The astrophysicist in question, Lord Rees of Ludlow, the former Astronomer Royal, a self-confessed atheist (which of course does NOT preclude him from having spiritual beliefs - just not those that have a godhead or god figure of any kind, making him perfectly able to be a Buddhist, for instance, without in any way affecting his atheistic persuasions) was awarded the prize for his contribution to furthering our understanding of nature, the Universe, as well as 'life's spiritual dimension.'
What I did find remarkable was the accompanying commentary by Harry Kroto, a fellow scientist, who criticised Lord Rees for accepting the prize, saying:
'In my view, the Templeton Foundation awards its prize to the most prominent scientist who is prepared to say that they see no conflict between science and religion.'
He goes on to say, and this for me, was the most interesting statement, that:
'...nine out of ten eminent scientists [note - noone lowly within the scientific community, with perhaps less credibility] are atheist-freethinkers [read Richard Dawkins clones] for whom science is primarily about the reliable determination of truth. [my emphasis] For this, evidence is essential, and the conflict between truth (science) and congenital wishful thinking (religion) is an unethical one and irreconcilable.'
Theologians, no doubt, would have a field day with this statement - since when does science have a monopoly on truth?!!! However, this statement brings out into the open what many critics of what has been called the 'religion of science' have long been saying: in the West, we have actually come to believe that this is true.
Not only are there so many ways of thinking and viewing the world, along with different types of intelligences, than logic and cause-and effect or what has been termed 'linear' thinking, but not so long ago, there would have been NO conflict between science and religion. It is only since the so-called 'Enlightenment' that we have been conned into thinking that logic and empiricism = truth.
As Hamlet said to Horatio:
'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'(Hamlet, Act I, Scene 1)
Scientists who continue to perpetuate this philosophy, for that is what it is, fail to realise the hubris in what they say, or the religious fervour with which they say it (oh, the irony!) - and may come to regret it in the coming years when what are now considered to be 'gospel' assumptions about the divisions between the world of spirit and matter begin to unravel (or dissolve, if Neptune in Pisces has anything to do about this!).
As one wise creature said in Ursula Le Guin's fabulous novel, 'The Left Hand of Darkness':
'They say here "all roads lead to Mishnory." To be sure, if you turn your back on Mishnory and walk away from it, you are still on the Mishnory road. To oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar.'