Sunday, June 06, 2010

Science and (yawn) religion notes

1) Let's open with the leading philosopher of social constructivism in science:
Be assured, I am not going to tackle the most boring question known to man (just after the so called Mind/Body problem, that is) namely the pont aux ¢nes, as we say in French, of Science and Religion. Nothing ever comes out of these disquisitions...The fights, reconciliations, ceasefires between those two "world views" are as instructive as a boxing match in a pitch black tunnel. Even if there are winners and losers (there do seem to be some from the cries of victory and screams of pain you can still hear), the winners and losers are ultimately indistinguishable anyway, since they both accept an unscientific science and an irreligious religion.
-- Bruno Latour, Will Non-humans be Saved? An Argument in Ecotheology

2) Here's a long, decent article on the Templeton Foundation, which has fascinated me for awhile now. But its blending of science and religion may be secondary to its blending of financial speculation and religion:
When Templeton created his foundation in the mid-'80s, conventional wisdom still largely held that religion would retreat as science secularized the world. But in Templeton's eyes, this made religion the perfect investment. "To get a bargain price," he would say, "you've got to look for where the public is most frightened and pessimistic." Religion's potential value far exceeded the asking price; a lot could be done with a little.
3) Herman Wouk, of all people, has a new book out on S-and-R. I've never read anything by Wouk, but I sort of thought he had a reputation as a middlebrow writer even in my parent's generation forty years ago, and I'm somewhat surprised to find out he's alive. Hm, according the Amazon he's 94, and the book is "about his encounters with famous scientists, foremost among them physicist Richard Feynman, who suggested Wouk learn the "œlanguage God talks" -- calculus. Wouk tried, unsuccessfully..." Sounds fascinating. It seems like this is a topic on which pretty much everyone thinks they are qualified to have an opinion, and write a book. The market may be glutted (here's another particularly boring-sounding one), which is too bad, since I had a plan for writing my own and making a bid for the Templeton Prize.

4) I randomly butted into a conversation on the dread topic here, defending both the Dalai Lama and liberal San Francisco Jews against radical atheists. I guess I find the New Atheists even more boring than the attempted reconcilers like those above -- since I could easily make all their arguments myself if I had to, they have nothing interesting to offer me.


Much more in past postings, like here, here, here, here, here, and here -- the last one contains a pretty good framework for thinking about this stuff.

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