The Templeton Prize

Who won who won who won, you cry, on the edges of your chairs.

The Dalai Lama.

Say what? The Dalai Lama won a prize that’s given for doing something or other about science and religion? Where’s the science part?

NEW YORK — The Dalai Lama has been awarded one of the world’s leading religion prizes.

The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader is the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize for his work on science and religion. The honor from the John Templeton Foundation, announced Thursday, comes with a $1.7 million award.

I didn’t know he’d done any work on science and religion.

The Dalai Lama is founder of the Mind & Life institute for research on science and Buddhism. A series of talks he gave at Stanford University led to the creation of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, which brings together scientists and religious scholars. The Templeton Prize will be awarded on May 14th in London.

Oh I see, he brings them together.

In a way it’s probably better that a religious boffin should win it, rather than a working scientist. It’s less misleading that way.

H/t Cuttlefish.


  1. says

    The Dalai Lama was also an anti-gay bigot last I heard. Of all people, he was one of the least deserving of such a large prize. Actually, I guess it was fitting considering how much of a joke the prize is in the first place.

  2. Rieux says

    Yeah, Aratina, I suppose it’s irritating that the guy is getting so much money, but that mainly stems from the basic irritation that the Templeton Prize involves so much money, right?

    To my mind, this is the least ugly Templeton news I’ve seen in quite a while. Much better for such a dumb prize to go to a figurehead for dumb religion rather than to a scientist. Far preferable to keep that garbage on the religion side of the religion/science divide.

    Therefore I think we should show semi-facetious (i.e., somewhat mocking) approval of the choice.

  3. says

    It is DEFINITELY much better than when a scientist accepts this infamous prize. When a scientist wins it, or when a prestigious organisation like the Royal Society accepts their money, they win prestige. When a religious leader with no science credentials of any kind wins it, Templeton’s pretence to foster science is shown up for what it really is. I hope this represents a return to the early days when people like Billy Graham and ‘Mother Teresa’ won it. Maybe the Pope next, for services to demography and AIDS research.

  4. says

    OK, now I really understand what you are all saying and totally agree. This was an excellent choice for how badly it damages the Templeton Foundation’s short, recent history of trying to present itself as pro-science.

  5. says

    @ Ophelia

    Where’s the science part?

    Theocrat he may be, but he’s not an enemy of science.

    “From a certain angle, Buddhism is not a religion, but rather a science of mind. We must conduct research and then accept the results. If they don’t stand up to experimentation, Buddha’s own words must be rejected.”

    -Tenzin Gyatso

    *Posting of this quote is in no way an endorsement of said quote or the speaker thereof.

  6. Rieux says

    The only thing that would be better would be for a scientist to win the Prize, collect the dough, and only then announce:

    Suckers! Thanks for the cash; now I can tell you what I really think of you and your organization: the Templeton Foundation is a bunch of dishonest and pathetic shills who are attempting to ingratiate irrational religious nonsense into extremely important scientific endeavor. Shame on them and on everyone gorging on the slop—financial and otherwise—from Templeton’s trough.

    …Now, please excuse me while I write out checks transferring all of the prize money I just received to the RDFRS, British Humanist Association, American Atheists, Center for Inquiry, Secular Students Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Camp Quest, Freethought Blogs, etc. ….

    I think the Templetonians are too careful to allow that ever to happen, but it’s a nice dream.

  7. says

    OB –

    I totally agree with what you and others have said here, including the fact that the Templeton Prize is a crock.

    However, just as a point of clarification, Gyatso has collaborated with Richard Davidson at UW-Madison in studies of the effect of meditation on the brain. I’m not saying that his collaboration makes him a scientist, and I don’t know the extent of his efforts on that project, only that he has worked directly with scientists on at least one occasion.


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