Los Angeles Times, 15 April 2009



The Rev. Stanley L. Jaki

Prolific writer on science, theology

The Rev. Stanley L. Jaki, 84, a Benedictine priest who was a leading thinker in the philosophy of science and theology and on issues where those disciplines meet and diverge, died of a heart attack April 7 in Madrid, where he had traveled from Rome after delivering a lecture.

Jaki, who held doctoral degrees in physics and theology, was a physics professor for many years at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and achieved the rank of distinguished university professor in 1975. He wrote more than 40 books and hundreds of articles, chapters and essays, and also taught and gave lectures at scores of colleges, universities and institutions around the world.

In 1987, he received the Templeton Prize, an annual award given for advancing the quest to understand God. He was a strong proponent of the idea that Christianity created the intellectual climate that allowed science to flourish.

Jaki (pronounced YAH-kee) was born in Gyor, Hungary, in 1924. He was ordained a priest in 1948 and came to the United States two years later after earning a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Institute of San Anselmo in Rome.

He taught at a seminary in Pennsylvania but, after losing his voice due to complications from a tonsillectomy, he enrolled in Fordham University's graduate program in physics and earned a doctorate in that discipline in 1957.

"A surgical mishap on my throat in 1953 gave me time to write and to think, and that's not always the case," Jaki told the Associated Press in 1987 after receiving the Templeton Prize. "Many writers of best-sellers don't think at all."

From 1957 to 1960, Jaki lived and worked as bookkeeper at the Woodside Priory, which he co-founded with six other Benedictine priests, in the San Francisco Bay Area town of Portola Valley.