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Religion and Science

     The Chronicle of Higher Education (11/26) devotes a whole back page to an article entitled "Article of Faith: Science and Religion Don't Mix." It merits a rebuttal.
     The author, Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve , attacks the efforts of Sir John Templeton to bring the two fields together. I know neither of them personally and have never heard of the author, but Templeton is a man for whom I have a deep admiration. Krauss has reason to attack the $1.2 million value of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the presentation in Buckingham Palace, but Templeton did this to keep up with the Jones: the Nobel Prize presented by the King of Sweden. In both cases I wish the prize were presented to the laureate's institution rather than to the individual, but that unfortunately is the way of our modern world, which insists on putting a material value on everything, even honors.
     Otherwise, the article takes me back to nineteenth-century intellectual history, one of my fields of research. If I had been shown the article without any indication of its date, I would have said about 1870. The author has simply missed the train of intellectual history.
     Sir John Templeton is backing one of the major intellectual enterprises of our time: to establish at worst a modus vivendi among the various religions. and between them and science, and at best a synthesis of them. It is an enormously complex task, but it will help to answer the basic questions of life: What is life all about, and how do I behave?
     Unlike Lawrence Krauss, I rejoice that courses about these problems are springing up in our universities. Having become ecumenical, divinity schools can play an important role in this endeavor. A vast amount of serious literature is appearing on this subject. For information on it, consult journals like Science and Spirit.

Ronald Hilton - 12/20/99