Sir Alister Clavering Hardy (1896–1985) was a marine biologist and explorer of religious experience. He studied zoology, and later worked as the chief marine biologist on board the Discovery on its trip to the Antarctic. He put forth the aquatic ape hypothesis, stating that human beings must have descended from apes that went in the water. In 1969, he founded the Religious Experience Research Unit, at Manchester College, Oxford. This centre analysed people's answer to what has become known as the Alister Hardy question – "Have you ever felt influenced by a Power or Presence, whether you call it God or not, that was different to your everyday self?" For founding this unit, Hardy was awarded the Templeton Prize.
Hardy's works cover spiritual experience as well as marine biology. His works include The Open Sea Part One (1956), The Open Sea Part Two (1959), The Living Stream (1965), the Divine Flame (1978) and The Spiritual Nature of Man (1979).