Charles Townes, a distinguished Nobel laureate whose inventions include the laser, has been named the recipient of the 2005 Templeton Prize for his work toward furthering the convergence of science and religion. The prize is worth more than $1.5 million.

Townes describes his professional journey in his most recent book, How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist, published by Oxford University Press in 1999 and named the outstanding book in science that year by the American Physics Society. The scientist also traces his unlikely personal journey from a Southern Baptist upbringing to his tenure at the University of California at Berkeley.

Townes plans to give a major portion of the prize money to his alma mater, Furman University.