Martin Rees just won the Templeton Prize for Science and Religion

Martin Rees just won the Templeton Prize for Science and Religion

Martin Rees wins the Templeton Foundation Prize for 2011.

Martin Rees just won the Templeton Prize for Science and Religion for 2011.  In response, the UK’s Guardian newspaper posted a somewhat cranky article here.  Here are some of their comments:

In the journal Nature last month, Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, said the Templeton Foundation was “sneakier than the Creationists” and alleged that the organisation tried to instil religious values in science. “It claims to be on the side of science, but wants to make faith a virtue,” Coyne said.

Sir Harry Kroto, a British scientist who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1996 and works at Florida State University, told the Guardian that the “congenital wishful thinking” embodied by religion made it incompatible with science. “There is no problem, with a million-quid lure to hook a few eminent scientists, to say that they personally see no conflict between science and religion, but they are suffering from a form of intellectual schizophrenia,” he said.

Rees got in some good licks in return:

Rees launched another attack on his Cambridge colleague Stephen Hawking, who in the week his latest book hit the shelves last year declared there was no need for a creator God. “I know Stephen Hawking well enough to know that he has read little philosophy and less theology, so I don’t think his views should be taken with any special weight,” Rees said. “I’m not prepared to pronounce on these things. I think it’s rather foolish when scientists do.”

And:

“Doing science made me realise that even the simplest things are hard to understand and that makes me suspicious of people who believe they’ve got anything more than an incomplete and metaphorical understanding of any deep aspect of reality,” he told the Guardian. “I participate in occasional religious services which are the customs of the society I grew up in. I’m not allergic to religion.”

Some interesting letters in response to the article are here.

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