The 2003 winner of the $1 million-dollar Templeton Prize is a university professor credited with establishing the field of "Environmental Ethics."
This year's Templeton Prize recipient, Holmes Rolston, Professor of philosophy at Colorado State University and a Presbyterian minister, has spent 30 years researching, writing and lecturing on the religious imperative to respect nature.
His books, which include Science and Religion A Critical Study and Genes, Genesis, and God have been translated into 18 languages.
The 70-year-old Professor Rolston says that, although he remains troubled by the current state of the environment, people are much more tuned in to environmental health than they were 50 years ago. "Cathedrals are the treasures of Europe, but we think the national parks are the treasures of the United States, and most Americans want those on the landscape indefinitely," he said. "So, in that sense, it seems to me we've woken up a considerable sensitivity to the natural world, and I want to keep that going."
Professor Rolston cites the Endangered Species Act, the Wilderness Act, and the Clean Water Act as evidence of this "awakening".
Established in 1972, the Templeton Prize honors "a living individual who has shown originality in research or discoveries to advance the world's understanding of God and spirituality."
The 90-year-old John Templeton, who made a fortune in investment banking, founded the prize as an answer to the Nobel Prize, which has no category for "religious discoveries". "I was impressed that [Alfred] Nobel, probably with out enough thought, gave prizes that stimulated the greatest minds to devote a major part of their enthusiasm toward new discoveries in physics, chemistry, medicine, and so forth. I wanted to cause that same enthusiasm toward the discoveries of spiritual realities," said John Templeton.
Prize winner Holmes Rolston is granting $1 million in prize money to his alma mater, Davidson College in North Carolina, to establish a Chair of Religion and Science.