Re: Religion is...
>The time spent studying the accounts of 2,000 year-old illiterate, uneducated, peasants and imagining that this will somehow shed light on the way the universe works, is an utterly despicable waste of a great mind.
Er, Townes explicitly said that understanding the *way the universe works* is science. As a human being he also wanted to think about what the meaning of universe might be - and we might call that religion, spirituality or philosophy. It's a point of view, similar to Stephen J Gould's 'Non-overlapping magisteria' - it isn't held by everyone, but is an attempt at a consensus that can allow one to stop fighting and do some science. The chances are that his faith/curiosity aided his scientific endeavours rather than hindered them.
Had he been a baseball fan, would you still have said that his study of the sport was "an utterly despicable waste of a great mind."? What about Einstein's violin playing, or Feynman's bongo playing?