Alvin Plantinga ’54 has been announced as the 2017 Templeton Prize Laureate. The Calvin scholar’s rigorous writings over a half-century have made theism—the belief in a divine reality or god—a serious option within academic philosophy.

The Templeton Prize, valued at $1.4 million, is one of the world’s largest annual awards given to an individual and honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works. Plantinga joins an esteemed group of 46 prize recipients, including Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Plantinga did his undergraduate work in the early 1950s at Calvin. He studied under Professor Harry Jellema, the founder of Calvin’s philosophy department, and credits Jellema’s teachings in helping to sustain him in the Christian faith through times of doubt and uncertainty and for helping set the trajectory of his adult intellectual life. Plantinga taught at Calvin from 1963 to 1982.

“Sometimes ideas come along that revolutionize the way we think, and those who create such breakthrough discoveries are the people we honor with the Templeton Prize,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, which awards the prize. “Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work, but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy.”