Lord Rees of Ludlow, the Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society, was named as the recipient of the annual Templeton Prize in London as two British Nobel laureates denounced his decision to accept it.
Lord Rees was a surprise choice for the accolade because, while he has made major contributions to understanding the nature of the Universe, he is an atheist and does not believe that God played a role in its creation.
He told The Times that he believes in a peaceful coexistence between science and religion.
“It is perfectly possible to have religious beliefs and be a scientist,” he said. “I’m just not someone who does.”
But a roll call of prominent scientists reacted with dismay, claiming that the Templeton Foundation seeks to blur the boundary between science and religion and to promote faith in the absence of evidence.
Professor Sir Harry Kroto, a Fellow of the Royal Society who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, said, “This news is really quite shocking. (t is)bad for science in general, bad for the Royal Society, bad for the UK – basically secular country – and very bad for Martin (Lord Rees).”
He said that Lord Rees should donate the £1 million award to the British Humanist Association.
Professor Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist and atheist, said, “This will look great on Templeton’s CV. Not so good on Martin’s.”
So a foundation with a religious grounding gives a prize to a scientist and it is bad for science, Royal Society, the U.K., etc? I guess we don’t need the taint of religious belief in science. In fact we should wipe scientists such as Gregor Mendel, Copernicus, Pasteur, Volta, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Pascal, Monsignor Georges Lemaître, and countless Jesuits with major contributions to mathematics, astronomy, seismotology, etc. They should be wiped from science history for having beliefs “bad for science.”
The Templeton Prize each year honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
I am not sure how Lord Rees meet this criteria specifically, but he can certainly be lauded for not being a jerk as an atheist and of course for his scientific contributions.