Starred Review. According to the physicist-priest Polkinghorne, "If the physicists seem to achieve their ends more successfully than the theologians, that is simply a reflection of how much easier science is than theology." Without abandoning his general standpoint as both a scientist and a theologian, Polkinghorne's essays pursue a wider set of interests, acknowledging terrain where theology becomes difficult and uncertain work. Reflections on issues of space-time, quantum mechanics and chaos theory—familiar from Polkinghorne's previous books—are joined by essays on human nature, the problem of evil, the historical Jesus and the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. Polkinghorne's basic approach remains consistent: he is a friend of science, but a foe of scientific reductionism, arguing that "nothing [science] can tell us requires us to deny our directly experienced human capacity" to act responsibly and seek meaning in the universe. Surveying human aptitudes for self-consciousness, language, rationality, creativity, moral awareness and the "slantedness" of human life that theologians call sin, Polkinghorne concludes, "how strange it is that many biologists... claim not to be able so see anything really distinctive about Homo sapiens." Balancing intellectual modesty with openness about his own Christian faith, Polkinghorne's reflections will engage both thoughtful believers and inquirers into issues of faith and reason. (Nov. 29)
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In the latest of his ongoing reflections on the connections between faith and science, Polkinghorne ponders the limits of an empirical approach to reality, persuasively arguing that human experience comes fully into focus only in religious belief. Thus, readers contemplate distinctively human attributes--language, self-consciousness, morality, spirituality--that resist neo-Darwinian explanations yet harmonize with scriptural doctrines about the divine image impressed upon our species. Probing further, Polkinghorne illuminates the human need for hope that transcends the grim cosmic predictions of astrophysics. He finds that hope in the resurrection of Jesus, but he concedes that neither science nor religion can yet resolve the doctrinal disagreements separating Christianity from other world faiths. But the shared metaphysics that already leads Moslems, Jews, and Christians toward similar scientific perspectives emboldens him to believe that patient interfaith dialogue will in time unite now-divided religionists as they confront the challenges of twenty-first-century bioethics. A book to stimulate the thinking of skeptics and believers alike. Bryce Christensen
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My review will not be unnecessarily complex. I've read dozens of books by Greene, Kaku, Aczel, Susskind, Hawking, and Sagan and I thought this would be an interesting new... Read morePublished on June 29, 2012 by R. E. Smith
Polkinghorne is a particle physicist and Anglican minister, making him eminently qualified to write about the nexus of science and religion, something he does with passion and... Read morePublished on March 30, 2011 by Joseph Devita
I bought this after talking to a few people and having enjoyed the "Closer to Truth" series on PBS. I am glad I did.Published on March 28, 2010 by H. Boggs
John Polkinghorne KBE, FRS is the author of many books on themes related to science and religion; he is uniquely qualified to speak on both, having been a particle physicist for... Read morePublished on September 7, 2009 by rowley32256
Polkinghorne can be difficult to read, but this book is a little more accessible that most of his. I've not finished working my way through it yet, but the chapter on the... Read morePublished on June 26, 2009 by Martin C. Thomason
...that Polkinghorne had a distinguished scientific career based on rigorous presentations of theory and analyses of observations. Read morePublished on June 19, 2009 by Bruce C. Douglas
This is one of Polkinghorne's more recent works (SPCK 2005) which presents his ideas in a relatively easy to understand fashion and is both clearly and elegantly written. Read morePublished on November 30, 2007 by David Ross