Daniel Dennett Withdraws from World Science Festival Due to Templeton Foundation Sponsorship


Daniel Dennett. Bild: Friendly Atheist
The World Science Festival takes place in New York City later this month and philosopher Daniel Dennett will not be attending as scheduled.


By Hemant Mehta|Friendly Atheist

His reason? The event (and specifically one of the sessions in which he was slated to participate) is sponsored in part by the John Templeton Foundation, an organization that frequently blurs the line between science and religion.

If you’re someone who doesn’t accept the idea that the two can go hand-in-hand — a position held by many well-known atheists — then a group that suggests otherwise isn’t one you want to be associated with. (At one point, accepting a Templeton grant required you to seek input from theologians. They have since stopped doing that.)

Dennett said in an email to the organizers (published by Jerry Coyne) that he was upset he wasn’t informed about Templeton’s involvement in his panel ahead of time:

I have just learned of the Templeton Foundation’s funding role in the session I was to be participating in, and I don’t do Templeton-funded events, as I have often made clear in public and in print. I wish I had been told of this when first invited. It would have saved us both a lot of time and effort. I remember all too well the appalling sessions curated by The Templeton Foundation at the Cambridge University Darwin Bicentennial in 2009, which were an embarrassment to science and to Cambridge. I don’t know the extent of the advising or consulting role of the Templeton Foundation in the World Science Foundation’s plans, but since I was not informed from the outset about the Templeton Fundation’s role, I consider this in itself to be more than adequate grounds for declining, at this late date, your kind invitation.

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