Should Templeton Funds be Avoided?

We are not currently funded by anyone. Maybe we will be funded by JTF someday, or some other organization. If that happens, I will let everyone know. I will only do this if we can preserve the distinctives that we already see here.

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Well, now you know that sure fire way to get rid of me - get significant funding from Templeton or worse the Catholic Church.

Hehe. Really? Even if we have other funders too?

Also, it is not public yet, so I can’t say who (except to say it is not me), however, one of your favorite scientists is getting a $10 million dollar grant from Templeton. What will you do with him?

If you took up a collection from individual participants here and gathered a sum that I determined was of proper value; sure you could send that sum to me and I would agree to leave. :rofl: I, of course, would donate twice that amount to a secular humanist cause of my choosing in PS name.


Think about it this way. If JTF funds Peaceful Science, with our current constellation of values, which includes A Secular-Confessional Society, they will be funding values that you care about instead of the other stuff you dislike so much. It would be an effort that is inclusive of atheists too.

That isn’t so bad. That is the definition of wining, when even your enemies begin to support the things about which you care.

Templeton doesn’t just do religious related grants. They do a lot of legitimate science research grants. If you got a legitimate science grant from Templeton, I would congratulate you. But on the religion side of Templeton, it is not science, it is religion so I would agree with Jerry Coyne as it would be best if scientists refuse these types of grants as it taints the science and automatically lowers credibility of the work.

This seems to only be a problem if the religion side is funding scientific work. If it is funding public engagement of mainstream science in a neutral way, would that still be a problem?

This is fine as long as you have other larger sources of funding. But, in real practice, at the end of the year, Templeton will wave the funding amount around your head and say, if you want funding next year you have to do this, this and this. Now you just lost you freedom and independence.

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I see three ways around this very real problem.

  1. Have multiple other large donors too, so we are not dependent on them alone. If they withdrew, we could go on, no problem.
  2. I keep my job doing science at WUSTL because I want to be a scientist, and that way I personally am never beholden to them.
  3. Open up ways for a large number of small donors to contribute too, which adds an additional layer of independence, and gives real control to (for example) those on the forums.

What I know I’m not interested in is a long term organization that is totally dependent on JTF.

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To have a credible voice in evoltionary science, you need to be practicing or doing evolutionary science. Otherwise you are just another Christian talking head.

Seriously, what are the financial demands on you regarding running PS like it is?

As it is, the financial demands are low

The challenge is the the opportunities coming our way. To make progress on some key things, we may need to have full time staff. I don’t even personally need to take any money from it, but having other people working on it could move a lot of things forward.

Hire Brad Kramer, he will be looking for a job once Biologos losses Templeton funding and interest. :rofl:

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From what I understand, that would be enough to get you to leave. I like @Brad_Kramer. He is a good guy. I hope that BioLogos is around for long time to give a job.

That’s been my observation too. Any time a large change happens, such as when funding comes in, there will be concerns. That is why I am raising these questions now. If that happens (and it may not), I want any real concerns to be uncovered first.

You were on the true science side of JTF, the religion side is vastly different. It sets the agenda, it has the results in bylaws that science and Christian Faith are compatible. Then it goes out to fund initiatives that agrees with that premise.

oh no, I won’t leave. If you hired him here as staff, I would try my best to make the most hostile work environment possible for Brad. :rofl:
(Yes, Brad is a good guy - a good father, husband, we have a rhetorical score to settle, but after that, I will wish him well in all his endeavors.) :smiley:

@swamidass NOTE: When you receive checks from the JTF, you can determine whether it is religious or secular money by holding the check up toward a bright light at around arms length. Funds that are religious will contain a watermark that contains a cross with a little lamb at its base. Funds that are secular will contain a watermark depicting both Karl Marx and Charles Darwin (profile views, face to face.) If you receive cash funds, the determination is a bit more nuanced, due to a hesitation by religious organizations to deface US currency. That said, often one can find a tiny fish written in pencil in the bottom, left hand corner of the bill. It’s important to know which is which so that you can refuse any religious money! :crazy_face:


You might be right on this. I was under the impression that you took the Jerry Coyne stance where every grant from JTF (with no distinction between secular/religious grants) should not be taken by scientists, which prompts my response. If I mischaracterize your position then I apologize.

Edit: Note that I myself have never been funded by JTF, just that the Black Hole Initiative is funded by JTF.

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I suppose I think that the Christian Faith and science actually are compatible, so I do not see the problem. Maybe someone can explain it to me.


I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for someone to accept funding from Templeton for religion-related projects. Most of the people who accept that funding already hold to some sort of belief in the peaceful co-existence of science and religion anyway. And I agree with Josh that one way to preserve independence is to make sure Templeton is not the only major donor.

In any case, is there any evidence that Templeton forces people towards specific conclusions on religion vs. science? If Jerry Coyne or an atheist scientist accepted funding from the Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science or the Center for Inquiry, would that be a bad thing also?