Michał Heller

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Michał Heller
Heller in 2016
Born (1936-03-12) 12 March 1936 (age 87)
Alma materCatholic University of Lublin
Occupation(s)Philosopher, theoretical physicist
AwardsTempleton Prize (2008)
Order of Polonia Restituta (2009)
Order of the White Eagle (2014)
Era20th-century philosophy
21st-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests

Michał Kazimierz Heller (born 12 March 1936) is a Polish philosopher, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, theologian, and Roman Catholic priest. He is a 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 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.


Michał Heller attended high school in Mościce, graduated from the Catholic University of Lublin, where he earned a master's degree in philosophy in 1965 and a Ph.D. in cosmology in 1966.[1]

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.[2][3]

His 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.[4]


Templeton Prize[edit]

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".[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] He also serves as director of the annual Copernicus Festival held in Kraków.[8]

Other distinctions[edit]

Honorary degrees from:

Other distinctions:


Further reading[edit]

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.[19] 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.[citation needed]

Books – Physics and Cosmology[edit]

  • 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[edit]


  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reverend Professor Michael Heller. His Life and Philosophy" (PDF). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  2. ^ Heller, Michał (2016). Wierzę, żeby zrozumieć. Rozmawiają Wojciech Bonowicz, Bartosz Brożek, Zbigniew Liana. Kraków: CC Press, Znak. p. 22. ISBN 978-83-2403-402-4.
  3. ^ "Ks. prof. Michał Heller doktorem honoris causa UKSW" (in Polish). 26 January 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  4. ^ "Prof. Michal Heller". faraday.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  5. ^ Million-Dollar Prize Given to Cosmologist Priest
  6. ^ Professor wins prize for maths link to God
  7. ^ "Rev. Prof. Michał Heller becomes the laureate of the Erazm and Anna Jerzmanowski Award". polishscience.pl. 16 December 2022. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  8. ^ "KS. MICHAŁ HELLER". tygodnikpowszechny.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Michał Kazimierz Heller". agh.edu.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Michał Kazimierz Heller". agh.edu.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Prof. Heller doktorem honorowym Uniwersytetu Przyrodniczego w Poznaniu" (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Ks. prof. Michał Heller otrzyma godność doktora honoris causa Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego". uj.edu.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  13. ^ "Uroczystość nadania tytułu doctora honoris causa UŚ prof. Michałowi Hellerowi" (in Polish). 10 February 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Ks. prof. Michał Heller doktorem honoris causa Uniwersytetu Papieskiego Jana Pawła II" (in Polish). 22 June 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Ks. prof. Michał Heller doktorem honoris causa Politechniki Rzeszowskiej [ZDJĘCIA]". wyborcza.pl (in Polish). 30 May 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  16. ^ "M.P. 2007 nr 21 poz. 241". isap.sejm.gov.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  17. ^ "M.P. 2009 nr 30 poz. 432". isap.sejm.gov.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  18. ^ "M.P. 2014 poz. 696". isap.sejm.gov.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  19. ^ "Prof. Michal Heller". faraday.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2023.

External links[edit]