The Debate on Martin Rees’ Templeton Prize

Last week, the theoretical astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society and current Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, accepted the Templeton Prize. Funded by a massive endowment from the Tennessee-born billionaire Sir John Marks Templeton (1912-2008), the prize is awarded, according to its website, to ‘a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.’

That Rees’ acceptance of the prize has caused controversy should surprise few, given the number of highly opinionated and vocal participants in the current science-religion debate. Indeed one thing Rees was undoubtedly being rewarded for was his unusually conciliatory contribution to this often hostile conversation. But those who feel their hostility to be justified, particularly on the scientific side, regret what they perceive as the conversion of Rees into Continue reading “The Debate on Martin Rees’ Templeton Prize”

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Will Science Beat Religion? And What are they Competing for?

In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said that, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”  This statement is indicative of the on-going debate between science and religion.  In fact it seems to disclose a great many of the assumptions that underlie the debate.

The debate is hardly a new a one.  However, in its contemporary form many of the interlocutors, regardless of on which side their allegiance falls, agree about the fundamentals of the argument in Hawking’s quote.  For instance, that religion and science are in a competition; they seem to provide mutually exclusive answers to Continue reading “Will Science Beat Religion? And What are they Competing for?”