Is how we think about the most lofty things now much at the mercy of an eccentric investor's later-life dreams? Nathan Schneider looks at the Templeton Foundation, which is "active in disciplines from biology and cosmology to philosophy and theology". It has assets of about $1 billion, but what makes it more influential is the combination of elite research and broad dissemination, he says. "John Templeton did want to hijack the meaning of life; he meant to remake the human race's moral and cosmic toolbox in some scientific revolution of the spirit. His money has given new life to ancient questions that matter to all of us."