George Ellis
Biography & Resources


George F.R. Ellis, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town, is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in general relativity theory, an area first broadly investigated by Albert Einstein. Dr. Ellis is considered to be among a handful of the world's leading relativistic cosmologists, which includes luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Malcolm MacCallum. His first book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, written with Stephen Hawking and published in 1973, continues to be a standard reference work on the subject. His most recent investigations question whether or not there was ever a start to the universe and if there is indeed only one universe or many.

Dr. Ellis's bold and innovative contributions to the dialogue at the boundary of theology and science led to his being named the 34th Templeton Prize Laureate. He has advocated balancing the rationality of evidence-based science with faith and hope, a view shaped in part by his firsthand experiences in South Africa as it peacefully transformed from apartheid to multiracial democracy without succumbing to racial civil war.

His work on the origin of the universe, evolution of complexity, the functioning of the human mind, and how and where they intersect with areas beyond the boundaries of science has been covered in such books as On the Moral Nature of the Universe, written with Nancey Murphy.

Ellis contends that there are many areas that cannot be accounted for by physics. Directly challenging the notion that the powers of science are limitless, Ellis notes the inability of even the most advanced physics to fully explain factors that shape the physical world, including human thoughts, emotions, and social constructions such as the laws of chess. He comments that this is not a claim on behalf of vitalism: rather it is a simple statement of fact about present-day science.

Dr. Ellis's recent books include The Universe Around Us: An Integrative View of Science and Cosmology, which compares the natural and life sciences, and The Far-Future Universe, edited from the proceedings of a 2002 symposium at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences examining cosmological, biological, human, and theological aspects of the future.

selected books

The Far-Future Universe
Templeton Foundation Press (2002)
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On the Moral Nature of the Universe
with Nancey Murphy. Augsburg Fortress Publishers (1996)
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The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time
Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (1975)
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other related websites

Templeton Prize

articles & interviews

Broadcasts on WIE Unbound

Science vs. Religion: A Personal View