Religion Prize Winner Says Science Needs Ethics
Witham, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Scientific futurist Freeman J. Dyson, a Princeton physicist who argues that science should be humble and serve the poor, yesterday received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
"Technology must be guided and driven by ethics if it is to do more than provide new toys for the rich," Mr. Dyson said at a New York news conference.
"Scientists and business leaders who care about social justice should join forces with environmentalists and religious organizations to give political clout to ethics," he said.
Mr. Dyson, a native of England who worked on the mathematics of bomber tactics during World War II and nuclear arms control afterward, is an agnostic but an advocate for religion's role as a source of moral knowledge.
"Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible," Mr. Dyson said. He has retired in Princeton, N.J., where he spent much of his career at the Institute of Advanced Study, made famous by Albert Einstein.
The Templeton Prize, worth $948,000, was endowed by global investor Sir John Templeton. Previous recipients of the prize include Mother Teresa of India, Russia's Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the Rev. Billy Graham.
"The prize is not for saintliness or mere good works; it is for progress," Mr. Templeton has said.
The amount of the award - traditionally the richest in the world - has been reduced this year because it is pegged to the Nobel Prize, which is paid in Swedish krona, which has lost value.
In a phone interview, Mr. Dyson said how he will use the award "is a serious matter" still to be decided.
"Science is a club that is great fun to belong to," said Mr. Dyson, who holds only a bachelor's degree in science. "The main thing for a young scientist is not to get too specialized, not to get too painted into a corner by learning only one thing."
He counseled "flexibility" in a science career, saying it might be a good idea to "switch careers every five years or so. …