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Martin Rees and The templeton prize

Much has been written about Martin Rees, a celebrated physicist accepting the Templeton prize at the start of April. Does Martin Rees accepting the award undermine the integrity of science? Looking through the past winners of the Templeton Prize, many recent winners certainly seem to straddle, associate, or oppose the boundaries between science and religion.

I took the opportunity to chip in on this topic since Professor Rees wrote an article in the New Statesman about the issue a few days ago. I think this particular passage summarises his views, and his entire article:


” I have no religious belief… Despite this, I continue to be nourished by the music and liturgy of the Church in which I was brought up. Just as there are many Jews who keep the Friday ritual in their home despite describing themselves as atheists, I am a “tribal Christian”, happy to attend church services.”


I think Professor Rees attempts to occupy the central ground: he is an atheist, a scientist, but not opposed towards religion: merely ambivalent perhaps? I think the particular passage above leaves him open to attack as being weak and unconvincing. However, as long as Martin Rees maintains his scientific integrity in his field in his past, present and future works, I do not see how he undermines the integrity of science. Whether or not he should have accepted the Templeton prize is in my opinion completely irrelevant. My 2 cents.

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  1. April 26, 2011 at 11:17 am

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