By CHRIS HERLINGER
c. 2011 Religion News Service
A British theoretical astrophysicist who has achieved renown for
his study of the cosmos and for sounding warnings about the future of humanity has won the $1.6 million 2011 Templeton Prize.
Martin J. Rees of Cambridge University, a former president of
Britain's prestigious Royal Society, was announced the winner on
Wednesday (April 6) by the John Templeton Foundation.
The annual prize honors an individual who has made "exceptional
contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension." Rees is a
somewhat unorthodox choice because he holds no formal religious beliefs.
Rees, 68, has long studied questions surrounding black holes, the
big bang and what some call the "dark age" of the early universe. Rees
has also speculated on the idea of infinite universes, sometimes called
"multiverses," and has pondered how large physical reality actually is.
Rees has helped reshape "crucial philosophical and theological
considerations that strike at the core of life, fostering the spiritual
progress that the Templeton Prize has long sought to recognize," the
Templeton Foundation said in announcing the prize.