A few short items:
- To compare and contrast to the activities of the Simons Foundation, there’s the Templeton Foundation, which has a $1.7 billion or so endowment to spend:
They have a new Big Questions Online site, which asks Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God?
At Oxford and Cambridge, Templeton is putting $1 million into Establishing the Philosophy of Cosmology, by, among other things, having a conference in January on Is God Explanatory?
This miniseries will explore the theological and, by extension, metaphysical questions that pertain to cosmology. The origin and order of the cosmos have helped inspire belief in a “Supreme Being” or “First Cause” for millennia; but what bearing, if any, does the modern scientific approach to studying cosmology have on such beliefs? Does introducing God into the discussion add anything?
An apt quotation from Carroll a few years ago would be this one:
The problem with the Templeton Foundation is not that they coerce scientists into repudiating their beliefs through the promise of piles of cash; it’s that, by providing easy money to promote certain kinds of discussions, those discussions begin to seem more prominent and important than they really are.
- Sometimes you’ll see trackbacks in the comment section to Intelligent Design blogs which have become my fans since I’m critical of the multiverse. Often these get identified by the spam filter as spam, but when they get through I tend to leave them, partly because I’ve had my own problems with trackback censorship (see here), partly because they provide some insight into how the Intelligent Design people are using multiverse mania for their own ends. From one of these links I learned about a recent article in the Skeptic Society newsletter by Michael Schermer. At some point I wrote to him to warn him that claims of scientific testability for the multiverse were bogus, so he should consider avoiding this as an argument with IDers. After some e-mails back and forth it wasn’t clear if I had made any headway with him. The new article shows that he hasn’t given up on this, but maybe my arguments had some effect.
- For an update on the sad story of Paul Frampton, who earlier this year was the victim of a scam that ended putting him in jail in Argentina on drug-smuggling charges, see here, here, here, here and here. A website to provide support for him has been set up here. It includes letters of support from various people including Edward Witten.
Update: There’s an article in the Telegraph about the Frampton story here.