Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, author of more than two dozen books including most recently Not in God's Name, is the 2016 Templeton Prize winner, the Templeton Foundation announced on March 2 at a news conference at the British Academy in London.
Since the 1970s, Sacks, who served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, has been sharing spiritual insight with the public through mass media, lectures, and books, and a central part of his message is an appreciation and respect for all faiths. Sacks has also defended the relationship between science and religion, making a case that they are compatible in response to those who find the topics separate and distinct.
"We will always inhabit a world of the spirit that searches not just for explanation but also for meaning,” Sacks said in a statement. “Or as Einstein said: ‘To know an answer to the question, ‘what is the meaning of human life?’ means to be religious.’”
In a recent interview with PW, Sacks elaborated on his core message of tolerance and peace. "Being in favor of peace, coexistence, and mutual respect is not a kind of compromise," he said. "It is not an act of secularization; it is what God is calling us to do right now. This is a religious imperative as much as it is a secular one."
The Templeton Prize, named after British entrepreneur John Templeton, recognizes living individuals for their contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, either through insight, discovery, or practical works. Valued at £1.1 million (about $1.6 million), it is one of the world's largest annual monetary awards given to an individual. Previous Templeton winners include the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Billy Graham.