Scientific Extremism on Display — And the Prize Goes To . . .

Last week, Britain’s Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, was announced as the recipient of the 2011 Templeton Prize. The prize, awarded annually, provides a cash award greater than the Nobel Prize and is presented, according to the Templeton Foundation, to someone who has made “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”

Apparently, affirming life’s spiritual dimension is a rather meaningless category, since Martin Rees is widely known to have no religious beliefs at all. As The Guardian [London] reported, Lord Rees “neither believes in God nor subscribes to any religious dogma.”

Rees, who was reared in an Anglican home and sometimes attends chapel services at his Cambridge college, said: “I participate in occasional religious services which are the customs of the society I grew up in. I’m not allergic to religion.”

In an extensive interview with The Guardian, Lord Rees told the paper, “Well, I’ve got no religious beliefs at all. Of course some of the winners have, but I think not all of them.”

He accepted the paper’s designation of himself as “a churchgoer who doesn’t believe in God,” and said: “What I’ve said is I’m happy to attend my college chapel and things like that, because I see this as part of my culture, just like many Jews light candles on Friday night even though they don’t believe anything, and my culture is the Church of England, as it were.”….

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