A Roman Catholic priest has been named the winner of this year’s Templeton Prize, a $1.6 million award that recognizes “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.”
A Roman Catholic priest has been named the winner of this year’s Templeton Prize, a $1.6 million (£820,000) award that recognizes “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.”
On March 12, Michael Heller, a 72-year-old Roman Catholic priest and academic from Poland, was named the winner of the 2008 Templeton Prize. Awarded by the John Templeton Foundation since 1973, the prize is the largest annual monetary award given to an individual by a philanthropic organization.
Heller, who serves as a professor of philosophy in the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Kraków, Poland, is known for his work on the overlap of cosmology and theology. The questions he asks—and, according to the New York Times, “impressively answers”—are along the lines of “does the universe need to have a cause?”
But exactly what are the answers Prof. Heller gives? A statement by Heller (PDF), released by the Templeton Foundation on the day of the award, gives us a brief look at Heller’s ideas on theology and cosmology—what the Templeton Foundation considers a discovery about spiritual realities. Heller writes:
Adherents of the so-called intelligent design ideology commit a grave theological error. They claim that scientific theories, that ascribe the great role to chance and random events in the evolutionary processes, should be replaced, or supplemented, by theories acknowledging the thread of intelligent design in the universe. Such views are theologically erroneous. They implicitly revive the old manicheistic error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design. There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.
Heller adds that, in his opinion, the religious objection to teaching evolution “introduces a contradiction or opposition between God and chance.” And, according to TimesOnline: “Professor Heller argues against the Newtonian concept of creation, that is, against the idea of an absolute space and an absolute time and of God creating energy and matter at certain times.”
There are at least a few problems with Heller’s line of thought:
Ultimately, it is clear that Heller is leaning on the imperfect ideas and understanding of man, not on the infallible Word of God (see Proverbs 3:5). That’s bound to result in fallacious, problematic ideas—though not necessarily netting $1.6 million—every time.