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Has origin of life become a Templeton and NASA cash cow?


From Suzan Mazur at Oscillations:

One of the stickiest origins projects Templeton has recently funded is “Cooperation and Interpretation in the Emergence of Life,” which looks to find purposeful RNA fragments that agree to cooperate. Six hundred thirty thousand dollars ($630,000) has been awarded for said project to the team of Christopher Southgate-–a British theologian/biochemist, and Portland State University chemistry professor Niles Lehman.

We have a wall between church and state in America, but in recent years we’ve seen attempts to destabilize that wall. The 2015-2017 $3M funding by NASA & Templeton to two dozen religious scholars was one of them. The Freedom From Religion Foundation took action filing a Freedom of Information Act request for documents regarding the matter, which should have led to housecleaning of NASA personnel. But how much the Trump administration cares about maintaining this particular wall is questionable. More.

Are Templeton and NASA just looking for something to do?

NASA seems to have a hard time “getting” religious groups’ thinking. For example, there is no reason to believe that religious groups in the United States, from which NASA raises tax dollars, would feel particularly affected intellectually one way or the other if the agency found life on other planets or even intelligent extraterrestrials.*

It sounds like a make-work project for non-STEM academics.

* Except that ETs might be a vast mission opportunity. 😉

See also: Americans don’t fear the discovery of alien life. So why do some commentators insist they do?


Suzan Mazur: NASA, tax dollars, space aliens, and religion… Of course, it’s yet to be determined that most religious people have much invested in the matter one way or the other, relative to their irreligious neighbours.


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