Prize for Uniting Science and Religion

Michael Heller, 72, a Polish Roman Catholic priest and cosmologist whose intellectual and religious life has been grounded in the insights of both science and religion, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize ($1.6 million), believed to be the largest yearly monetary award given to a single individual.

In a statement prepared for the news conference, Heller described his position as follows:

Various processes in the universe can be displayed as a succession of states in such a way that the preceding state is a cause of the succeeding one… (and) there is always a dynamical law prescribing how one state should generate another state. But dynamical laws are expressed in the form of mathematical equations, and if we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about a cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the Great Blueprint of God's thinking 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.

Heller plans to dedicate the Templeton Prize money to help create the Copernicus Center in conjunction with Jagiellonian University and the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow to further research and education in science and theology as an academic discipline.

Also at the press conference, the foundation noted that Heller's selection as the 2008 Templeton Prize Laureate will launch a broad, online discussion of the question, "Does the Universe need to have a cause?” at its website www.templeton.org.