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Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship Paperback – February 19, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300138407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300138405
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Polkinghorne's life project is to show that science and religion are two rational structures between which there are significant homologies. It is most fascinating in "Quantum Physics and Theology "to observe him demonstrate this thesis."--Miroslav Volf, Yale Divinity School --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS, is fellow and retired president, Queens' College, Cambridge University. He was founding president of the International Society for Science and Religion and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize. He is the author of many books, including the following published by Yale University Press:  Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion; Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality; The God of Hope and the End of the World; and Belief in God in an Age of Science. 
 
 

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Customer Reviews

I have never read a more clear and easy to follow book.
Ann Bronte
As he says in his preface if you're looking for a book on quantum physics he has written a different work treating that subject specifically.
Jon Sellers
The book is easy to read even though the complexity of the theme it works.
J. Islas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Jon Sellers on June 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this slim well written volume Polkinghorne gives us a succinct comparison of the rational processes of inquiry required in both quantum physics and Chistian theology. As he says in his preface if you're looking for a book on quantum physics he has written a different work treating that subject specifically. He has also written elsewhere about his Christian faith and theology. This book's real value lies in its encouragement towards further reading.

Polkinghorne reaffirms his commitment to "critical realism" largely derived from Michael Polanyi. He then takes us on a fascinating journey of the intellectual history of quantum physics and theology. He draws a series of parallels in the two disciplines. Starting with a discussion of how science uses experience and understanding in the process of discovery he explains how the relationship between theory and experiment played a part in Einstein's development of the theory of relativity. That is paralleled by a discussion of how Christology is shaped by the historical record of Christ found in the Gospels. That supports his adoption of "bottom up" theology. This format is followed throughout the book - first discussing an aspect of the history of science and quantum physics followed with a history of some aspect of theology. Overall, this makes for some fascinating reading, if at times a little confusing as to exactly how these different histories are paralleled.

Some of the scientific subjects covered are: the development of relativity, quarks, atomic structure, waves and particles, quantum indeterminacy and quantum field theory. The theological subjects include Christology, the historical Jesus, the incarnation, the doctrine of two natures, doctrine of the Trinity, miracles and eschatology.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ann Bronte on April 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent resource illustrating how science and Christianity are NOT mutually exlusive. Polkinghorne is a physicist and a "hard science" person as opposed to Diarmuid O'Murchu (Quantum Theology) who is a "soft science" person.

Polkinghorne draws solid and substantiated paralells in the methods used by science and Christianity in their search for truth. This is much needed in our present culture where the constructed DUALISTIC split between science and religion prevails; that is, our culture tends to choose sides, EITHER science OR religion. Polkinghorne aptly illustrates that one can be both a scientist and a Priest as he is, or believe in science and religion.

The only complaint I have is that at times Polkinhorne's tone is a bit uppity bordering on condescending. What I refer to here is illustrated in the preface when he explains why he did not title his book "Quantum Theology." He slams it as "quantum hype" and says it is really just indulgence in "paradox." I moved easily past this dig, which I perceived to be against O'Murchu, Social Psychologist and author of QUANTUM THEOLOGY, because Polkinghorne is a "hard scientist."

That Polkinghorne is a "hard scientist" makes his work very methodical easy to follow, and the Christianity Science parallels unmistakable, even for the novice. That Polkinghorne is a priest probably lends to his openess to postmodern thought, that he is a physicist keeps him from "throwing the baby (scientific method) out with the bath water (some of the deification of science ineherent in much of modernity/enlightenment). I have never read a more clear and easy to follow book. This book is well worth the read and hopefully can lead to an even wider opening for the meeting of science and religion.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Tetley on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
John Polkinghorne is one of the most complete theologians in the Anglican Communion - if not in the whole Christian Church. Using the Church's long established three way approach to understanding scripture, he reads his bible, considers,seriously, the history of its interpretation and thinks profoundly about what it all can mean. All though the essay uses complex issues im both physics and theology it provided me a major helping of food for thought. It is one of those texts that can be read again and again.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By rowley32256 VINE VOICE on August 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Polkinghorne has written many books combining ideas from his two areas of expertise: science and religion. In this small volume, he juxtaposes ideas from up to date quantum physics with some of the aspects of Christianity that seem baffling to many scientists. In doing so, he achieves his purpose of showing how critical realism can bridge these two seemingly opposed disciplines. But he also recommends a deeper study: "Perhaps this proferred hors d'oeuvre might encourage some to sit down to a more substantial meal."

With his characteristic precision, Polkinghorne sets out the difference between scientific and other types of inquiry: [the natural sciences] "enjoy possession of the secret weapon of experiment, the ability to put matters to the test, if necessary through repeated investigation of essentially the same set of impersonal circumstances. This enables science thoroughly to investigate a physical regime defined by a definite scale ... and to make an accurate map of it. ... By way of contrast, in all forms of subjective experience - whether aesthetic enjoyment, acts of moral decision, loving human relationships, or the transpersonal encounter with the sacred reality of God - events are unique and unrepeatable, and their valid interpretation depends ultimately upon a trusting acceptance rather than a testing analysis."

Polkinghorne uses a technique he calls "comparative heuristics" - basically the comparison of similarly constructed models as opposed to direct analogies. This enables the rationale to be evaluated regardless of the validity of a priori assumptions; thus Polkinghorne is able to address such a controversial topic as "miracles" without partisanship.
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