Internationally-recognised scientist Francis Collins, the current director of the National Institutes of Health, who has become known for his advocacy of the Christian faith among the sciences, has been announced as the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate.
Collins, a former atheist who became a Christian after reading C.S. Lewis' classic work Mere Christianity, is admired in the science community for discovering the genes associated with a number of diseases and leading the Human Genome Project to its completion in 2003. In 2006, Collins wrote a book addressing the subject of science and faith.
“This book argues that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice,” he wrote in the introduction to The Language of God, “and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science.” In the book, Collins seeks to encourage religious communities to embrace the latest discoveries of genetics and the biomedical sciences as fuel to enrich and enlarge their faith.
Nominated to lead the NIH by President Barack Obama back in 2009, Collins has been involved in leading many important projects at the institute, including the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP). The Templeton Prize is valued at £1.1 million and has been awarded to various esteemed individuals including Mother Teresa (the inaugural award in 1973), the Dalai Lama (2012) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2013).
The prize, established by American-born British inventor John Templeton in 1972, is awarded for "exemplary achievements" that have sought to harness "the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it."
Posting on Twitter, Collins wrote: "The realisation that principles of faith & science are complementary has been of great comfort to me in the search for truth.
"I am honored to receive the #TempletonPrize2020 & humbled to be among such recipients as Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, & Desmond Tutu."
Collins will formally receive the Templeton Prize in a virtual ceremony later this year.