Sir John Marks Templeton was born in Tennessee more than 90 years ago. He is known for his pioneering work in international investment as well as spiritual and religious study and practice-two interests that are not naturally found within the same individual. He has led a life marked by a quest for open-mindedness and understanding of the possibilities of life as well as those possibilities beyond those experienced on Earth. For his great contributions and capabilities, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him Sir John in 1987. He now lives an active and yet peaceful life as a British citizen in Nassau, the Bahamas. While his success in the financial arena warrants a graduate-level course of study on its own, the focus of this entry is his interest in the study of science, religion, and spirituality. With the impressive sums of money that Sir John acquired as a result of his outstanding success in international investment work, he was able to begin to focus and direct his money to philanthropic causes, most notably, by creating the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. The award exceeds $1 million and has been given annually since the early 1970s. The first recipient of the award was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Other winners include the evangelist Billy Graham, author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and theoretical physicist Paul Davies. Through the John Templeton Foundation, Sir John also gives away close to $40 million a year, mostly to efforts aimed at the study of the cooperation between science and religion. Sir John does not claim to be a theologian himself, but will allow that his life experiences have given him the opportunity to support research that pursues the study of God. He is a man who is constantly questioning tradition and challenging believers and nonbelievers alike to wonder what else might be true within and outside their respective traditions and beliefs, as well as what other practices might be (more) effective. To Sir John, the study of religion and of God is never-ending, and cannot be fully captured in the sacred texts upon which most major world religions are framed.
Influenced primarily by the Presbyterian tradition and New Thought traditions such as Christian Science, Unity and Religious Science, Sir John takes what he considers a "humble approach" to theology, given, as he declares, that very little is actually known or understood about God. While many in the fields of theology and science find themselves standing on opposing sides of the fence, Sir John believes that it will be scientific study that will reveal greater understanding about religion, and that science will, in fact, be a revitalizing source for religion in this century. While the theory of evolution and the idea of God the Creator seem incompatible to many, Sir John sees them as compatible notions. Sir John is himself a prolific author. His works include Wisdom from World Religions, which serves as a collection of spiritual principles from the sacred writings of leading world religions and spiritual traditions. Other notable works include Discovering the Laws of Life (1994); Evidence of Purpose (1994); The Humble Approach (1998); Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions (1999); and Pure Unlimited Love (2000). Throughout his writings, Sir John focuses on the importance of humility and on the power of agape which he sees as universal to religious traditions. Through the John Templeton Foundation and The Templeton Foundation Press, Sir John's spirit and quest for open-mindedness will make an impact on the study of science and religion for years to come.