Follow the money … from the Templeton Foundation

by Rev. Jim Witteveen

Published: August 31, 2017
Businessman and philanthropist, the late Sir John Marks Templeton.

Previously, I examined the roots of the Templeton Foundation, the philosophy of its founder, Sir John Marks Templeton, and the way in which his philosophy is being disseminated through the foundation’s ongoing efforts.1 The BioLogos Foundation and the Canadian Christian and Scientific Affiliation were mentioned as groups that receive Templeton Foundation funding to support their work.


A little research shows the incredible reach that the foundation’s money has. And an examination of the nature of the grants that the foundation provides, as well as the purpose behind these grants, is telling indeed. One of the foundation’s main funding areas is “public engagement”, and a representative sample of grants (ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars) clearly shows the foundation’s goals. Here is a small sample of grants that have been made more recently:

Other grants have been made to train Roman Catholic teachers and preachers to engage the dialogue between science and religion, to promote ‘science’ engagement in rabbinic training, and to measure science engagement in Roman Catholic high schools and seminaries. Further investigation into the nature and purpose of these grants reveals a common thread. For example, La Jolla Presbyterian Church received a grant from the Templeton Foundation for a program that “seeks to engage young adults (college and post-graduate) in a discussion of science and faith with leading scientists who are Christians”.

The McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University received a $1.675 million grant for their Science and Religion Initiative, which “seeks to frame science education within the broader context of Catholic theology”. According to the institute’s director, “The perceived conflict between science and religion is one of the main reasons young people say they leave the Catholic church… this grant allows us to address this misperceptions and help high school teachers create pedagogies that show that science and religion—far from being incompatible—are partners in the search for truth.”

Multnomah Biblical Seminary has received a Templeton grant (as well as a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, itself supported by the Templeton Foundation), to “equip pastoral studies majors to become more effective in engaging our scientific age”. Among a number of other Christian theologians, Niels Henrik Gregersen, professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Copenhagen, received a Templeton research grant for his work on the constructive interface between science and religion.

Another recent recipient of the Templeton Foundation’s largesse is Regent College in Vancouver, which this year received a grant funding a program called “Re-faithing Science at Regent College”. The program will seek, over the next two years, to address this question: “How can the relationship between Christian faith and scientific endeavour be conceptualized and communicated in a way that effectively engages diverse audiences?”

The detailed description of this particular grant on the Templeton Foundation website is insightful:

“Sir John Templeton recognized that science and spirituality should be neither sealed in separate boxes nor positioned at opposite ends of a battlefield, yet even a cursory glance at contemporary culture reveals that the supposed incompatibility and even hostility between faith and science is something of a truism in much of Western society. Regent College believes that this widespread perception is a significant threat to the development of theology and science alike, as well as to the spiritual and intellectual flourishing of countless individuals.”

So, utilizing Templeton’s funds, Regent College’s project team will “propose an alternative model for the relationship between faith and science: mutual coinherence, or existence within one another”. Their goal is to communicate this proposal “in an accessible form” that will encourage and enable further exploration of science, theology, and their interaction, using academic publications, public lectures, graduate-level courses, and an online presence, to “target different audiences with the same basic narrative, a story of one world, created by one God, who can be known and worshipped through both theology and science—and who is best known and best worshipped when theology and science work together”.

What can we learn from all of this? If we were unaware of the foundational principles behind the Templeton Foundation, perhaps all of this would appear to be somewhat innocuous. After all, who could argue against Christians being involved in the sciences? Why oppose efforts aimed at developing ‘scientific awareness’? Certainly we shouldn’t want to bury our heads in the sand, and ignore what the sciences have to offer, as if science were somehow ‘off-limits’ to the faithful Christian, should we?

But remember this important fact: the Templeton Foundation has a very clear agenda—a utopian, panentheistic philosophy that has an ecumenical goal of uniting the religions of the world around a synthesis of ‘science’ and religion, with ‘science’ seated firmly in the driver’s seat in this relationship. This agenda is being promoted by the lavish dispersal of funds to Islamic, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and other religious organizations, including, sadly, many evangelical Christian groups.

Two popular sayings come to mind: “Follow the money,” and “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” The money trail leads us to Sir John Marks Templeton. And clearly, Templeton’s agenda is making headway in many places, although it is also clear that this agenda faces many obstacles.

First of all, there is reluctance to accept the premises of this movement among religious organizations, as can be seen from the numerous grants being made to support efforts to decrease the resistance of religious leaders and members of religious groups, including evangelical Christians, to this religious/scientific paradigm. But that reluctance is being overcome, as the Templeton agenda makes inroads through a judicious use of funding. Efforts to reach youth, and those who teach the young, are effective means of dissemination for any propaganda effort, whether political, cultural, or religious in nature. Young people are more easily influenced, and they are most definitely being targeted, in a well-funded, concerted effort.

But there is also resistance from the other side—from unbelieving scientists who reject all religion, any idea of transcendence, and the idea that anything exists beyond the physical. This group is also being addressed by the outreach efforts of the Templeton Foundation, as it works toward fulfilling its long-term goals.

A spiritual war is being waged against God’s people, using that ancient question, “Has God really said?” This is not novel; every generation of Christians has faced this reality, in different ways at different times in history. The battle is being played out in a world in which money talks, and a lot of money talks loudly. We cannot afford to be naive on this issue. We need to be on our guard against the influence of the Templeton Foundation’s money, even if it’s being spent by organizations that may have been respected among us. That money is being spent to promote an agenda that is radically different from the agenda of God’s kingdom. Our allegiance to the One True God must lead us to reject alliances with organizations like the Templeton Foundation, whose agenda is completely incompatible with that of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

This article was original published on Published with permission.
CMI rarely publishes articles already published elsewhere, but sometimes we do when we believe that an article warrants wider exposure.

References and notes

  1. Witteveen, J., “The Humble Approach”,, 29 June 2017. Return to text.
Witteveen, J.,

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Readers’ comments
M. K., Spain, 31 August 2017
I have once emailed Templeton Prize laureat and Catholic priest Michal Heller asking him to reject theistic evolution and accept six day creation. I have sent him links to this website and John Hartnett's blog. He still hasn't answered.
Jan D., Netherlands, 1 September 2017
Some four years ago the Templeton Foundation also gave a grant to the prestigious Reformed TUK (Theological University Kampen) to develop an introductory brochure for potential students at its institution. I never have seen the end product. But it was told to me by one of the board members of TUK after a seminar about Creation, Faith and Science. We had around 23 attendees, and 4 alternating visiting professors. I was the only that (openly) supported six-day creation, all others believed in deep time, including even the visiting professors. Since 2006 I go daily to CMI and read at least one informative article. Thank you so much for all the work you do, giving God the glory for His creation, in six days a few thousand years ago.
Joseph C., Canada, 1 September 2017
Yes, follow the money. As an imminent graduate of Acadia University with a Bachelor of Theology I was required to take two science credits. The science credits (of course) were steeped in evolution and were mandatory. It did not matter that it conflicted with theology. It is interesting that AcadiaU was founded in 1828 as a Baptist College and now is a secular university. I think that the founders would be disappointed, but money talks.
Trisha H., United States, 1 September 2017
Interesting would think, considering our God as the creator of al things including the work of science, that scientific findings and theory would be in compete agreement with God's word. But, almost from the very beginning of scientific endeavor there has been the mindset of those engaged to actually use their findings as some sort of weapon to disprove God's existence and make people turn away from God's words. It is not Christendom at war with science, for surely we above all people seek truth. But, the study of science--even before modern times, has been used to make war against God--who, again, is the author of all truth!
Don Batten responds
Actually, the early (modern era) scientists were almost all strong Christians and saw their science as revealing the glory of God. These include some of the biggest names, such as Isaac Newton. Indeed, it their beliefs regarding Genesis were foundational to the development of the scientific method. See Biblical roots of modern science. It was not until some time later that science was co-opted by God-haters. There were early philosophers who pushed anti-Christian ideas, but they did not find much support in science. See The history of the rise of materialism in western society.
king T., South Africa, 3 September 2017
From the Templeton Prize statement of purpose: "The Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine." Given this broad statement one would imagine that an organization such as CMI would be a storehouse of prominent candidates for the prize. One would however also imagine that there would be staunch opposition to the idea that any one person in CMI would be worthy of nomination to receive the Templeton prize for the simple reason that CMI enunciates a view that directly opposes that of the Templeton foundation. The Templeton foundation does not subscribe to the idea of there being only one God and that that God is the God of the bible who alone created heaven and earth (in six normal days) and all that is in it.
king T., South Africa, 3 September 2017
The selection criteria and list of judges for the Templeton Prize makes for very interesting reading indeed. I recommend looking up the Templeton Prize dot org website and then checking up on the judges' descriptions and google their personal views.
Melvyn F., United Kingdom, 4 September 2017
And now Messy Church does Science [U.K.] is funded by "Scientists in Congregations" which is linked to the Templeton Foundation. 'Dr Dave' has failed to continue a conversation with me from Facebook to email; I supplied my address but he has not responded. The 'church' continues to sleepwalk into theistic evolution and to preach millions of years as was promoted by Tony Robinson at a recent Dinosaur weekend hosted by Ely Cathedral under the Messy Church banner.