John Polkinghorne

Theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest. Polkinghorne taught John Lennox quantum mechanics at Cambridge.

One World: The Interaction of Science and Theology

London, SPCK 1986.

About the multiverse: "Let us recognize these speculations for what they are. They are not physics, but in the strictest sense, metaphysics. There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes. By construction these other worlds are unknowable by us. A possible explanation of equal intellectual responsibility - and to my mind greater economy an elegance - would be that this one world is the way it is, because it is the creation of the will of a Creator who purposes that it should be so." p80

About ontological reductionism in response to the position of Crick "ultimately suicidal. If Crick's thesis is true we could never know it. For, not only does it relegate our experiences of beauty, moral obligation, and religious encounter to the epiphenomenal scrap-heap. It also destroys rationality. Thought is replaced by electro-chemical neural events. Two such events cannot confront each other in rational discourse. They are neither right nor wrong. They simply happen. The very assertions of the reductionist himself are nothing but blips in the neural network of his brain. The world of rational discourse dissolves into the absurd chatter of firing synapses. Quite frankly, that cannot be right and none of us believes it to be so." p92. (Cited by Lennox on pg48 of "Can Science Explain Everything?)

"The Laws of Nature and the Laws of Physics"

in Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature:Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action, Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy and C. J. Isham, Eds., Vatican City and Berkeley, The Vatican Observatory and The Center for Theology and Natural Sciences, 1999.

The reaction of Polkinghorne to the "God of the gaps" is very different from that of van Till. Lennox's comment in God's Untertaker p 189-190 is that Polkinghorne "emphatically rejects a God of the (bad) Gaps theology, nevertheless insists that we not
'rest content with a discussion in such soft focus that it never begins to engage our intuitions about God's action with our knowledge of physical process'
'if the physical world is really open, and top-down intentional causality operates within it, there must be some intrinsic "gaps" ("an envelope of possibility") in the bottom-up account of nature to make room for intentional causality ... We are unashamedly "people of the gaps" in this intrinsic sense and there is nothing unfitting in a "God of the gaps" in this sense either.'
And on the nature of God's interaction, it is 'not energetic but informational.' p. 438

"Science and Theology"

London, SPCK, 1998
"In the opinion of many thinkers, human freedom is closely connected with human rationality. If we were deterministic beings, what would validate the claim that our utterance constituted rational discourse? Would not the sounds issuing from our mouths, or the marks we made on paper, be simply the actions of automata? All proponents of deterministic theories, whether social and economic (Marx), or sexual(Freud), or genetic (Dawkins and E.O. Wilson), need a covert disclaimer on their own behalf, excepting their own contribution from reductive dismissal?" p. 58

"Reason and Reality"

London, SPCK, 1991

"Science does not explain the mathematical intelligibility of the physical world, for it is part of science's founding faith that this is so.." p. 76 (Cited by Lennox pg p46 of Can science explain everything?)

"SO FINELY TUNED A UNIVERSE of atoms, stars, quanta & God"

Accessible on the web at jesuslightworker by permission from the original Commonweal publication.

Local pdf So Finely Tuned a Universe

"In both the intelligibility of the world and the finely tuned fruitfulness of the world, we see insights arising from science, but calling for some explanation and understanding which, by its very nature, will go beyond what science itself can provide. I think that suggests the insufficiency of a merely scientific view of the world. In fact, I think we’re living in an age where there is a great revival of natural theology taking place. That revival of natural theology is taking place, not on the whole among the theologians, who have rather lost their nerve in that area, but among the scientists. And not just among pious scientists like myself, but among scientists who have no particular time for, or understanding of, conventional religion. Nevertheless, many agnostic scientists feel that the rational beauty and the finely tuned fruitfulness of the world suggest that there is some intelligence or purpose behind the universe. p6-7
(Cited by Meyer on p162 of Return of the God Hypothesis)

Wiki: Polkinghorne


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