Thursday, June 7, 2012

Templeton Price to J.D. Barrow 2006

John D. Barrow receiving the Templeton price 2006
The Templeton Prize was founded in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, and is awarded annually to a living person to encourage and honour the advancement of knowledge in spiritual matters. It's the world's best-known religion prize and the largest annual monetary prize of any kind given to an individual.

Science and religion are often portrayed as diametrically opposed, and so the fact that scientists often receive the Templeton prize may, at first glance, seem surprising. But ask yourself questions like "what is the origin of matter?", "what is the nature of infinity and nothingness?", and "how come the constants of nature happen to be just right for us to exist?" and, for all your scientific knowledge, you soon find yourself on territory that is equally significant for theologians as it is for scientists. In his 17 popular books and over 400 scientific papers, Barrow uses maths, physics and astronomy to explore these and other mysteries that lie on the boundary of human knowledge. His multidisciplinary approach and the views he thus created have, as the Templeton Prize announcement put it, "jarred religious and scientific perspectives in such a way as to open pathways of understanding which may allow both to comprehend each other more fully."

"The hallmark of his work is a deep engagement with those aspects of the structure of the universe and its laws that make life possible and which shape the views that we take of that universe when we examine it," said Thomas Torrance, who himself won the Templeton Prize in 1978. "The vast elaboration of that simple idea has lead to a huge expansion of the breadth and depth of the dialogue between science and religion."

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