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World-famous anthropologist and conservationist Jane Goodall wins the Templeton Prize for lifetime quest to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.

Who is Jane Goodall?

Dame Jane Goodall may be the best known primatologist in the world. She is a British anthropologist, primatologist, conservationist, and author. She is the premier researcher on chimpanzee behavior. In 1966, Dr. Goodall earned a Ph.D from England’s Cambridge University in ethology (the study of animal behavior). In 2006, the Open University of Tanzania awarded her an honorary doctorate of science. Between 1969 and 2013, she wrote or co-wrote fifteen books. She has also written or co-written ten children’s books. In 2004 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II  named Goodall a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 

Goodall was a protegee of anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey, who believed studying modern primates would help modern Man understand how ancient hominids lived. Dame Jane is the scientist who discovered chimpanzees are omnivores, rather than herbivores. She discovered that chimpanzees are tool users, a status previously thought to be limited to Man.

What is the Templeton Prize?

The Templeton Prize is awarded annually by the Templeton Foundation to a living person “whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.” It celebrates scientific and spirituality curiosity. The first winner in 1973 was Mother Teresa. The current winner is Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. From 2002 to 2008 it was called the “Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Originally, it was awarded primarily to ordained clergy, theologians, and philosophers. From the 1980s onward, it has focused on those working at the intersection of science and faith.

Religion is based on dogma and belief, whereas science is based on doubt and questioning,” says [biologist Jerry] Coyne, echoing an argument made by many others. “In religion, faith is a virtue. In science, faith is a vice.” The purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to break down that wall, he says — to reconcile the irreconcilable and give religion scholarly legitimacy.

“There’s a distinct feeling in the research community that Templeton just gives the award to the most senior scientist they can find who’s willing to say something nice about religion,” says Harold Kroto, a chemist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, who was co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and describes himself as a devout atheist.

Past winners of the Templeton Prize have included Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, American geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, and Brazilian astronomer Dr. Marcelo Gleiser.

The late Sir John Templeton felt spirituality was ignored by the Nobel Prizes, and the Templeton Foundation adjusts the amount of prize money periodically so it is always more than the Nobel Prize. The current Templeton Prize is over one million pounds.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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