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Yet the book is very good in laying out the groundwork in the connections between theology and science. I'm not quite sure Polkinghorne covers much new ground or give many new insights, but he shows how science and theology certainly are complementary. Tilden rated it liked it Sep 01, Samuel Seibert rated it really liked it Jan 18, Billy Brockmueller rated it really liked it Dec 21, Ronald Moffat rated it really liked it Dec 01, Matthew rated it really liked it Aug 31, Fred Hoysted rated it it was amazing Dec 31, David rated it really liked it Dec 04, Cory rated it it was ok Mar 25, Justin Li rated it it was amazing Jul 16, Conor rated it really liked it Aug 18, Linda rated it really liked it May 15, Abigail rated it it was amazing Apr 08, Ollie rated it really liked it Oct 10, Ted Morgan rated it really liked it Jan 30, Nicolas Shump rated it really liked it Jan 09, Henry RJ rated it really liked it Apr 10, Talha rated it liked it Aug 30, Joshua Grant rated it liked it Jun 01, Kit Johnson rated it it was amazing May 28, Jon rated it it was ok Oct 01, Marylin added it Oct 24, Christy Rush added it Jan 01, Hakija marked it as to-read Jan 02, Wikimedia Italia added it Dec 31, Martins Babatunde marked it as to-read Sep 04, Beverly added it Jun 24, Lydia added it Dec 15, Rad marked it as to-read Dec 30, William Jarvis is currently reading it Jan 16, John marked it as to-read Apr 28, Dustin Mackintosh added it Aug 27, Bill is currently reading it Sep 08, Michael Swift marked it as to-read Dec 05, Lynnette marked it as to-read Jan 14, In this volume, John Polkinghorne illustrates how a scientifically-minded person approaches the task of theological inquiry, postulating that there exists a close analogy between theory and experiment in science and belief and understanding in theology.

He offers a fresh perspective on such questions as: Are we witnessing today a revival of a natural theology—the search for God through the exercise of reason and the study of nature?

Science and Creation: The Search for Understanding by John C. Polkinghorne

How do the insights of modern physics into the interlacing of order and disorder relate to the Christian doctrine of Creation? What is the relationship between mind and matter? Religion, if it is to take seriously its claim that the world is the creation of God, must be humble enough to learn from science what that world is actually like. The dialogue between them can only be mutually enriching.

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In the Logos edition, this valuable volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. It came first of all through quantum theory. At the subatomic level, quantum events are not precise and determinate. They have a certain randomness to them. So the world is certainly not merely mechanical. And I think, actually, we always knew that because we have always known that we are not mechanisms.

We are not automata. We have the power to choose, to act in the world.

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So I think that 20th-century science has loosened up our view of the physical world. And I believe also in God. So my answer will be that scientists can pray. Not, of course, as magic, but as cooperating with God, if you like, to bring about the best for the future. I was not a scientist asking that question, but I was a person who had been completely political asking that question.

But there are also these places of randomness and little openings in reality, and you also imagined that that is relevant to the idea of prayer. I think that the picture we now have of the physical world — I mean, the old 18th-century picture was a clockwork world. And there are, certainly, clocks in the world.

The sun is going to rise tomorrow. And that means that that has a consequence for prayer. The seasons are going to be there.

A Brief History of Creation: Science and the Search for the Origin of Life (Bill Mesler)

And of course, theologically, we think that the regularity of the seasons reflects, if you like, the faithfulness of the Creator. But there are other aspects of the world which are cloudy, and I think those are the areas where there is, so to speak, room for maneuver. So there are other things that we can pray for. I mean, the weather, for example, is certainly not just clockwork. I mean, rain is one, but I mean, what would be another example of thinking about openings for human action?

I think recovery from illness. I mean, of course, there are clearly illnesses that are mortal illnesses. There is a clockwork side to illness, if you like. And I think that there we can pray that somebody may be strengthened or encouraged or given hope, and that may very well lead to a form of healing that might not have been possible without that.


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I mean, there is going to be an ambiguity in interpreting these things. But life is like that. And that enables us to be what we are. They are regions where cloudiness and clearness, order and disorder, interlace each other. You just get rearrangements. And I think that reflects itself both in the development of life and in many, many human decisions. That was in You can download an MP3 of that entire, wide-ranging, unedited conversation for free. Find the download link on our Quarks and Creation show page — at onBeing.

Or subscribe to our podcast and listen to all our shows with diverse scientists and other fascinating thinkers and actors. Subscribe by clicking the updates button on our home page. Again, our home page is onBeing. Coming up, how John Polkinghorne approaches the tension between the will of God and the laws of nature. Also, how science helps him ponder the possibility of the afterlife and the nature of the human soul. Instead, he understands creation itself as a continuous, ongoing process.

They look at the molecular level of life. They look at things like the blood clotting process or they look at the little things that make entities swim around, the cilia that are sort of oars that make them go around. It seems to be, again, a sort of unfolding process, bringing forth, if you like. Well, I think we live in a world of true becoming.

I think God allows creatures to be themselves. The theologians like to call it kenosis from the Greek word, and so that God is not the puppet master of the universe, pulling every string. God has taken, if you like, a risk. Creation is more like an improvisation than the performance of a fixed score that God wrote in eternity.

I mean, God can see how history is moving, so to speak, but God has to react to the way history moves. Now, that makes, to me, quite a lot of sense about the world. Quite untrue. The scientist has — a lot of scientists had doubts about Darwin, actually, for a while. And some religious people — from the start, an English clergyman called Charles Kingsley said that God could no doubt have snapped the divine fingers and brought into being a ready-made world, that God had done something cleverer than that: God had made a world in which creatures could make themselves.

And that seems to me a very beautiful and fitting form of creation, a better world, so to speak, than a world which was ready-made.

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But it has a necessary cost. It has a shadow side. I mean, the greatest difficulty of religious belief, obviously, is the way the world is. And the problem of evil and suffering is a very great problem. Now, this scientific insight helps us a little bit with that. If creatures are going to make themselves, to explore this potentiality, there will be blind alleys and ragged edges in that exploration.

How do Catholics understand the creation account of Genesis and evolution?

And, I mean, a very simple example is this: What the engine that has driven the three-and-a-half-billion-year history of life on Earth has, of course, been genetic mutation. I mean, for two billion years or so there were only bacteria. Then things complexified, because genes mutated and new possibilities came along. But, of course, if there are going to be tectonic plates, not only will that happen, but sometimes they will slip.

I mean, a great Oxford theologian said — there was this tremendous earthquake in Lisbon in 17 — whatever it is — 55, and it killed 50, people in one day. They are allowed to be just as you and I are allowed to be. But earthquakes will be earthquakes, or tectonic plates also have their essence of being.