Catholic Fine Art
Father Stanley Jaki
The Rev. Stanley L. Jaki, a physicist and theologian whose prolific writings parsed the histories of science and religion and the intertwining of faith and reason, died on Tuesday in Madrid, where he had traveled from Rome after delivering a lecture. He was 84 and lived in Princeton, N.J.
The cause was complications after a heart attack, said Holly Wojcik, a spokeswoman for Seton Hall University, where Father Jaki, a Benedictine priest, was a professor of physics.
Father Jaki (pronounced YAH-kee) held doctoral degrees in physics and theology. A relentless scholar, he wrote more than 40 books, including studies of the religious thinking of G. K. Chesterton, the works of the French physicist and historian of science Pierre Duhem and the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian who famously converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.
He is probably best known, however, for works like “The Relevance of Physics” (1966) and “Science and Creation” (1974), in which he argued that the scientific enterprise did not become viable and self-sustaining until its incarnation in Christian medieval Europe, and that the advancement of science was indebted to the Christian understanding of creation.
In later works Father Jaki explored the boundary between science and religion; he believed the two were compatible and mutually reinforcing, and in 1987 he received the Templeton Prize, the annual award given for advancing the quest to understand God.
“I believe there is a basic misunderstanding which has existed for hundreds of years and will continue to persist about the ‘creationist problem,’ ” he said in an interview with The New York Times after receiving the prize, “because in intellectual life we do not solve such dilemmas to the satisfaction of everybody.” Obituary New York Times