Templeton Prize

The Templeton Prize is an award to encourage progress in religion.   It was established in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, a Tennessee-born British financier and Presbyterian layman.   He established the award to redress the fact that no Nobel Prize is granted for religion.   Announced in March, it is awarded at Buckingham Palace in London; its value has increased over the years to £1 million.

Since its inception, recipients of the prize have included Mother Teresa, Taizé Prior Roger Schutz, Evangelist Billy Graham, Charles W. Colsen and Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Past Winners



Bishop Desmond Tutu
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa

The qualities sought in a Templeton Prize nominee include creativity and innovation, rigor and impact.   The judges seek, above all, a substantial record of achievement that highlights or exemplifies one of the various ways in which human beings express their yearning for spiritual progress.   Consideration is given to a nominee's work as a whole, not just during the year prior to selection.

Nominations are especially encouraged in the fields of:

  • Research in the human sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences.
  • Scholarship in philosophy, theology, and other areas of the humanities.
  • Practice, including religious leadership, the creation of organizations that edify and inspire, and the development of new schools of thought.
  • Commentary and Journalism on matters of religion, virtue, character formation, and the flourishing of the human spirit.

These fields do not exhaust the areas in which achievement might qualify for the Templeton Prize, nor is it necessary for a nominee's work to be confined to just one field.

Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation was established in 1987 by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton; the current president is his son John M. Templeton, Jr. It is usually referred to simply as the Templeton Foundation.

The mission of the Templeton Foundation is:

to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions.   These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity.   Our vision is derived from Sir John Templeton's commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship.   The Foundation's motto "How little we know, how eager to learn" exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.

It funds work in the natural and human sciences, in philosophy and theology, in research into free-market solutions to poverty, and in support of gifted education.

It gives away about $60 million a year in research grants and programs.

The John Templeton Foundation funds several other prizes including the Epiphany Prize for Inspiring Movies


Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub
14th Dalai Lama


Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow
cosmologist / astrophysicist, Cambridge, England.


Prof. Francisco J. Ayala
Professor of Biological Sciences, Irvine, CA


Prof. Bernard d'Espagnat
physicist and philosopher of science, Paris, France.


Prof. Michael Heller
cosmologist and Catholic priest, Cracow, Poland.


Prof. Charles Taylor
philosopher, Montreal, Canada.


Prof. John D. Barrow
cosmologist, Cambridge, England.


Prof. Charles H. Townes
physicist, Berkeley, CA.


Prof. George F.R. Ellis
cosmologist, Cape Town, South Africa.


Prof. Holmes Rolston, III
philosopher Colorado Springs, CO.


The Rev. Dr. John C. Polkinghorne
scientist and theologian, Cambridge, England.


Arthur Peacocke
physical biochemist and Anglican priest, Oxford University, England; founded Society of Ordained Scientists


Freeman J. Dyson
physicist and professor emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey


Ian Barbour
physicist and theologian at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota


Sir Sigmund Sternberg
advocate of improved inter-religious relations


Pandurang Shastri Athavale
Indian spiritual leader


Bill Bright
founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, international evangelical ministry


Dr. Paul Davies
professor, University of Adelaide, Australia


Michael Novak
scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.


Charles W. Colson
founder, Prison Fellowship, Virginia


Dr. Kyung-Chik Han
founder of Seoul's Young Nak Presbyterian Church


The Rt. Hon. Lord Jakobovits
Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth


Baba Amte, India
and Professor Charles Birch, Sydney, Australia


The Very Reverend Lord MacLeod of the Iona Community, Scotland
and Professor Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker of Starnberg, West Germany


Dr. Inamullah Khan
secretary-general of the World Muslim Congress


The Reverend Professor Stanley L. Jaki
Princeton, New Jersey


The Reverend Dr. James McCord
Princeton, New Jersey


Sir Alister Hardy
Oxford, England


The Reverend Michael Bourdeaux
founder of Keston College, England


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
(United States)


The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham
founder, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association


Dame Cecily Saunders
originator of Modern Hospice Movement, England


Professor Ralph Wendell Burhoe
founder and editor of Zygon, Chicago


Nikkyo Niwano
founder of Rissho Kosel Kai and World Conferences on Religion and Peace, Japan


Professor Thomas F. Torrance
president of International Academy of Religion and Sciences, Scotland


Chiara Lubich
founder of the Focolare Movement, Italy


H. E. Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens
archbishop of Malines-Brussels


Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
former president of India and Oxford professor of eastern religions and ethics


Brother Roger
founder and prior of the Taize Community in France


Mother Teresa of Calcutta
founder of the Missionaries of Charity

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