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May 21, 2013

Address by Heather Templeton Dill

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Mpho Tutu, Lord Griffiths, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is an honor to represent my father, Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., President and Chairman of the John Templeton Foundation. He regrets that he cannot be here in person to greet you and to honor Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the public conferring of the Templeton Prize. In a few minutes, we will share a pre-recorded video message from my father.

But first I would like to follow Lord Griffiths’ remarks and preface my father’s statement with one added perspective. At the John Templeton Foundation we like to talk about Big Questions. Our current tagline says “Supporting Science, Investing in the Big Questions.” Simply put, this calls on all people – scientists, researchers, people of faith, and the public at large – to exercise curiosity.

My grandfather, Sir John Templeton, valued curiosity.  He believed it was the spark that animated scientists to explore new dimensions of reality and to be open to discoveries that challenged existing knowledge and prevailing assumptions. Indeed, Sir John’s writings are full of questions. In one of his books he wrote, “Do you learn more when you speak or when you listen? Does an open mind or a closed mind learn more?”

In the realm of traditional science Sir John wondered whether the implications of quantum physics demonstrate that even what we cannot see may still be very real? Sir John celebrated the scientific advances of the 20th century and asked, “What unexpected aspects of reality will emerge next?”

For Sir John, these questions about the significance of contemporary scientific discoveries prompted more questions about the reality of the spiritual world. He also posed the following queries: “By applying rigorous science research on neglected basic invisible realities [such as love, prayer, gratitude and forgiveness, among others] can spiritual information increase over one hundred fold?” “What science experiments or statistical evidences can encourage more people to work on spiritual progress?”

He even asked, “Do forgiveness and reconciliation give tremendous potential for spiritual progress?” I know Sir John thought forgiveness could transform social divisions, address humanitarian crises and restore civility. But he asked the question in order to encourage open-minded research into the benefits and effects of forgiveness. He was curious. Was it really true that “forgiving uplifts the forgiver?”

My grandfather foresaw a day when new information on spiritual realities based on verifiable scientific research might reduce conflicts and increase human prosperity and joy. He felt that from such research, people would come to acknowledge a rich diversity of spiritual information, which could well become universally acceptable to all people.

Therefore, the John Templeton Foundation’s interest in Big Questions and the emphasis on seeking new information are rooted in curiosity. When our intellectual and moral curiosity are accentuated, we ask questions, we seek answers and then we ask more questions because our answers are never final. There is always so much more to know. Again, Sir John wrote, “Inquisitiveness, curiosity and an enjoyment of ambitious dreams can be fruitful. Without such qualities of mind we might never think that we could ever explore vast possibilities.”

Please join me now in directing your attention to the screen. Although my father cannot be with us today, he wanted to contribute to this celebration in order to honor Archbishop Tutu, a humble and inspiring entrepreneur of the spirit whose life and work capture the ideals Sir John hoped to promote through the giving of this prize.  This video was recorded last week and it includes segments of the Templeton Prize celebration for Father Desmond last month in Cape Town. Thank you.