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Royal Society president warns on fundaMentalists

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It was 345 years ago that Christopher Wren and eleven mates met in London to set up a "College for the promoting of Physic-Mathematical Experimental Learning" - which later became the Royal Society.

But in a speech due to be delivered tonight RS president Lord May will warn that fundamentalist religious loons threaten the benefits of the Enlightenment.

After outlining possible future problems like climate change, loss of biological diversity and disease May says: "Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason. The Enlightenment's core values, which lie at the heart of the Royal Society - free, open, unpredjudiced, uninhibited questioning and enquiry; individual liberty; separation of church and state - are under serious threat from resurgent fundamentalism, West and East."

May warns that western governments need to take seriously the science behind global warming and take action now to reduce its likely effects. He warns that loss of animal and plant species could be a greater threat than climate change.

On HIV May points out that adequate strategies to prevent future infections exist but are stymied by religious groups. The Vatican promotes abstinence rather than condom use and much US aid is similarly tied to promoting abstinence.

Lord May will deliver his fifth and final anniversary address this evening. More details here.®

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