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The Templeton Prize — won by George Ellis

Article: Theosophy-Science Group Newsletter, September 2004, p2

The Templeton Prize and the Templeton Foundation

Sir John Templeton founded the Templeton Prize for “Progress in Religion” in 1972. He was knighted in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts, including the endowment of Templeton College, Oxford. In 1987 he sold his highly successful Mutual Funds business in order to focus more on his philanthropic work. He is honorary secretary of “The Foundation for Universal Responsibility” established by the Dalai Lama with his Nobel Peace Prize. He has been commissioned to write a spiritual biography of the Dalai Lama.

Cosmologist George Ellis wins 2004 Templeton Prize.

George Ellis is currently Professor of Applied Mathematics at Capetown. Born in South Africa, he graduated PhD at Cambridge and has held overseas professorships at the Fermi Institute at Chicago and at Hamburg. He is a specialist in general relativity, has published books on cosmology and co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with Hawking. He is a Quaker and says he likes “the mixture of spiritual awareness and social activism, the lack of creeds combined with the basis of silence in the meeting for worship”. He is active in the struggle for human rights in South Africa and has promoted especially a low-income housing programme.

The Templeton Foundation web site says: “His efforts to balance the rationality of evidence-based science with faith and hope has made him a key figure in the discussion at the boundaries of science and theology”. He is co-author of a book On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Cosmology, Theology and Ethics. He has held a fellowship at The Centre for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley. He has taken part in a Vatican Academy symposium and edited the Proceedings. He has published an electronic book: The Universe Around Us: An Integrative View of Science and Cosmology.

Dialogue in Boston:

Three Templeton Prize Recipients were due to present a dialogue in Boston on August 19, 2004, moderated by Dr Owen Gingereich, Research Professor of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard. The subject of the dialogue was: “The Science and Religion Dialogue: Why it Matters”. The Participants are George Ellis, Holmes Rolston and John Polkinghorne. Rolston’s ‘lectures around the world on the religious imperative to respect nature have helped to establish the field of environmental ethics. He is at the forefront of those who join biology and religion for the understanding of Earth’s evolutionary ecosystems’. Polkinghorne gave up a professorship at Cambridge in order to become an Anglican priest. ‘His approach to fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy … have brought him international recognition as a unique voice for understanding the Bible as well as evolving doctrine’.

The above notes and quotations are taken from the Templeton Foundation website ( Two prominent scientists in Australia have received the Templeton Prize: Biologist Charles Birch and Cosmologist and Astrobiologist Paul Davies.


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