From an article about previous Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes who was just award the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities at a ceremony in New York.
Townes likened his discovery of the maser — which came to him as he sat on a park bench in Washington, D.C., in 1951 — to a "revelation," similar to those described in the Bible.
Townes said that, with findings of modern physics, it "seems extremely unlikely" that the existence of life and humanity are "just accidental," which inevitably raises religious questions about whether the universe was planned.
"This is a very, very special universe, a fantastically special universe" with a unique set of physical and chemical circumstances that have to exist for us to be here, said Townes, who grew up in a Baptist household in Greenville, S.C.
"Why has the universe come out this particular way?" he asked. "It seems highly improbable it was just an accident."
Townes, a graduate professor at UC Berkeley, said he intends to donate a major portion of his prize to his alma mater, Furman University in South Carolina.
He will also give substantial amounts to the Pacific School of Religion and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences,
both in Berkeley, as well as the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless — which his wife of 63 years, Frances, helped found — and his long-time church, the First Congregational Church of Berkeley.
Robert John Russell, director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, said Townes’ work demonstrates that religion and science aren’t mutually exclusive.
"It’s trying to say there really is an alternative to the assumption that science has to be atheistic," Russell said. "The more of that kind of activity and program that goes on, the more we’ll be able to see there is a way to relate these two parts of the world that are so important."