Heller in 2013
|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:
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.