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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, 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 Palacemarker.

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 £1,000,000, as of 2009, it is the largest single annual financial prize award given to an individual by a philanthropic organisation. 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 and atheist 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, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technologymarker, criticized his colleagues for taking Templeton research grants when they did not support Templeton's beliefs. Martinus J. G. Veltman, the 1999 Nobel physics laurete, 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" and for her work, which "inspired millions of others around the world". The most recent recipient is French physicist Bernard d'Espagnat, whose "explorations of the philosophical implications of quantum physics have opened new vistas on the definition of reality and the potential limits of knowable science".


Year Laureate Notes Ref(s)
1973 Mother Teresa of Calcuttamarker Founder of India's Missionaries of Charity, 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner
1974 Frère Roger Founder of the Taizé Communitymarker
1975 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Former President of India, advocate of non-aggression with Pakistan
1976 Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens Pioneer in the Charismatic Renewal Movement
1977 Chiara Lubich Founder of the Focolare Movement
1978 Prof. Thomas Torrance Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
1979 Rev. Nikkyo Niwano Cofounder of Risshō Kōsei Kai
1980 Ralph Wendell Burhoe Founder of Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
1981 Cicely Saunders Hospice and Palliative Care Movement founder
1982 Rev. Dr. Billy Graham Evangelist
1983 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Sovietmarker dissident novelist
1984 Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Founder of the Keston Institute
1985 Alister Hardy Founder of the Religious Experience Research Centre
1986 Rev. James I. McCord Former president of the Princeton Theological Seminarymarker
1987 Rev. Father Dr. Stanley Jaki Benedictine monk and professor of astrophysics at Seton Hall Universitymarker
1988 Dr. Inamullah Khan Former secretary-general of the Modern World Muslim Congress
1989 Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Physicist and philosopher
1989 Lord MacLeod of Fuinary Founder of the Iona Community
1990 Baba Amte Developed modern communities for people suffering from leprosy
1990 Charles Birch Emeritus Professor at University of Sydney
1991 Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth from 1967 to 1991
1992 Kyung-Chik Han Evangelist and founder of Young Nak Presbyterian Church
1993 Charles Colson Founder of the Prison Fellowship
1994 Michael Novak Philosopher and diplomat
1995 Paul Davies Theoretical physicist
1996 Dr. Bill Bright Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
1997 Pandurang Shastri Athavale Social reformer, philosopher, and founder of Swadhyay Movement
1998 Sigmund Sternberg Philanthropist
1999 Ian Barbour Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and Society at Carleton Collegemarker
2000 Freeman Dyson Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Studymarker, Princeton
2001 Rev. Arthur Peacocke Former Dean of Clare College, Cambridgemarker
2002 Rev. John Polkinghorne Physicist and theologian
2003 Holmes Rolston III Philosopher
2004 George F. R. Ellis Cosmologist and philosopher
2005 Charles Townes Nobel laureate and physicist
2006 John D. Barrow Cosmologist and theoretical physicist
2007 Charles Taylor Philosopher
2008 Rev. Prof. Michał Heller Physicist and philosopher
2009 Bernard d'Espagnat Physicist


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



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