Alvin Plantinga, an American philosopher and author, is the 2017 Templeton Prize winner. The award, which recognizes living individuals for “their contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, either through insight, discovery, or practical works,” was announced online on April 25.
“Alvin Plantinga has been awarded the Templeton Prize because his scholarship made theism—or the belief in a divine reality or god—a serious option within academic philosophy,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, in a statement.
The Foundation cited Plantinga’s ability to recognize that religious beliefs do not have to conflict with philosophical work; instead, Plantinga has argued, faith can provide crucial contributions to philosophy.
Plantinga’s work to put theism back on the philosophical map began in the late 1950’s—a time when many in the field were rejecting religious viewpoints. Plantinga is also credited with challenging other Christian philosophers to pursue work on a theistic vision while engaging with the broader philosophical community. He is the author of 13 books, including Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford Univ., 2000), and, most recently, Knowledge and Christian Belief (Eerdmans, 2015).
Upon receiving the prize, Plantinga, who is the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, said he hoped the honor will “encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity, and boldness.”
Awarded annually since 1972, the Templeton, which comes along with a purse of £1.1 million (about $1.4 million), is named after American philanthropist and investor John Templeton. The prize 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.
This article has been updated with corrections.