Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Templeton Prize

The Templeton Prize is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works". The prize is named after Sir John Templeton (1912–2008), an American-born British entrepreneur and businessman, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts. Until 2001, the name of the prize was "Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion", and from 2002 to 2008 it was called the "Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities". It has typically been presented by Prince Philip in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The monetary value of the prize is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes, as Templeton felt "spirituality was ignored" in the Nobel Prizes. At £1,200,000, as of 2015, it is the second largest single annual financial prize award (behind the Fundamental Physics Prize) given to an individual by a philanthropic organization. The prize is awarded "based on the decision of a panel of distinguished judges from various academic disciplines and religious traditions". Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists have been on the panel of judges and have been recipients of the prize.

The prize has been criticized: British biologist Richard Dawkins said in his book The God Delusion that the prize was given "usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion". Sean M. Carroll, a research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, criticized his colleagues for taking Templeton research grants when they did not support Templeton's beliefs. Martinus J. G. Veltman, the 1999 Nobel laureate in physics, suggested the prize "bridg[ed] the gap between sense and nonsense".

The inaugural winner of the prize, in 1973, was Mother Teresa, six years before she received the Nobel Peace Prize. She was cited by the Templeton Foundation "for her extraordinary efforts to help the homeless and neglected children of Calcutta," work which "inspired millions of others around the world".

Templeton Prize Winners

1973    Mother Teresa

1974    Frere Roger

1975    Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

1976    Leo Josef Cardinal Suenens

1977    Chiara Lubich

1978    The Very Rev. Thomas Torrance

1979    Nikkyō Niwano

1980    Ralph Wendell Burhoe

1981    Dame Cicely Saunders

1982    The Rev. Billy Graham

1983    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

1984    The Rev. Michael Bourdeaux

1985    Sir Alister Hardy

1986    The Rev. James I. McCord

1987    The Rev. Stanley Jaki

1988    Inamullah Khan

1989    Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker

1989    The Very Rev. and Rt. Hon. The Lord MacLeod of Fuinary

1990    Baba Amte

1990    Charles Birch

1991    Rabbi The Rt. Hon. The Lord Jakobovits

1992    The Rev. Kyung-Chik Han

1993    Charles Colson

1994    Michael Novak

1995    Paul Davies

1996    Bill Bright

1997    Rev. Pandurang Shastri Athavale

1998    Sir Sigmund Sternberg

1999    Ian Barbour

2000    Freeman Dyson

2001    The Rev. Canon Arthur Peacocke

2002    The Rev. John Polkinghorne

2003    The Rev. Holmes Rolston III

2004    George F. R. Ellis

2005    Charles Hard Townes

2006    John D. Barrow

2007    Charles Margrave Taylor

2008    The Rev. Michał Heller

2009    Bernard d'Espagnat

2010    Francisco J. Ayala

2011    The Rt. Hon. The Lord Rees of Ludlow

2012    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

2013    The Most Rev. Desmond Tutu

2014    Tomáš Halík

2015    Jean Vanier

2016    Jonathan Sacks


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