Good morning, and welcome to the successor to my Crunchy Con blog, of blessed memory. I’ve started this new blog because I’ve taken a new job as director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation.  JTF is a philanthropy that devotes its giving to research and projects in four basic areas: science, religion, the free market, and morals (e.g., character education). JTF is non-sectarian and non-partisan, so it makes sense for me to shift blogging gears away from political and culture-war topics. Besides, I’ve gradually become more interested in culture, broadly defined, than in politics, and in the ways culture turns up in politics, so this change represents a natural development for me personally. Regular readers will find that many of the topics I blogged about on Crunchy Con will show up here, and I will certainly be opinionated. But you won’t find me arguing in the customary partisan way; the style I’ll be developing here — and I do beg your patience as I work toward blogging in a somewhat different voice — aspires to be more inquisitive, exploring contours of the big questions in these four subject areas, and their interaction. 

If, for example, same-sex marriage comes up, I won’t be advocating for or against it, as you would have seen on the other blog, but rather I’ll be exploring some new finding in the science of human sexuality, and the challenges it may pose to religious belief. I don’t anticipate blogging at all about radical Islam — a regular theme on the old blog — but if I do blog about Islam at all, it will be more in a spirit of exploration and inquiry about how the Islamic religion approaches science (say), or ways Islamic teachings are shaping, and being shaped by, economic practices in the modern world.

The discussion I hope to inspire in the comment threads will be more philosophical than polemical. To be sure, they will be critical, in the sense of examining ideas and issues with a critical mindset, but more academic in tone and content. I do hope you who have strong opinions will express them, but I also expect that you will be as civil as you were on the old blog, because I have found time and time again that we can have a much more fruitful, and interesting, exchange when we aren’t screaming at each other.

Please bookmark this new URL on your browser. In the days to come, I’ll be building up a new blogroll. The blogs and websites I’ll list do not imply that I agree with all (or any) of their content, only that I find them useful and interesting with regard to the kinds of things I’ll be talking about here. Also, I wish to make it perfectly clear that any opinions I express on this blog are mine and mine alone, and do not express the views of the John Templeton Foundation, or any of my colleagues there.

So, let’s begin. When I get my new e-mail address at JTF, I’ll post it here so I can receive private comments from you. Please know that the JTF team and I will be spending the next few months creating a new online magazine of ideas and debate around science, religion, the market and morals; we intend to launch it sometime around the middle of 2010. If you like what you read here, let me and others know; if you don’t, let me know so I can work to improve it. Onward. 

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