On "The Templeton Foundation: A Skeptic's Take" By John Horgan

Daniel C. Dennett, George Johnson, Freeman Dyson, Richard Dawkins, Marc D. Hauser, Dan Sperber, Jerry Coyne, Leonard Susskind, Lee Smolin, Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Daniel C. Dennett, Colin Tudge, Scott Atran, George Dyson, Richard Gregory


DANIEL C. DENNETT: John Horgan closes with a modest proposal to the Templeton Foundation:

"To demonstrate its open-mindedness, the foundation should award the Templeton Prize to an opponent of religion, such as Steven Weinberg or Richard Dawkins."

That made me smile, but I burst out laughing when my wife quipped "That would be a miracle! [...more]


GEORGE JOHNSON: The danger of accepting that fine hospitality is more subtle. From now on, whenever I write about a Templeton-funded project, a little voice somewhere in my head will be second-guessing me. Anxious to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, am I being a little nastier or nicer than I might otherwise have been? And if I am troubled By the possibility, how can I expect that a reader won't be? [...more]


FREEMAN DYSON: Thank you for sending the Horgan piece, which I think expresses quite well the prejudiced attitude of some scientists toward religion in general and Templeton in particular. As a Templeton beneficiary, I do not feel that my freedom of speech is in any way limited. [...more]


RICHARD DAWKINS: But the fact that religion keeps coming back gives us not the tiniest smidgen of a reason for thinking that any of its supernatural claims are true. Freeman Dyson, By accepting the Templeton Prize, sent a powerful signal to the world which, whether he likes it or not, will be taken as an endorsement of religion By one of the world's most distinguished physicists. The great Freeman Dyson is a Christian! [...more]


MARC D. HAUSER: I decided to publish with Science and Spirit as a way to get "inside" the system and go at it. It is in this spirit that I think Horgan's piece is important, and that Richard's comment is relevant. Taking money from the Templeton foundation presents a Faustian choice for many. Given the lack of funding in many of our disciplines, it is tempting to be seduced By an organization brimming with money. But I wouldn't do it! Selling your soul is irreversible, so I hear. [...more]


DAN SPERBER: Isn't it obvious that committed atheists, for whom there is no "boundary between theology and science" where "new insights" could be pursued, should abstain from applying for, or accepting funding from this foundation (even if — or, rather, particularly if — as do some participants in the debate, they feel respect for the foundation)?


JERRY COYNE: I absolutely agree with Sperber and Dawkins that the Templeton Foundation corrupts science. It does this in two ways. First, it involves us in a dialogue that is designed to have a predetermined result: the reconciliation of science and religion. But when doing our own research, we are not committed to a specific outcome. Thus, if you're one of the many scientists who doesn't think that such a reconciliation is possible — at least not without mendacity, self-delusion, or cognitive dissonance — then it is unethical to take money from the Foundation. [...more]


LEONARD SUSSKIND: I don't understand the idea that a convergence between science and religion is taking place. I don't believe in any such convergence. Throwing huge amounts of money at scientists who claim to see such a convergence can only lead to a dangerous blurring of boundaries. [...more]


LEE SMOLIN: I have to say that I found a much more open minded, engaged and respectful discussion between people with different views at Templeton meetings than I have, for example, at string theory meetings. [...more]


SCOTT ATRAN: I find it fascinating that brilliant scientists and philosophers have no clue how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. Makes me embarrassed to be an atheist. [...more]


DAN SPERBER: When we do take monies from less than optimal sources (for instance because otherwise our students are not funded), let's, as I suggested, be cynical — or if you don't like the word, lucid — about it rather than pretend that all is well and that Templeton money smells of hallowed roses. Let's be cynical however with some sophistication, and not pretend that all money is impure and that all sources of funding stinks equally: some stinks more than Templeton, and other less. [...more]


DANIEL C. DENNETT: I'm surprised and disappointed that Freeman Dyson views the open-minded curiosity of Breaking the Spell as prejudiced. I'm sure he doesn't think that it is wrong to try to learn more about a natural phenomenon, so I suspect he is just being lulled by the ancient tradition that demands that religions be honored first, studied later or never. [...more]


COLIN TUDGE: Isn't "The Third Culture" just the materialist end of logical positivism? And hasn't materialist positivism had as good a crack of the whip as it deserves? [...more]


SCOTT ATRAN : Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett seem to insist that that faith in god is a weapon of war. But in cross-cultural study after study my colleagues, most notably Ara Norenzayan and Jeremy Ginges, find no evidence that belief in god, prayer frequency, or meditation is related to intolerance or violence once coalitional variables are partialed out. [...more]


GEORGE DYSON (Quoting Kurt Gödel): "Of course, today we are far from being able to justify the theological world view scientifically but I think already today it may be possible purely rationally (without the support of faith and any sort of religion) to apprehend that the theological world view is thoroughly compatible with all known facts (including the conditions that prevail on our earth)". [...more]


RICHARD GREGORY: This may be mearly a niggle, but I find 'Intellgent design' a misleading phrase, in the evolution context, as I think of evolution by natural selection a kind of intelligence. In fact the supreme intelligence, as it created (and designed!) our intelligence. And it discovered answers to umpteen questions at present beyond our understanding in biology. [...more]



DANIEL C. DENNETT [4.6.06]
Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell

John Horgan closes with a modest proposal to the Templeton Foundation:

"To demonstrate its open-mindedness, the foundation should award the Templeton Prize to an opponent of religion, such as Steven Weinberg or Richard Dawkins."

That made me smile, but I burst out laughing when my wife quipped "That would be a miracle!


GEORGE JOHNSON [4.12.06]
Writer for the New York Times; Author, Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order

Those three summer weeks in Cambridge, as Templeton journalism fellows, were magical. Anything Templeton puts on is a class act, and what we were treated to was a sumptuous feast of intellectual camaraderie. Whether we were dining at Trinity College, across the Great Court from Newton's old quarters, or grabbing hamburgers at the Eagle Tavern with the ghost of Francis Crick, we were talking about ideas. It was an unforgettable experience for which I always will be grateful, and that is the problem.

It's not that I sensed any pressure during the fellowship to accept the Templeton world view. The judges knew from the beginning what I thought of the effort to make peace between science and religion, and during the seminars I freely expressed my doubts. I left unharmed and learned a lot. What I came away with was better ammunition.

The danger of accepting that fine hospitality is more subtle. From now on, whenever I write about a Templeton-funded project, a little voice somewhere in my head will be second-guessing me. Anxious to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, am I being a little nastier or nicer than I might otherwise have been? And if I am troubled by the possibility, how can I expect that a reader won't be?

In the ethics of journalism, appearances count heavily, and all of us confront these dilemmas every day. I convinced myself that the tradeoff was worth it. I still believe so, but part of me will always wonder. A journalist is cursed with having to be skeptical of everything and everyone, including himself.


FREEMAN DYSON [4.12.06]
Physicist, Institute of Advanced Study, Author, Disturbing the Universe





Thank you for sending the Horgan piece, which I think expresses quite well the prejudiced attitude of some scientists toward religion in general and Templeton in particular. As a Templeton beneficiary, I do not feel that my freedom of speech is in any way limited. I have no objection to your publishing this piece on Edge. With luck it might stimulate a more intelligent discussion of the issues. After all, whether you like it or not, religion is an important part of the human comedy. As my mother used to say, you can drive religion out of the door but it comes back in through the window.

I just finished reading Dennett's book, "Breaking the Spell", which expresses the same prejudices in a more scholarly style.


RICHARD DAWKINS [4.13.06]
Evolutionary Biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science, Oxford University; Author, The Ancestor's Tale

I have just read Freeman Dyson's response to Horgan, which he copied to me.

Nobody could possibly deny that religion is an important part of the human comedy, which comes back through the window whenever you try to drive it out of the door. That, indeed, is precisely what Dennett's book is about. Dennett wants us to do scientific research to understand why religion is an important part of the human comedy. What is prejudiced about that?

But the fact that religion keeps coming back gives us not the tiniest smidgen of a reason for thinking that any of its supernatural claims are true. Freeman Dyson, by accepting the Templeton Prize, sent a powerful signal to the world which, whether he likes it or not, will be taken as an endorsement of religion by one of the world's most distinguished physicists. The great Freeman Dyson is a Christian!

"I am content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels." Isn't that exactly what any atheistic scientist would say, if he suddenly found himself confronted with a strong inducement to profess Christianity and yet was trying to avoid an outright lie?

Oh, you want something a bit more profound, as well? How about "I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension." Have I said enough yet, and can I get back to doing physics now? Oh, not enough yet? OK then, how about this: "Even in the gruesome history of the twentieth century, I see some evidence of progress in religion. The two individuals who epitomized the evils of our century, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, were both avowed atheists." Can I go now?

Dyson could easily refute the implication of these quotations from his Templeton acceptance speech (*), if only he would explain clearly what evidence he finds to believe in God, in something more than just the Einsteinian sense (which trivially we can all subscribe to) of 'a name we give to that which we don't yet understand.' I look forward to reading or hearing any such explanation from any scientist who has accepted the Templeton Prize.

If I understand Horgan's point, it is that Templeton's money corrupts science. On the face of it, Freeman Dyson's letter might be thought to play into Horgan's hands. As Dan Dennett once said to me, "Richard, if ever you fall on hard times . . ."

Best wishes
Richard

(
Ed. Note: See "Progress in Religion: A Talk by Freeman Dyson" [5.16.00])


MARC D. HAUSER [4.13.06]
Psychologist and Biologist, Harvard University: Author, Wild Minds

Let me add to Richard's comment with a relevant experience. I was asked by the magazine Science and Spirit, supported by Templeton, to write a piece concerning the work we have done on the sources of our moral judgments, summarized in my upcoming book. At first I had a very similar response to that expressed in Richard's note: don't write for, and thus functionally support, a magazine that is funded by a foundation that I don't respect.

But then I thought of a comment that Noam Chomsky made to me once when I asked why he stays in a country that he appears to disrespect so deeply. In brief, he noted that there is no better place to attack than from within. I took this position and decided to write a piece for S&S, laying out the evidence we have from our work that a significant proportion of our moral judgments are mediated by unconscious processes that are functionally immune to religious background and belief. In this sense, the mind's instinct to deliver moral verdicts is like a prophylactic against religious beliefs. When we deliver moral judgments and think that religion guides our choices, we are guided by a massive illusion.

Now, the piece is still in the hands of the editor, and we will soon see whether they run it or back off given the message, but I decided to publish with Science and Spirit as a way to get "inside" the system and go at it. It is in this spirit that I think Horgan's piece is important, and that Richard's comment is relevant. Taking money from the Templeton foundation presents a Faustian choice for many. Given the lack of funding in many of our disciplines, it is tempting to be seduced by an organization brimming with money. But I wouldn't do it! Selling your soul is irreversible, so I hear.


DAN SPERBER [4.16.06]
Social and cognitive scientist, CNRS, Paris; Author, Explaining Culture

According to its website, "the mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to pursue new insights at the boundary between theology and science through a rigorous, open-minded and empirically focused methodology, drawing together talented representatives from a wide spectrum of fields of expertise."

Isn't it obvious that committed atheists, for whom there is no "boundary between theology and science" where "new insights" could be pursued, should abstain from applying for, or accepting funding from this foundation (even if — or, rather, particularly if — as do some participants in the debate, they feel respect for the foundation)? I can alas well understand how, lacking funding for oneself or for one's students, one might be led to adopt a less principled attitude, but in that case, better be cynical about it than disingenuously find virtue in what remains, even if one choose to benefit from it, an unacceptable ideological agenda.

More generally, scientists (and citizens) should object to sources of funding for research, whether public or private, that try to favor findings of a given tenor. This can never be "rigorous" or "open-minded" in the way we are trying to be.


JERRY COYNE [4.17.06]
Evolutionary Biologist; Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago; Author (with H. Allen Orr), Speciation

I absolutely agree with Sperber and Dawkins that the Templeton Foundation corrupts science. It does this in two ways. First, it involves us in a dialogue that is designed to have a predetermined result: the reconciliation of science and religion. But when doing our own research, we are not committed to a specific outcome. Thus, if you're one of the many scientists who doesn't think that such a reconciliation is possible — at least not without mendacity, self-delusion, or cognitive dissonance — then it is unethical to take money from the Foundation. That is like taking money to attend a conference aimed at reconciling evolution with Intelligent Design, even if you do not think that they're compatible. (IDers think that they are.)

Second, it leads, as George Johnson has noted, to the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if the beneficiary is convinced that none exists. Even if a US Senator is predetermined by his own opinions to vote in favor of, say, drilling for oil in Alaska, it is nevertheless illegal and unethical for him to take personal money from the oil industry, and it looks bad to take campaign money from the oil industry. Scientists should be purer than Senators because it is our business to promulgate the truth, and all we have is our reputations as unsullied truth-seekers.

I am appalled at the Templeton Foundation dangling large sums of money in front of scientists. Why so much money? This can only serve, I think, to bend those people motivated by the prospect of gaining a million-plus dollars toward the will of the Foundation.

Now if the Foundation changes its aims to exploring the compatibility of science and religion, that would change things!


LEONARD SUSSKIND [4.17.06]
Physicist, Stanford University; Author, The Cosmic Landscape

I don't understand the idea that a convergence between science and religion is taking place. I don't believe in any such convergence. Throwing huge amounts of money at scientists who claim to see such a convergence can only lead to a dangerous blurring of boundaries.

I hereby pledge to refuse any prize for advancing the so called convergence between science and religion.


LEE SMOLIN [4.19.06]
Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity

I am not at all religious, nor particularly interested in religion, but I was invited to several meetings sponsored by the Templeton Foundation. I found that skeptics about religion and its relation to science were represented at each meeting, such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. No one minded when we expressed our views strongly, quite the opposite. I do think that the fact that they included people who are strongly in disagreement with their goals speaks well for them. They seemed genuinely interested in a dialogue between scientists, philosophers and theologians, without preconditions.

This stands in contrast to some scientific research programs that never invite skeptics or leaders of competing approaches to speak at their conferences. I have to say that I found a much more open minded, engaged and respectful discussion between people with different views at Templeton meetings than I have, for example, at string theory meetings.

Why did I go? First, to meet Richard Dawkins, who I had always wanted to meet. Second, because I am interested in the history and philosophy of physics and it is impossible to understand key figures such as Newton and Leibniz without understanding the role theological issues played in their thinking. I found some of the theologians I met at the Templeton meetings to be intelligent, open minded, sophisticated thinkers, and I learned things about my subject talking with them.

I also found that I can have a more useful conversation with a cosmologist such as George Ellis who is honest and reflective about the role his religious faith plays in his thinking than I can with some colleagues whose faith in their theories seems almost religious but who believe they are paragons of rationality. Given the role that Christianity has played in framing the thinking of physicists and cosmologists isn't it better to confront it head on than leave it unconscious and unanalyzed?

Was I influenced or tainted in some way by attending these meetings?

Not in the least. My beliefs and views did not change at all, but I do have some more insight into how the yearning to find god is tangled up in the thinking of cosmologists, both in the past and now. Finally, am I tempted to change my views by the prospect of a large prize? Many of us could have had easier careers had we been more willing to go along with the mainstream trends in our fields; if we have survived this long by preferring our own ideas, we are not likely to give up our hard won integrity for mere money.


SCOTT ATRAN [4.24.06]
Anthropologist, University of Michigan; Author, In God's We Trust

I find it fascinating that brilliant scientists and philosophers have no clue how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. Makes me embarrassed to be an atheist.

I find no historical evidence whatever that scientists have a keener or deeper appreciation than religious people of of how to deal with personal or moral problems. Some scientists have some good and helpful insights into human beings' existential problems some of the time, but some good scientists have done more to harm others than most people are remotely capable of.

Science has made enormous contributions to prospects for improving human welfare, but only very intermittent progress in application. As a group, even the very best among us haven't the foggiest idea of how to deal with power, other than to try to escape it or to believe that their saying that what should be so must ultimately make it so.

True, some people operating in the name of religion have been more explicitly savage and cruel towards others than most, but there are the likes of Lincoln, Gandhi and Martin Luther King whose religion not only has given hope to so many but has thereby cumulatively enabled the lessening of human misery.

Should scientists take money from foundations whose objectives include not only the scientific study of religion but also explorations of possible complementarities between science and religion in understanding the human comedy or making it less painful?

No reason not to, as long as there is no move to subvert research or force findings. Much more problematic, it seems to me, is the unreflective taking of monies from national science foundations and national institutes of health, and from offices of defense research — all of whose priorities are determined in the mid and long term by others' judgments of political compatibility.

One notable exception is Noam Chomsky, who was lecturing at West Point last week, deep within "the belly of the beast." Let those who think religion so beastly similarly engage, using the beast's own money as Marc Hauser suggests (just as Chomsky has used defense monies over the years). But I think a more productive use of such funds would be much needed research into how to advance science in a fundamentally non-rational world, instead of just railing against this world or pretending that sweet reason will prevail if only it is given sufficient clarity and exposure. From this vantage, engagement with religion might be more help than hindrance.


DAN SPERBER [4.25.06]
Social and cognitive scientist, CNRS, Paris; Author, Explaining Culture

I agree with most of what Scott Atran says. I don't believe that "things (in general??) ought to be rational and evidence based." I have no objection ("God forbid!" so to speak) to talking with and to religious people, attending conferences organized by them, and, in fact, enjoying life in their company. I agree that "the unreflective taking of monies from national science foundations and national institutes of health, and from offices of defense research — all of whose priorities are determined in the mid and long term by others' judgments of political compatibility" — is problematic.

So, let's be reflective about it. Let's ask ourselves in particular how accepting this money affects the structure of power on the one hand, and the tenor of findings on the other.

On the first point, I find it objectionable, for instance, that defense ministries should have money to spend on research beyond properly military research. This gives them an unjustifiable say on the pursuit of science in general. On the second point, most of these grant giving organizations have no stake in the tenor of the findings, but there are exceptions, the most blatant and objectionable being pharmaceutical and tobacco industries financing research the outcome of which may make them gain or lose income.

The Templeton Foundation is an exception in this respect too: they have a stake in a rosier picture of religion. So yes let's reflect, be careful, at times refuse monies. When we do take monies from less than optimal sources (for instance because otherwise our students are not funded), let's, as I suggested, be cynical — or if you don't like the word, lucid — about it rather than pretend that all is well and that Templeton money smells of hallowed roses. Let's be cynical however with some sophistication, and not pretend that all money is impure and that all sources of funding stinks equally: some stinks more than Templeton, and other less.


DANIEL C. DENNETT [4.29.06]
Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell

"Prejudice" — I'm fascinated by Freeman Dyson's word choice. The tradition of hyper-respect for religion has so thoroughly saturated our culture that we think someone is prejudiced who treats religion as one natural phenomenon among many — alongside music and sex and food (and money and the pharmaceutical industry and baseball) but perhaps as important as all of them put together.

Even-handedness is not good enough for religion, apparently. One of the reasons that religion keeps coming back in through the window is that it has managed to secure a free pass, just one of the adaptations that organized religions have acquired over the millennia. There is no more mystery about why religions have such a hold on us than there is a mystery about why symbionts have such success inhabiting our bodies: in both cases they have been designed (by no one, by evolution) over the millennia to secure their bases, to deflect challenges and criticisms, and to enhance their own spread to new hosts. Many of our biological symbionts are not just helpful to us; we couldn't live without them. Perhaps religion is, similarly, something we can't live without, a cultural symbiont that truly earns its keep. Many think so, but this is not yet established.

It is prejudiced to assume that religions must be good for us because they persist so vigorously, and it is prejudiced to assume that religions must be bad for us because they are cunningly designed to hold our allegiance whether they deserve it or not. I want to look at these questions using all the tools of inquiry at our disposal.

I'm surprised and disappointed that Freeman Dyson views the open-minded curiosity of Breaking the Spell as prejudiced. I'm sure he doesn't think that it is wrong to try to learn more about a natural phenomenon, so I suspect he is just being lulled by the ancient tradition that demands that religions be honored first, studied later or never.

That's the spell we must break. Religions should be respected, yes, the same way we should respect both whales and tsetse flies, sunlight and tsunamis, but not honored. When we have a better grip on what they do for us, and to us, we'll be able to make a more informed decision about whether to honor them.


COLIN TUDGE [5.2.06]
Science Writer; Author, So Shall We Reap


Isn't "The Third Culture" just the materialist end of logical positivism? And hasn't materialist positivism had as good a crack of the whip as it deserves? What do Dennett's arguments amount to apart from a statement of his own opinion (preconception, prejudice, mind-set, attitude)?

SCOTT ATRAN [5.6.06]
Anthropologist, University of Michigan; Author, In God's We Trust

Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett seem to insist that that faith in god is a weapon of war. But in cross-cultural study after study my colleagues, most notably Ara Norenzayan and Jeremy Ginges, find no evidence that belief in god, prayer frequency, or meditation is related to intolerance or violence once coalitional variables are partialed out. Although it is correct that faith and coalitional variables go hand in hand, that is just a correlation, not causation.

Several of these studies show that priming god or reminders of prayer actually increase tolerance and decrease support for violence.


GEORGE DYSON [5.6.06]
Science Historian; Author, Project Orion


Our friend Kurt Gödel, who thought logically (and never under the influence of the Templeton Foundation) has something to say about this:

Princeton 6 October 1961

Dearest Mama,

The religious views that I wrote you about have nothing to do with occultism.

Religious occultism consists in conjuring up the ghost of the Apostle Paul, or the Archangel Michael, etc., in spiritualistic seances and seeking information about religious questions from them. What I wrote you is nothing but a concrete representation and an adaptation to our present way of thinking of certain theological teachings that have been preached for two thousand years, though mixed with much nonsense.

If one reads what in the course of time has been, and still is, asserted as dogma in the various churches, one must be truly amazed. For example according to Catholic dogma the all-benevolent God created most people — namely, all except the good Catholics, which even of the Catholics are only a fraction — expressly for the purpose of sending them to Hell for all eternity. I don't think that the application of the understanding in any domain is something unsound (as you intimate). It would be quite unjustified to say that precisely in this domain one can achieve nothing with the understanding. For who would have thought, three thousand years ago, that one would be able to determine of the most distant stars how large, how heavy, how hot and how far away they are, and that many of them are a hundred times larger than the sun. Or who would have believed that someone would build television sets?

When, 2500 years ago, the doctrine was first enunciated that bodies consist of atoms, that must at that time have seemed just as fantastic and unfounded as many of the religious doctrines appear today. For at that time there was literally not a single known observational fact that could have led to the enunciation of the atomic theory; rather, that happened on purely philosophical grounds. Nevertheless, that theory has today been brilliantly confirmed and has become the basis for a very large part of modern science. Of course, today we are far from being able to justify the theological world view scientifically but I think already today it may be possible purely rationally (without the support of faith and any sort of religion) to apprehend that the theological world view is thoroughly compatible with all known facts (including the conditions that prevail on our earth).

Two hundred fifty years ago the famous philosopher and mathematician Leibniz already tried to do that, and that is also what I have attempted in my last letters. What I call the theological world-view is the idea that the world and everything in it has meaning and reason [to it], and in fact a good and indubitable meaning. From that it follows directly that our earthly existence, since it in itself has a very doubtful meaning, can only be a means toward the goal of another existence. The idea that everything in the world has meaning is, after all, precisely analogous to the principle that everything has a cause on which the whole of science rests.

With a thousand kisses,

ever yours, Kurt

[transcription from Sol Feferman's edition of Godel's Collected Works]


RICHARD GREGORY [5.12.06]
Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol; Author, Mind in Science

This may be merely a niggle, but I find 'Intelligent Design' a misleading phrase, in the evolution context, as I think of evolution by natural selection a kind of intelligence. In fact the supreme intelligence, as it created (and designed!) our intelligence. And it discovered answers to umpteen questions at present beyond our understanding in biology. It is also a bother (as Darwin recognised) that there seems to be amazingly intelligent design in physics, where there may be no trial-and-error learning, as in natural selection.

Isn't the issue really intention? I see natural selection as intelligent but lacking intention.

I think 'intelligence' needs defining without implying intention, and this might be useful for AI discussions. After all, we don't exactly know Newton's intentions (and they seem very odd), yet we call him highly intelligent.

Surely the objection, is to injecting intention from God — not intelligence.


John Brockman, Editor and Publisher
Russell Weinberger, Associate Publisher

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