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Quarks, Chaos & Christianity: Questions to Science And Religion Paperback – September 1, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; Rev Upd edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824524063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824524067
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Simplistic and erroneous thinking about "religion" and "science" is rife in our era. John Polkinghorne sets himself the task of accurately describing the relationship between them. He refutes the usual lazy assumption that the two belong to completely unrelated categories, like walruses and carpenters. Polkinghorne is convinced that in fact science and religion (at least Christianity) both require a similiar method of truth-seeking. He believes that the search for truth in science was influenced by the Christian belief in God, and that the logical connection between believing in a Creator and studying the creation still holds. He thinks scientific metaphors shed light on theology, and vice-versa. Thus, not only is there no conflict between being a scientist and a follower of Christ, the two disciplines inform and supplement one another.
Polkinghorne's words seem to carry a special gravitus. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that he knows his stuff: he was a first-class scientist, physics prof at Cambridge, before getting into theology. Also, in this book, he writes with the kind of restrained simplicity that is good style for scientists writing for the masses, that strongly suggests great intellectual power, sheathed as it were. But probably what gives his argument greatest force is his honesty. The more I read Polkinghorne, the less believable it seems to me that his argument for Christianity might be given either in ignorance or in defiance of the evidence. He might concede too much at times, and he tends to be cautious, but he does not seem to put more weight on an argument than the evidence can bare.
I especially liked what Polkinghorne said about faith and reason.
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Format: Paperback
I'm guessing that Polkinghorne wrote this book around the same time he was preparing and presenting the Gifford Lectures (1994) as this book and the text of those lectures (published as "The Faith of a Physicist") cover some of the same themes rather closely. While that volume (FP) is broader in scope, this one sets its sights more narrowly. Neither book precludes the value of the other; both are interesting. QC&C is a rather quick read by comparison, so if theology and physics are not your usual cup of tea, this may be the right choice for you.
Sir John Polkinghorne, for those readers who might not be familiar with him, is acclaimed as both a quantum physicist and an Anglican priest/theologian (and he's been knighted [KBE], but isn't everybody on that side of the pond these days?). He has won the Templeton Prize and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. His theological thinking is, for the most part, quite classical, although he conspicuously also holds some process ideas regarding God's relationship to 'time' (this is an area in which many readers -- me, for example -- will respectfully disagree with him). His views are perhaps slightly different from the usual perceptions of the ID school of theistic scientists, which alone might be seen as recommending him as an interesting author.
My impression is that the target audience for this book is the Christian reader interested in the science-religion dialog and in questions of freedom and the 'problem of evil.' But I also think this might be a valuable book for agnostic scientists and anyone else interested in these topics. Polkinghorne says, "Many people seem to think that faith involves shutting one's eyes, gritting one's teeth, and believing X impossible things before breakfast . . . Not at all!
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Format: Paperback
Polkinghorne has written a clear and simple (but not simplistic) account of how you can be a scientist and still accept the central truths of Christianity. It is concise and straight to the point, but written so that even the non-scientific or non-theologically trained can follow the argument. This would be an ideal book for anyone who thinks that science has `disproved' God. Polkinghorne is one physicist who doesn't think so.
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Format: Paperback
Polkinghorne (an Anglican priest and Oxford physicist) writes a book with remarkable ideas though not without questionable conclusions. He doesn't view religion as our internal response to an external world, but considers science and religion as intellectual cousins, each providing answers. He goes some distance in showing the malleability of scientific practice - an act of "intellectual daring" when viewing fact and interpretation, experiment and theory as independent, while they are actually mixed up in perspectives we bring to nature. Which is more about scientists as humans than science as flawed. though not the end point as open publication, debate and test are employed. Science is refutable. He also touches upon absurdities proffered by "modern philosophers" who state we invent theories of nature, we do not discover them. As Polkinghorne notes, our theories wouldn't work if they didn't represent part of the truth. Nature continues to impose itself as final judge, regardless of fashionable politics.

Given that "unpictureable" electrons provide surprises, Polkinghorne is not surprised to find an unpictureable God to do the same. He accepts the oddness of quantum mechanics like he accepts the oddness of Jesus as simultaneously man and God. We're not sure how the oddness of say, astrology, with a longer history, many texts and practitioners may fit this view. To Polkinghorne the issue is not fact vs. opinion but interpreting our experience of the way the world really is. He views God as "faithful" to man and nature. The natural gift of a faithful God being reliability of his creation's operation. Ignoring tribal aspects of the Hebrew God, God is also loving, thus granting independence, which alone by itself would be disarray, so both order and independence in the universe.
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