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Templeton Foundation

In the early days of the Internet, when I was searching for information to guide the further development of my ideas, I discovered the Templeton Foundation website.

Sir John Templeton is a retired billionaire who established his foundation in 1987 in an effort to encourage a healthier dialog between science and religion. His foundation offers grants and prizes worth millions of dollars every year.

They grant money to universities, hoping to encourage skeptical academics to at least consider the possibility that life might have some kind of purpose. And they arrange seminars and develop relationships with religious organizations, hoping to encourage priests and theologians to learn about and accept scientific understandings.

A huge percentage of the world’s population linger somewhere in the void between cold hard science and blind religious faith. Not knowing which way to turn, they spend much of their lives seeking ways to reconcile day-to-day realities with spiritual ideals.

Although fulfilling people’s spiritual needs is one of the most profitable industries in the world, those who want a truly scientific spirituality still have no sensible representatives and almost no rational voice in the mass media or on the Internet. Templeton was one of the few organizations that seemed to be moving towards an agreeable solution.

Unfortunately, times are changing. As the reigns of the Templeton Foundation pass from the aging freethinking Sir John to his politically conservative Presbyterian son, John Junior, the Templeton Foundation seems to be metamorphisizing into another well-funded conservative religious think tank. They now function like a support network for Christian scientists. The language on their website appears to be increasingly mystical and unscientific. They have even been accused of supporting Intelligent Design.

In 2001, the prestigious million dollar ‘Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion’ was renamed ‘The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities’.

The Templeton Foundation is no longer promoting rational religious reform but rather trying to scientifically substantiate religious irrationality. I hope the Pope doesn’t win the prize anytime soon.

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