- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rev. Michael Heller, a prolific Polish scientist, author and Roman Catholic priest who bridges disciplines to explore the origins of the universe, was named yesterday as winner of a religion award billed as the world’s richest annual prize given to an individual.

Father Heller, 72, a philosophy professor at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, Poland, won the 2008 Templeton Prize.

Father Heller said he intends to spend his winnings, worth more than $1.6 million, on developing a center in Krakow devoted to research and education in science and theology.

Karol Musiol, rector of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, wrote in nominating Father Heller that he “has brought to science a sense of transcendent mystery, and to religion a view of the universe through the broadly open eyes of science.”

In his statement, Father Heller criticized adherents of intelligent design — which holds that aspects of the universe and living beings are best explained by a higher power — as committing a “grave theological error.”

The Templeton Foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., sponsors various projects on science and religion.

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