Sean Carroll in Cosmic Variance:
I have to agree with Jerry Coyne here: the program on Faith and Science at this year’s World Science Festival is a mistake. I went to last year’s Festival, and I have great respect for Brian Greene and Tracy Day for bringing together such a massive undertaking. It would be better if they didn’t take money from the Templeton Foundation, but money has to come from somewhere, and I’m not the one paying the bills. I don’t even mind having a panel that talks about religion — it’s a big part of many people’s lives, and there are plenty of issues to be discussed at the intersection of science and religion.
But it would be a lot more intellectually respectable to present a balanced discussion of those issues, rather than the one that is actually lined up. The panelists include two scientists who are Templeton Prize winners — Francisco Ayala and Paul Davies — as well as two scholars of religion — Elaine Pagels and Thupten Jinpa. Nothing in principle wrong with any of those people, but there is a somewhat obvious omission of a certain viewpoint: those of us who think that science and religion are not compatible. And there are a lot of us! Also, we’re right. A panel like this does a true disservice to people who are curious about these questions and could benefit from a rigorous airing of the issues, rather than a whitewash where everyone mumbles pleasantly about how we should all just get along.