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Reason and Reality: The Relationship Between Science and Theology Paperback – September 1, 1991


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Paperback, September 1, 1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 119 pages
  • Publisher: Trinity Press International; 1st edition (September 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563380196
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563380198
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,568,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
John Polkinghorne is perhaps the world's foremost authority on the relationship between science and theology. "Reason and Reality" brings together essays in which he pursues more deeply themes touched on in his earlier works. As such, the book, while generally accessible, is at a somewhat more advanced level than most of his other, more popular works. However, the extra intellectual effort required is well worth it, as the essays in this volume "tie up the loose ends." The result is a convincing, deeply satisfying interpretation of the nature and scope of human knowledge, the extent and limits of science, and the proper place of theology as what Polkinghorne calls science's "cousin under the skin." Perhaps the major achievement of the book is its demonstration of how both science and theology, despite postmodernist skepticism to the contrary, are fundamentally rational in character. The book is therefore both significant and highly timely.
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Format: Paperback
How can religion and science be enemies when they are on the same side?: Both theology and science have to speak of entities which are not directly observable. In consequence, both must be prepared to make use of model and metaphor.

Both talk in symbols: Theology, because of the difficulty of its task, is unlikely to achieve more than a collection of viable models, usable with discretion. Mathematics is the natural language of physical science; symbol, because of its poetic openness of meaning, proves to be the natural language of theology.

So fundamentalists who talk of scripture as the final revelation are unaware of new meanings from the Holy Spirit who is to lead us into all truth: the Bible continues to play a normative role in Christian thinking. Is there not a great contrast between the openness of science to new ideas and the enslavement of theology to the entail of Scripture?

Both scientist and theologian bare committed to the quest for truth: The scientist commits himself to belief in the rationality of the world in order to discover ' what form that rationality takes. His success should encourage others to similar boldness. One might put it in theological terms by saying that the image of God is not so defaced in humanity that we are unable to attain a verisimilitudinous grasp of reality.

Both search in community. There is danger in the lone believer: One sees how dangerous this is. A homicidal maniac hears the voice of God telling him to go out and kill prostitutes. That is why religion is not what one does with one's solitariness, why it can only be pursued within a community and following a tradition, with the correctives they apply to private judgement.
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Format: Paperback
This volume is not intended specifically to be a part of the trilogy on science and religion by John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS, that began with One World, though it is a continuation of the same theme - that the findings of science do more to support the notion of God than contradict it. This was precisely the intention of the early 17th century `natural philosophers' like Newton when they established the laws of the universe - to reveal the beauty and intricacies of God's handiwork in Creation. Polkinghorne sees a similarity between science and theology in that both `have to speak of entities which are not directly observable.' This book of eight quite self-contained essays is based largely on a series of lectures that the author was invited to give.

Polkinghorne trained as a quantum physicist but has since taken holy orders. The book open with a philosophical discussion about the nature of Rational Inquiry. I would disagree with the author's (and Torrance's) view that there is any meaningful comparison between discovery in science and revelation in theology: the former involves reproducible sensory observation and reason, the latter, imagination. Only when we get down to the level of quarks, gluons and strings and comparable unobservables do we enrol the use of imagination in science, and even there the reasoning is subject to verification by others. This is not so with revelation.

Chapter 2 on Rational Discourse pursues this theme of the veracity of revelation by a discussion of models and theories in science and religion, and Chapter 3 on The Nature of Physical Reality continues the theme, and includes mathematical models. There is an interesting discussion here on determinism and randomness in Nature, following the theme of Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity.
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