Stanley L. Jaki was born in Gyor, Hungary, in 1924. Upon graduating from the Jedlik Preparatory School and Junior College there, he entered the Benedictine Order in 1942. After completing his undergraduate training in philosophy, theology and mathematics in 1947, he went to the Pontifical Institute of San Anselmo, Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology in December 1950. In 1948 he was ordained a priest.
From 1951 Dr. Jaki taught systematic theology at the School of Theology of St Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. During this time, he attended in the same college courses in American history, literature, mathematics and sciences to secure American recognition of his undergraduate training done in Hungary. He received his BS from St Vincent College in 1954. The same year, he began doctoral research in physics in the Graduate School of Fordham University, New York, under the mentorship of the late Dr. Victor F. Hess, the discoverer of cosmic rays and a Nobel-laureate. Dr. Jaki’s thesis was published in the June 1958 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research under the title, “A Study of the Distribution of Radon, Thoron, and Their Decay Products Above and Below the Ground.” Between 1958 and 1960 he did research in the history and philosophy of physics at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. From 1960 to 1962 he was Visiting Fellow in the Program for the History and Philosophy of Science at Princeton University. From 1962 to 1965 he wrote the important work, The Relevance of Physics (University of Chicago Press, 1966). Beginning in 1965 he was on the faculty of Seton Hall University and he was promoted in 1975 to the rank of Distinguished University Professor. In 1966-67 he was associated with the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, and later served as a Visiting Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary (1981) and a Fellow in the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton (1984-87, 1989-90).
Dr. Jaki held the STD in systematic theology, Istituto Pontificio di S. Anselmo (Rome, 1950), a PhD in physics from Fordham University (1957), and honorary doctorates from Central Michigan University (1974), Steubenville University (1986), St Anselm's College (1988), Marquette University (1989), St Vincent College (1989), Fordham University (1991), and Seton Hall University (1991). Dr. Jaki gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 1974-75 and 1975-76. The lectures were published as The Road of Science and the Ways of God.
Dr. Jaki was the author of numerous books, articles, reviews and lectures. His books include A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography (2002), Praying the Psalms: A Commentary (2001), Newman's Challenge (2000), The Limits of a Limitless Science and Other Essays (2000), God and the Sun at Fatima (1999), Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth (1999), Theology of Priestly Celibacy (1998), Bible and Science (1996), Lettres de Pierre Duhem a sa fille, Helene (1994), Patterns or Principles and Other Essays (1995), Is There a Universe? (1993), Genesis 1 Through the Ages (1992), Reluctant Heroine: The Life and Work of Helene Duhem (1992), Universe and Creed (1992), Pierre Duhem: Homme de foi et de science (1991), Olbers Studies (1991), The Only Chaos and Other Essays (1990), Catholic Essays (1990), Cosmos in Transition: Essays in the History of Cosmology (1990), The Purpose of It All (1990), God and the Cosmologists (1989), Miracles and Physics (1989), The Savior of Science (1988), The Physicist as Artist: The Landscapes of Pierre Duhem (1988), The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays (1988), Chesterton: A Seer of Science (1986), Lord Gifford and His Lectures: A Centenary Retrospect (1986), Chance or Reality and Other Essays (1986), The Keys of the Kingdom: A Tool's Witness to Truth (1986), Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem (1984), Angels, Apes and Men (1982), Cosmos and Creator (1980), Planets and Planetarians: A History of Theories on the Origin of Planetary Systems (1978), The Road of Science and the Ways to God (1978), And on This Rock: The Witness of One Land and Two Covenants (1978), The Origin of Science and the Science of Its Origin (1977), Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe (1974), The Milky Way: An Elusive Road for Science (1972), The Relevance of Physics (1970), Brain, Mind and Computers (1969), The Paradox of Olbers' Paradox (1969) and Les tendances nouvelles de l'ecclesiologie (1956). He is the editor of editions of works by Pierre Duhem, John Henry Newman, Alexis Carrel, J. H. De Groot, K. A. Kneller, A. Barruel, H. E. Manning, J. B. Bossuet and C. Hollis. He has translated several important works, including Giordano Bruno’s The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584); the first English translation of the first book on Copernicus (1975); J. H. Lambert’s Cosmological Letters of the Arrangement of the World Edifice (1761/1976); and Immanuel Kant’s Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1775/1981).
Dr. Jaki offered guest lectures at over 50 major universities, colleges and research institutes in North America, Europe and Australia, and was an invited lecturer at over 25 congresses, symposiums and colloquiums, including the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1996), the World Congress of Catholic Physicians, New York (1998), and the International Giordano Bruno Conference, Rome (2000). In addition to his Gifford lectureship, he has also been honored as the Olbers Lecturer, Bremen (1970), Fremantle Lecturer, Balliol College, Oxford (1977), Hoyt Fellow, Yale University (1980), Macdonald Lecturer, University of Sydney (1981), McDermott Lecturer, University of Dallas (1983), Wethersfield Institute Scholar (1986, 1987, 1992), Farmington Institute Lecturer, Oxford University (1988, 1989) and Forwood Lecturer, University of Liverpool (1992).
In addition to his honorary degrees and lectureships, Dr. Jaki’s honors include the Lecomte du Nouy Prize and Medal (1970), the Templeton Prize (1987), the Széchenyi Medal of the Széchenyi Társaság (Hungary, 1997), and honorary membership in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He also held memberships in Sigma Xi, the History of Science Society, Olbers Gesellschaft (Bremen), Hellenic Society for Humanistic Studies (Athens), Academie Nationale des Sciences and Belles-Lettres et Arts de Bordeaux (membre correspondent).
Dr. Jaki died 7 April 2009 in Madrid, Spain.