|Born||12 March 1936|
|Occupation||Philosopher, theoretical physicist|
|Alma mater||Catholic University of Lublin|
|Notable awards||Templeton Prize (2008)|
Order of Polonia Restituta (2009)
Order of the White Eagle (2014)
Michał Kazimierz Heller (born 12 March 1936 in Tarnów) is a Polish professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He also serves as a lecturer in the philosophy of science and logic at the Theological Institute in Tarnów. A Roman Catholic priest belonging to the diocese of Tarnów, Heller was ordained in 1959. In 2008 he received the Templeton Prize for his works in the field of philosophy.
After beginning his teaching career at Tarnów, he joined the faculty of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in 1972 and was appointed to a full professorship in 1985. He has been a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and a visiting scientist at Belgium's University of Liège, the University of Oxford, the University of Leicester, Ruhr University in Germany, The Catholic University of America, and the University of Arizona among others.
His current research is concerned with the singularity problem in general relativity and the use of noncommutative geometry in seeking the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics into quantum gravity. His model gives new perspectives on quantum entanglement and the EPR paradox.
In March 2008, Heller was awarded the $1.6 million (£820,000) Templeton Prize for his extensive philosophical and scientific probing of "big questions". His works have sought to reconcile the "known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God." On receiving the Templeton Prize, Heller said:
If we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about the cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the great blueprint of God's thinking about the universe; the question on ultimate causality: why is there something rather than nothing?
When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes.
Science is but a collective effort of the human mind to read the mind of God from question marks out of which we and the world around us seem to be made.
Heller used the prize money to establish the Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies – an institute named after Nicholas Copernicus aimed at research and popularisation of science and philosophy. Heller himself is the director of the Center, as well as the program director of Copernicus Festival.
Honorary degrees from:
- AGH University of Science and Technology (1996)
- Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw (2009)
- University of Life Sciences in Poznań (2010)
- Warsaw University of Technology (2012)
- Jagiellonian University (2012)
- University of Life Sciences in Lublin (2014)
- University of Silesia in Katowice (2015)
- Pontifical University of John Paul II (2016)
- Rzeszów University of Technology (2018)
- Cross of Merit (Poland) (2006)
- Order of Polonia Restituta (2009)
- Order of the White Eagle (Poland) (2014)
- Polish Academy of Learning
- Pontifical Academy of Sciences
- European Physical Society
- International Astronomical Union
- International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation
- International Society for the Study of Time
- International Society for Science and Religion
Michael Heller has published nearly 200 scientific papers, not only in general relativity and relativistic cosmology, but also in philosophy, history of science and theology. He authored more than 50 books. In his volume, Is Physics an Art? (Biblos, 1998), he writes about mathematics as the language of science and also explores such humanistic issues as beauty as a criterion of truth, creativity, and transcendence.
Books – Physics and Cosmology
- The Science of Space-Time, with Derek Jeffrey Raine, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1981, ISBN 09-1291-812-8
- Encountering the Universe, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1982, ISBN 09-1291-807-1
- Questions to the Universe – Ten Lectures on the Foundations of Physics and Cosmology, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1986, ISBN 08-8126-008-8
- Theoretical Foundations of Cosmology – Introduction to the Global Structure of Space-Time, World Scientific, Singapore–London 1992, ISBN 978-98-1020-756-4
- Lemaître, Big Bang and the Quantum Universe, Pachart, Tucson 1996, ISBN 978-08-8126-285-8
- Some Mathematical Physics for Philosophers, Pontifical Council for Culture, Pontifical Gregorian University, Vatican City–Rome 2005, ISBN 978-88-2097-724-5
- Ultimate explanations of the universe, transl. by Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa, Springer, 2009, ISBN 978-36-4202-102-2
Books – Philosophy and Theology
- The World and the Word – Between Science and Religion, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1986, ISBN 978-08-8126-724-2
- The New Physics and a New Theology, transl. by G. V. Coyne, T.M. Sierotowicz, Vatican Observatory Publications 1996, ISBN 02-6801-479-5
- Creative Tension. Essays on Science & Religion, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia–London 2003, ISBN 19-3203-134-0
- A Comprehensible Universe. The Interplay of Science and Theology, with George Coyne, Springer, New York 2008, ISBN 978-35-4077-624-6, ISBN 978-36-4209-637-2
- The Sense of Life and the Sense of the Universe, Copernicus Center Press, Cracow 2010, ISBN 978-83-6225-902-1
- Philosophy in Science: An Historical Introduction, Springer, 2011, ISBN 978-36-4217-704-0
- Philosophy of Chance. A cosmic fugue with a prelude and a coda, Copernicus Center Press, Cracow 2012, ISBN 978-83-7886-000-6
- The Origins of Time, in: The Study of Time IV, ed. by J.T. Fraser, N. Lawrence, D. Park, Springer Verlag, New York–Heidelberg–Berlin 1981, pp. 90–93, ISBN 03-8790-594-4
- Algebraic Self-Duality as the "Ultimate Explanation", Foundations of Science, 9, 2004, pp. 369–385
- List of Christian thinkers in science
- List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics
- Georges Lemaître, Belgian priest and cosmologist
- Michał Heller’s homepage
- An article by Stanislaw Wszołek about Heller’s life and philosophy
- THE FAR-FUTURE UNIVERSE"Eschatology From A Cosmic Perspective" : Heller was a participant in this conference held November 7–9, 2000 in Rome, Italy
- Biography and selected articles at Papal Academy of Sciences
- Biography at Britannica Online
- on YouTube
- Message to Monsignor Michał Heller, winner of the Templeton Prize
- New Scientist interview