Does the Templeton Foundation Support Science or Science Fiction?

Templeton grants fund important research — but they also go to projects on extraterrestrial power, faith healings and the afterlife.

By Adam Piore|Tuesday, July 16, 2013

John Templeton, once called “arguably the greatest global stock-picker” of the 20th century, may now best be known for the foundation that bears his name. The Templeton Foundation often funds research into questions that seem a far cry from the grounded, data-driven realms of high finance: immortality, the nature of evil, the power of prayer and the possibility of alien life, to name just a few. 

Templeton, a devout Presbyterian, established the foundation in 1987 to serve as a “philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,” according to its mission statement. Although financing such research may raise scientific eyebrows and hackles, there’s no question that much of Templeton’s money — $71 million in 2011 — has funded legitimate and important science. 

With an endowment of $2.5 billion in 2012, the foundation’s research efforts have expanded in recent years to cast a wide net. In 2012, the Templeton Foundation awarded 178 grants, averaging $970,446 each. Below is our deliberately oversimplified guide to these unusual and myriad efforts.

Alison Mackey/Discover
[This article originally appeared in print as "Sci-Fi Money."]
Comment on this article
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
DSCNovCover
+

Log in to your account

X
Email address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it emailed to you.

Not registered yet?

Register now for FREE. It takes only a few seconds to complete. Register now »