Meet the 2010 Templeton-Cambridge Fellows

Ten journalists have been selected for this year’s Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion, a two-month program in which they’ll examine key concepts in science and religion through seminars, discussions, and independent study. The group includes The Huffington Post contributor Dr. Qanta Ahmed, freelancer John Farrell, documentary producer Zeeya Merali, science writer Chris Mooney, The World‘s chief anchor and senior producer Lisa Mullins, Nature contributor Jane Qiu, Religion News Service correspondent Francis Rocca, The Chronicle of Higher Education critic-at-large Carlin Romano, Slate cultural columnist Ron Rosenbaum, and The New Republic executive editor J. Peter Scoblic.
Says Sir Brian Heap, co-director of the program:

The story of science and religion, with its deep roots in the past, has grown into one of the most complex, challenging, and important stories of our time.


Top 10 Religion Stories of 2009

UPI Photo/Chuck Kennedy/White HouseThe Religion Newswriters Association voted President Obama’s June speech in Cairo, in which he called for a new beginning in U.S.-Muslim relations, the top religion story of the year.
Here are the runners-up, in order:

2. Health-care reform, the No. 1 topic in Congress for most of the year, involves faith-based groups appealing strongly for action to help “the least of these,” and others, such as the Roman Catholic bishops, for restrictions on abortion funding.
3. Because Major Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.
4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country’s leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs.
5. Mormons in California come under attack from some supporters of gay rights because of their lobbying efforts in the November 2008 election on behalf of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage. Later in the year, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire approve gay marriage, but it is overturned by voters in Maine.
6. President Obama receives an honorary degree and gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame after fierce debates at the Roman Catholic university over Obama’s views on abortion.
7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a committed monogamous relationship, leading a number of conservative churches—known as the Coalition for Renewal—to move toward forming a new denomination.
8. The recession forces cutbacks at a great variety of faith-related organizations—houses of worship, relief agencies, colleges and seminaries, publishing houses.
9. The Episcopal Church Triennial Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops, ignoring a request from the archbishop of Canterbury. At year’s end, Los Angeles chooses a lesbian, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop. Earlier, an elected bishop in Upper Michigan, Kevin Thew Forrester, is rejected because of his extreme liberal views.
10. President Obama’s inauguration includes a controversial invocation by Rick Warren and a controversial benediction by Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Bishop Gene Robinson.


Lawrence Krauss to Nicholas Kristof: Praise Reason

In case you missed it, here’s the letter that physicist Lawrence Krauss sent to The New York Times in response to Nicholas Kristof’s column on the recent science and religion books by Robert Wright, Karen Armstrong, and Nicholas Wade:

There seems something facile about Robert Wright’s suggestion that the fact that “god” grows better over time reflects evidence that there is higher purpose, or Karen Armstrong’s notion that pushing reasoning powers to their limit, stretching language and living compassionately produce a transcendence that should be interpreted in a religious sense, and I am surprised that Mr. Kristof presents their arguments as if they offer some rational middle ground for discussion.
“God” has gotten more moral over time because even organized religions have been dragged forward, often kicking and screaming, by human reason, which itself has been pushed forward by our discoveries about nature—discoveries that belied obviously false notions about superiority of one race over another or the need to impose divine vengeance to respond to simple, explicable acts of nature.
While it is surely true that faith itself may exist beyond the bounds of rationality, what Mr. Kristof should be praising is reason and not faith.
If one wants to find transcendent examples of pushing reasoning to its limit and stretching language to the end of its tether, one could do worse than to read the books of my colleagues Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris.


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