Christian scholarships seem like an oxymoron of sorts: shouldn’t all students of religious institutions receive some kind of funding through their churches for completing the work of God? This is what many religious philanthropists have felt as is evident by their many contributions to colleges and universities who uphold their values. Sir John Marks Templeton was one such contributor at the end of the millennium who offered universities large stipends in order to continue research into the links between religion and science. At some point, however, Christian colleges have to wonder what the underlying message of these scholarships will be.
Sir Templeton recently passed away two years ago, but not without great contributions in the Christian scholarship world. The John Templeton Foundation is one of the largest scholarship foundations meant for students and researchers alike who are eager to research into many of the larger questions that have traversed the boundaries between religion and science. The “Templeton Honor Roll” additionally honors universities, students, and professors who uphold traditional (conservative) educational values, winning many prestigious awards through the foundation. However, Templeton’s greatest scholastic endeavor is the reunification of religion and science.
Templeton tried to bribe religious institutions with large endowments so that they could match the pace that science advancement has laid out. He believed that this type of advance in religion could join together the brain and the soul in order to make progress in the field. The scholarships he offered, in effect, were more than just a ticket to an education, but a hopeful gamble on students who could make a different in the unification of science and faith. Students who receive scholarships from Templeton’s many philanthropic organizations are usually those who have written essays about spirituality or who have demonstrated their knowledge of both science and religion and an eagerness to explore the boundaries. Templeton’s eagerness for this knowledge revived a new movement in the late 90s as more schools began to focus on the new field of religious science. This has even expanded into the secondary school field, as more public schools have begun to question how they can combine the two realms within their curriculum.
Templeton additionally did not deliver his Christian scholarships solely to Christian colleges, but instead encouraged larger research institutions to take on projects into the field, such as Duke University and Johns Hopkins. If anything, this is a sign that religion is far from a “dead” subject, but is constantly expanding, leading students of Christian scholarships or Christian colleges a bright future. The modern world is always contradicting religious texts, and Templeton was one of the first outspoken Christian philanthropists who wished to close the gap between religion and science.