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Cosmologist wins world's largest monetary award

The Polish cosmologist Michael Heller has won the 2008 Templeton Prize.

Heller, who is also a Catholic priest, was awarded the $1.6m prize in recognition of his scholarship and research which has pushed at the metaphysical boundaries of science.

John M Templeton Jnr, the MD, Chairman and President of the John Templeton Foundation and son of Sir John, said: “Michael Heller’s quest for deeper understanding has led to pioneering breakthroughs in religious concepts and knowledge, as well as expanding the horizons of science.”

Heller, 72, Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, pursued his two passions, religion and science, during a time when in Poland such activities were often repressed.

His work generally concludes that the mathematical nature of the world offers circumstantial evidence of God’s existence, introducing the significant notion of theology of science.

Professor Karol Musiol, Rector of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow and a professor in the Institute of Physics said: “He has succeeded in showing that religion isolating itself from scientific insights is lame, and science failing to acknowledge other ways of understanding is blind.”

Valued at £820,000, the 35th Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities is the world's largest annual monetary prize given to an individual.

The Duke of Edinburgh will officially present the award to Michael Heller at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 7 May.