Evangelical Christian, John (Jack) Templeton Jr., Dies at 75

John Templeton Jr., president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, died May 16. Photo courtesy of Templeton Foundation
John Templeton Jr., president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, died May 16. Photo courtesy of Templeton Foundation

John M. Templeton Jr., a pediatric surgeon who left medicine behind to carry on his father’s passion for pursuing “new spiritual information” through the sciences as president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, has died. He was 75.

Known as “Jack,” the younger Templeton retired as director of the trauma program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1995 to take the foundation reins and became chairman after his father’s death in 2008.

Sir John Templeton Sr. created the Templeton Foundation in 1987 with the fortune he built as the pioneering founder of the Templeton Fund investments in 1954. The foundation provides support for science and medical research and for related research on the “big questions” of human purpose. His often-expressed goal was to “reconcile the worlds of science and religion.”

The foundation is also known for awarding the annual “Templeton Prize” — always calculated to be a higher monetary award than the Nobel Prize — for “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” It has gone to physicists, mathematicians, philosophers and religious leaders such as Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.

The 2015 prize was awarded to Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, serving people with intellectual disabilities, at a ceremony in London held Monday (May 18). News of Templeton’s death on Saturday at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pa., was delayed until after the ceremony.

Templeton, an evangelical Christian, not only inherited his father’s interest in revealing the truth of faith in a scientific world; he inherited the controversies that came with that goal.

Critics alleged that the foundation’s funding led grant-hungry scientists away from pure research to investigating the impact of spirituality and religion.

Recently, philosopher Daniel Dennett, co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and an outspoken atheist, said he would boycott the Templeton-funded World Science Festival next week in New York City. He said the foundation sponsors “some very fine science with no strings attached and then (uses) their sponsorship of that to try and win prestige for other projects that are not in the same league.”

Supporters, in turn, said the foundation did not steer their research or cook the books on findings.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Cathy Lynn Grossman