Religious bias

the truly worrying aspect of Peter Kearney’s article (“Science and religion can be compatible”, 14 February) is not the complete misrepresentation of the relationship between science and religion, as Mr Kearney, as director of the Scottish Catholic Media Centre, is expected (and paid) to try and accommodate science and religion.

What is troubling is that the body whose mission should be to form the next generations of scientists and leaders – Scottish universities – seem to acquiesce with the increasingly aggressive attempts by US organisations to bamboozle students and staff into an “accommodationist” stance. Taking my own university (St Andrews) as an example, it has organised high-profile lectures on science and Christianity. This should have been an excellent opportunity to expose students and staff to the debate on whether religion (based on belief without evidence) is compatible with science (the pursuit of knowledge through the interplay between theory and evidence). Instead, every lecturer invited by the university was from one side of the argument (the accommodationist camp).

The fact that, again, every lecturer had links with the main sponsor of the event, the Templeton Foundation, is not a coincidence. It is a Christian US organisation whose mission is to convert students and scientists to accommodationism and whose financial strength allows it to have a worldwide reach.

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The next lecturer in the series, Bishop Tom Wright, has impeccable religious credentials, but on the strength of his O-level in physics, is he really the most suitable person to address the question “Can a scientist trust the New Testament?”

I await the day when Scottish universities will start to treat the important issue of the relationship between science and religion not as a means to appease well-endowed US organisations but as subject to be debated openly and properly.


Reader in Economics
University of St Andrews