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Stanley L. Jaki, OSB (August 17, 1924, Győr – April 7, 2009, Madrid) was a Benedictine priest and Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall University, New Jersey since 1975. He was a leading thinker in the philosophy of science, theology, and on issues where the two disciplines meet and diverge.
After completing undergraduate training in philosophy, theology and mathematics, Father Jaki did graduate work in theology and physics and gained doctorates in theology from the Pontifical Institute in Rome (1950), and in physics from Fordham University (1958), where he studied under the Nobel laureate Victor Hess, the co-discoverer of cosmic rays. He also did post-doctoral research in Philosophy of Science at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Princeton University and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
Father Jaki authored more than two dozen books on the relation between modern science and orthodox Christianity. He was Fremantle Lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford (1977), Hoyt Fellow at Yale University (1980) and Farmington Institute Lecturer at Oxford University (1988–1989). He was the Gifford Lecturer at Edinburgh University in 1974-75 and 1975-76. In 1987, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for furthering understanding of science and religion.
He was also among the first to claim that Gödel's incompleteness theorem is relevant for theories of everything (TOE) in theoretical physics. Gödel's theorem states that any theory that includes certain basic facts of number theory and is computably enumerable will be either incomplete or inconsistent. Since any 'theory of everything' will certainly be consistent, it must be either incomplete or unable to prove basic facts about the integers.
|“||It is on the ultimate success of such a quest [for a TOE] that Gödel's theorem casts the shadow of judicious doubt. It seems on the strength of Gödel's theorem that the ultimate foundations of the bold symbolic constructions of mathematical physics will remain embedded forever in that deeper level of thinking characterized both by the wisdom and by the haziness of analogies and intuitions. For the speculative physicist this implies that there are limits to the precision of certainty, that even in the pure thinking of theoretical physics there is a boundary present, as in all other fields of speculations.||”|
—(1966). The Relevance of Physics. Chicago Press. p. 129.
Father Jaki died on April 7, 2009, at about 1:15 PM (MET) in Madrid (Spain) following a heart attack. He was in Spain to visit friends on his way back to the USA, after delivering some lectures in Rome, for the Master in Faith and Science of the Pontificio Ateneo Regina Apostolorum.
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