John Templeton, Backer of Religion-and-Science Studies, Dies at 95

By Herlinger, Chris | The Christian Century, August 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

John Templeton, Backer of Religion-and-Science Studies, Dies at 95


Herlinger, Chris, The Christian Century


John Marks Templeton, who first made his mark as a pioneer international investor, is being remembered in religious circles for his commitment to the most prominent prize in religion: the annual Templeton Prize.

His passionate interest in the relation between religion and science and his hope that research could shed light on love, forgiveness and other religious tenets was reflected in the recognition of numerous scientists and philosophers who won the Templeton Prize in recent decades and the many universities awarded grants for examining the subject.

Templeton was born in Tennessee and eventually became a naturalized British citizen. He died of pneumonia at age 95 on July 8 at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas, where he had lived for many years.

The longtime Presbyterian served as a Princeton Theological Seminary trustee for 42 years, including 12 as board chair. He also endowed Templeton College at Oxford.

Templeton's creation, in 1972, of the Templeton Prize grew from a belief that an award honoring "innovators in spiritual action and thought" is as important as a Nobel Prize. Early on, Templeton stipulated that the value of the prize bearing his name must always surpass that of the Nobel Prize.

Early winners of the prize were well-known religious figures and writers, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was the first Templeton Prize Laureate in 1973, and evangelical leaders Billy Graham and Bill Bright, as well as Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Winners include Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. …

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