Templeton Prize

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Since 1972, the Templeton Foundation has made annual grants to a living person who, in the estimation of its judges, best exemplifies "trying various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity."

The prize is named after Sir John Templeton, an American-born British entrepreneur and businessman, who was knighted (Knight Bachelor) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts.

Templeton was born on 29 November 1912) in Winchester, Tennessee. He graduated in 1934 from Yale, was a Rhodes Scholar to Balloi College, University of Oxford, and graduated from there with a Master's degree in law. A stock investor, businessman, and philanthropist, he renounced his U. S. citizenship in 1968 and has dual naturalized Bahamian and British citizenship. He is a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church and for 12 years served as chairman of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He became a billionaire by being a pioneer in the use of globally diversified mutual funds.

The monetary value of the prize (795,000 GBP or approx. 1.5 million US dollars in 2007) is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes. The prize is, as of 2006, the largest single annual financial prize award given to an individual for intellectual merit. Prince Phillip in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace has been presenter of the prize. Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims have been on the panel of judges and have been recipients.

Prize Winners

All the following are believed to be Theists

1973 - Mother Teresa of Calcutta
1974 - Frère Roger, founder of the Taizé Community
1975 - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President of India
1976 - Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens
1977 - Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement
1978 - Very Rev. Prof. Thomas Torrance
1979 - Rev. Nikkyo Niwano
1980 - Ralph Wendell Burhoe, founder of Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
1981 - Cicely Saunders, hospice founder
1982 - Billy Graham, evangelist
1983 - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Soviet dissident novelist
1984 - Rev. Michael Bourdeaux, founder of the Keston Institute
1985 - Alister Hardy, founder of the Religious Experience Research Centre
1986 - Rev. James I. McCord of the Princeton Theological Seminary
1987 - Stanley Jaki
1988 - Dr. Inamullah Khan
1989 - Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, physicist, and Lord MacLeod of Fuinary, founder of the Iona Community
1990 - Baba Amte and L. Charles Birch
1991 - Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits
1992 - Kyung-Chik Han
1993 - Charles Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship
1994 - Michael Novak, philosopher and diplomat
1995 - Paul Davies, theoretical physicist
1996 - Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
1997 - Pandurang Shastri Athavale
1998 - Sigmund Sternberg, philanthropist
1999 - Ian Barbour, professor
2000 - Freeman Dyson, physicist
2001 - Rev. Arthur Peacocke
2002 - Rev. John Polkinghorne
2003 - Holmes Rolston III
2004 - George F. R. Ellis, cosmologist and philosopher
2005 - Charles Townes, Nobel laureate , physicist (inventions include the maser as well as early work on the laser)
2006 - John D. Barrow, cosmologist and theoretical physicist
2007 - Charles Taylor, Canadian who teaches law and philosophy at Northwestern University
2008 - Rev. Prof. Michael Heller, physicist and philosopher
2009 - Bernard d'Espagnat, physicist
2010 - Francisco J. Ayala, biologist and former priest


The John Templeton Foundation's website includes information about how it funds core themes (e.g.,

ethics and moral philosophy;
natural philosophy;
philosophical theology;
philosophy of language;
philosophy of mathematics and logic;
philosophy of mind;
philosophy and history of science;
religious phenomenology;
theology of nature.

"Does the Universe Have a Purpose," one of the core themes, resulted in various responses:

Yes - David Gelernter; Owen Gingerich; John F. Haught;
Certainly - Jane Goodall
Indeed - Nancey Murphy
Very Likely - Bruno Guiderdoni;
Perhaps - Paul Davies;
I Hope So - Eli Wiesel
No - Peter William Atkins; Christian de Duve;
Unlikely - Lawrence M. Krauss;
Not Sure - Neil deGrasse Tyson.