Templeton Prize

[Cross-posted from The Corner at NRO]

Astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees, who has a walk-on part in We Are Doomed (and who is properly written of as “Lord Rees,” though nobody seems to bother any more) has been awarded the Templeton Prize  “for career achievements affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”

Previous winners of the prize, which seeks to promote better understanding between science and religion, include Catholic nun Mother Teresa, U.S. preacher Billy Graham and Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn as well as many leading scientists.

This will be good for some rhetorical fireworks from the more militant kind of atheists. In those precincts, unbelievers who accept the  Templeton Prize are regarded as wishy-washy “accommodationists.” Richard Dawkins has already harrumphed.

Sir Martin has described himself as “an unbelieving Anglican who goes to church out of loyalty to the tribe.” I’d suspect that this position is utterly incomprehensible to anyone not (a) raised an Anglican, (b) in England, and (c) more than 50 years old. Compare George Orwell’s oft-quoted remark — it’s in Jeffrey Meyer’s biography  somewhere — that “I like the Church of England better than Our Lord.”

My NRO review of Sir Martin’s splendid gloomy look at the human race’s near future (he doesn’t think we have one) is here.

The converse of an unbeliever who goes to church is a believer who doesn’t. The Audacious Epigone has crunched some numbers from the General Social Survey on this (though I think that “less than” in his penultimate paragraph should read “more than”).

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