We are pleased to welcome you today to the 1999 ceremony of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. We meet to honour the recipient of this year’s prize, Professor Ian Graeme Barbour.
From its beginning, the Prize for Progress in Religion has had, at is core, the vision that progress in spirituality and in new spiritual information is more important than any other human endeavour. Progress in science and technology has produced an enormous contribution to our material well-being. From these material advances, people are eating better due to greater productivity in agriculture; people are healthier and living longer due to advances in preventative medicine and curative medicine; and, we are exploring new frontiers of our planet and the universe at large in ways that could only be dreamed of in the past.
But none of these material advances touch us at the core of who we are and why we are here. Religious faith and practice are at the core of how we live and how we relate to one another and to our Creator God.
The purpose of the Templeton Prize is three-fold. The first is to recognize a living person who has done something unique and original to increase humankind’s love and/or understanding of God. Second, the Prize is intended to inspire others to learn about the work of each recipient and to undertake similar or new spiritually-related endeavours. Third, the Prize is designed to encourage a mindset in which the world as a whole looks in expectation to progress in spirituality and spiritual information. As we pursue this programme in identifying unique contributors to better under- standing of God, His love and His purpose for us, we s eek to embrace humility, open mindedness and a celebration of diversity.
Since the origin of the Prize, there has been a remarkable diversity in the work of the various recipients which has resulted in their recognition. In the 27 years of the Prize, including this year, there have been 29 different recipients. Three recipients were evangelists. Another category of recipients is that of spiritual servants. Finally, there is the category of recipients who have been recognized for their contribution to breaching the barriers between science and religion. It is this category which we celebrate today as we honour the 1999 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Ian Graeme Barbour.
Until his retirement, Ian Barbour was Professor of Religion and Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Carleton College in Minnesota, USA. Professor Barbour has been one of the world’s pioneers in the integration of science and religion. His books and articles are helping to expand the field of theology, not only for Christians but also for other faiths.
Born in China, Ian Barbour has had a distinguished academic career culminating in his Gifford Lectures in Scotland in 1989, and the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in 1993.
Professor Barbour has shown that in the contemporary world, science offers an enormous resource for growth and deepening of religious knowledge. At the same time, no fact of our understanding of God is immune to the potential challenge science raises against the very credibility of religious belief.
Nominated for the Templeton Prize by Emeritus Professor John B Cobb, Jr of the School of Theology at Claremont, California, USA, Ian Barbour joins a select group of recipients who have, over the past 50 years, forged a new relationship between science and religion.
Ian Barbour sees a great need to continue the dialogue between religion and science that seeks integration of the two. As John B Cobb, Jr has written: “No contemporary has made a more original, deep and lasting contribution toward the needed integration of scientific and religious knowledge and values than Ian Barbour. With respect to the breadth of topics and fields brought into this integration, Barbour has no equal.”
As physicist, philosopher, theologian, ethicist, environmentalist, technologist and worshiper in the biblical tradition, Ian Barbour embodies the best of the many worlds he spans. No one has contributed more to overcoming the split between science and religion and to developing a new synthesis than he. If there is a paradigm for the new relationship between science and religion at last emerging, and so clearly contributing to progress in religion, it is that of Ian Barbour.
Like many physicists, Ian Barbour has an interest in religious questions. Unlike most, this interest has led to serious study of theology, in his case, at Yale University. This study has made possible a career in both fields with a special focus on their relations. This is the topic on which he has made the most significant contributions. In making these contributions, he emphasises how tentative our knowledge is, how much there is to learn through the discoveries of science and how these discoveries lead one who is open to genuine mystery to discover the God “who would be known.” This discovery process leads us to explore the existence, design and creativity of the universe.
In the 1960s, Ian Barbour was the first scholar to break out of the mould that kept science and religion in watertight compartments. His pioneering book, Issues in Science and Religion (1966), was heralded internationally for its unquestioned achievement in overcoming the split between our knowledge of God and our knowledge of the universe. This book soon became the standard text, literally creating the current field of science and religion and influencing the lives, beliefs and values of a generation of students, religious scholars, scientists, church leaders and laity.
We are delighted to have two of our distinguished recipients present here today — Mr. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Professor Paul Davies.
Our sincere thanks is due to the many people who have made it possible for us to meet here today: first, to Dr. Irina Rodimsteva, Director of the Kremlin Museum who readily agreed for the ceremony to be held here in the Patriarchal Chambers; Dr Yuri Osipov, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences for his welcome; to Metropolitan Sergei, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate for leading us in prayer and to our Chairperson, Dr. Alexei Bodrov. To Metropolitan Kirill, Chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church for his unstinting support; to Yekateraina Maleina and the Choir of Moscow University’s St. Tatiana Chapel for rendering the music today; also to the Reverend Peter Kroslak of the Lutheran World Federation here for being our interpreter over the past number of months; and lastly, to His Excellency Sir Andrew Wood, the British Ambassador and his staff here in Moscow, for all their help and advice, and to the staff of The Point for providing logistical support.
To these people, and others not mentioned, the Trustees of the Templeton Foundation are immensely grateful.
After the ceremony you are all cordially invited to a reception at the Metropol Hotel where we will have the opportunity to meet with our friends from Russia and overseas.
It is, therefore, an honour to again welcome you to this ceremony recognizing Ian Graeme Barbour. Dr. Barbour will, later in the programme, make his acceptance address as the 1999 recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
Thank you very much.