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, Dr. Heller was ordained in 1959. In 2008 he received 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. The recipient of an honorary degree from the Cracow University of Technology, 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. Dr. Heller is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
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. He has published nearly 200 scientific papers not only in general relativity and relativistic cosmology, but also in philosophy and the history of science and science and theology and is the author of more than 20 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.
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."
Heller plans to use the prize money to establish a research institute named after Nicholas Copernicus aimed at reconciling science and theology. 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.
- 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 0387905944.
- D.J. Raine, M. Heller, The Science of Space-Time, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1981.
- Encountering the Universe, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1982.
- Questions to the Universe - Ten Lectures on the Foundations of Physics and Cosmology, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1986.
- The World and the Word - Between Science and Religion, Pachart Publishing House, Tucson 1986.
- Theoretical Foundations of Cosmology - Introduction to the Global Structure of Space-Time, World Scientific, Singapore-London 1992.
- The New Physics and a New Theology, in: G. V. Coyne, S. Giovannini, T.M. Sierotowicz, Vatican Observatory Publications, 1996.
- Lemaître, Big Bang and the Quantum Universe, Pachart, Tucson, 1996.
- Creative Tension, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia - London, 2003, ISBN 1-932031-34-0
- Algebraic Self-Duality as the "Ultimate Explanation", Foundations of Science, 9, 2004, 369-385.
- Some Mathematical Physics for Philosophers, Pontifical Council for Culture, Pontifical Gregorian University, Vatican City-Rome, 2005.
- List of Christian thinkers in science
- List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics
- Georges Lemaître, Belgian priest and cosmologist
- Michał Heller's homepage
- Templeton Prize website
- New Scientist interview
- THE FAR-FUTURE UNIVERSE"Eschatology From A Cosmic Perspective" : Heller was a participant in this conference held November 7–9, 2000 in Rome, Italy
- An article by Stanislaw Wszołek about Heller's life and philosophy
- on YouTube
- Message to Monsignor Michał Heller, winner of the Templeton Prize