2017
Sir John's Vision: What Do We Know? What Is There to Learn?

This year is the 105th anniversary of Sir John Templeton’s birth and the 30th anniversary of the founding of the John Templeton Foundation (JTF). It may be that 2017 is the last significant anniversary year when it will be possible to draw together a sizable number of scholars, scientists, and others who worked closely with the founder of a philanthropy that ranks among the top twenty-five in the United States in terms of its assets. To reflect on their relationship with Sir John, eleven people who knew him in the Foundation’s formative years are gathered in Lyford Cay, the community on the western tip of New Providence Island in The Bahamas where he made his home for four decades.

2017
Redeeming the Past & Building the Future: Confronting Religious Violence With a Counter Narrative

At a critical juncture in the postwar order that has prevailed in Europe since 1945, this symposium begins with the premise that violence committed in God’s name is always an act of desecration. Hope of redress must start, we believe, in reimagining the intended relationship amongst the Abrahamic faiths. Participants come together to consider how a rereading of the hallowed texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam might mitigate the militancy whereby group identity can lead to deadly conflict.

2017
Humility, Wisdom, and Grace in Deep Time

Where did human wisdom come from and how did it begin? Are the changing evolutionary patterns in human relationships, understood through the lens of complex social negotiation and symbol making integral to human evolution, also an expression of human wisdom? The symposium gathers fourteen researchers from archaeology, anthropology, and theology in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Their conversation expands on existing research to ask: What might be the relationship between the virtues of wisdom and humility and could the latter be tracked in the evolutionary record along with wisdom? Furthermore, does the integration of theological approaches into such questions shape, facilitate, and change answers to them?

2016
Grit + Imagination: An Educator Summit in Honor of Jack Templeton

Educators from across the United States gathered to explore what character-focused teaching and learning can be, why it is important, and how to implement research-informed strategies with K-12 students.

2016
The Meaning of Meaning: An Exploration of the Psychology of Purpose

The purpose of this symposium is to probe the nature of meaning by examining, in the first place, how people develop a sense of meaning, in particular, the psychological mechanisms that contribute to it, as well as significant antecedents and environmental (especially familial), cognitive, and personality variables that bear on the experience of meaning across life spans.

2015
Ordinary Genius: Relation, Communication, and Creation

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the epistemic spaces needed for geniuses to make the perceptual leaps that can sometimes transform the world. It is to investigate the sources of the often unacknowledged inventiveness that lie behind each and every creative nuance in a range of realms, but most particularly in science and in religion.

2015
Exploring Exoplanets: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Post-Biological Intelligence

The purpose of this symposium is to probe the assumption that, if it exists, life elsewhere in the universe has a biochemistry similar to our own. Some scientists have speculated that any sufficiently advanced alien civilization might well be capable of augmenting itself by using technology to overcome its biological limitations.

2015
Forgiveness and Healing in the Face of Moral Injury

The purpose of this symposium is to explore how the wisdom tradition, dating from early Christian spirituality, might facilitate the development of innovative and creative treatment options to heal the wounds of the survivors of trauma experienced in combat or in other violent situations.

2014
Ascetical Practice in a Secular Culture: A New Approach to Prayer and the Brain

The starting point for this symposium is to consider the findings of neuroscience on brain laterality. The purpose is firstly to reflect on the implications of this research for sustained practices of prayer and meditation in a secular age as well as for the absence of such practices. The second point of reflection will involve an examination of what conclusions reached as the result of the first exercise may mean for rethinking monastic life and ascetical practices more broadly.

2014
Imagining What Might Be: Memory and the Power of Connectivity

The purpose of this symposium is twofold. It is to explore how the discoveries being made about the relationship of episodic memory (memory of particular past events a person has directly experienced) to foresight and ingenuity can suggest ways to solve problems and offer comfort to individuals during periods of stress and anxiety. It is also to consider whether such important new findings might have an impact on what we are learning about how societies, forged in no small part by types of communal memory termed communicative memory (shared yet changing) and the more stable cultural memory, respond both to ongoing challenges and catastrophic change.

2014
Measuring Photons: Optical Approaches to Fundamental Issues in Quantum Mechanics

The purpose of this symposium is to explore foundational issues concerning the nature and effects of light as quantized photons, placing special attention on questions that are suitable for laboratory investigation using an optical approach, which is the preferred methodology for such studies.

2013
The Role of Life in Death

The purpose of this symposium is to explore how the grand reversal at the heart of the Christian Gospel, with its proclamation of life, and life in abundance, but life coming through death, is reflected in various disciplines in ways that might speak to contemporary issues.

2013
The Foundations and Quantification of Measurement in the Biological Sciences

The purpose of this symposium is to engage in an intensive conversation that will help finalize the selection of sub-topics for a possible research initiative dealing with quantification and measurement in the biological sciences.

2011
The Emergence of Personhood: A Quantum Leap?

The purpose of the discussion is to relate new insights from a range of sciences, including evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neurology, genetics, archaeology, and anthropology, to the understanding of who we are, as well as to consider how traditional philosophical and theological understandings of human uniqueness may be affected by these insights.

2011
Is God Incarnate In All That Is?

The purpose of this symposium is to explore how the idea of incarnation coordinates very particular notions of divine self-revelation in the life story of Jesus with universal notions of the transformative presence of God’s Logos (Word) in the universe at large.

2010
Is There a General Principle of Increasing Complexity?

The purpose of this symposium is to address the questions of under what circumstances complexity will increase with time and whether it is possible to identify a general principle of increasing complexity.

2010
Top Down Causation: An Integrating Theme Within and Across the Sciences

The topical focus of the symposium has the potential to link scientific research with progress in philosophical and theological scholarship because of the fundamental importance of causation in daily living and in moral life

2010
Faith, Rationality, and the Passions

The purpose of this symposium is to reflect closely on the relation of religious faith, rationality, and the passions, to examine how this nexus of topics has been viewed by some of the great philosophers and theologians of the classical Western tradition, and to consider how the linked trio might be creatively reconsidered, both philosophically and theologically, in the light of recent developments in neuroscience, psychology, and the philosophy of the emotions.

2009
Understanding Moral Sentiments from a Darwinian Perspective: An Exploration of the Roots and Complexity of Ethical Judgment

The purpose of this symposium is to consider how Darwinian perspectives can inform our answers to Adam Smith’s still fundamental question: Why do we regard certain actions or intentions with approval and condemn others?

2009
The Spirit in Creation and New Creation: A Science and Theology Dialogue between Orthodox and Western Realms of Thought

The purpose of this symposium is to explore contemporary scholarship in pneumatology and its application to other ways of understanding reality.

2009
Light From Light: An Exploration of Theological and Scientific Relationships Referencing Reality

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the physics and metaphysics of light. The conversation draws together scholars and scientists to share insights and research on a theme linked to core issues in theology and science.

2009
'Homo Symbolicus': The Dawn of Language, Imagination, and Spirituality

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the insights recent archaeological discoveries may offer us in developing theories about the origin and evolution of language, symbolic behavior, and the capacity for spiritual culture among the earliest humans.

2008
Exceptional Creativity in Science & Technology

The purpose of this symposium is to provide the John Templeton Foundation with strategic ideas for developing a research agenda on the culture, workings, dynamics, and effective structuring of exceptionally creative domains.

2008
Music: Its Evolution, Cognitive Basis, and Spiritual Dimensions

Music, the making and hearing of it, is found in all the world’s cultures and is seemingly ubiquitous in our own. From archaeology, anthropology, biology, neuroscience, psychology, and theology, a growing literature is taking account of its centrality to our quest to understand human nature.

2008
Conscious Process and Free Action

Participants will address the next generation of questions, namely: In what senses can human action be free? How are free actions produced? What inner processes yield actions that are relatively freer than acts seen as less free? How might consciousness influence behavior? What are the beneficial functions and uses of consciousness? And how does consciousness produce these benefits?

2007
Enlightenment, Modernity, and Atheism

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the many contributions that the eminent Polish philosopher and historian of philosophy Leszek Kolakowksi has made to our understanding of modernity, Marxism, secularism, and atheism.

2007
Games, Groups, God(s) and the Global Good

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the uses and limits of game theory in explaining ethical behavior and illuminating the nature and dynamics of moral order and even, perhaps, moral transformation.

2007
Mathematics and Its Significance

The participants take an intellectual, experience-based approach to non-physical reality in their exploration of the significance of mathematics.

2007
Top-Down Causation and Volition

Philosophers have raised questions throughout history regarding the relationship between our intuitive sense of mental causation and agency and the physical world. Their inquiry has taken on new urgency since the discovery of brain signals that seem to precede an intended action.

2007
Learning from the Disabled

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the value of sharing one’s life with mentally or psychically handicapped people as a way to fulfill the vocation of a human being. Central to the discussion are the perspectives of those whose lives are enriched by their association with persons of all ages who are considered disabled by our societies.

2006
Creativity: The Mind, Machines, and Mathematics

The symposium focuses on creativity in the borderland between mathematics (computation), artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. In particular, the participants are investigating whether or not there are any intrinsic differences between creativity of the mind and “creativity” of artificial intelligence and whether or not the former can be captured or modeled fully by mathematical and/or mechanical processes.

2006
God, Matter, and Information: What is Ultimate?

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the current understanding of the concept of matter from scientific, philosophical, and theological perspectives.

2006
What Is Our Knowledge of the Human Being?

In a world ever more conditioned by science, the purpose of this symposium is to reconsider the perennial question formulated by David when he asked,“Yahweh, what is man, that you care for him?” (Ps. 144:3) Not that science provides the sole answer to the question, but we believe that an interdisciplinary dialogue is necessary for its deepest exploration

2005
Relational Ontology in Science and Theology

The first in a series of symposia on "Relational Ontology in Science and Theology," the conversation’s purpose is to begin a process of exploring the potentially wide-scale significance of developing relationality as an ontological concept.

2005
Spiritual Information: Knowing the Unknowable about God and the Universe

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the profound mystery of God's presence and absence. It arises from a core concern of the John Templeton Foundation—the possibility of learning more about "a God who would be known but dwells as non-being beyond the realm of our conception."

2005
Multiverse and String Theory: Toward Ultimate Explanations in Cosmology

The concept of a multiplicity of possible or actual universes is a very ancient one. In recent years, however, advances in physics and cosmology have given the “multiverse” idea a plausible scientific basis. Sixteen researchers from several disciplines come together to explore the difficult and interlocking questions that are currently enlarging our cosmic perspective so dramatically.

2004
Pneumatology: Exploring the Work of the Spirit from Contemporary Perspectives

Fourteen scholars and scientists gather to explore the most pressing questions in pneumatology that have to be dealt with by contemporary Pentecostal theologians, as well as the revision of basic pneumatological concepts and ideas in classic theology and the quest for a realistic pneumatology that will be related to lived experience and our evolving understanding of creation.

2004
Purpose in Evolution

The purpose of this symposium is not to dispute the orthodox model, but to inquire whether it is sufficient and, if it is not, to consider what we need to know and ultimately how we might discover the requisite information with one or more research programs.

2004
Innovations in Material and Spiritual Cultures: Exploring the Conjectured Links

Religious ideas often seem to develop in interaction with material culture. Thirteen scientists and theologians gather to explore conjectured relationships between innovations in material and spiritual cultures.

2004
Spiritual Dimensions of Healing

The purpose for which thirteen medical and social scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet is to consider the broader issues raised by the possibility of a spiritual aspect to healing within the context of conventional medicine, in particular its impact on our worldview and the perception we have of our place in nature.

2003
Universe or Multiverse?

The concept of a multiplicity of possible or actual universes is a very ancient one and raises deep scientific, philosophical, and theological questions. Fourteen scientists and philosophers gather to examine the conjectures that are so dramatically enlarging our cosmic perspective.

2002
Emergent Reality: A Critical Appraisal
2002
The Science of Nonlocality and Eastern Approaches to Exploring Ultimate Reality

Thirteen scientists, theologians, and philosophers come together to explore the implications of quantum nonlocality for the character of physical reality, as well as the uses of the concept of complementarity in understanding the relationship between parts and wholes, the fundamental unity of creation from Eastern perspectives, and the search for meaning in modern science and mystical traditions.

2001
Were Ancient Panentheistic Views a First Step Toward the Humble Approach in Theology?

To consider what general frameworks for conceiving of the God-world relation may be consistent both with biblical data and modern philosophical and scientific contexts is the purpose of the conversation among leading thinkers from disparate disciplines.

2001
Mind, Brain, and Personhood: An Inquiry from Scientific and Theological Perspectives

Scientists, theologians, and philosophers gather to explore questions related to our sense of divinity, particularly how, in the light of increasing knowledge of psycho-pathology, including its neural substrates, we should evaluate claims made down through the centuries, as well as today, of the recurrence of visions and other mystical experiences.

2000
The Far-Future Universe: Eschatology From A Cosmic Perspective

The current theoretical prejudice is that our universe will still be expanding 100 billion years from now. But it is not clear whether it will be speeding up or slowing down. Scientists and theologians come together to explore eschatology from a cosmic perspective.

2000
Kindling the Science of Gratitude

Thirteen scholars explore the subject of gratitude from the perspectives of anthropology, biology, moral philosophy, psychology, and theology, and examine the evidence for the conclusions reached by wise people through the ages that, as Sir John Marks Templeton put it, "an attitude of gratitude creates blessings."

2000
Science and Theological Imagination in Science Fiction

Ten scholars, scientists, and writers gather to consider the broader issues raised by science fiction and to explore, in particular, the relation of the genre to science and to theology.

2000
Expanding Concepts of God

With perspectives shaped by their experience and knowledge of varied Eastern, Western, and indigenous faith traditions, eighteen scholars probe the mystery of a Deus velatus by examining God’s chosen modes of revelation of God’s self to believing hearts and questing minds throughout the world.

2000
Evolution, Purpose and Meaning

Natural scientists, social scientists, a writer, a philosopher, and a theologian gather to consider the subject of purpose in relation to biological evolution, cultural evolution, and human psychology, and to ponder the meaning of the apparent arrow of life moving toward greater and greater complexity.

1999
Complexity, Information, and Design: A Critical Appraisal

Eleven scientists, theologians, and philosophers meet to explore the broader issues raised by recent research into complex systems, in particular their impact on our world view and the perception we have of our place in nature.

1999
Psychoneuroimmunology and the "Faith Factor" in Human Health

Fourteen distinguished scientists and social scientists and an eminent theologian reflect on the implications for science and religion of research that broadly links a faith factor with a range of other factors that promote longevity and physical well-being.

1998
Many Worlds: The New Universe and Its Theological Implications

To consider questions about the origin of life, about evolution, and about the theological implications of extraterrestrial intelligence as interconnected matters, bridging diverse efforts to break the cosmic code, is the purpose of the conversation.

1998
Love & The Ultimate Nature of Reality: Cosmology, Freedom and the Theology of Kenosis

To consider what divine restraint may mean for us, as truly free creatures, and what it signifies for natural history, the evolving structure of space, and our cosmic destiny is the purpose of the conversation among the leading thinkers from disparate disciplines.

Humble Approach Initiative Books

Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will (Understanding Complex Systems)

How is free will possible in light of the physical and chemical underpinnings of brain activity and recent neurobiological experiments? How can the emergence of complexity in hierarchical systems such as the brain, based at the lower levels in physical interactions, lead to something like genuine free will?

The Deep Structure of Biology: Is Convergence Sufficiently Ubiquitous to Give a Directional Signal?

Twelve renowned scientists and theologians offer penetrating insights into the evolution dialogue in The Deep Structure of Biology. Each considers whether the orthodox model of evolution is sufficient and offers his/her own perspective on evolution and biology.

Games, Groups, and the Global Good

The first in a three-part series, this volume explores how game theory's strategic formulation of central problems in the analysis of social interactions is used to develop multi-level theories that examine the interplay between individuals and the collectives they form.

Universe or Multiverse?

Recent developments in cosmology and particle physics have led to the remarkable realization that our universe - rather than being unique - could be just one of many universes. In this volume, a number of active and eminent researchers in the field describe these recent developments and assess their implications.