Physicist Wins Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion

Freeman Dyson, midwife of Quantum Electrodynamics, futurist, and popularizer of science, honored for work on responsible science.

Alfred Nobel made a small fortune in the dynamite business and used it to endow a series of very famous and very generous prizes for "breakthroughs" in fields like Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Medicine, Literature and even Peace. Nobel did not, however, endow a prize for Biology, because it barely existed as a recognizable science during his lifetime. He did not endow a prize for mathematics, because, supposedly, his wife was having an affair with a mathematician. And he did not endow a prize for religion. Unlike the case with mathematics and biology, Nobel's failure to establish a prize for religion was not seriously questioned. No doubt many academics were convinced no "breakthrough" in religion would merit such a prize. The belief that there could not be "breakthroughs" or "progress" in religion was challenged in 1972 by legendary Wall Street financier Sir John Templeton. Sir John, as he is known, has long believed and argued in a number of books that progress can be made in religion and he, quite literally, put his money where his mouth is, endowing the Templeton Award for Progress in Religion, which is awarded annually to "a living individual for outstanding originality in advancing the world's understanding of God or spirituality." The prize is funded to the extent that it provides the recipients with greater financial rewards than does the Nobel. Sir John envisages a global spirituality, with room for insights from all the world's great religions and a special place for scientifically informed visions of the meaning of human life. Previous winners of the Templeton Prize have included a cross section of individuals from a number of religious traditions. Mother Teresa was the first recipient in 1973. Since then many ...

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