Arthur Peacocke, Anglican priest, wins Templeton prize

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2001

NEW YORK -- The Rev. Arthur Peacocke, a biochemist and Anglican priest who has written widely about God and science, won the $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion on Thursday.

Peacocke, 76, specialized in biological macromolecules early in his career and made significant contributions to scientists' understanding of the structure of DNA. He has spent the past 25 years exploring the relationship between science and theology.

''The search for intelligibility that characterizes science and the search for meaning that characterizes religion are two necessary intertwined strands of the human enterprize and are not opposed,'' Peacocke said in a statement. ''They are essential to each other, complementary yet distinct and strongly interacting -- indeed just like the two helical strands of DNA itself.''

Peacocke, though an agnostic in his youth, became a lay reader in the Church of England in 1961 and an ordained priest in 1971.

That same year he published ''Science and the Christian Experiment,'' which examined the parallels between the scientific and theological quests. He founded the United Kingdom Science and Religion Forum in 1972.

In 1984 Peacocke established the Ian Ramsey Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religious Beliefs in Relation to the Sciences. His books and articles include ''From DNA to Dean,'' ''God and Science: A Quest for Christian Credibility'' and the forthcoming ''Paths from Science Toward God: The End of All Our Exploring.''

The interfaith religion prize was established in 1972 by mutual funds entrepreneur John M. Templeton to highlight a field omitted by the Nobel prizes. Past winners include Mother Teresa, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Charles Colson and Billy Graham.

The Templeton is one of the richest awards for achievement in any field. The amount is always set at a level that exceeds that of the Nobel Prize.

Peacocke said he has not decided what to do with the money. ''I hope I can find some way of enhancing study of theology in relation to the sciences,'' he said Wednesday. ''I think it's desperately needed.''

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