It is a joy to me that the nine distinguished judges from all five major religions have selected for the 1985 award a great natural scientist. God is revealing Himself more and more to the natural scientists which is creating a new branch of Theology called the Theology of Science. This is another indication of the need for research and progress in religion. The Templeton prizes are not awarded for saintliness or good works but only for progress in religion. Natural scientists are proving to us year by year that things not seen are vastly greater and more numerous than the things we see. People say that God created the world when they should say God’s ongoing creative process includes humans on a tiny planet. Ancient scripture says that God came into the world when in reality the visible world is only a tiny part of God.
Evidence accumulates that God’s creative process is not finished but probably only beginning.
We say that God is an aspect of life when we should say life is an aspect of God. The question is not does God exist, but rather can anything exist separate from God.
The ancient Greeks thought of the gods as only a group of superior men; and even now many think of the one God in human terms. Throughout human history man’s concept of God have been pitifully small. The concepts have been so self-centred that we humans think of God as if he were only another better man. Human knowledge of God has been dwarfed by the concept that God is somehow separate from his creations. Many natural scientists are now saying that all things seen by man are only temporary individualizations of the underlying creative reality which is God. People understand God only in the limited way that a rose understands the gardener. You are a tiny part of God somewhat in the same way that a wave is a tiny part of the ocean. We should be overwhelmingly grateful that God is permitting each of us to be in some small ways co-creators with Him.
In my lifetime the standard of living for all people worldwide has more than quadrupled largely because corporations and governments are spending each year more than 150,000 millions of pounds for research and improvements in material products. What even greater blessings might flow if we could spend a fraction of that amount of resources and manpower on research and progress in religion.
Progress seems to be the creative process chosen by God and it is our duty as children of God to work for progress including progress in the understanding of God and the love of God. It may be that the only great enterprise worthy of our best efforts is the continuing discovery of the underlying reality which is God. More and more intellectuals and leaders in all the great religions and churches are beginning to visualise the blessings which might flow from research and progress in spirituality.
Sir Alister Hardy has been a pioneer in applying scientific methods to research in human spirituality. Already the great pioneers such as Sir Alister are inspiring thousands of natural scientists and theologians to undertake research for the purpose of progress in those things which are infinite and eternal.
The main purpose of The Templeton Foundation Programme of Prizes for Progress in Religion is to make known the great originators and pioneers in every religion so that the people of every nation may be uplifted and inspired. Mr. Chairman, it is for that reason that the Templeton Foundation honours Sir Alister today.