On March 12, 2008, the John Templeton Foundation made the announcement of the winner of its annual Templeton Prize, which honors achievements engaging the great questions of life and the universe. The $1.6 million prize for 2008 went to Michal Heller, a Polish cosmologist and professor in the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland. What makes Heller additionally remarkable is that he is a Catholic priest. ...Read the full article at Fathers of Science (This Rock: September 2008) for many examples of scientists who exemplify this fact.
As a priest-scientist, Fr. Heller is not unique. Rather, he stands in a long and great tradition of learned priests who were both scientists and men of faith. Some are well-known to history, such as Roger Bacon, the 13th-century Franciscan who stressed the concept of "laws of nature" and contributed to the development of mechanics, geography, and especially optics. Others are obscure. All, however, left a lasting legacy on their eras in learning, science, mathematics, and practical progress.
Above all, the priest-scientists offer a powerful lesson to Catholic apologists: There is no reason to stand mute when the name Galileo is wielded like a cudgel and the Church is savaged as an enemy of human progress. Apologists and well-read Catholics can point to these priest-scientists and declare forcefully what Fr. Georges Lemaître-discoverer of the "Big Bang"-robustly proclaimed in 1933: "There is no conflict between religion and science."
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