Belief in God in an Age of Scienceby John Polkinghorne
John Polkinghorne is a major figure in today’s debates over the compatibility of science and religion. Internationally known as both a theoretical physicist and a theologianthe only ordained member of the Royal SocietyPolkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his inquiry into the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science. In this thought-provoking book, the author focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, contending that these "intellectual cousins" are both concerned with interpreted experience and with the quest for truth about reality. He argues eloquently that scientific and theological inquiries are parallel.
The book begins with a discussion of what belief in God can mean in our times. Polkinghorne explores a new natural theology and emphasizes the importance of moral and aesthetic experience and the human intuition of value and hope. In other chapters, he compares science’s struggle to understand the nature of light with Christian theology’s struggle to understand the nature of Christ. He addresses the question, Does God act in the physical world? And he extends his ideas about the role of chaos theory, surveys the prospects for future dialogue between scientific and theological thinkers, and defends a critical realist understanding of the activities of both disciplines. Polkinghorne concludes with a consideration of the nature of mathematical truths and the links between the complementary realities of physical and mental experience.
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This is my second time reading this book, and I am enjoying as much the second time around, if not more! Polkinghorne gives a fresh look at the arguments in both theology and science, and brings the 2 worlds together brilliantly. In this interesting book, Polkinghorne asserts that much of what we do in science is "the creative interpretation of experience, not rigorous deduction from it." Science is not the search for truth but for "verisimilitude," the quality of having the appearance of truth or reality. Scientists can never know when they have absolute truth (104). It has always been clear to me that even in science there is the presence of faith. To believe in a theory, you must see the end result, even before the discovery of evidence upholds the theory. It is a wonderful read.