Templeton Foundation and Santorum Losing Faith in ID?

Update: November 15, 2005. The Templeton Foundation has issued <a href=http://www.templeton.org/topics_in_the_news/Official_Statement.asp>a statement</a> 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. </blockquote> 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 <a href=http://www.timesonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15568651&BRD=2305&PAG=461&dept_id=478569&rfi=6>is reporting</a> 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 <a href=http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/santorum-backs-away-from-id.html>here</a>.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is <a href=http://online.wsj.com/article_email/article_print/SB113193754738896194-lMyQjAxMDE1MzExNDkxMzQ3Wj.html>reporting today</a> (see Tara Smith's <a href=http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/ia_and_id_in_th.html>post below</a> 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 <a href=http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/god-bless-wall-street-journal.html>here</a> and <a href=http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/11/templeton-foundation-and-id.html>here</a>.