Sir John Templeton, the American-born investor and philanthropist who devoted his later life to funding the scientific study of religion, died Tuesday, July 8, at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. He was 95.
The John Templeton Foundation, his charitable organization, said the cause of death was pneumonia.
Once called "arguably the greatest global stock picker," Templeton founded a prize for "progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities" in 1972. He sought to make the million-dollar Templeton Prize the world's largest annual award bestowed upon an individual, always exceeding the monetary value of the Nobel Prize.
In 1987, Templeton, a Presbyterian, set up an eponymous foundation dedicated to exploring what he called the "big questions" of science and religion: God's plan, man's faith, and the order of the universe.
"Scientific revelations may be a goldmine for revitalizing religion in the 21st century," Templeton once said.
Focusing on what he called a "humble approach" to theology, Templeton also wrote, co-wrote, or edited two dozen books, several of which incorporated ideas from many world religions.
John Templeton was born Nov. 29, 1912, in Winchester, Tennessee — a few towns away from the site of the infamous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial that pitted Darwin's theory of evolution against religious faith. The tensions of that trial long remained with the then-12-year-old Templeton.
After working his way through Yale University, Templeton won a Rhodes Scholarship and studied law at Oxford. He postponed his return to the United States to travel throughout Europe and Asia, gaining business experience in foreign markets and earning the nickname the "Marco Polo of the Class of 1934."
Following a brief stint ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more