John D. Barrow, a long-time Oxford author, has won the prestigious Templeton Prize, one of the world’s best known religious prizes. The prize recognizes Barrow’s distinguised career as a cosmologist at Cambridge and his prolific writings on time, space, the universe and the limits of science and human understanding. In announcing the award, the Templeton Prize said that Barrow “has illuminated understanding of the universe and cast the intrinsic limitations of scientific inquiry into sharp relief.”
In accepting the award, Barrow said, “astronomy has transformed the simple-minded, life-averse, meaningless universe of the sceptical philosophers. It breathes new life into so many religious questions of ultimate concern and never-ending fascination…Our scientific picture of the universe has revealed time and again how blinkered and conservative our outlook has often been, how self-serving our interim picture of the universe, how mundane our expectations, and how parochial our attempts to find or deny the links between scientific and religious approaches to the nature of the universe.”
Barrow’s breakthrough book was The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1988), which addresses the collection of ideas that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe.
In The Artful Universe (1995, Expanded 2005), Barrow explored the relationship between aesthetic appreciation and the physical laws of the Universe. Millions of years of evolution, he argues, have fashioned our attraction to certain patterns of sound and color over others.
The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities was founded in 1972 by Sir John Templeton “to encourage and honor the advancement of knowledge in spiritual matters.” To highlight the importance of spiritual discovery, Sir John Templeton stiputated that the monetary value of the Templeton Prize should always be greater than that given to Nobel laureates.