Physics, philosophy, and theology: a common quest for understanding

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Vatican Observatory, 1988 - Religion - 419 pages
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Preface by George V Coyne S J
List of Participants
Natural Science and Belief in a Creator Historical

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About the author (1988)

William R. Stoeger is Staff Astrophysicist in the Vatican Observatory Research Group at the University of Arizona. He specializes in theoretical cosmology, gravitational physics, and interdisciplinary studies bridging the natural sciences, philosophy and theology.

George V. Coyne, S.J. Director Emeritus of the Vatican Observatory, born January 19, 1933, in Baltimore, Maryland, completed his bachelor's degree in mathematics and his licentiate in philosophy at Fordham University, New York City, in 1958. He carried out a spectrophotometric study of the lunar surface for the completion of his doctorate in astronomy at Georgetown University in 1962. He spent the summer of 1963 doing research at Harvard University, the summer of 1964 as a National Science Foundation lecturer at the University of Scranton, and the summer of 1965 as visiting research professor at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

A member of the Society of Jesus since the age of 18, he completed the licentiate in sacred theology at Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland, and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965. Coyne was visiting assistant professor at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in 1966-67 and 1968-69, and visiting astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in 1967-68. He joined the Vatican Observatory as an astronomer in 1969 and became an assistant professor at the LPL in 1970. In 1976 he became a senior research fellow at the LPL and a lecturer in the UA Department of Astronomy. The following year he served as Director of the UA's Catalina Observatory and as Associate Director of the LPL.

Coyne became Director of the Vatican Observatory in 1978, and also Associate Director of the UA Steward Observatory. During 1979-80 he served as Acting Director and Head of the UA Steward Observatory and the Astronomy Department, and thereafter he continued as an adjunct professor in the University of Arizona Astronomy Department. As Director ofthe Vatican Observatory he was a driving force in several new educational and research initiatives. He retired as Director in August 2006, and after spending a sabbatical year in Rayleigh, NC, he remains on the staff of the Vatican Observatory. Among his honors has been the naming of a comet after him.

Coyne's research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects including the interstellar medium, stars with extended atmospheres and Seyfert galaxies, which are a group of spiral galaxies with very small and unusually bright star like centers. (Polarimetry is the technique of measuring or analyzing the polarization of light. When light rays exhibit different properties in different directions, the light is said to be polarized.) Most recently he has been studying the polarization produced in cataclysmic variables, or interacting binary star systems that give off sudden bursts of intense energy, and dust about young stars. He is an active member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

Prof. Michael (Michal) Heller

Birth date and place: March 12 1936, TarnA3w, Poland.

Nationality: Polish.

1966 Ph.D. - Catholic University of Lublin, Thesis in relativistic cosmology.

1969 docent degree (assistant professorship), Catholic University of Lublin.

1985 extraordinary professorship (professor extraordinarius), Pontifical Academy of Theology, Faculty of Philosophy, Cracow.

1990 Ordinary Professorship (professor ordinarius), Pontifical Academy of Theology, Faculty of Philosophy, Cracow.

1996 Doctorhonoris causa - Thechnological University A.G.H. in Cracow.

At present: professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, Cracow, Poland and the adjoined member of the Vatican Observatory (which is an astronomical observatory).

Ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Rome), elected in 1991.

Membership of:

International Astronomical Union,

International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation,

European Physical Society,

International Society for the Study of Time,

Polskie Towarzystwo Fizyczne,

Polskie Towarzystwo Astronomiczne

and other societies.

Fields of scientific research:

Relativistic physics, in particular relativistic cosmology; geometric methods in relativistic physics.

Philosophy and history of science.

Science and theology

Research visits:

Visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium (1977, 1982)

Oxford University, United Kingdom (1982),

Leicester University, United Kingdom (1982)

Ruhr University, Germany

The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C, USA (1986),

University of Arizona (Vatican Research Group), Tucson, USA (1986),

Licge University, Belgium (1996),

Gregorian University, Rome (2004, 2006)

and others.

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