I originally composed this bit as a response to this discussion started by Sean Carroll happening over at 3QD. As someone on the inside looking out I may have a unique vantage point on the whole Templeton foundation funded World Science Festival. On Wednesday June 2nd I flew all the way from Fort Collins, CO to New York City to volunteer at the World Science Festival and catch up with some old friends. I attended the Moth main-stage storytelling event last night, recorded some great stories, and got to meet nearly all the speakers - my favorites were Kristen Baldwin and Leonard Mlodinow . Tonight I attended the James Webb space telescope panel discussion. Because the night sky was cloudy and there were no stars to be seen, Neil DeGrass Tyson was gracious enough to come and speak to the crowd. When a question was asked about the compatibility of faith and science he was quick to point out that the WSF is funded in part by the Templeton foundation, who he said had "come knocking on his door" before about promoting discussion between scientists and people of faith. He gave an ingenious answer to the compatibility question. He said "religion needs to discuss religion with itself first" and get all that sorted out before it can talk to science. Meaning that religion in all its gory history has caused some of the most egregious human suffering in the record books and therefore needs to have peace (all the competing ideals) before any kind of scientific discussion of faith could conceivably begin. He had a LOT of other things to say and Brian Greene and his son even came out to give him a hug on stage as he had a very sweaty, humid but intimate discussion with the large crowd. What a night! I will be uploading some of his talks on my website tonight. I will also attend the controversial "Faith and Science" talk tomorrow at 4 PM. For those readers in New York the venue has been changed to the Rosenthal Pavilion which is at 60 Washington sq. on the 10th floor - this is NYU's Kimmel Center. I have been assigned by the World Science Festival itself to cover the talk and write about it for the WSF blog. I will syndicate it on my own web site but it should be interesting regardless!
Please check it out and respond to the coverage.
PS. As I was performing my duties as a runner tonight I was able to visit the site of Thomas Paine's death where a memorial plaque is mounted. The Tavern - Marie's Crisis - is a tiny basement of a bar with ebullient patrons full of show tunes ready to sing with tiny rum and cokes in hand. An awe inspiring juxtaposition of deep history and happy apathy. I wonder what Thomas Paine would think if he walked down those stairs today? And if he would engage in conversation with Dr. Tyson?