In the Nation’s recent profile of the Templeton Foundation, I notice that A.C. Grayling and Michael Ruse are quoted. Here’s the relevant passage:
A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and former columnist for New Scientist magazine . . . accuses the foundation of “borrowing respectability from science for religion.”
These critiques have taken a toll on the Templeton brand. “I don’t think Templeton money is dishonorable, and I have taken it myself,” says Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State University. But Ruse expresses relief that his latest book wasn’t funded by any Templeton grants. “The whole business has become so politicized and open to attack by the New Atheists—they would claim that I am just a paid spokesman.”
In other words, Michael Ruse laments New Atheist meddling in his once cozy relationship with the Templeton Foundation: “The whole business has become . . . open to attack by the New Atheists.”
I think that Ruse’s comment provides evidence (at least to my mind) that New Atheist rhetorical strategies are valuable. In this case, they are bringing air and sunlight to a foundational emperor that may have no clothes.
I have to wonder why he even cares, though. My own thoughts about Templeton aside (I probably wouldn’t accept any of their grants either if I ever go about writing a book someday, though whether or not they are a ‘naked emperor’ is another question), as far as I can tell the “New Atheists’ Attack” doesn’t consist in much more than complaining and writing snarky blog entries about him. All of which are meaningless are easily ignored.
I was thinking of Templeton as a “temple” to be cleansed, with its naked emperor and naked servant priests (like Ruse).
Anyway, those snarky blog atheists really seem to rattle the civil and respectful conversation that Ruse would like to move in, and I don’t think it is easily ignored because it punctures the bubble of rectitude.
When you can’t defend your position intellectually, you want the tone of conversation around your obfuscations to be soft.