Philosophy professor earns Templeton grant


Philosophy professor Jeffery Koperski recently received a grant from the prestigious philanthropic organization the John Templeton Foundation.

Koperski intends to use the grant, totaling nearly $90,000, to fund his new book, “Laws,
Determinism, and Divine Action” as well as to compensate for the time he will be spending on research and writing.

Though Koperski has already begun to work on his book, he said being able to focus on writing and take a break from teaching will allow him to finish by his deadline.

Koperski has previous experience with the John Templeton Foundation as a reviewer of others’ grant proposals.

“It’s very helpful to see others’ ideas and to be familiar with the criteria for proposals,” said Pat Graves, the associate director of Sponsored Programs. “He certainly did his research on the foundation.”

Koperski said that the proposal process involved many compromises.

An anonymous reviewer suggested several changes to Koperski’s proposal, none of which he was initially fond of, Koperski said. But Koperski admitted the changes were for the best and made for a nice chapter.

While book projects are already rarely funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Graves said that this situation was especially unusual.

“The John Templeton Foundation wanted the book to be open access, open source, meaning everyone can access it for free,” Graves said. “They offered him an additional $16,000. It doesn’t usually happen that they offer more than you ask for.”

Koperski’s book builds off a book he wrote four years ago covering material similar to his current work.

“I realized I have a lot more to say on the subject,” he said. “It’s nice to have a new project but not have to jump into something completely new.”

The book discusses the interactions of science and religion and is mostly contemporary, but Koperski said he particularly enjoyed the historical component.

“In the ancient world, they recognized nature as orderly, but they did not have any laws for nature,” Koperski said. “The Scientific Revolution brought about many new ideas. Scientists such as Boyle and Newton were switching the entire world’s views on the matter. They still believed nature was connected with God, and so there was no tension between religion and science. … These types of projects usually snowball, and I am very fortunate to have received the grant. This project would take years otherwise.”