The opportunity for individuals and society to explore, challenge, and seek answers to the biggest questions facing humanity has never been greater. Do we know even one percent of what can be known about the nature of our universe, humanity's purpose and place within our universe, and the spiritual realities constituting our natural existence? There is no end to the questions that may be asked and the treasures of learning from new information that may yet be discovered.

Join us in our journey as we boldly pursue scientific advances, spiritual understanding, and societal progress for everyone. We have many more questions than answers, and it is the questions that drive the dynamics of learning, progressing, and achieving. Each year of research into fields such as character virtues, human purpose and meaning, and individual freedom and free enterprise opens new conversations across disciplines and among diverse perspectives. As humble explorers, we continue on the path from learning to progress.


Our vision

Curiosity, optimism, humility. In Sir John Templeton, these qualities proved to be essential to learning and discovery. His humble and enthusiastic spirit in the realm of business carried into a philanthropic vision that continues to recognize and seize opportunity, even in unlikely places.

Sir John's passion was for the kind of discovery that would be transformational—bringing lasting, practical impact not just for intellectuals, but to all of humankind. He believed humanity stood to benefit from the pursuit and discovery of the central truths of existence. Where do science and spirituality meet? Can science help to discover new spiritual realities? This sense of wonder and enthusiasm for progress guided Sir John's philanthropy as he established the Templeton Prize and later, the John Templeton Foundation, inviting others onto the paths of discovery, always acknowledging "how little we know" and affirming "how eager to learn."

Today, the John Templeton Foundation continues to embrace and advance the vision and spirit of Sir John Templeton, empowering progress while still guided by his humble desire to ask, explore, and learn. Seeking to challenge the status quo, while providing the opportunity to ask ever bigger questions, we invest in pioneers looking to open doors to new possibilities. Since 1987, the Foundation has encouraged people from all academic disciplines and backgrounds to investigate the big questions facing our world through rigorous research that moves us along the paths of discovery towards new spiritual understanding, scientific advancement, and human flourishing.

With enthusiasm and wonder for all that we don't know and might yet discover, the Foundation invites new conversations across disciplines and supports projects and research that bring us closer to understanding the universal truths of life and our place in the universe. We have only just begun.

The Templeton Prize, established in 1972, honors those who have made significant strides in the quest for spiritual progress. These "entrepreneurs of the spirit" blend creativity and innovation, rigor and impact in confronting humanity's big questions, affirming life's spiritual dimension, and exploring the interplay of science and religion. Winners have included Mother Teresa, who received the inaugural award in 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1983, and the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso in 2012. Read more about the 2015 Prize winner Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, and all past winners at

Since its founding in 1997, Templeton Press has brought the work of the world's premier thinkers to the greater scholarly community and to the general public, disseminating ideas across a wide variety of media, including interactive websites, public action campaigns, smart phone apps, and scholarship contests. Areas of focus include Science and the Big Questions, Health and Spirituality, Freedom and Free Enterprise, and the Virtues. View the latest books published at

Spirituality & Good Health

Does Spirituality Lead to Better Health?

Can prayer be good for your health? Early research funded by the John Templeton Foundation and published in leading medical journals has shown that spirituality has measurable health benefits, both physical and mental.

Today, researchers are exploring further the precise links between spirituality and good health. New spiritual information in the science of medicine and health may present some innovative and progressive solutions on ways to improve the health of millions.

Exploring the God-Good Health Connection

Researchers seek to understand the relationship between religious belief and health

The Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey, led by Neal Krause of the University of Michigan, explores why those who are deeply religious tend to be healthier, both mentally and physically, than their non-religious counterparts. Are healthier people more likely to be religious, or does religion really protect people from illness—and if so, why? This project seeks to uncover the biological mechanisms that show how religion and spirituality can impact health and longevity.


Spirituality into Practice—New Models for Healthcare Settings

Doctors learn to ground their practices spiritually

Christina Puchalski, of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish) and author of the first comprehensive textbook on Spirituality in Healthcare, continues to lead the way in closing the gap between spiritual principles and medical practice. Using an evidence-based approach, her work helps practitioners to become more sensitive to the spiritual needs of their patients.


The X Factor

Are health treatments that integrate spirituality more effective?

Focusing on the treatment of depression, a joint research effort between Duke University and University College London compared conventional cognitive behavioral therapy with religious cognitive behavioral therapy to determine whether there were differences in effectiveness.

Initiatives at the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network and Rush University seek to motivate researchers in the area of chaplaincy and spiritual care, while developing best practice models of chaplaincy in palliative and end-of-life care. These projects are helping to quantify the impact of spiritual care, while creating new standards for rigorous research and training within the field.

Research shows feeling more grateful to God is associated with more favorable self-rated health and fewer symptoms of depression.

In the past two decades, more than 75 percent of U.S. medical schools have integrated spirituality-related topics into their training.

Religious reasoning that promotes purpose and meaning in life may help to counter negative thinking and behaviors associated with depression.

Human Flourishing & Beneficial Purpose

What is Essential for Human Flourishing?

"Every individual is like a thread in a beautiful tapestry with a vital contribution to make, not only in the sustenance of life as we know it, but in the creation and development of more beneficial expressions of life."
—Sir John Templeton

Is There a Formula for Human Flourishing?

Humans want to experience greater personal and societal well-being. Science is showing us how.

Positive psychology leads the way in helping to define what it means for individuals and communities to thrive and flourish. Through new research grants that build on the work of Martin Seligman and the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the Foundation is helping people pursue what makes life worth living. By learning to nurture strengths and cultivate joy, individuals can gain the ability to achieve their best selves, living lives of purpose and meaning.

When positive psychology meets neuroscience, researchers ask: How do the workings of the brain contribute to human flourishing? Can we measure imagination? What happens when we are drawn by the future more than we are driven by the past? Research into positive neuroscience, prospective psychology, and creativity are showing how we can cultivate habits of mind and behavior that allow each of us to make a greater contribution to our world.


Discovering Our Part in a Grander Purpose

Sir John Templeton was fascinated by the role of beneficial purpose throughout one's lifespan, seeing humans as called to join in the creativity of God and reflect divine purpose in the world. He believed in the power and importance of living a life of purpose—not just in one's prime work years, but beyond—and his own life demonstrated it. The Purpose Prize reflects this priority, awarding social innovators over 60 who are transforming the face of retirement through positive contributions to their communities and the world in their "encore" careers.

Building on the efforts of the Milken Institute to make successful aging a national and global imperative, the Foundation supported their Successful Aging Summit, which brought together distinguished experts in health, education, philanthropy, business, policy, and media with the goal of reframing the notion and landscape of the period of life traditionally described as retirement. This led to recommendations for how to convert the "retirement years" from a model of age segregation and decline to one that capitalizes on the value of accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and experience. The Summit helped facilitate a new Center for the Future of Aging, led by Paul Irving, which aims to improve lives and strengthen societies by promoting healthy, productive, and purposeful aging.

Poverty, Entrepreneurship, & Progress

Out of Poverty, Progress

How do we create opportunity among the poorest of the poor? "Freedom fosters competition," said Sir John Templeton, "which yields progress." Throughout his life and his long investing career, Sir John revered the great economists from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman. He believed that economic prosperity for all depends on economic freedom, which in turn depends on individual freedom and often expresses itself in entrepreneurial activity.

The John Templeton Foundation strives to liberate both the individual and society through solutions that empower real people at the grass roots level. The object is to break free of centralized control and regulation, to end dependency on state-based aid, and to foster greater prospects for self-generated wealth.

India: Strategies for Growth and Opportunity

Economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, in their book Why Growth Matters, strategize solutions to the problem of poverty in India, focusing on free trade, democracy, and entrepreneurship for the betterment of the Indian economy and society as a whole. Their work with the Foundation established a research program on India's economic policy at the Columbia Business School, focusing on the nation's remarkable economic growth and its transformation into a modern economy. Putting research into practice, Panagariya was appointed vice chairman of the Indian government's newly created National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, a policy think-tank that aims to involve the states in economic policy-making.


A Creative Approach to Educating the Poor

James Tooley of Newcastle University, seeing the dire condition of state-run schools in the world's poorest nations, has documented the benefits of low-cost, for-profit private schools that are facilitating improved education for children while liberating women from cycles of poverty in Africa, India, and Nepal.


Using New Media to Inspire Global Action

With funding from the John Templeton Foundation, PovertyCure—an international network of organizations united by a person-centered approach to eliminating poverty—marketed and distributed their multi-episode DVD series on poverty and human flourishing to educate churches and the general population on what works and doesn't work in alleviating poverty from a faith perspective. The DVD series, with more than 160,000 YouTube views, has been translated into Spanish, and is now reaching communities across Latin America.


Things are Getting Better, and Now There's Proof

Reality and public perception often don't match. Though the media overemphasizes the negative, in reality, global-scale improvements are underway. presents scientific and sociological data showing human progress on a world scale and focusing on long-term positive trends.

Our Place in the Universe

Reaching Out into the Great Beyond

Though the pace of scientific discovery is accelerating, Sir John Templeton believed that no human has yet grasped more than one percent of what can be known about spiritual realities. What is the true nature of the universe, and how does our understanding of distant galaxies impact our society today?

As research supports the discovery of what Sir John called "new spiritual information," projects in the fields of cosmology and astronomy are uncovering the wonders of the universe and opening new scientific conversations in the public sphere. The John Templeton Foundation is investing in deep curiosity, widespread exploration, and high-level scientific investigation as we seek to discover the nature of the universe and our place within it.

Investigating the Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology

Scholars from physics to philosophy are working to define this exciting field, including a new collaborative academic discipline in the Philosophy of Cosmology. These scholars aim to advance our understanding of some of the greatest spiritual realities and bring new focus to future research in areas such as the origin of the universe and the nature of space and time.

New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology supported a research grant program focused on questions such as, "What was the earliest state of the universe?" and "What is the origin of complexity in the universe?" College and high school essay contests engaged the scientists of tomorrow in these big questions, while new publications and conferences brought emerging developments to a wider public audience.

Research led by Giovanni Amelino-Camelia into a "theory of everything" and published in Nature has demonstrated the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration in research about the quantum gravity problem.


Are We Alone in the Universe?

What's so unique about Earth? Bringing together scientific advances in the fields of astronomy, planetary science, atmospheric science, and geobiology, The Alien Earths Initiative led by David Charbonneau at Harvard University searches for new exoplanets while seeking to define what conditions a planet must fulfill in order to sustain life. Could life exist elsewhere in the universe? Researchers including Geoff Marcy, Andrew Siemion, and Dan Werthimer at University of California, Berkeley are exploring new ways of advancing the search for extraterrestrial life, a discovery which could rank among the most profound of our time.


Asking the Big Questions, Opening the Conversation

The Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), directed by physicists Max Tegmark and Anthony Aguirre, is a community and an online forum in which scientists across disciplines can ask, ponder, and discuss the big questions at the heart of physics and cosmology. The Institute fuels discovery through grants and contests with awards for those who persist in tackling our greatest curiosities, and for those who persevere in the research that has the power to shift our paradigms about everything we think we know about the great beyond.

The Big Ideas Series at the annual World Science Festival takes scientific curiosity and discovery out of the laboratory and into the Big Apple and beyond with live and digital content offered through a series of seminars and workshops that demonstrate what science means to the rest of us while inspiring future scientists and science enthusiasts.

The BICEP3 and Simons Array experiments are probing the inflationary origin of the Big Bang at multiple frequencies, after learning from BICEP2 that a single frequency is insufficient to account for the dust in our galaxy.

As part of the Alien Earths Initiative, the work of Courtney Dressing led to a discovery highlighted in the New York Times that highly irradiated small planets have compositions and densities matching that of the Earth.

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality by FQXi's Max Tegmark explores why mathematics is so successful in describing the cosmos.

How Do We Teach Virtuous Character?

Can Character Change the World?

Sir John Templeton wondered whether universal principles governed the internal world of people, similar to the ways in which the natural world is governed by the laws of physics and chemistry. Sir John predicted that these principles could be known and practiced, and would ultimately lead to greater human prosperity and flourishing. He called these principles the "Laws of Life" and initiated the "Laws of Life Essay Contest" to engage young people in conversation about purpose and meaning while helping to instill core character virtues in the key members of society's future.

Today, the John Templeton Foundation advances this vision by supporting projects that enhance our understanding of character virtue development initiatives in areas such as gratitude, humility, and generosity. Research and practical initiatives in these areas are positively transforming communities and helping individuals to lead more meaningful and purposeful lives.

The ABCs of Virtue—How Do We Teach Character?

The Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach, California, a grassroots charter school, reimagines education by cultivating such virtues as intellectual curiosity and humility in middle school students. And the Boy Scouts of America, through new research initiatives, is showing how scouting promotes character development, beginning in youth and continuing into adulthood.

A renaissance of character development is also taking place in the United Kingdom, thanks to the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham. Initiatives such as the Knightly Virtues and Gratitude Britain bring character education and the practice of gratitude into the classroom and the community, with the goal of nurturing engaged, ethical citizens and more prosperous communities.

The charitable organization Character Scotland has created The Inspire>Aspire project based on Sir John's "Laws of Life" essay program. Inspire>Aspire encourages young people to identify the virtues of public figures who inspire them, and to identify how they too can "aspire" towards those virtues. This program has reached over 200,000 youth.


Grit + Resilience = Success

Maybe IQ isn't the most reliable measure of future success. Angela Duckworth, of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, shows that virtues like grit and resilience are meaningful predictors of achievement—from kindergarten into the business world—and they can be developed.

But how do we learn these virtues? The Character Lab puts research into action through online resources and tools, helping children and adults obtain the skills, and further develop the virtues, that lead to flourishing in school, at work, and in relationships.


The Path to Greater Health, Wealth, and Well-Being?

Want to experience greater joy and well-being? The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley—in collaboration with the University of California, Davis—is studying how practicing gratitude can help. Their project Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude shows the widespread positive impact of being grateful on human health and well-being, and their creative outreach initiatives teach the cultivation of intentional gratitude practices.

More than 100,000 students and 450 schools receive character education content from the Jubilee Centre.

Since November 2009, the Positive Psychology Center has helped train thousands of soldiers who have in turn taught resilience skills to tens of thousands of other soldiers.

Articles about gratitude published by GGSC reached over a million people from almost every country in the world.

What is God? Humility in Theology

Humility and Enthusiasm on the Path to Spiritual Progress

Funding that furthers the quest for spiritual information encourages cooperation between theologians, philosophers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and religious leaders across traditions. The aim is to increase enthusiasm for spiritual research, discover new information about spiritual principles, increase humility and open-minded inquiry, and bring these findings into the world. In opening the conversation, these projects engage the wider public in the most foundational questions of our existence while multiplying mankind's spiritual wealth.

John Templeton Foundation-funded research is advancing our modern understanding of ancient traditions and universal realities as we consider new and evolving concepts of personal spirituality and the divine. Our capacity for knowing God and channeling the creative spirit is still relatively unknown. As we direct wonder, fascination, and curiosity toward rigorous scholarship, we begin to tap the infinite.

Ancient Traditions, Modern Perspectives

Exploring theology and its connection to science and society

With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Center for Christian Thought at Biola University is asking new questions of Christianity and opening fresh, provocative conversations that go beyond the classroom and into the pews. How does Christian wisdom speak to a broken world? How does Christian faith shape culture and transform individuals? How might recent discoveries in the sciences inform key aspects of Christian faith? In addition to research in these and other areas, online resources, discussions, and lectures help explore Christianity's foundational teachings in a modern context.

A project at the University of Oxford is seeking to expand our understanding of Special Divine Action and what it means for our lives. Is God still involved? Does science rule out the possibility of miracles? This project supports research on these and related questions, along with the development of a number of resources and activities targeted at the general public.

Eastern traditions such as Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism provide the motivation for an initiative led by P.J. Ivanhoe at the City University of Hong Kong. The project, Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Human Happiness, will explore questions related to the self and human nature in the light of modern scholarship in psychology, ethics, and the three traditions above.


Bridging Religion and Philosophy

Expanding the way we think about faith

The Closer to Truth series promotes new thinking about God and a willingness to humbly explore new spiritual information. Through conversations and debates, the world's greatest thinkers explore questions of existence, consciousness, God, creativity, science, philosophy, cosmology, and culture. These conversations are brought into the marketplace of ideas via television episodes, online videos, and podcasts.

Pushing into the realm of philosophy of religion, Jeff Speaks of the University of Notre Dame asks how we can discover the properties of God and how God can be grasped. This project looks at precise qualities of God, challenging how we answer our deepest questions about spiritual realities.


Our Place in the Story

Seeking human purpose and meaning, understanding the role of religion

Science, biology, and faith come together in BioLogos, the mission of which is to encourage research that explores and explains creation in light of evolution. Projects seek to harmonize evolution and Christianity, probing deeply into science and theology, while making findings available to the church.

The Immortality Project at the University of California, Riverside seeks answers to questions of perennial concern, such as whether (and in what form) persons survive or could survive death. It also asks questions about our beliefs concerning the afterlife—where these beliefs come from, for example, and the difference that such beliefs (or their absence) make in our lives. Research projects by scientists, philosophers, and theologians are pursuing these and related questions in hopes of significant discovery.

The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project brings the data behind worldwide faith and religion, helping us to understand the impact, with concrete numbers, of religion on people and societies. What are the global changes in religion? How will fertility affect the future of religion? Where is religious belief increasing, and where is it decreasing?