a notch in john templeton’s spiritual bedpost
Religious activists in the United States are hell bent on saving your soul whether you want them to or not. Like those caricature salesmen in sitcoms and comedies, they don’t take no for an answer because while they’re trying to save you from eternal hellfire, the most ardent proselytizers of them all are doing it primarily for their personal satisfaction. To them, you are a notch in their spiritual bedpost. A conversion that would add to their body of work in swaying people to their faith. They are the soldiers of God and you are their latest conquest.
With this mindset, the John Templeton Foundation invaded popular science sites, showing flash ads which ask you whether evolution can truly explain human nature and inviting you to check what a team of “experts” has to say on the subject. The short answer to that question is yes. Humans are products of natural selection which means that who and what we are was shaped by climate change, predation and genetic drifts over the millions of years that our branch of the evolutionary tree split from early hominids and ended up with us. What do the experts presented by the Foundation think? I’m not sure since most of them tended to drift into vague musings reminiscent of Renaissance theology with the word evolution randomly thrown in. The goal of the ad is to show that there’s a grand scientific debate about the origins of human nature and that those who held an empirical view are in the minority, the opposite of what actually happens in scientific institutions.
But Templeton doesn’t just throw money around on vague proselytizing. He and his team are looking to invest in projects that tackle what his website calls “the big questions” about the life, universe and everything. It’s as though they’re trying to compete with Wolfram for building Deep Thought with one little twist. The projects they want to promote aren’t the ones currently being done by biologists, psychologists, physicists or astronomers in academic institutions around the world. Instead, they want to use their money towards fuzzy apologetics in scientific guises, projects like Francis Collins’ BioLogos. Much like Deep Thought, they thought long and hard about what the answer to all these questions should be and came up with their own 42; a supreme deity. And just like the number 42, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just a a placeholder that makes them feel good.
And so, having decided on the placeholder, the late John Templeton and now his son, John M. Templeton, an Evangelical Christian with a medical degree, went out to spread their beliefs in a roundabout way. Rather than just admit their religious goals, they started recruiting scientists sympathetic to their cause and slyly handing them money to promote their beliefs, to find a way to cram them into scientific theories. See, it’s not enough for the Foundation to support real scientific research. That real research focuses on empirical evidence. It tells us things without having to resort to the meaningless placeholder that makes them feel good which to them is a travesty that must be corrected. So by clumsily disguising their mission in scientific buzzwords and launching advertising campaigns on the sites where skeptics and unbelievers are most likely to be found, they hope to challenge the unbelievers from within and shake their trust in materialistic, objective science. And to think that all this money could’ve been spent on something actually worthwhile…