Templeton Funds “Creation and Science” Course

Six months ago we wrote Templeton Foundation Funds Creationism Studies, in which we expressed concern that the John Templeton Foundation might be abandoning their opposition to creationism and intelligent design. But Professor Tertius, in several long comments, explained why the grant was a good thing, and could hasten the demise of “creation science” and Discoveroid pseudo-science.

Today we found a follow-up story at the website of Seton Hall University, a private Roman Catholic university in South Orange, New Jersey. This is their headline: Templeton Foundation Funds Grant for Course on “Creation and Science”.

The Catholic church isn’t a creationist denomination, but still, we’re not sure what Templeton is trying to do here. Let’s look at some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

This semester, Seton Hall’s Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology will offer the award-winning course “Creation and Science,” taught by Rev. Joseph R. Laracy, adjunct professor and former NASA engineer.

This is Laracy’s write-up at the university’s website. He doesn’t appear to be a creationist. Back to the news story:

Father Laracy was one of 15 recipients of a grant awarded by the Planning Team of Science in Seminaries Initiative at John Carroll University and funded by the John Templeton Foundation in a national competition. The course will launch in January and is scheduled to run for at least three semesters during the next three years.

The fat’s in the fire, but we’re not sure what the results will be. Let’s read on:

“I’m honored to have received this award and to teach this course,” said Father Laracy. “The Church has long been foundational in scientific inquiry — whether we speak of the father of genetics, Father Gregor Mendel; the father of geology, Blessed Nicolas Steno; the father of the Big Bang Theory, Monsignor Georges Lemaître; or countless other priests who have expanded and expounded upon the scientific frontier, the Church has been there.”

It’s true that they’ve come a long way since Galileo. The quote from Laracy continues:

“This course will help both lay students and seminarians to explore the fundamentals of faith and science, which are not mutually exclusive; in fact, many people are surprised to find just how compatible they are.

Perhaps we’ve seen too much from people like ol’ Hambo claiming that science proves everything in the bible. It makes us wary of claims about compatibility. One last excerpt:

“Creation and Science,” which will explicate the theology of creation against the backdrop of physical science and Papal teaching over the last three centuries, is naturally situated at Seton Hall, the former academic home of world-renowned author, physicist, philosopher, and theologian Father Stanley Jaki, Distinguished University Professor of Physics and winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize for “his immense contribution to bridging the gap between science and religion, and his making room, in the midst of the most advanced modern science, for deep and genuine faith.”

There’s more, but that’s the relevant stuff. The good news is that Templeton still isn’t funding the Discoveroids, nor do they seem to be helping ol’ Hambo build his ark. Aside from that, we don’t know what to make of this. Perhaps someone who knows what’s going on at Seton Hall can provide some insight.

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11 responses to “Templeton Funds “Creation and Science” Course

  1. michaelfugate

    The good Rev might want to (re)read his history of Steno. I am pretty sure his theological work distanced him from his earlier scientific work.

  2. @michaelfugate

    And to call him “the father of geology” is a bit of a stretch, too. According to Wikipedia (in an otherwise somewhat jumbled article), “His investigations and his subsequent conclusions on fossils and rock formation have led scholars to consider him one of the founders of modern stratigraphy and modern geology” (my emboldening), and I’d say that’s a more reasonable assessment.

  3. Very typical. They keep it vague enough that nobody can check what the actual subject matter is. Compare that with PZ Myers. Every semester he tells exactly what he’s going to teach.
    I don’t immediately think Laracy will teach IDiocy. However I do suspect his choice of the subject matter will be highly selective, carefully avoiding difficult topics.
    One example: how will Laracy accommodate a causal god, who created the entire shenanigan (creation is a causal act) with the probability of well established Quantum Mechanics? In other words – will Laracy explain what Einstein’s famous “God doesn’t play dice” actually means?

  4. “Creation and Science,” which will explicate the theology of creation against the backdrop of physical science and Papal teaching over the last three centuries, is naturally situated at Seton Hall, the former academic home of world-renowned author, physicist, philosopher, and theologian Father Stanley Jaki, Distinguished University Professor of Physics and winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize for “his immense contribution to bridging the gap between science and religion, and his making room, in the midst of the most advanced modern science, for deep and genuine faith.”

    Ahem. Hasn’t the papacy long since accepted evolution? But then, to most U.S. creationists, who tend to be fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics aren’t real Christians anyway.

  5. Eric Lipps:
    ” But then, to most U.S. creationists, who tend to be fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics aren’t real Christians anyway.”

    That’s right. One is Shiite Christian; the other, Sunni Christian. I’m not sure which is which, however.

  6. Richard Bond

    Steno is still quoted today, mainly for the principle that sedimentary strata are laid down horizontally, but that hardly compares with the contributions of James Hutton, a prominent member of the Scottish Enlightenment. As for any value of religion to his work, Hutton’s theories were in direct conflict with the then current doctrine, which favoured Noah’s flood.

  7. Pope Retiredsciguy confesses

    One is Shiite Christian; the other, Sunni Christian. I’m not sure which is which, however.

    What!? Even with papal infallibility, you cannot distinguish Shi’te from Shinola?

    Sheesh! Next thing, you’ll be telling us you muddle your Guelphs and Ghibellines…

  8. Eric says “Ahem. Hasn’t the papacy long since accepted evolution”? I don’t know much of the history of the Catholic Churches policy towards evolution. However, Rome apparently did host an international seminar on evolution 8 or 9 years ago and the Discotute was not invited.

  9. Shouldn’t that school have been called “Immaculate Conception Inseminary School of Theology”?

    If your daughter comes home from that institute saying, “Dad I’m pregnant”, don’t bother asking who the father is.

  10. The whole truth

    “The Catholic church isn’t a creationist denomination…”

    SC, are you joking?

  11. @The whole truth: Well, that’s true if we define a “creationist denomination” as one that does not accept evolution.