Commemoration of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki
at the 2010 plenary session
of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

          Professor Stanley Jaki was a Catholic priest of the Benedictine order. He was born in Hungary in 1924 and his countryís history affected him deeply. He confided in me how traumatized he was by the communists coming to power backed by the Soviet Army. Consequently, his monastic order was a victim of the oppression. After finishing his studies in Rome, he wasnít allowed to return home and emigrated to the USA. That experience strongly influenced his historian work. The passion of his words and work can be divided into three points.

          Firstly, Fr Stanley Jakiís work target was to clarify the relations between the sciences of nature and the Catholic Church. He did it on the epistemological level. He promoted GŲdelís theorem on philosophical interpretation concerning the incomplete formal systems in order to thwart the rationalist philosophy which set science as an absolute knowledge. He did it in physics and cosmology. His books, The Relevance of Physics (1966), and God and the Cosmologists (1989) brought him to receive the Lecomte du Nouy Prize (1970) and the Templeton Prize (1987). And in addition, he was invited to serve as a Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

          The second significant feature of Professor Stanley Jakiís works was historical. In his writings he presented his wide perspectives about science since its Greek origins. As a consequence, he was objective enough to put the options of the modern science into perspective. His works were inspired by Pierre Duhem, a famous French historian of sciences he venerated so much. Unfortunately, Pierre Duhem wasnít well-known including in France, so Stanley Jakiís research compensated such a great deficiency.

          The third feature of Professor Stanley Jakiís works was theological in a particular way. Actually, he intended to use science to reveal the spiritual dimension of intellectual research. He did it as a Gifford Lecturer, as well as in his last works titled The Savior of Science (1988, 2000) and Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth (1999).

          He spread his apologetic will both against materialists and scientists engaged in basic research as we can see in the Study of his interpretation of the first Chapter of the Book of Genesis, Genesis 1 through the Ages (1992). This multidisciplinary approach combined history and epistemology. He passionately argued his spiritual position of the scientific research and the immanent rationality to cosmos, which made Professor Stanley Jaki somebody who imparted between different worlds and made him somebody who awoke those who refused to confine themselves in a unique specialization. Professor Stanley Jakiís generosity and critical mind were inseparable from his spiritual behaviour which became evident at the end of his life, based on his great admiration for John Henry Newman, showing his ultimate aim to be Peace.

Jean-Michel Maldamť
30 October 2010

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