Scott on March 13, 2008 at 12:09 pm
The 2008 Templeton Prize was awarded yesterday to Michael Heller, Polish cosmologist, philosopher and priest. From the Templeton website:
The Templeton Prize serves to stimulate [the] quest for deeper understanding and pioneering breakthroughs in religious concepts and knowledge by calling attention annually to achievements in this area. It is hoped that there will result from this enterprise expanded spiritual awareness on the part of humankind, a wider understanding of the purpose of life, heightened quality of devotion and love, and a greater emphasis on the kind of research and discovery that brings human perceptions more into concert with the divine will.
Mr. Heller is an amazing intellect that thinks on a level I could only dream of. His Templeton Prize speech is really interesting reading. It makes me wish that I could listen in on a conversation between Heller, Richard Dawkins and Antony Flew.
Here are three great quotes from his speech:
I always wanted to do the most important things, and what can be more important than science and religion? Science gives us Knowledge, and religion gives us Meaning. Both are prerequisites of the decent existence. The paradox is that these two great values seem often to be in conflict. I am frequently asked how I could reconcile them with each other. When such a question is posed by a scientist or a philosopher, I invariably wonder how educated people could be so blind not to see that science does nothing else but exploits God’s creation.
Perhaps now we better understand Leibniz’s idea of God creating the universe by thinking mathematical structures through. We should only free the above sketched image of creating physical theories from all human constraints and limitations, and take into account a theological truth that for God to intend is to obtain the result, and to obtain the result is to instantiate it. Einstein was not far from Leibniz’s idea when he was saying that the only goal of science is to decode the Mind of God present in the structure of the universe.
When thinking about science as deciphering the Mind of God, we should not forget that science is also a collective product of human brains, and the human brain is itself the most complex and sophisticated product of the universe. It is in the human brain that the world’s structure has reached its focal point â€“ the ability to reflect upon itself. 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. To place ourselves in this double entanglement is to experience that we are a part of the Great Mystery. Another name for this Mystery is the Humble Approach to reality â€“ the motto of all John Templeton Foundation activities. The true humility does not consist in pretending that we are feeble and insignificant, but in the audacious acknowledgement that we are an essential part of the Greatest Mystery of all â€“ of the entanglement of the Human Mind with the Mind of God.
When I grow up, I want to be a philosopher-scientist just like him (or a fireman).