His Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for research and discoveries relating to what scientists and philosophers call the Big Questions. We support work at the world's top universities in such fields as theoretical physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and social science relating to love, forgiveness, creativity, purpose, and the nature and origin of religious belief.
The Templeton Prize (for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities) is awarded each year to "a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, best exemplifies "trying various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity."
Beyond the Prize, some controversy has surrounded the awarding of 'Fellowships' and grants to institutions, researchers and journalists. Author John Horgan has written of his guilt in accepting money and travel, due to his "misgivings about the foundation's agenda of reconciling religion and science", and perhaps also due to the fact that the Foundation is now run by John Templeton Jr, "an evangelical Christian [who] is the chairman of Let Freedom Ring Inc., which raises funds for conservative causes.". Though Horgan and many others ended up accepting the grants/fellowships, some have not:
At least one scientist has publicly refused to accept money from the foundation. Sean M. Carroll, a physicist at the University of Chicago, declined an invitation to speak at a Templeton-sponsored conference held last fall, which featured 16 Nobel laureates and was endorsed by the American Physical Society. Carroll explained in his blog that "the entire purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to blur the line between straightforward science and explicitly religious activity, making it seem like the two enterprises are part of one big undertaking." An atheist, Carroll did not want his name to be "implicitly associated with an effort I find to be woefully misguided." Yet Carroll admitted that he had been tempted by the foundation's offer of a $2,000 honorarium.
Personally, I think the aims of the Templeton Foundation are laudable. Hopefully, in the wake of Sir John Templeton's death, no ideologies will be imposed upon either the Foundation, or those whom it supports.