We welcome you to this Awarding Celebration of the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. This morning at Buckingham Palace, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, graciously delivered to Dr. Ralph Wendell Burhoe the 1980 prize of £90,000, the silver medal and the Scroll of Honour.
The world’s largest annual prize of any kind is the Prize for Progress in Religion. This is a way of saying to the world that progress in religion is more important than progress in any other area; in fact, more important than progress in all other areas combined.
This afternoon Dr. Burhoe will deliver his acceptance address to us. After this meeting adjourns, all of you are invited for tea in the old Library of this historic hall so that you may meet and talk with Dr. Burhoe, the distinguished judges, Lady Pindling, and other honoured guests. Mrs. Templeton and I chose the Bahamas as our home largely because we know of no place on earth where people are more deeply devoted to religion. It is a constant joy to see how the people of the Bahamas love Jesus. This is the great national treasure of the Bahamas for which the nation deserves to become more famous.
The main purpose of this programme of Prizes for Progress in Religion is to help millions of people in all nations to grow spiritually in their love of God and under- standing of God. Wonderful and exciting new advances are now being made in every religion. Those people who learn and read about these advances are thereby inspired and uplifted. They gain more understanding of God and love of God so that religion is a greater part of their lives and thoughts. The Templeton Foundation wants to help more people to hear and learn about the great advances in every major religion. By working in tune with God’s purposes, we hope to help all God’s children on earth. We need and welcome your prayers for this Programme.
The recipient of the first Templeton Prize was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity. Each person who has studied her life and works is inspired and uplifted thereby. The judges selected Mother Teresa because she has given the world a new understanding of love. The second winner was Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the Taize Community in France because of his breakthrough in revitalising religion among young people. The third year, Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India, was honoured for his many books helping Hindus to understand the Divine Creator of us all, and helping Westerners to learn the beautiful teachings of the Hindu prophets.
The fourth recipient was Cardinal Suenens for his leadership in the Charismatic movement. The fifth was Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement which helps hundreds of thousands each year to try to give love, even to the same extent as Christ gives love. The judges selected as the sixth recipient Professor Thomas Torrance of Edinburgh for his pioneering work in Religion and Science and last year Mr. Nikkyo Niwano for his leadership in his origination of Rissho Kosei-Kai and the World Conferences on Religion and Peace.
This year the recipient is Dr. Ralph Wendell Burhoe who was the founder and editor of the most influential journal on science and religion called ‘ZYGON’. The name of the journal was taken from that nerve stem which connects two parts of the brain. All of you will benefit from becoming readers of this learned journal. Distinguished scientists from many disciplines and nations write in this journal their discoveries about God, not from ancient scriptures but from research in their own sciences.
Dr. Burhoe is not only a scientist and a theologian; he is also a visionary and a missionary. He is a missionary for a new reformation, a reformation which may be far more profound and revolutionary than the reformation led by Martin Luther. The vision of Dr. Burhoe is the evolving ancient scriptures. He has described it in these words . . .
‘ . . . My prophecy, then, is that God Talk, talk about the supreme determiner of human destiny, will in the next century increasingly be fostered by the scientific community. . . . As the various religious traditions more and more integrate with, or translate their local symbol systems into, the universal symbol systems of a world-wide scientific- technological culture, religions will be revitalized as well as somewhat reformed, the more adequately to guide man in his choices of right versus wrong, his value choices. What is happening is that we are coming to speak a language, a single common language, that is, to conceive of or see the world in the symbols of modern science rather than in the symbols (languages) of earlier times. We can also see the picture of the one world which is our spaceship circling the sun. This is the symbol of our common culture. It is also the symbol of the depth of the scientific perspectives that are continually unveiling ever further the nature of our ultimate sources and the requirements as participants in the creation story. Through these revelations we can revivify and extend the noblest visions of earlier prophets to give ourselves and our fellowmen greater hope and greater life.’