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Belief in God in an Age of Science (The Terry Lectures Series) Hardcover – March 30, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: The Terry Lectures Series
  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1ST edition (March 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300072945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300072945
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Belief in God in an Age of Science, by the renowned theoretical physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne (a fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge), collects a series of lectures exploring the compatibility of science and theology. Polkinghorne's most interesting argument is that the two disciplines, which he calls "intellectual cousins," exhibit "a common concern with the attainment of understanding through the search for motivated belief." He describes this common concern by comparing the scientific investigation into the nature of light that led to the quantum theory with the theological investigation of the nature of Christ's being that led to the Chalcedonian Creed. Polkinghorne's prose is lucid throughout, and his broadminded rigor persuades readers that "if reality is generously and adequately construed, then knowledge will be seen to be one; if rationality is generously and adequately construed, then science and theology will be seen as partners in a common quest for understanding." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Fred101 on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Christian with an undergraduate exposure to theology and a Ph.D. in physics (and a continuing interest in both), I am offended by the lack of intellectual integrity shown by so many authors who address science/theology issues. Whether from the "creationist" side (which seems to be the principal voice being heard from the Christian viewpoint) or the secular-humanist side (which has been the principal voice being heard from the scientific community) the "discussion" (if you can call it that) is all too often characterized by a circular kind of reasoning which begins with a particular world-view and then, by entertaining nothing but "evidence" congenial to that viewpoint, proceeds to arrive at the pre-held viewpoint as the only "logical" conclusion. Equally insidious are the "post modernists" and "subjectivists" who essentially question the point in seeking "truth" of any kind since they regard our perception of "reality" to be hopelessly distorted by our individual and societal agendas, or those who try to compartmentalize faith and reason as equally legitimate but incompatible activities -- as if the reality of faith is somehow different from the reality of the physical universe.
Polkinghorne is a refreshing change from this usual dismal discourse. If you are seeking confirmation that a first-rate scientific mind can exist in company with an unapologetically orthodox Christian faith, this book should do the trick. This is not to say that all readers will agree with all of Polkinghorne's stances. Those of the "Biblical literalist" stripe will undoubtedly be offended that Polkinghorne tolerates no traffic in the Creationist agenda.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found Polkinghorne very honest. It is refreshing to see a physicist clearly identify the almost "religious" faith that some scientists (and atheists) have in their explanations for the origin of the universe. Allow me to paraphrase Polkinghorne on pages 8 and 9. "Moving up the scale of bold speculation, one might evoke notions of quantum cosmology which suggest that universes of various kinds are continually appearing, bubbling up as quantum fluctuations in some universal substrate. Speculation becomes even more rash and desperate...maybe the laws of nature themselves fluctuate, so that a vast portfolio of worlds rise and fall within a sea of seething chaos. It is time to consider the other alternative: that there is a divine purpose behind this fruitful universe."
Polkinghorne has not convinced me of the existence of a God, though he has made the "godless universe" alternative look almost as bogus as some of the world's religions. Call me a happy agnostic. I cannot be atheist after reading this book. This book, coupled with John Barrow's "Impossibility", leaves me with hope.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mark S Armstrong on November 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in a shallow, simplistic and facile treatment of an extremely important question, you will have to look elsewhere. The same goes for those who approach the subject with a closed mind, whether they are fundamentalists or atheists. If you think you already know all the answers, this book will only annoy you.
However, if you've already spent some time studying this question, buy the book. Or if you are willing to hear from a gentle and thoughtful person who has the highest scientific and theological credentials, buy Polkinghorne's little book.
It's short, but it isn't a quick read. Polkinghorne assumes his audience has some knowledge of the points in question. You might read a few pages, put down the book and think about it for a few days. You might feel a need to learn more about a certain aspect of physics, evolution or even philosophy. You might even find yourself asking a friend, "Do you think God will remember everything about me after I've died, so that He can put me back together again? What is a soul anyways?" Then your friend will smile uncertainly and change the subject.
Right or wrong, Polkinghorne's ideas are reasonable, careful and thoughtful. Other physicists, more famous than Polkinghorne, have made pronouncements about God. They don't share Polkinghorne's expertise in theology. After reading his work, the difference is obvious.
Anyone interested in the interaction between science and religion should read this book.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love a good book that bridges (because yes there is a bridge) between science and theology. I bought this book after seeing all the praise it received here on Amazon, along with other places. And indeed the book did start out strong. It explored the nuances of how science and theology are woven together to show the purpose of the universe, from the smallest of particles to the largest of galaxies. The enjoyment rose, many considerations were given by the author, then something happened. It was as if a rousing discussion turned into a tedious lecture. My reading slowed down. I understand what Mr. John Polkinghorne is talking about, but the way he talks about all the considerations between science and theology, just seems like a heavy load with dwindling payoff. The sentence and paragraphs just seemed to start boggling down after half the book has been read. This doesn't mean that I don't like what is being said, it is just that what is being said is being said in a very laborious way. I highly suggest readers to read this book, it does have some very important considerations to be made toward the balance and the binding of theology (the exploration toward the mind of God and the will of God and the love of God) and science (how the will of God works on quantum natural, the Newtonian natural, and super-natural levels). At least in my opinion. However, I must warn you that there will be times that you will find yourself laboring through a few pages here and there just wishing the author to get to the point, at least in a more flowing way than he does.
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