Back to FAQ for FQXi

How is FQXi financed?

FQXi was born of a generous seed grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, this initial grant, covering the first four years of FQXi operation, remains our major funding source. We are actively seeking additional donors to further diversify our funding base.
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What is the John Templeton Foundation (JTF)?

The John Templeton Foundation is a private foundation created by financier Sir John Templeton, with the mission "to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for scientific discovery on what scientists and philosophers call the 'Big Questions.' Ranging from questions about the laws of nature to the nature of creativity and consciousness, the Foundation's philanthropic vision is derived from Sir John's resolute belief that rigorous research and cutting-edge scholarship is at the very heart of new discoveries and human progress."

In practice, JTF distributes millions of dollars annually to fund projects exploring the interface between religion and the physical and social sciences, including its most famous award, the Templeton Prize, as well as grants in "science and religion" and "character development," among others.

You may find out more about JTF at their website, http://www.templeton.org.

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What is JTF's interest in FQXi?

JTF's interest in FQXi is based on the recognition that advances in physics and cosmology have had in the past, and surely will in the future, profound implications concerning our understanding of the deep or "ultimate" nature of our world. This sentiment is captured in our Scientific Charter: Foundational questions addressed by FQXi-funded researchers connect intimately with, and inform, science, philosophy, theology and religious belief systems, so their answers will have profound intellectual, practical, and spiritual implications for anyone with deep curiosity about the world's true nature.

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I've read that a goal of JTF is to "reconcile science and religion." Is this true?

Although it is a common refrain in the press, our understanding is that reconciling science and religion is not a goal of JTF. Please see their website for more information.

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Is "reconciling science and religion" part of the FQXi mission?

No.

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I heard that JTF was associated with the Intelligent Design movement? Is it?

No. In certain media accounts, JTF has been connected with the Intelligent Design (ID) movement popularized by, for example, the Discovery Institute. JTF has publicly stated that it "does not support the movement known as Intelligent Design, [either] as an intellectual position or a movement." In fact, JTF has funded several anti-ID programs, most notably a project in conjunction with the AAAS. Still, as might be expected for a philanthropic organization with JTF's wide reach and interests, JTF has funded individuals with theological interests in science, a small fraction of whom have later expressed sympathy with ID.

An important example is Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer with the University of Washington, who recently published The Privileged Planet with Regenry, the publishing arm of the Discovery Institute. In 2000, Dr. Gonzalez received Templeton funding in a program overseen by the current Scientific Director of FQXi, Max Tegmark. At the time of his award, Dr. Gonzalez had not publicly revealed his association with ID, and none of the scientific reviewers of his grant application knew of his sympathy with ID. Dr. Gonzalez's grant application prevailed over other qualified candidates in a fair competition, independent of JTF, using standard, rigorous peer reviewing methodology. The Privileged Planet has nonetheless been subsequently and wrongly attributed directly to JTF in public comments, along with the incorrect implication that JTF supports ID.

At FQXi, our goal will always be to support rigorous scientific research on foundational questions, while accepting the reality that once a grant decision is made—on scientific grounds via the peer review process—we cannot, nor would we want to, control what research is done or how it is interpreted. We will, however, aim not to advise renewal of grants whose annual reports show that the research program promised in the research proposal is not being adequately carried out.

For more information on this topic, please refer to the FQXi Official Statement on JTF and ID.

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What is the FQXi position on Intelligent Design?

It is the view of FQXi that Intelligent Design is at best very poor science driven largely by a political agenda. We emphatically reject both. However, we recognize that our stated mission—"To catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas that are integral to a deep understanding of reality but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources"—will often bring us in close contact with individuals having disparate views and opinions, some very different from ours. We welcome the dialogue, as well as the opportunity and challenge.

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Under what conditions was the grant made to FQXi by JTF?

JTF requires that the activities of FQXi be consistent with our Scientific Charter.

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What relationship does FQXi have to JTF, and vise versa?

FQXi is a non-profit science-oriented organization, operated in accordance with its Scientific Charter. It is independent, by design and by law, from its donors: United States tax law forbids FQXi donors from holding controlling authority over FQXi. The Bylaws and legal structure of FQXi are carefully designed to be consistent with this requirement.

FQXi received a significant seed grant from JTF to support the first four years of its operation. JTF also expended considerable time and resources to assist FQXi prior to startup. It is fitting, therefore, that JTF mentions FQXi, and its achievements, on its website. However, JTF does not control or participate in any aspect of FQXi programs.

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Doesn't JTF benefit by association with FQXi, if FQXi is successful?

JTF was extremely generous to give a large sum of money to science—without strings attached—and a great deal of support during the complex process of setting up FQXi as an independent, legal scientific entity. If this reflects well on JTF, we at FQXi feel that they have earned it.

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What role does JTF play in awarding grants through FQXi?

FQXi directs grants through a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. While the DAF administers the grantmaking program, FQXi advises the DAF on what grants to make. FQXi grant decisions are made via a standard, rigorous peer-review process conducted by expert panels organized by the Scientific Directorate and Advisory Council , as described in the FQXi Bylaws . The administrative structure of FQXi is such that donors—including JTF—do not control proposal selection or renewal.

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Still, JTF is currently your major source of monetary support. Are you looking for other donors?

We have been strongly encouraged by JTF to seek additional donors, if for no other reason than JTF does not guarantee its support beyond our first four years of operation. We therefore are actively seeking other donors, and we look forward to welcoming new donors into the FQXi family. If you would like to contribute, please click here.

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I would like to contribute to FQXi. What can I do?

We welcome donations, small and large, from the public and from philanthropists. If you would like to contribute, please click here.

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