point where they actually believed the DI was telling the truth.

BIG TENT! BIG TENT!

The new DI tack appears to be that there was no Templeton “call for ID research”, see:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]er-struggle/ http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]id-research/ and http://www.researchintelligentdesig[…]n_Foundation

Is there any evidence of such a call for ID research? I don’t know. I do find it odd that although the NY Times article that originally made the claim (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/w[…]&emc=rss) appeared in Dec, 2005, Mr. Harper waited a *full year* to correct the claim? (From the above link, the source for the fact that the nyTimes “lied” is personal communication, Dec, 2006: Charles L. Harper, Jr., “Inquiry about the Templeton Foundation,” personal email communication from Charles L. Harper, Jr. to Joseph C. Campana (November 14, 2006, 2:38pm))

A year or two or three ago, IIRC, the Templeton Foundation awarded Stuart Kauffman and Dembski their theretofore prestigious Templeton Award (or whatever it’s called) for pioneering work on the frontier between science and religion.

Are they admitting now that that was a mistake (the Dembski part, anyway)? Or were they recognizing some work that Dembski’s done other than ID-huckstering?

Well this is absurd, but as my post with the many links is not appearing in a timely fashion, I’ll put them in a post at a time. Here’s a bunch of obscurantist blather from “Research intelligent design”:

http://www.researchintelligentdesig[…]n_Foundation

And here’s Denyse’s excuse for the dissing of ID that even the apologists can’t ignore is happening:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]er-struggle/

Didn’t the Templeton Foundation recently request submissions for research funds for ID research, and get no takers?

According to the ID apologetics, the Templeton never explicitly called out ID researchers (sic) to submit research. Seems that ID researchers (sic) did not have the time (or research?) worthy of submitting for funding. Templeton Foundation has significant funds for these activities so it seems quite surprising that ID has not submitted their ‘research plans’ for closer scrutiny.

That again shows the scientific vacuity of ID.

A year or two or three ago, IIRC, the Templeton Foundation awarded Stuart Kauffman and Dembski their theretofore prestigious Templeton Award (or whatever it’s called) for pioneering work on the frontier between science and religion.

Was that not the Trotter prize? See DI press release

continuing from my previous posts (system went down and prevented a more timely continuation):

Never mind that the power struggle, if it exists, might be because some want nonsense to be funded and others do not.

Anyhow, their whole reaction reminds me of the old story of triumphantly producing the dog when one is accused of killing nine men and a dog. As usual, when caught with their pants down they’re pointing out that the other guy is holding his fork wrong.

So it was reported that they didn’t fund “ID research”, and some things “related to ID” (as the IDiots spin it) were funded. They’re not bringing up any research that pointed to design (without relying on the false dichotomy that what isn’t explained “naturally” defaults to “design”), and the subsequent disillusionment of Templeton with the lack of results is being papered over (incongruously at that, as Research ID takes one tack and O’Leary tries another one—the typical attempt to throw enough explanations at a problem in the hope that one might work (get a clue, no non-trivial explanation from IDists has ever worked)).

Essentially, Research ID is confirming the fact that Templeton has discovered ID to be useless, though they weren’t (all—some were) bright enough to recognize its failings in the beginning. But they’re holding up the dog with as much chutzpah as they can muster.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

The ID crowd is spinning the Templeton statement. While it seems likely that no explicit call for papers went out to the ID crowd, they had plenty of opportunity to submit relevant proposals, and yet none were submitted that were relevant to the topic of Intelligent Design.

The Templeton Foundation and its spokespeople are well aware that Behe’s work nor Gonzalez’s work have any real impact on the topic of Intelligent Design. After all, showing that a particular mechanism is unlikely under particular circumstances has no relevance to the validity of ID.

What seems the most important message is that not only science has come to conclude that Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous but also that many religious foundations are distancing themselves from Intelligent Design, realizing not only its scientific vacuity but also its poorly developed and risky theology.

Such is the cost of having misled people as to the true nature of ID.

Russell-

Neither Kauffman nor Dembski has won the Templeton Prize.

Check out http://www.templetonprize.org/bios_recent.html

Not often you find a list that has Mother Theresa, Solzhenitsyn, Paul Davies, Freeman Dyson and Chuck Colson!

I don’t believe the TF has nothing to be ashamed by offering money for ID related research. It was the “ID community” the one called up to the plate. And they failed as expected. No ideas, no substance, no nothing. That is what the ID is about. Oh, except for PR and talking to the fundies.……

Thanks, PvM and Aryaman. You’re right. It was the Trotter Prize I was thinking of.

I was listening to one of Ken Ham’s colleagues from Answers in Genesis on the radio the other day. When asked about the dearth of creationist research out there his response was that creationists have as much evidence as evolutionists do–it’s just a matter of interpretation.

Note that he said “evidence” and not “data”. The deliberate confusion of evidence with data had never really stood out to me before now. I’ve always known that creationists are nothing more than armchair critics, I hadn’t really realized how truly disingenuous they really are. Not only don’t they do their own fieldwork, they can’t even be bothered to sift through the empirical data of others looking for evidence to support their claims. Instead, no matter what evidence scientists find, they simply claim it supports their creationist beliefs.

ID advocates are no better. They never look the raw data. And since they know they won’t find anything to support their claims anyway, there’s no point in doing so. Far easier for them to simply adopt the evidence as their own and quickly put out a superficial press release “refuting” the scientific findings of the day.

So congratulations to the Templeton Foundation for finally washing their hands of ID. Given the nature of the organization, I suspect there are plenty of people there who wanted ID to succeed, so it’s to their credit that they were able to see past the spin and obfuscation put out by the DI and their cohorts.

Russell Wrote:

A year or two or three ago, IIRC, the Templeton Foundation awarded Stuart Kauffman and Dembski their theretofore prestigious Templeton Award (or whatever it’s called) for pioneering work on the frontier between science and religion.

Good that you recanted on this statement. And the name of the award, if you are still interested, is the “Templeton Prize (for Progress toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities)”.

But this makes me wonder why in general do folks publish statements before doing even the most minimal research about it? That obviously applies to creationists and ID proponents, but it also applies sometimes to those who think of themselves as pro-science. However, IMO the latter have more to answer for, simply because being pro-science implies a commitment to tell the whole story as much as it can be determined.

In this case, for example, the required ‘research’ would have been so absolutely minimal - a single Google search on Templeton Winners or something like that would have pointed to a complete list of past recipients - as well as to the actual name of the award. Please don’t think I am singling out one person for criticism - I’m just using this example to make a point.

I don’t have any answer for this, except maybe to speculate that there is a natural but sad tendency for people to want to promote an agenda first, with accuracy lagging far behind.

I can’t wait to hear the spin from the ID proponents, how this seeming defeat is yet another great victory for ID!

I don’t have any answer for this, except maybe to speculate that there is a natural but sad tendency for people to want to promote an agenda first, with accuracy lagging far behind.

considering the original poster already admitted he confused templeton with trotter, perhaps you should reconsider how your post paints YOU as the one with the agenda.

But see here Pim, the IDists find the massive amounts of data churned out by practicing Darwinists to be completely sufficient to their purposes. As a number of them have said, why do more research when so many data exist in the libraries, all to be reinterpreted by the “right paradigm”? And anyway, biology is all really done as ID research, no matter that at the same time “Darwinism” is impeding scientific progress.

And I’ve even defended the reinterpretation as a legitimate concept. It is something that Einstein did, and indeed, as has often been the route to new understandings in physics and in the rest of the sciences.

There’s a huge difference between Einstein’s reinterpretation and IDist “reinterpretation” (does such lame apologetics even count as an “interpretation” in the context of science?), however. Einstein understood Newton, Maxwell, and others to have been doing good, very good, science, and he did not claim that they were holding science back because, of course, they were not. What is bizarre is the enormous trust that IDists place in the work of “Darwinists” even as they use ad hominems such as the following against them (UD, first page):

Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins so that the actual content of these sciences has become corrupted. The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview, but that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins. At the same time, intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution – an alternative that is finding increasing theoretical and empirical support. Hence, ID needs to be vigorously developed as a scientific, intellectual, and cultural project.

Ah yes, science is fundamentally flawed in the hands of “Darwinists” and the cosmologists, hence the IDists use their corrupted content in order to develop their own “theory”. Yes, science produces data in pure and unadulterated fashion even as it is hopelessly bound to a dogmatic deteriorating paradigm. “Materialism” has corrupted even the “actual content of these sciences,” while the data produced remains pristine and unexceptional, totally usable by the “true science” of ID as it mines the journals (note that it doesn’t mine them very deeply).

Can you imagine just how eager IDists would be to produce real data if they believed their own propaganda? To at last have uncorrupted data available for use, instead of Behe merely rearranging the fluff that he picked up from the journals? Ahmanson would pour tens of millions of dollars into this uncorrupted science, reaping tenfold or greater for his seed money.

They’re the biggest hypocrites around, with even their tiny amount faux ID science (only picking at the real science, not supplanting anything whatsoever) using the exact same “materialistic” methods as the evil Darwinists, and the much greater “argument” of theirs being made using the findings that they themselves accuse of being corrupted, they implicitly acknowledge how excellent the “Darwinist” research actually is. However, when they’re accusing the content of science as having been corrupted, they’re implicitly recognizing the fact that if “Darwinism” were as they portray it, there is no way that it could produce good usable results.

Is it surprising that UD is incoherent, when its basic criticisms of evolutionary theory are incompatible with each other?

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

And anyway, biology is all really done as ID research, no matter that at the same time “Darwinism” is impeding scientific progress.

Isn’t Davescott Springerbot over on Universally Dense fond of saying biology is just “stamp collecting”?

I think you’re right glen, if all science is is just a giant stamp collection, what more research needs be done.

all they need do is check out the ‘stamps’, and turn them upside-down and claim IC!

I hope PvM won’t take it as a personal offense if I say I find it humorous when apologetics needs apologists.

That said I’m glad that Templeton Foundation has started to weed out the worst nuttery.

Btw, on nuttery and science I have a recent anecdote, that also bears on TF’s agenda.

[anecdote] You may probably not be surprised when I say that I find not only crackpottery but also “just so stories” a problem for science. Ad hocs that has no support with either theory or data is all too common, in neuroscience or evolutionary psychology for example, and they distract from efforts to find knowledge. (They may be fine in philosophy. OTOH what says that philosophy finds knowledge? :-)

Now, a very foolish and active web crank used to propose that life was a forced outcome in a universe, because it allegedly produces high entropy and that was what drove his suggestions. Imagine my horror :-) when well-known environmental (‘anthropic’) cosmologist Bousso et al now has released a paper on “the Causal Entropic Principle”.

They use only thermodynamics and causality to assert that physical parameters are most likely to be found in the range of values for which the total entropy production within a causally connected region is maximized. ( http://www.arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-t[…]/0702115.pdf ) This may solve a longstanding problem of finding a robust statistical method for exploring environmental ideas.

Not only do this work seem to directly support less established ideas such as Jaynes’ Maximum entropy thermodynamics for non-equilibrium systems and Bayesian inference (who can be both subjective and easily lead to just “just so stories”).

They also solve the coincidence problem of why we see comparatively equal matter and vacuum energy densities right now. Typical observers (us) will exist when most of the entropy production in the causal diamond occurs. Which seems uncomfortably close to the crackpot’s “just so”.

What they really do is that they explain the fine-tuning of the cosmological constant by finding the reverse of the crackpot claim and disempower its suggestive coincidences. They also explore the component of “chance or necessity” that physicists usually don’t find palatable when studying fundamental laws, since a perfectly constrained law would be so suggestive and easily testable.

But in this case they have contact with both theory (the “causal diamond” is used in QM) and data (explains the worst fine tuning we know). The theory also had the power to make further predictions (coincidence problem). So it is far from a “just so story” itself, even if the testability is questionable. [/anecdote]

Such interesting exploration of the “chance” branch of cosmology that environmental cosmologists do disempower the delusive finetuning ideas of Barrow et al that TF has supported. It is not only ID that has problems with getting ‘design’ and teleology out of the usual false dichotomy.

But this makes me wonder why in general do folks publish statements before doing even the most minimal research about it? That obviously applies to creationists and ID proponents, but it also applies sometimes to those who think of themselves as pro-science. However, IMO the latter have more to answer for, simply because being pro-science implies a commitment to tell the whole story as much as it can be determined.

If extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, ordinary claims often demand less than ordinary evidence. Sometimes we get lazy and translate that to “no” evidence, especially (in this case) when the claim isn’t all that important to the issue at hand.

What’s different is that a) You usually won’t see IDists admitting they’re wrong, as Russell did above, even when it’s a minor point; and b) You’ll see them repeat the same falsified claims whenever they think they can get away with it.

In this case, for example, the required ‘research’ would have been so absolutely minimal - a single Google search on Templeton Winners or something like that would have pointed to a complete list of past recipients - as well as to the actual name of the award.

Indeed it would. By searching on “Templeton Foundation” I found my way to their main site. The Templeton Prize page there only lists winners back to 2002, but there was a link to the Templeton Prize site, and with a couple more clicks I found a list of Templeton prize winners dating to 1973, including Charles W. Colson in 1993. Colson is a creationist, author of Science and Evolution: Developing a Christian Worldview of Science and Evolution, and author of the foreword for William Dembski’s The Design Revolution.

Templeton’s retreat from IDC, though, only became apparent in 2005.

…which happens to be the same year as Kitzmiller vs. Dover. I wonder if the “retreat” (whatever that means) happened before or after the case started.

I see this as a positive step, especially considering that some authors have viewed TF as practically on par with DI in the past. But the war is far from over, unfortunately.

especially considering that some authors have viewed TF as practically on par with DI in the past.

oh no, there is a VERY large difference between the two.

the Templeton Foundation actually funds real attempts at research, and accepts the results regardless of implication. See for example, the study on prayer and recovery from surgery they funded last year, which showed a significant (barely) negative impact on recovery when the subject knew they were being prayed for (there was no positive effect of prayer on recovery in any of the subjects).

not a good result, but they accepted it, at least.

now the DI certainly would NOT have accepted those results, even IF they funded any research, which they simply don’t.

The Templeton foundation certainly has an agenda, but even they aren’t so stupid as to think that you can back-door science with just PR.

considering the original poster already admitted he confused templeton with trotter, perhaps you should reconsider how your post paints YOU as the one with the agenda.

It only paints him that way to someone agenda-driven with poor reading comprehension. Admitting to not doing even minimal research before making a false charge doesn’t change the fact of not doing even minimal research before making a false charge.

On Uncommon Descent, davescot has blown a virtual gasket :-). After showing the scientific vacuity behind Intelligent Design, Dave quickly expanded to other vacuous ideas such as global warming denial, confirming a certain trend amongst ID proponents.

Now Dave seems upset about the term “scientific vacuity” as an accurate description of Intelligent Design. Unable to address the issues, Dave ‘observes’

Davescot Wrote:

After reading yet another Pim van Meurs (PvM) rant at Panda’s Thumb and seeing him reuse for the umpteenth time the phrase “scientific vacuity of intelligent design” I thought it would be fun to see how the meme is faring and what other monkeys are aping it. Click here to take a stroll through the simian section of the zoo. Watch out for flying feces.

It only paints him that way to someone agenda-driven with poor reading comprehension.

you forgot to take your anti-asshole pills yesterday, didn’t you?

Can you imagine just how eager IDists would be to produce real data if they believed their own propaganda? To at last have uncorrupted data available for use, instead of Behe merely rearranging the fluff that he picked up from the journals? Ahmanson would pour tens of millions of dollars into this uncorrupted science, reaping tenfold or greater for his seed money.

I’ve emailed two editors of their ‘ID journal’, asking when the next issue comes out. No reply. I’ve now called ISCID’s office twice (609-924-4424). No one picks up.

Cut to Denyse O’Leary:

Not only did ID not die out after various court cases in the United States, but it is now pretty much an international thing - contrary to many predictions.

If it’s so international, why can’t I get someone at the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design to answer the damn phone?

you forgot to take your anti-asshole pills yesterday, didn’t you?

Oh, would those have innoculated me against you?

From what I have read so far. The writers of which I have read. Have not realy read “IE” literature. If they have. It is only to attack. Not to show any light. Let alone new light.

Many theories on both sides do not meet the standards that they expect of the other side. On themselives. Like many sport players. They fouis(sp) on the player-s and not on the ball or what can be proven in a test tube.…

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 27, 2007 10:46 PM.

Sean Carroll on Wisconsin Science Teachers’ Podcast was the previous entry in this blog.

Pictures 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 4.361

Site Meter