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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 9, 2008
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From the Publisher
July 9, 2008   
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Aside from dealing with topics such as technological innovation, clean carbon energy, and hydrogen power generation, this issue of The Polish Science Voice carries a fascinating interview with Micha³ Heller, a Polish priest, physicist and professor of cosmology who navigates brilliantly between Heaven and Earth, combining religion with science.

Heller is the winner of the international 2008 Templeton Prize "for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities." The prize, established in 1973 by businessman and philanthropist John Templeton, is the world's largest annual monetary award given to an individual. The prize money is worth $1.6 million, and Heller has donated the entire amount to scientific research.

There are few people like Heller either in Poland or elsewhere. Here are a few examples of what he told us: "People are part of the world and come into contact with it in the process of research. This creates a sense of communing with Mystery."

"This led Newton to the conclusion that God made corrections once in a while, and he considered this proof of God's existence. In the history of theology this argument was later called "God of the gaps." This means that if we don't know something in science, we fill that gap with God. Lightning strikes a tree and people say "Zeus is angry, God is angry." This had a disastrous effect because science moved forward and as time passed what was once considered to be a gap was filled in, and God became unnecessary. He was gradually pushed out of science, and that's why historians explain the emergence of modern atheism-the views of the French Enlightenment-as a reaction to that process.

Today the God-of-the-gaps ideology is censured in theology. Theology believes we should seek God not where we don't know something but wherever we do know things-because the Mind of God, God's Plan, is hidden in what we know. Hence contemporary scientists no longer have a tendency to fill the gaps in their knowledge with God. Rather, the scientific method is characterized by a degree of aggression-if I can't do something, I'll try differently, attacking the problem from a different angle.

And that's how it should be-one of the assumptions of the scientific method is to strive to explain the world with the world itself, without involving God."

"And what can be more important than science and religion? Science offers an understanding of the world, and religion gives a sense of meaning."

"In general terms I deal with the new theory of the universe's origin."

"The time when the world is life-friendly is relatively short. If we draw a sphere with the Earth as its center with a radius of 10,000 light years, we can say that there is no civilization within that sphere because we would have discovered it. If there is one somewhere farther away, what chance do we have to communicate with it? A signal sent from Earth will reach those beings in more than 10,000 years, and it will take the same time for their reply to reach Earth-only we won't be here."

My special thanks to Ewa Dereñ for this excellent interview.
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