Previous Prize Winners

King Abdullah II of Jordan (2018)

King Abdullah II of Jordan has done more to seek religious harmony within Islam and between Islam and other religions than any other living political leader. In 2004, he launched the Amman Message that articulated a clear understanding of the central elements of Islam. In 2005, the “Three Points of the Amman Message” recognized the validity of all eight legal schools of Islam. “A Common Word Between Us and You” in 2006 led to an open letter from Islamic religious leaders to Christian religious leaders calling for peace and harmony, and a resolution he proposed in 2010 created UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. The Prize also recognized King Abdullah’s commitment to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Download/Links

Alvin Plantinga (2017)

Alvin Plantinga is an American philosopher whose rigorous scholarship over a half century has made theism – the belief in a divine reality or god – a serious option within the academy. Plantinga’s pioneering work began in the late 1950s, a time when academic philosophers generally rejected religiously informed philosophy. His arguments have influenced three generations of professional philosophers, and university departments around the world now include thousands of professors who bring their religious commitments to bear on their work, including Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers. Download/Links

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (2016)

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has spent decades bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media, popular lectures, and more than 25 books. It is his central message of appreciation and respect of all faiths, with an emphasis that recognizing the values of each is the only path to effectively combat the global rise of violence and terrorism, which sets him apart as one of the world's most respected intellectuals and admired religious leaders. Download/Links

Jean Vanier (2015)

Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian, was the founder of L’Arche, the international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers. Vanier began L’Arche in northern France in 1964, when he invited two intellectually disabled men to leave a large institution and live with him as friends. It has grown into 147 residential communities operating in 35 countries. L’Arche encourages people toward mutually transformative relationships, where those who help are transformed by those they encounter. Download/Links

Tomáš Halík (2014)

Tomáš Halík is a Czech priest and philosopher who spent nearly two decades building a secret network of academics, theologians, philosophers, and students – the “underground university” and “underground church” – dedicated to cultivating the intellectual and spiritual underpinnings which helped Czechoslovakia transition to democracy following the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989. Halík has become an advocate for religious tolerance and understanding by sharing ideas among followers of widely varying spiritual traditions and non-believers. Download/Links

Desmond Tutu (2013)

Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, is one of the world’s most revered religious figures and a leading moral voice for peace and justice. His teachings combine the theological concept that all human beings are shaped in the image of God with the traditional African spirit of Ubuntu, in which humanity achieves personhood only through other people. His deep faith and commitment to prayer, worship, and the life of the Spirit provides the foundation for his message of love and forgiveness. Download/Links

The 14th Dalai Lama (2012)

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions has made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions. For decades he has focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism, specifically by encouraging scientific reviews of the power of compassion and its potential to address the world's fundamental problems. Download/Links

Martin J. Rees (2011)up

Martin J. Rees, Astronomer Royal, former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and former president of the Royal Society, is one of the world's leading theoretical astrophysicists. His distinguished achievements in cosmology and astrophysics have been exceptionally broad-based, and his pioneering research has contributed to the understanding of the origin and nature of the universe. Download/Links

Francisco J. Ayala (2010)up

Francisco J. Ayala, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, is known for his achievements as an evolutionary geneticist and for his opposition to the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for mutual respect between the two. He has been a major voice on the ethical issues related to the study of human evolution and a frequent spokesperson in the debate between evolution and creationism. Download/Links

Bernard d’Espagnat (2009)up

Bernard d’Espagnat was a French physicist and philosopher of science whose explorations of the philosophical implications of quantum physics opened new vistas on the definition of reality and the potential limits of knowable science. Much of his work centered on what he called “veiled reality,” a hidden yet unifying domain beneath what is perceived as time, space, matter, and energy – concepts challenged by quantum physics as possible mere appearances. Download/Links

Michael Heller (2008)up

Michael Heller, Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland, is a cosmologist and Catholic priest who has developed sharply focused and strikingly original concepts on the origin and cause of the universe. He engages a wide range of sources in mathematics, philosophy, cosmology, and theology, allowing each field to share insights that may inform the others without any violence to their respective methodologies. Download/Links

Charles Taylor (2007)up

Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University, argues that problems such as violence and bigotry can be solved only by considering both their secular and spiritual dimensions. He suggests that depending wholly on secularized viewpoints leads to fragmented reasoning and prevents crucial insights that might help a global community that is increasingly exposed to clashes of culture, morality, nationality, and religion. Download/Links

John D. Barrow (2006)up

John D. Barrow is Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge and a former Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College in London. His writings on the relationship between life and the universe draw insights from mathematics, physics, and astronomy, challenging scientists and theologians to cross disciplinary boundaries to test what they may or may not understand about the origins of time, space, and matter, and the behavior of the universe. Download/Links

Charles H. Townes (2005)up

Charles H. Townes was Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics. His 1966 article, "The Convergence of Science and Religion," established him as a voice seeking commonality between the two disciplines. He described his 1951 discovery of the principles of the maser—while sitting on apark bench—as a "revelation" and an example of the interplay between the "how" and "why" of science and religion. Download/Links

George F. R. Ellis (2004)up

George F. R. Ellis is a theoretical cosmologist and Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has investigated whether or not there was a start to the universe, if there is one universe or many, the evolution of complexity, and the functioning of the human mind, as well as the intersection of these issues with areas beyond the boundaries of science. Download/Links

Holmes Rolston III (2003)up

Holmes Rolston III is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a Presbyterian minister whose 40 years of research on the religious imperative to respect nature helped to establish the field of environmental ethics. His work assigns value not only to human beings but also to plants, animals, species, and ecosystems as core issues of theological and scientific concern. Download/Links

John C. Polkinghorne (2002)up

John C. Polkinghorne is a mathematical physicist and Anglican priest whose treatment of theology as a natural science has invigorated the search for an interface between science and religion. His writings apply scientific approaches to the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy and have brought him recognition as a unique voice for understanding the Bible and Christian doctrine. Download/Links

Arthur Peacocke (2001)up

Arthur Peacocke was a biochemist who, after pioneering early research into the physical chemistry of DNA, received a Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Birmingham and was ordained in the Church of England as a priest-scientist. In 1973, he became Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, where he pursued his interdisciplinary vocation. He also founded the Society of Ordained Scientists to advance the development of the field of science and religion.

Freeman Dyson (2000)up

Freeman Dyson is a physicist and mathematician and Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. His contributions to science include the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga. Dyson’s writings on the meaning of science and its relation to other disciplines, especially religion and ethics, challenge humankind to reconcile technology and social justice.

Ian Barbour (1999)up

Ian Barbour was one of the world pioneers in the integration of science and religion. His books and articles have helped to expand the field of theology not only for Christianity but also for other faiths. A physicist and former chair of the religion department, Barbour was Winifred and Atherton Bean Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and Society at Carleton College.

Sir Sigmund Sternberg (1998)up

Sir Sigmund Sternberg, a Hungarian-born businessman who settled in London in 1939, was a tireless force for interfaith dialogue over five decades. His quiet diplomacy played a critical role in relocating a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in 1993, helping to organize the first papal visit to a synagogue in 1986, cultivating links which led to the recognition of the State of Israel by the Holy See in 1993, and promoting better relations among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Pandurang Shastri Athavale (1997)up

Pandurang Shastri Athavale was 19 when he and his co-workers began bhaktiferi—devotional visits to villages in India to spread the message of love for God and others. Athavale and his co-workers developed the Hindu practice of swadhyaya, a form of self-study that inspires each individual to recognize an inner God, cultivate an increased self-respect, and abandon immoral behavior.

William R. “Bill” Bright (1996)up

William R. “Bill” Bright began a person-to-person sharing of New Testament scripture on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles in the 1950s, calling his movement Campus Crusade for Christ. The organization grew to become an international ministry. His later efforts included calling for worldwide spiritual revival through prayer and fasting.

Paul Davies (1995)up

Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, holds the post of College Professor at Arizona State University. His research has been in the fields of quantum gravity, black holes, early-universe cosmology, and astrobiology as it relates to the origin of life and the transfer of microorganisms between planets.

Michael Novak (1994)up

A former university professor and U.S. ambassador and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute from 1983 until 2009, Michael Novak developed influential new insights into the spiritual foundations of economic and political systems. His book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, and other writings won the enthusiastic notice of such world leaders as Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, and Vaclav Havel.

Charles W. Colson (1993)up

Charles W. Colson, former special counsel to President Richard Nixon, began Prison Fellowship after serving a federal prison sentence for obstructing justice in the Pentagon Papers case. It is now the largest prison outreach program in the world, operating a network of ministries in more than 120 nations. The organization has made substantial gains in breaking the cycle of crime and recidivism.

Kyung-Chik Han (1992)up

Kyung-Chik Han was the founder of Seoul’s 60,000-member Young Nak Presbyterian Church. His fervent work for refugees and the poor epitomized the growth of Christianity in South Korea. His experience as a survivor of war and political oppression made him one of his country’s most respected religious leaders.

Lord Jakobovits (1991)up

Lord Jakobovits, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1967 to 1991, was a spiritual leader of steadfast principles and unwavering ethics for more than 50 years. His book, Jewish Medical Ethics, helped to establish that field. His prominent public voice extended his moral authority far beyond the Jewish community.

Baba Amte (1990) (awarded jointly)up

Baba Amte left his comfortable life as a wealthy Hindu lawyer to follow a personal calling, developing modern communities to help those with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) and other so-called untouchables of his native India.

L. Charles Birch (1990) (awarded jointly)up

L. Charles Birch, who was Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, Australia, engaged in adventurous reflection on questions of science and faith throughout his career as a biologist and geneticist. He saw modern discoveries about natural science as expanding the understanding of God as designer and creator of the universe and its creatures.

Lord MacLeod (1989) (awarded jointly)up

Lord MacLeod, founder of the monastic Iona Community on an island off the west coast of Scotland, spent his life reviving a prayer-centered spiritual movement. This ecumenical community’s work continues, encouraging peace in the world and
helping ordinary men and women with their personal struggles.

Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1989) (awarded jointly)up

Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker explored the intersection of physics, cosmology, and theology in work that placed him at the forefront of the reconciliation between religion and natural science. His key discoveries in nuclear physics, along with his application of nuclear physics to astrophysics, caused him to question the estrangement of religion and science and led to his investigation of Christianity’s obligation to technology.

Inamullah Kahn (1988)up

Inamullah Kahn, founder and former secretary-general of the Modern World Muslim Congress in Karachi, Pakistan, devoted his life to advancing peace among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. His interfaith activism provided important new opportunities to foster good will and understanding, in particular, by playing a crucial role in helping to settle the war between Iran and Iraq and to bring a message of peace to apartheid-era South Africa.

Stanley L. Jaki (1987)up

Stanley L. Jaki, a Benedictine monk and Professor of Astrophysics at Seton Hall University, was a leading thinker in areas at the boundary of science and theology. His many books carefully delineate the importance of differences as well as similarities between science and religion.

James McCord (1986)up

James McCord was chancellor of the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey and president of the Princeton Theological Seminary. He spent his professional life investigating the relationship between science and religion through studies on the nature of reality.

Sir Alister Hardy (1985)up

Sir Alister Hardy, founder of the Sir Alister Hardy Research Centre at Manchester College, Oxford, began his career as a marine biologist but went on to gain prominence for original empirical studies that used scientific methodology to investigate religious experience. He spent a lifetime seeking evidence of God’s centrality to the human condition.

Michael Bourdeaux (1984)up

Michael Bourdeaux, founder of Keston College in England, worked to examine and explain the systematic destruction of religion in Iron Curtain nations during the Cold War and to defend the rights of faiths in these countries to worship as they chose. When the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc regimes collapsed, Bourdeaux’s efforts for universal religious freedom were widely embraced.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1983)up

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s struggle for open expression made him one of the world’s most respected men. Under the repressive Soviet regime, he held firm in his beliefs and shared his worldview through powerful writings and devastating critiques of Russian Communism. His works renewed vitality in the Orthodox tradition and evidenced a profound spirituality.

Billy Graham (1982)up

Billy Graham took his message of Christianity into the electronic world of radio and television, invigorating an entire generation with a simple and poignant message of salvation. He maintained a dignity that drew enormous audiences and enthusiastic support with an interpretation of the Gospel that still speaks to the problems and pressures of today.

Dame Cicely Saunders (1981)up

Dame Cicely Saunders spent years close to terminally ill patients as they expressed their physical, psychological, and spiritual pain. She went on to found the Hospice and Palliative Care Movement, combining a scientifically rigorous program with a unique social and spiritual awareness.

Ralph Wendell Burhoe (1980)up

Ralph Wendell Burhoe was the founder and editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. Burhoe pursued a passionate investigation into the differences and similarities between theology and science, becoming one of the world’s most informed voices in communicating this evolving research.

Nikkyo Niwano (1979)up

Nikkyo Niwano co-founded the Japanese Buddhist movement Rissho Kosei-Kai, which aims to establish “the teaching of the true Law in the world, mutual exchange of thought among people of faith, and the perfection of the personality.” The movement blossomed from a handful of adherents into the world’s largest Buddhist lay group. Niwano was also the founder of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

Thomas Torrance (1978)up

Thomas Torrance, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, became one of the first religious thinkers to win the respect of both theologians and scientists. His insights on the rationality of the universe attempt to provide evidence of God through scientific reasoning.

Chiara Lubich (1977)up

Chiara Lubich founded and developed Italy’s Focolare Movement, a community dedicated to serving the poor. With roots in Trent, it expanded to other Italian cities, followed by Focolare settlements worldwide, including in Belgium, Germany, France, the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Cardinal Suenens (1976)up

Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, was a pioneer in the research and discourse of the Charismatic Renewal Movement. The Cardinal’s enlightened discourse provided guidance and reassurance about the movement, eliminating misunderstanding and offering thoughtful insight to followers and observers alike.

Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1975)up

Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was President of India from 1962 to 1967. An Oxford Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, he consistently advocated non-aggression in India’s conflicts with neighboring Pakistan. His accessible writings underscored his country’s religious heritage and sought to convey a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people.

Brother Roger (1974)up

Brother Roger was founder and Prior (director) of the religious brotherhood known as the Taizé Community in France. He initiated efforts to aide orphans in the region surrounding the community, which led to the founding of the Council of Youth and then the Intercontinental Meetings of Young Adults, which annually bring tens of thousands of young adults from throughout the world to pray and reflect in Taizé.

Mother Teresa (1973)up

Mother Teresa, founder of India’s Missionaries of Charity, was recognized by the inaugural Templeton Prize (six years before she received the Nobel Peace Prize) for her extraordinary efforts to help the homeless and neglected children of Kolkata. Her heroic work brought about real change among those she served and continues to inspire millions around the world. Mother Teresa was canonized as Saint Teresa of Kolkata by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.