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Science and Providence: God's Interaction with the World Paperback – October 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of the main thrusts of Polkinghorne's work as a physicist and theologian has been to rework the concept of divine intervention-often seen as problematic for science-into a model of God's continuous interaction with the world. Originally published in 1988, this overview of his approach has worn remarkably well. In a new preface for this edition, Polkinghorne makes connections to more recent work and suggests a few refinements to his arguments. But the book's framework remains unchanged. After building a general case that divine interaction with creation is compatible-at least in principle-with a scientific understanding of the world, Polkinghorne addresses more specific topics including prayer, miracles, the problem of evil, divine providence and God's relationship to time. Working from a relatively traditional theological stance, Polkinghorne openly acknowledges the puzzles and paradoxes intrinsic to the subject matter, but remains determined that "the necessity to do justice to Christian experience will lead us to struggle with the mystery." The brief chapters here do not provide a final word on these topics, even for Polkinghorne, who has since developed many of these ideas at greater length. But they provide an accessible and engaging point of entry to more detailed scientific, philosophical and theological discussions.
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About the Author

John C. Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest, a fellow of the Royal Academy past president of Queens’ College, Cambridge University, and former professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge. Polkinghorne resigned his chair in physics to study for the Anglican priesthood. After completing his theological studies and serving at parishes, he returned to Cambridge. In 1997, Dr. Polkinghorne was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for distinguished service to science, religion, learning, and medical ethics. He was the recipient of the 2002 Templeton Prize. He lives in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Templeton Press (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932031928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932031928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeff on December 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When the ancient theologians and philosophers were working out the basics of theology, they looked to the works of the best non-Christian philosophers of their time to inform their views (e.g. Boethius' use of Plato and Aristotle). However, as time has moved on, theologians seem to have neglected to update their non-Christian sources and it often seems that they are still assuming a platonic or aristotelian understanding of the universe. John Polkinghorne's book offers a helpful corrective to this, by bringing some very suggestive insights from contemporary science into his theological work. Moreover, he does this while remaining faithful to the biblical witness. Even if you disagree with Polkinghorne's conclusions, you should read his work in order to be really informed on the topic.
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Format: Paperback
Science And Province: God's Interaction With The World, written by internationally renowned Anglican priest and former professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University. John C. Polkinghorne, examines whether a personal, interacting God is a credible concept in today's secular, scientific age. Father Polkinghorne also considers some of the perplexities and complications regarding such issues as Miracles, Evil, and Prayer. Science And Providence is most especially recommended reading for academicians, scientists, clergy, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in science and religion.
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Science and Providence: God's Interaction with the World
(112 pages)
John C. Polkinghorne
This book is an intellectually-challenging and ultimately-satisfying discourse on how the Christian God might work in the world. As a scientist and theologian, Anglican Bishop John Polkinghorne seems to reflect in his writing and personal style, the integrity, reliability and loving concern that he proposes as features of the Christian God. Yet he is not at all soft-headed in his presentation of the problems posed by his subject matter. Chief among these problems may be that of human suffering. How can a loving God allow it? A companion issue seems to be that of human fortune. Why are some of us rich and healthy and others poor and sick? Furthermore, why on some occasions is miraculous recovery in the cards and on other occasions, abject catastrophe? Is God ultimately harsh and unjust, forgetful, capricious and prone to play favorites, or just too weak to deal with such complexities? In proposing an answer to these sorts of issues, Polkinghorne describes himself as a philosophical realist, convinced that what we know and what is the case are intimately connected.
What we know about our universe through scientific discovery, then, is that the universe contains ineluctable uncertainty at the very finest level of observation (quantum uncertainty). Furthermore, even on a macroscopic level, it acts as a complex and open system, containing degrees of freedom and unpredictability which cannot be eradicated.
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Format: Paperback
The third in this trilogy of books is more theological than its predecessors - One World, and Science and Creation - with chapters on Providence, Miracle, Evil, Prayer, Time, Hope and Incarnation and Sacrament. The author was formerly a professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University where his students included Brian Josephson and Martin Rees. Josephson is now a leading advocate of the interpretation of mystical and psychic phenomena in terms of quantum theory. Since 1982, John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS, has been an Anglican priest. What distinguishes this book from the previous volumes of the trilogy is that the God of which it speaks is the interactive God of theism, especially, of Christianity. In the two previous volumes, as the author himself says, the God of which he writes could just as well have been the God of deism.

If you believe in the God of Judaism and Christianity, this short book is highly recommendable. If however your beliefs centre on the God of deism or the cosmic spirit or Universal Mind of eastern mystical philosophy, then the two previous books will be more in tune with your beliefs. This book is more an attempt at rationalizing already held beliefs rather than providing interpretation in terms of science. As before, the book concludes with a few pages of reference Notes, a Bibliography for further reading, and an Index.

Howard Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God
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So many good things to say about John Polkinghorne's writings! For Christians who are not afraid to think, this one is a winner.
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