Belief in God in an Age of Science

Belief in God in an Age of Science

by John Polkinghorne
     
 

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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 theologian—the only ordained member of the Royal Society—Polkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his inquiry into the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science. In this… See more details below

Overview

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 theologian—the only ordained member of the Royal Society—Polkinghorne 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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In medieval times, theology was known as "the queen of the sciences." Not so today. A new dialog between religion and science has begun, however, and in that conversation Polkinghorne, theoretical physicist and Canon Theologian of Liverpool Cathedral, holds a special place. This accessible little book grew from the Terry Lectures the author gave at Yale in October 1996. Polkinghorne discusses new developments in the theology of nature, inquiries into divine purpose and human destiny, and explanations of how God works in the world. He explores prospects for future dialog and the pursuit of truth in the company of both science and theology. The possible rapprochement of scientific thinking and belief in God has been probed in numerous books recently, including Richard Swinburne's Is There a God? (Oxford Univ., 1996). Lay readers may find this discussion exciting but heady; can it be grounded in experience? Recommended for public and academic libraries.John R. Leech, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Freeman J. Dyson
"Polkinghorne [gives] us a polished and logically coherent argument." -- The New York Review of Books
Jerome Groopman
"Erudite and accessible....Polkinghorne has a clear, focused style, and offers much to the reader seeking a synthesis of science with the tenets of established religion." -- Boston Globe
Kirkus Reviews
An elegant, brief foray into the intersections of theology and science. While God-and-science appears to be a bandwagon, with a recent spate of books on this topic, few scientists or theologians could address its ramifications as gracefully as Polkinghorne (Reason and Reality, 1991; Beyond Science, 1996). That rare fluidity stems from his mastery of both subjects: a theoretical physicist of some renown, he is also an ordained clergyman and past president of Queens College, Cambridge (England). This new book is based on a series of lectures he delivered at Yale in 1996 (past lecturers include such august thinkers as Paul Tillich, Hans Kung, and Carl Jung). A primary concern for Polkinghorne is finding the points of consonance between science and religion, but he differs from the apologists in that he seeks these conjunctions in methods of inquiry, not empirical results. In other words, his subtlety lies in his contention that religion and science both engage in a quest for truth, and that this truth is likely to be built on developmental consensus in both disciplines (the book's second chapter explores how Christological debates over the person and nature of Jesus evolved through the centuries, much the same way that 20th-century physicists have considered the nature of light). Toward the end of the book, Polkinghorne outlines future strategies for the cross-fertilization of science and religion. He'd like to see more biologists get involved (to this point, the scientists engaged in the discussion have been primarily physicists), and he maintains that theologians shouldn't shy away from contemplating the repercussions of scientific inquiry. This is a slim volume that raises morequestions than it answers, but it does so in a manner more intellectually satisfying than a dozen of the "mind-of-God" books now on the market. If you read one book on science and religion, this should be it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300174106
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
03/30/1998
Series:
Terry Lectures Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
324,015
File size:
2 MB

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