Templeton Prize goes to Michael Heller

Templeton Prize goes to Michael Heller March 14, 2008

Th NY Times reports that Michael Heller, a professor at the Pontifical Academy of Theology, in Krakow, Poland (sounds like something out of The Golden Compass, but it’s a real place!) has won the $1.6 million Templeton Prize – awarded by the eponymous American billionaire fund manager who’s currently a tax exile in the Bahamas.

The news reports are a bit vague on what Heller’s done to win the dosh (the prize is awarded “for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”). It seems that he is an advocate of ‘non-overlapping magisteria’. In other words, critical thinking and rational thought alone can’t give us ‘meaning’ – we have to pretend there is a sky fairy to get that.

In a telephone interview, Professor Heller explained his affinity for the two fields: “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.”

How pretence in sky fairies gives you meaning is not explored. Nor is the interesting question of why it so happens that people with no belief in a sky fairy still manage to lead lives that are every bit as meaningful and fulfilled (if not more so).

Still, the prize will be awarded by Prince Philip, who’s always good for a laugh (and is perhaps trying the wrest the title of barmiest royal from his son…)

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