The New York Times

Jersey Monk Wins Templeton Award

by Kathleen Teltsch
March 8, 1987

The Rev. Stanley L.Jaki, a Hungarian-born Benedictine monk and physics scholar in New Jersey, has won the 1987 Templeton Prize, which carries an award of $330,000. The Templeton prize, perhaps the world’s richest annual award,has been given since 1972 to an individual whose ''original and pioneering ways advanced the knowledge and love of God.''

Father Jaki, a 62-year-old monk who has written 21 books concerning philosophy, religion, science and history, was chosen by an international jury, for his work in ''bridging the gap between science and religion.'' Father Jaki, a member of the Roman Catholic order of Benedictines in Hungary, came to the United States in 1950 and is a Distinguished Professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. He also has been a visiting fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Money for Trust Fund

The Templeton Prize was established by Sir John Templeton, an American financier now living in the Bahamas. The award will be presented to Father Jaki by Prince Philip at Windsor Castle in May. Father Jaki said he intended to turn over his monetary prize to an organization set up by a Vatican decree to look after the needs of Hungarian Benedictines who left their homeland during the years of Stalinist suppression of religious activities. ''I hope it will be used as a trust fund, available in time of need,'' Father Jaki said in an interview.

Father Jaki was born in the historic town of Győr, south of the Danube River, and was educated by the Benedictines at the Abbey at Pannonhalma, established in 996 A.D. He was in Rome studying when the period of Communist repression began in Hungary and so along with other Hungarian Benedictines, remained outside the country. It was in 1953 that he underwent throat surgery, changing the course of his life. The surgery left him unable to speak above a whisper and then, only with difficulty, and so he was unable to continue his teaching or priestly activities.

He turned to physics at Fordham University, studying under Prof. Victor F. Hess, an Austrian-born physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of cosmic rays. He received his doctorate in 1957. With his church training, he decided to devote himself to the debate over the conflict between religious faith and scientific findings.

"I believe there is a basic misunderstanding which has existed for hundreds of years and will continue to persist about the 'creationist problem' because in intellectual life we do not resolve such dilemmas to the satisfaction of everybody." he said.

"On the one hand, I completely reject the use of the first chapter of Genesis as a scientific text about the origin of the universe, and to be taught as such in schools. At the same time, I also reject and just as emphatically, the teaching of a counter-creationism in schools in which matter is eternal and the human mind is but a chance product of so-called evolutionary forces."