British astrophysicist Martin Rees, whose research delves deep into the mysteries of the cosmos, has won the 2011 Templeton Prize for career achievements affirming life’s spiritual dimension.
The one million sterling ($1.6 million) award, the world’s largest to an individual, was announced on Wednesday in London. Mr Rees, master of Trinity College at Cambridge University, is former head of the Royal Society and a life peer.
Announcing the award, the United States-based Templeton Foundation said Mr Rees’s insights into the mysteries of the Big Bang and so-called black holes in space have “provoked vital questions that address mankind’s deepest hopes and fears.” “Lord Rees has widened the boundaries of understanding about the physical processes that define the cosmos, including speculations on the concept of ‘multiverses’ or infinite universes,” it said.
“The ‘big questions’ Lord Rees raises -- such as ‘how large is physical reality?’ -- are reshaping the philosophical and theological considerations that strike at the core of life.” Mr Rees, 68, says he has no religious beliefs but was brought up in the Church of England and values its culture and ethics.
Theology cannot explain scientific mysteries, he told Reuters, but added: “I’m not allergic to religion or religious believers.”