Templeton Prize

The Templeton Prize
Awarded for Outstanding contributions in affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
Country United States
Presented by Templeton Foundation
First awarded 1973
Official website www.templetonprize.org

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".[1] 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.[2] 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".[3][4] It has typically been presented by Prince Philip in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.[5][6][7]

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.[8] At £1,200,000, as of 2015,[9] it is the second largest single annual financial prize award (behind the Fundamental Physics Prize) given to an individual by a philanthropic organization.[10][11] The prize is awarded "based on the decision of a panel of distinguished judges from various academic disciplines and religious traditions".[12] Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists have been on the panel of judges and have been recipients of the prize.[13]

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".[14] 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.[15] Martinus J. G. Veltman, the 1999 Nobel laureate in physics, suggested the prize "bridg[ed] the gap between sense and nonsense".[16]

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".[17]


Year Laureate Notes Ref(s)
1973 Mother Teresa facing right Mother Teresa Founder, Missionaries of Charity; 1979 Nobel Peace Prize laureate [18]
1974 Frère Roger in a group of people Frère Roger Founder, Taizé Community [19]
1975 Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Former President of India, advocate of non-aggression with Pakistan [19]
1976 Leo Josef Cardinal Suenens Pioneer in the Charismatic Renewal movement [20]
1977 Chiara Lubich Founder, Focolare Movement [21]
1978 The Very Rev. Thomas Torrance Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [20]
1979 Nikkyō Niwano Cofounder, Risshō Kōsei Kai [20]
1980 Ralph Wendell Burhoe Founder, Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science [22]
1981 Dame Cicely Saunders Founder, hospice and palliative care movement [23]
1982 A black-and-white image of Billy Graham The Rev. Billy Graham Evangelist [24]
1983 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with his mouth open and lower teeth on show Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Soviet dissident novelist; Nobel laureate [24]
1984 The Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Founder, Keston Institute [19]
1985 Sir Alister Hardy Founder, Religious Experience Research Centre [25]
1986 The Rev. James I. McCord Former president, Princeton Theological Seminary [26]
1987 The Rev. Stanley Jaki Benedictine priest; professor of astrophysics, Seton Hall University [24]
1988 Inamullah Khan Former secretary-general, Modern World Muslim Congress [27]
1989 Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker Physicist and philosopher [20][A]
1989 The Very Rev. and Rt. Hon. The Lord MacLeod of Fuinary Founder, Iona Community [28][A]
1990 Baba Amte Developer of modern communities for people suffering from leprosy [29][B]
1990 Charles Birch Emeritus professor, University of Sydney [30][B]
1991 Rabbi The Rt. Hon. The Lord Jakobovits Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth [20]
1992 The Rev. Kyung-Chik Han Evangelist and founder, Young Nak Presbyterian Church [31]
1993 Charles Colson Founder, Prison Fellowship [19]
1994 Michael Novak behind a lectern, speaking at the Foreign Press Center in Washington Michael Novak Philosopher and diplomat [19]
1995 Paul Davies Theoretical physicist [32]
1996 Bill Bright Founder, Campus Crusade for Christ [33]
1997 Rev. Pandurang Shastri Athavale Social reformer; philosopher; and founder, Swadhyay Movement [33]
1998 Sir Sigmund Sternberg Philanthropist; founder, Three Faith Forum [19]
1999 Ian Barbour Professor emeritus of science, technology and society, Carleton College [34]
2000 Freeman Dyson Professor emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton [34]
2001 The Rev. Canon Arthur Peacocke Former dean, Clare College, Cambridge [5]
2002 The Rev. John Polkinghorne Physicist and theologian [19]
2003 The Rev. Holmes Rolston III Philosopher [35]
2004 George F. R. Ellis Cosmologist and philosopher [36]
2005 Charles Hard Townes Nobel laureate and physicist [18]
2006 John D. Barrow Cosmologist and theoretical physicist [37]
2007 Charles Taylor giving a lecture at the New School in 2007 Charles Margrave Taylor Philosopher [14]
2008 The Rev. Michał Heller Physicist and philosopher [6]
2009 Bernard d'Espagnat Physicist [7]
2010 Francisco J. Ayala Biologist [38]
2011 The Rt. Hon. The Lord Rees of Ludlow Cosmologist and astrophysicist [39]
2012 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso Spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate [40]
2013 The Most Rev. Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate, social rights activist and retired Anglican archbishop [41]
2014 Tomáš Halík Roman Catholic priest, theologian, sociologist [42]
2015 Jean Vanier Catholic theologian, humanitarian and founder of L'Arche and Faith and Light [43]
2016 Jonathan Sacks Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, philosopher, and scholar of Judaism [44]


A. a Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Lord MacLeod of Fuinary were jointly awarded the prize in 1989.[17]
B. b Baba Amte and Charles Birch were jointly awarded the prize in 1990.[17]




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  3. Enman, Charles (July 8, 2008). "Templeton dies". Ottawa Citizen. Canada.com. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  4. Crewe, Daniel (March 15, 2003). "Just because science looks forward, religion isn't backward". The Times. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  5. 1 2 Niebuhr, Gustav (March 9, 2001). "Religion Prize Won by Priest Much Involved With Science". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  6. 1 2 Hall, John (March 12, 2008). "Cosmologist wins world's largest monetary award". The Independent. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
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  11. "About". Fundamental Physics Prize. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
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  13. "Judges". Templeton Foundation. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  14. 1 2 Jeffries, Stuart (December 8, 2007). "Is that all there is?". The Guardian. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
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  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Akbar, Arifa (March 15, 2007). "Philosopher wins £800,000 award for spiritual focus". The Independent. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
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  21. "Lubich, Chiara – Italian Roman Catholic lay leader". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
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  23. Clark, David. Cicely Saunders – Founder of the Hospice Movement: Selected Letters 1959–1999. Oxford University Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-19-856969-6.
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  28. MacLeod, George. Daily Readings with George Macleod. Fount. p. 15. ISBN 0-00-627513-3.
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  30. "Emeritus Professor Louis Charles Birch". University of Sydney. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
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  33. 1 2 Niebuhr, Gustav (March 6, 1997). "Leader of Spiritual Movement Wins $1.2 Million Religion Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  34. 1 2 Connor, Steve (March 23, 2000). "£600,000 prize for physicist who urges ethics in science". The Independent. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  35. Sewell, Helen (March 19, 2003). "Environmentalist wins $1m prize". BBC News. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  36. Howse, Christopher (March 20, 2004). "Sacred mysteries". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  37. "British scientist wins $1m prize". BBC News. March 15, 2006. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
  38. Dean, Cornelia (March 25, 2010). "Biologist Wins Templeton Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  39. Satter, Raphael (April 6, 2011). "UK Astrophysicist Wins $1.6 Million Religion Prize". ABC News. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  40. "Dalai Lama Wins 2012 Templeton Prize". Philanthropy News Daily. March 30, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  41. "Archbishop Desmond Tutu wins £1.1m Templeton Prize". BBC News. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  42. Bingham, John (13 March 2014). "Czech priest and former dissident Tomáš Halík wins £1.1m Templeton prize". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  43. "Current Winner". John Templeton Foundation. March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  44. "Current Winner". John Templeton Foundation. Retrieved March 8, 2016.

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