NEW YORK — The Templeton Foundation announced March 8 that the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion would go to the Rev. Arthur Peacocke, an English biochemist and Anglican priest.
The prize recipient is chosen by an international, interfaith panel of judges that this year included Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Peacocke, 78, was chosen for his contribution to the movement for relating religion to science, an effort he has carried out through teaching at Oxford and other universities and through publication of numerous books and articles.
Appearing at a press conference in New York where his selection was announced, he said that he was reared and confirmed as an Anglican, but that in reaction to some forms of conservative evangelicalism he moved to a position of “mild agnosticism.”
However, his later studies led him to believe that “the search for intelligibility that characterizes science and the search for meaning that characterizes religion are two necessary intertwined strands of the human enterprise.”
Peacocke was ordained in 1971, but said he always considered himself a “worker priest,” and never contemplated parish ministry.
A Society of Ordained Scientists he helped establish now has a membership of “79 men and women from seven different denominations and five countries,” he said.
Peacocke has lectured at institutions in the United States, Germany and Israel. Jesuit-run Georgetown University in Washington, which gave him an honorary doctorate in 1991, named him its Davis professor of interdisciplinary studies in 1994.
Prince Philip will present the Templeton Prize at Buckingham Palace May 9, and Peacocke is to give a public address the following day at the London Guild Hall, foundation officials said.
Peacocke lives in Oxford and has been married for 52 years to the former Rosemary W. Mann who, from being a headteacher of a church school, went on to be one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools with national responsibility for the education of young children. They have two children, Christopher, a professor of philosophy, and Jane, an Anglican priest and educator.
Currently a Warden Emeritus at the Society of Ordained Scientists, Peacocke is also chaplain and honorary canon at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.
In 1973, he was awarded the Le Conte Du Nouy Prize, and in 1986 he became an Academic Fellow at the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.
The Templeton Foundation was established by financier John M. Templeton, 88, a native of Tennessee who became a British citizen and now lives in the Bahamas.
He initiated the Templeton Prize in 1973, with Mother Teresa as the first recipient, and has kept the prize — now 700,000 British pounds — larger than the Nobel Prize to symbolize his belief that progress in religion is more important than progress in the sciences honored by the Nobel Prizes.
Peacocke joins other professional scientists who have won the Templeton Prize, including physicist and theologian Ian Barbour in 1999, astrophysicist Paul Davies in 1995, physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker in 1989, and Benedictine monk and professor of astrophysics Stanley L. Jaki in 1987.
Last year, the prize was given to Freeman J. Dyson, a physicist whose futuristic views have consistently called for the reconciliation of technology and social justice.
Among the best known recipients of the prize are the Rev. Billy Graham in 1982, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1983, and Watergate figure Charles Colson who received the prize in 1993 for his work in founding Prison Fellowship.
(CNS contributed to this report)