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Stephen Jay Gould’s Contempt for the John Templeton Foundation

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Yesterday Charles Harper issued a press release taking to task Daniel Golden for his piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he suggested that the John Templeton Foundation has been a patron or sponsor of Intelligent Design (for the press release, go here). In that press release, Harper ritualistically underscored just how much money and effort the John Templeton Foundation has spent on critiquing ID. In particular, he noted that

for almost a decade the John Templeton Foundation has been the major supporter of a substantial program at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the chief focus activities of which has been informing the public of the weakness of the ID position on modern evolutionary biology. (see: http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser) This program was founded under the advice and guidance of the prominent evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala when he was President of the AAAS, and was also supported by Stephen Jay Gould under his Presidency.

For Harper to cite Gould as an ally here is ironic since Gould had nothing but contempt for the John Templeton Foundation. In his book Rocks of Ages, Gould attacks what he calls the “syncretic school,” which embraces “the oldest fallacy of all as a central premise: the claim that science and religion should fuse to one big, happy family, or rather one big pod of peas, where the facts of science reinforce and validate the precepts of religion, and where God shows his hand (and mind) in the workings of nature.” (212)

Worse yet, as far as Gould is concerned, “the spectacular growth and success of science has turned the tables for modern versions of syncretism. Now the conclusions of science must be accepted a priori, and religious interpretations must be finessed and adjusted to match unimpeachable results from the magisterium of natural knowledge! The Big Bang happened, and we must now find God at this tumultuous origin.” (213)

And who is the worst offender here? Who, more than anyone, is responsible for this resurgence in syncretizing science and religion? Read on:

In the summer of 1998, a deluge of media hype enveloped the syncretist position, as though some startingly new and persuasive argument had been formulated, or some equally exciting and transforming discovery had been made. In fact, absolutely nothing of intellectual novelty had been added, as the same bad argments surfaced into a glare of publicity because the J. M. Templeton Foundation, established by its fabulously wealthy eponym to advance the syncretist program under the guise of more general and catholic (small c) discussion about science and religion, garnered a splash of media attention by spending 1.4 million bucks to hold a conference in Berkeley on “science and the spiritual quest.” (214)

Question: Would it help the Templeton Foundation to accept Intelligent Design if a Harvard professor as famous as Stephen Jay Gould could be found to support it?

Follow-up Question: If an equally prominent ID proponent treated the Templeton Foundation with Gould’s contempt, would the Templeton Foundation nonetheless fawn on him and invoke his name to counter less respectable elements in the science-religion dialogue?

Comments
Whatever, Dave. What you have exposed is that there is a legitimate debate about the nature of the mind and it's relationship to the metaphysical. Ignore it if you want... denial ain't just a river in egypt.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22penfield+experiment%22+&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en Zero hits. So much for the scholarly community citing the Penfield Experiment. Let's see about that quote you attribute to Penfield in a search that includes mystic sites: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22Penfield+risked+the+explanation+that+the+patient%22+&btnG=Search Ah, here we go. A couple references to it. http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:g1T_KaiqDE4J:www.savedbychrist.org/bibleFactsRead.asp%3FBibleFactsID%3D33%26MultiPart%3D28+%22Penfield+risked+the+explanation+that+the+patient%22+&hl=en Unfortunately I can't find anything at all that confirms Penfield thought there was a non-physical reality at work. Let's delve into that one. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Penfield+%22nonphysical+reality%22 Uh huh. About what I thought. I resent being forced to perform due diligence on your references, Bombadill, to expose them for what they are.DaveScot
November 18, 2005
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Won't even let me type it in. Anyway, you could probably google that one.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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Sorry it will not let me post this study. I have no idea why. I think this comment board filters out certain arbitrary key words or something.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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Study Published in "Resuscitation" in 2001, by Physician Sam Parnia & Peter Fenwick, Neuropsychiatrist of The Instititute of Psychiatry - London:Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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The Penfield Experiment (Renowned father of modern neurosurgery): "Penfield would stimulate electrically the proper motor cortex of conscious patients and challenge them to keep one hand from moving when the current was applied. The patient would seize this hand with the other hand and struggle to hold it still. Thus one hand under the control of the the electrical current and the other hand under the control of the patient's mind fought against each other. Penfield risked the explanation that the patient had not only a physical brain that was stimulated to action but also a nonphysical reality that interacted with the brain."Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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"The argument is that the physical aparatus is the “receiver”, not the necessarily the originator." Once again, there is not a scintilla of empirical evidence to support this claim. It may very well be true but there is no science that supports it. Everything science has tried shows that when the brain is dead the mind associated with it is gone too. Maybe the mind continues to exist on some other plane but that is the very definition of mysticism. If you don't like being called a mystic I suggest you stop talking like one.DaveScot
November 18, 2005
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bombadill Please provide the links again to these controlled studies by neuroscientists. As I recall you were trying to pass off anecdotal testimony of people who were pronounced clinically dead and then revived. Unless these experiments were performed in Nazi Germany they were not "controlled" as we don't do controlled experiments which kill human subjects then revive them and ask them to describe the experience.DaveScot
November 18, 2005
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Nobody is arguing that tampering with the brain and it's chemistry doesn't affect consciousness. Of course it does. The argument is that the physical aparatus is the "receiver", not the necessarily the originator. That our unique and individual sense of "self" transcends physical matter with mass.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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The human origins essay is interesting but I think the notion that mind isn't dependent on brain is silly. The mind either collapses entirely or is significantly changed by tiny changes in brain chemistry. Just a few micrograms of LSD, which mimics a neurotransmitter, will change the way your mind operates enormously. Recent experiments have identified proteins that, when absent or blocked, prevent the formation of long term memory. Anyone seriously think the mind can exist in anything resembling a normal state when it cannot form long term memory? Mind and consciousness are seated in the brain and as far as science can determine do not exist without it.DaveScot
November 18, 2005
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puckSR 1. Including the claim that what is not scientific(natural) is not provable. Your argument is self-referentially incoherent. 2. I never disputed that it was not philosophical, but I think there is scientific evidence that can be offered for both dualism and monism. Once again I refer you to Beyond Death. 3. Once again, the conclusion doesn't follow in any way, shape or form.Brian
November 18, 2005
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Brian 1. all that is not scientific(natural) is: not provable...unless you have some new tools 2. It isnt scientific, its philosophical 3. Should read: I have decided that dualism is unprovable, and therefore i will assume it is false for arguments sakepuckSR
November 18, 2005
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Wow....nobody can see what DaveScot is saying First....jboze keeps referring to religion....ID is not religious, right? Second...bombadill keeps referring to scientists beliefs...basically your using the same argument that your evolutionary opposition frequently uses. DaveScot is trying to keep this whole thing legitimate jboze cannot tell a catholic from a baptist bombadill is making poor argumentspuckSR
November 18, 2005
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DaveScot, It's kind of funny. To me it looks like you're employing the same exact tactics that you rail against when evolution proponents use it against ID: 1. That which is not scientific is: not worth thinking about / unprovable / a bad theory. 2. I have decided that dualism is not scientific. 3. Therefore, dualism is not worth thinking about / unprovable / a bad theory. I would contend that all three conclusions of (3) are clearly false. I also think that (2) is false, (least partially). There are some excellent evidentialist arguments for the nature of the soul as it relates to death. Read Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland's book Beyond Death, they have some very interesting scientific studies. The monistic/dualistic argument doesn't stop at the end of the tracks of science, or even fall under the rubric of scientific investigation. It is, I feel, originally and majorly, a philosophical argument. Not to say that that in any way weakens the force of arguments for either side or the strength of the conslusion; for I think that philosophical arguments are many times more concrete and stable than any scientific argument. Scientific investigation can offer evidences for either side but it in no way holds the trump card for what we can say about consciousness. To say so is to make commit two fallacies: (1) fall back on an undefended, prima facie naturalistic bias, and (2) ignore the nature of the debate for about as long as it's been going on.Brian
November 18, 2005
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I'm not saying those studies were conclusive, obviously there is still division and debate. I'm simply saying that the issue is not entirely philosophical. There is a scientific premise for the dualistic position.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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Well, I agree to disagree on this, Dave. Because I have cited 2 studies which point to a metaphysical consciousness and both studies were scientific and controlled by Neuroscientists. Again, it's fine for you to disagree, but you do not help anybody by being belittling.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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no one said that the evidence for a soul was scientific. tho, the evidence suggests that theres no way to reduce consciousness to brain matter and only brain matter. there are just-so narratives of how the wonderful world of evolution could have somehow, in some unknown manner, at some unknown point created consciousness and all that goes with it, but no real proof that its possible to reduce it to just the brain. just as theres no real scientific proof for the christian god...tho, i think the bible stands up fairly well to history, prophecy, reason, etc.jboze3131
November 18, 2005
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Boze, I think you're making claims about Dembski that aren't true. When you start babbling about scientific evidence for things like souls and consciousness that continues after death I am going to call you to the carpet on it because you're playing right into the hands of people who attack Dembski and Behe's rational claims of design inference as pseudoscientific nonsense. Bombadil, dualism is philosophy. Don't try to paint a scientific veneer on it and expect me to let it pass without comment. When people die their consciousness can no longer be observed by any rational means. The dead don't communicate with us or interact with the physical world in any way we can measure and it hasn't been for lack of trying to measure something. That's all science has to say on it.DaveScot
November 18, 2005
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I'm getting sick of this thread!Benjii
November 18, 2005
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...and don't make me list the scores of Neuroscientists and Nobel Laureates who's job it is to research the brain, who have come to a dualistic conlcusion. I mean, c'mon.Bombadill
November 18, 2005
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It is unfortunate that DaveScot relegates the millions of intelligent people who see evidence for a dualistic nature in man, to the category of superstitious-mystic. I can confidently say, Dave, that you are holding a pretty extremist viewpoint there. Somehow I find it difficult to shrug off intellectual dynamos like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, & C.S. Lewis as just mystic crackpots. But hey, that's just me. It is also a shame that you choose such an insulting and belittling tone when voicing your opinion. It certainly doesn't help the ID cause. These discussions don't have to be full of vitriol. As for homology and our alleged ape ancestors. Dembski has written a great paper on the subject: http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.06.Human_Origins.pdfBombadill
November 18, 2005
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davescot- you cant separate the two. you think dembskis science is good, but you think his overall beliefs are absurd. you can hardly say- "hey, your math is good and all, but youre a total whackjob when it comes to that whole christianity thing!" sure, these are two different branches of thought, but theyre surely connected in the end in the sense that all of these different things together make up your overall worldview. what would you say of dembski in general, if (as i assume he is) a theist and most likely a dualist? youd say, "spare me" when he mentioned his belief in a soul. and then youd say that thinking a soul exists is akin to psuedoscience and stupidity. so, from your comments, id assume that, overall, youd have a negative impression of dembski in regards to his overall worldview. (maybe this whole thing about a fairytale jesus being your role model makes more sense now!) im hardly poorly educated, because davescot and puck have a problem with dualists and most theists in general- in thinking theyre buffoons. thats just old fashioned close mindedness...compare religious people to fools and then sit back and proclaim that youre somehow above them in the common sense dept. i never said i believe in ghosts. i said i believe humans have a soul. and that the soul is immaterial. the bible teaches that the dead know not what the living do, as in theyre not in the same realm- so by that alone i dont think ghosts exist. i also believe that the conciousness we all have is immaterial. the brain is the physical apparatus we use to express our emotions, thoughts, fears, etc. via the physical world, but its the car and the driver thing. the mind is the driver and the brain is the car. for now. in this world. for these views, youd surely call me foolish. your attack had nothing to do with separating the two (science and philosophy)- you were implying that people who believe in an immaterial soul are idiots somehow. which is, im sure, what youd say of dembski as well. you shrug off the notion as absurd and thats that. thats what anti-IDers do. so, PLEASE do tell what the difference is. dawkins says that design is an illusion and youre a fool for thinking its real. millions of people say that consciousness cannot be explained by reducing it to merely the material- and you say theyre fools for thinking so, that such a belief is akin to playing with a ouija board. theres no difference. yet, with you its okay to make the attacks...for dawkins, im sure youd have a fit. i will remind you- youre the one asserting that those who believe in the bible are basically buying into fairytales...yet that fairytale is the source for your personal role model. which means- what is written of your role model is false and made up...which is fine, i guess. you can have a role model and it be anyone- jesus or cinderella or spiderman. im sure most would find it odd that you say jesus is your role model, yet go on to attack those who believe in the bible. the fact is- your remark to bombadill was fairly rude. you pretty much told him...'immaterial conciousness?! spare me! dont even waste my time with such insane nonsense!' thats close minded. heck, youve been rude on a number of occasions for no known reason (to many different people)- when i asked how you could have christ as a role model if you thought the bible was a fairytale, you told me to piss off! and i believe ive seen numerous posts where you said the designer is some sort of neural network system running things. if thats the designer for life, i assume thatd also be the creator of the universe as well.jboze3131
November 18, 2005
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Well, I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who thinks that Josh Boseman is a poorly educated young man who would benefit from a course in logic or critical thinking. His posts seem utterly counter-productive, if their purpose is to convince others of his point of view.Renard
November 18, 2005
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"keep working on that not-at-all mystic belief in neural networks creating the universe!" Where did I say the universe was created by neural networks? Evidently straw men are the only men you can take on. Let's summarize you - believes in ghosts but doesn't believe in capital letters. :-)DaveScot
November 17, 2005
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Boze, I think Dembski is a scientist and philosopher that can separate his metaphysical beliefs from his scientific knowledge. I think you're a mystic that cannot distinguish between the two. Write that down.DaveScot
November 17, 2005
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you forget DaveScot...he also performed miracles...just like all of the false prophetspuckSR
November 17, 2005
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Hey Boze, if God wanted to reveal himself through written words why did he enlist people to do the writing? I'd have a lot more respect for the outrageous claims in the bible if it were engraved on the face of the moon instead of clay tablets. Seems a little suspicious to say the least that an omnipotent, omniscient being has to pass on messages through self-proclaimed prophets. But hey, that's just me. I'm a suspicious type.DaveScot
November 17, 2005
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okay. so we have you on record now...you think dembski and others in ID are scientists onto a good theory but theyre also men and women who are clearly delusing themselves. akin to people using ouija boards. got ya. just wanted to make sure i understood. keep working on that not-at-all mystic belief in neural networks creating the universe!jboze3131
November 17, 2005
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"problem is, no one has any real concept and understanding of consciousness" So that justifies mystic beliefs about it? Face the music, Boze. When the body dies all observable signs of consciousness dies with it. You can believe in ghosts if you want but you're deluding yourself if you think there's any credible scientific evidence of ghosts.DaveScot
November 17, 2005
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jboze they do believe the bible to be true....they dont believe the bible to be literal and exact the cavern that seperates those two words is vastpuckSR
November 17, 2005
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