John Templeton Foundation

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The distinguished particle physicist and author John Charlton Polkinghorne, the winner of the 2002 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities, has been a leading figure in the dialogue of science and religion for more than two decades. His most recent book, Quantum Physics and Theology (Yale University Press, 2007), argues that, despite their different subject matter, these two truth-seeking inquiries employ rational strategies that bear a cousinly relationship to each other. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1982, Dr. Polkinghorne took up his new vocation in mid-life after playing a role in the discovery of the quark, the smallest elementary particle of matter. A graduate of Cambridge University, where he was a fellow of Trinity College and earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1955, he was forty-eight years old when he resigned his Cambridge professorship of mathematical physics to begin studies at Westcott House, an Anglican seminary in Cambridge. He went on to serve as a curate in a working-class parish in South Bristol and as vicar of Blean, a village outside of Canterbury. In 1986, he accepted a call to return to Cambridge as dean of the chapel at Trinity Hall, and in 1989, he was named president of Queens' College, a position he held until his retirement in 1996. A Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, Dr. Polkinghorne was granted the senior Sc.D. degree by Cambridge in 1974 in recognition of his contributions to research and has received honorary degrees from the universities of Kent, Exeter, Leicester, and Durham in the United Kingdom, as well as Marquette University in the United States and Hong Kong Baptist University. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 and is currently a fellow of Queens'. He also serves on the board of advisors of the John Templeton Foundation. In addition to an extensive body of writing on theoretical elementary particle physics, including most recently Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2002), he is the editor or co-editor of four books, the co-author (with Michael Welker) of Faith in the Living God: A Dialogue (2001), which has been translated into Korean and Chinese, and the author of fifteen other books on the interrelationship of science and theology in which he explores questions about God's action in creation. Among them are: Belief in God in an Age of Science (1998), a volume composed of his Terry Lectures at Yale University; Science and Theology (1998); Faith, Science and Understanding (2000); Traffic in Truth-Exchanges between Theology and Science (2001); The God of Hope and the End of the World (2002); Living with Hope (2003); and Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality (2004), a volume based on his Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary that represents a new stage in the science and religion conversation in which the author deeply engages a specifically Christian subject. In a book published earlier this year by Yale University Press, Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion, he ponders the limits of an empirical approach to all that is and argues that human experience comes fully into focus only in religious belief.