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The Faith of a Physicist (Theology & the Sciences Series) Paperback – February 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Series: Theology & the Sciences
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress Publishers; 1st edition (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800629701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800629700
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As an Anglican priest and a theoretical physicist, John Polkinghorne writes for critical thinkers, specifically those who find it difficult to embrace religious belief but cannot reject it entirely. Polkinghorne considers most theologians to be "top-down thinkers"--that is, they begin with faith and subsequently search for evidence of truth. As a scientist, Polkinghorne considers himself to be a "bottom-up thinker" by beginning with tangible evidence to arrive at definitive conclusions. Polkinghorne asks of every Christian belief, "What is the evidence that makes you think this might be true?" His entire treatise is based on the Nicene Creed, which he feels provides a sensible theological outline for religious belief. Moving through the creed, Polkinghorne discusses the nature of humanity, knowledge of God, the act of creation, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and Trinitarian theology. He looks at each topic in light of contemporary scientific understanding and shows how traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs are as relevant today as they were when the Nicene Creed was written in the fourth century. With its complex terms and theories, this book will most likely not appeal to the average reader, but it is a relevant addition to scientific and theological collections. Patty O'Connell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The Faith of a Physicistworks on two levels. On one level it is a straight-forward work of Christian apologetics. On another level it is a meditation on the relationship between science and religion. As a work of apologetics, Polkinghorne's book is a tour de force. It is a thoughtful and thorough defense of the Christian faith.... When Polkinghorne moves from apologetic argument to applying insights derived from physics to theology, his book loses none of its power and in fact becomes even more intellectually engaging. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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In fact, all readers will be rather challenged.
Wesley L. Janssen
For believing Christians who are uncomfortable rejecting either orthodox science or orthodox Christianity, this book provides many fascinating insights.
Pamela B. Garrud
Be prepared for some serious challenges to your mind in reading this book.
sdsali@earthlink.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Pamela B. Garrud on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I agree that the materialist, the atheist and the strict fundamentalist will find much to dispute about this book. The latter being said, Polkinghorne is actually far more orthodox in his theology than many modern academic theologians. For believing Christians who are uncomfortable rejecting either orthodox science or orthodox Christianity, this book provides many fascinating insights. If you need to believe that God does not exist or that he created the world in six 24-hour days, you won't be happy with this book. A final caveat. The reading is challenging. However, Polkinghorne provides a short glossary of scientific and theological terms. This book is more accessible to the general reader than his most recent work "Belief in God in an Age of Science."
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on January 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One may point to Polkinghorne's credentials as a theoretical physicist or an Anglican cleric, but in his writings we find that he is also a philosopher, theologian, and student of the humanities (art, history, comparative religion), although he is quick to label himself an "amateur" in these areas. A thoughtful reading of "The Faith of a Physicist" will be particularly valuable to philosophical materialists whose "skepticism" of Christian theism should itself be exposed to skeptical consideration. As Polkinghorne explains, dismissals of theism are often couched in convenient but ignorantly simplistic characterizations: "Scientists who are hostile to religion tend to make remarks such as 'Unlike science, religion is based on unquestioning certainties' [Wolpert]. They thereby betray their lack of acquaintance with the practice of religion. Periods of doubt and perplexity have a well-documented role in spiritual development . . . Religion has long known that ultimately every human image of God proves to be an inadequate idol."
Considering metaphysic's classic poles of dualism versus monism, the author is inclined to reject each in preference to a "dual-aspect monism." In this he is not particularly controversial, nor in his interpretations of quantum theory in terms of its philosophical implications. Polkinghorne's biblical exegesis will be controversial on certain points (whose isn't?). Although he is sometimes accused of being a process theologian, it seems clear that he is not.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. E. Puckle on August 2, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is tough reading. Polkinghorne melds science and theology, specifically Christian, in a commentary on the Nicene Creed. Or, rather, he uses phrases from the Nicene Creed to illustrate the compatability of science and belief in God/Jesus Christ. The strict Materialist and the strict Fundamentalist will find much to dispute. Polkinghorne contends, however, that from a "bottom-up" approach (Polkinghorne the scientist) one can defend (Polkinghorne the theologian/priest) a reasonable belief in God. He discusses in detail "how" God can and does interact with His creation in terms that (some/most) scientists may be able to accept. It will be necessary to have a dictionary at hand. He does tend to use very technical language (scientific and theological) without definition. A tough read, but very much worth the time and effort. Multiple readings are encouraged by this reviewer.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By sdsali@earthlink.net on February 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Be prepared for some serious challenges to your mind in reading this book. The author is both a physicist and an Anglican priest who explains his view of the relationship between science and religion and the role of faith. He does not argue that science proves that God is real but argues strongly that scientific understanding of the universe leaves ample room for a God who intercedes in the Universe, controls it and will bring a good end. Rigorously reasonable, it is sure to offend doctrinaire persons from atheists to fundamentalists but presents a good framework for people seeking to reconcile the claims of science and religion.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Another well written work by Dr. Polkinghorne; the material is scholarly and well organized. Realizing that the content is derived from his Gifford Lectures, it is repleat with citings of other scholars' works with which the reader should be acquainted to dervive fullest benefit and make "Faith of a Physicist" a fluid read. Citings are referenced and annotated. Most readers, including this reviewer, need a good dictionary "at the ready." A glossary is provided, but it is not inclusive.
The information is thought provoking, stimulating, informative, and timely. It offers a perspective of serious Christian thought not frequently found in the current lay press from a point of view of a noted scientist and priest. He shows how God might be, or have been at work and not be in violation of known scientific laws. It is, above all, a book of faith, not a book of "proven scientifically, beyond doubt." One omission of the work is its failure to address the possibility and Christian implication of life elsewhere in this (or any other) universe.
One may find objection to some of his absolutes, e.g., "I know that God is neither male or female..., etc." However nowhere does he say that science has proven the existence of God. The musings of Polkinghoren about unprovable theology is no more outlandish than the musings of cosmologists about unprovable multiple universes.
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