Nobel winners condemn 'religious' science prize
Nobel prize winners have criticised an eminent British scientist for accepting a US-funded £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.1 million euro) prize for exploring life's spiritual dimension.
The cosmologist Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, was awarded this year's Templeton Prize, endowed by the late US mutual fund pioneer John Templeton, late Wednesday.
The Templeton Foundation said Rees's "profound insights on the cosmos have provoked vital questions that address mankind's deepest hopes and fears".
But some scientists are suspicious of what they see as the Templeton Foundation's religious agenda.
Professor Harry Kroto, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 and is a colleague of Rees in Britain's leading scientific institution, the Royal Society, told The Times: "This news is really bad for the Royal Society, bad for the UK -- a basically secular country.
"The prize uses money to imply that it has obtained some sort of Nobel-like consensus from scientists on the science-religion issue.
"Yet nine out of ten eminent scientists are atheist-freethinkers for whom science is primarily about the reliable determination of truth."
Richard Roberts, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993, said Rees could not have accepted the prize while he was president of the Royal Society. Rees quit the role last year.
"There would have been uproar," Roberts told the same newspaper. "Even to take it now, when he has only just stepped down as president, I think it's terrible.
"The Templeton Foundation is only interested in spreading religion and trying to make Christianity more acceptable."
Rees was not immediately available for comment
© 2011 AFP