Anglican priest awarded world’s richest prize

Published April 1, 2002

John C. Polkinghorne, winner of 2002 Templeton Prize.

New York

Rev. John C. Polkinghorne, a mathematical physicist who amazed his scientific colleagues more than 20 years ago by becoming an Anglican priest, has won the 2002 Templeton Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards in the field of religion.

Long associated with the University of Cambridge, Mr. Polkinghorne, 71, is a leading figure in attempts to bridge the worlds of science and religion.

A colleague said Mr. Polkinghorne had a rare ability to integrate scientific approaches and religious thinking.

A statement announcing the prize said that Mr. Polkinghorne had applied “scientific habits to Christianity, resulting in a modern and compelling, new exploration of the faith.”

In comments prepared for a news conference at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York, Mr. Polkinghorne said he took “science and religion with great and equal seriousness. I see them as complementary to each other and not as rivals.”

The Templeton Prize is valued at 700 000 pounds sterling – just under $1 million U.S.. The prize was established in 1972 by Sir John Marks Templeton, a financier who was born in the United States but who now lives in the Bahamas and holds British citizenship.

He created the award because he thought the annual Nobel prizes overlooked the field of religion.

Previous recipients have included the late Mother Teresa and U.S. evangelist Billy Graham.

The award – formerly called the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion – has been given a new name: the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.

Mr. Polkinghorne said he planned to donate most of the prize money to science and religion post-doctoral programs at Cambridge. The Duke of Edinburgh will present the prize to Mr. Polkinghorne in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.


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