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Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship Paperback – February 19, 2008
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"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
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
This short little book is not the easiest read, but it is certainly manageable for anyone who has a basic familiarity with theology or science so long as they are willing to read slowly and carefully. The book juxtaposes two systems of inquiry designed to lead to a truthful description of reality. That theology is a discipline with rigorous controls and review and rules for inquiry seems to surprise many materialists, but it is a fact.
I have spent some time here at amazon and in the world dialoging with those who hold a materialistic view of the universe, and I am shocked at the level of disdain given to the disciplines of philosophy and theology. As the author of this book points out, the word "theological" is often used pejoratively to denote an unexamined or untested bias or belief. I too take umbrage with this usage, and I find myself wondering if the decline of traditional liberal education in the West marks the end of literate and competent discourse and debate in our society.
I am impressed by this book's economy, even while I was challenged by some of the vocabulary and concepts. I was relatively unfamiliar with the history of quantum physics, and I found this book very edifying as a result. The sections on Christology, the historicity of the resurrection, and the parallels between scientific and theological inquiry were concise, challenging, and largely convincing.
One point the author could have hit a little harder, in my opinion, is the history and philosophy of science, and why scientific inquiry of a high level is largely a product of Western Civilization.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book for both scientists and spiritual people. It is written on an academic level, especially the sections on physics, but I think the general public will... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Patricia A. Norelli
The author sets out to explain the comparisons between modern quantum physics and the theological understanding of the nature of "God" in their mutual interest in seeking... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Phil Calandra
A big disappointment. The title of the book is catchy but is in no way justified in the text. Overall, just dull.Published 8 months ago by Richard Hawkins
I did not like this book as I do believe in God and this author does not.Published 9 months ago by Cyndi
The fellow obviously cares deeply about this topic, but it seems any explorational process could be molded to fit each other's paradigm.Published 10 months ago by Sevilla
Polkinghorne's small missive is so stilted by his Christian Bent as to prevent any real vision into the topicPublished 13 months ago by fredwage
“When I read the writings of some of the high-profile scientific proclaimers of atheism, I find a degree of ignorance displayed by those who send out papers with titles such as... Read morePublished 14 months ago by JR Pinto
Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship is an excellent discussion of epistemology, which is the "theory of knowledge especially with regard to its methods and... Read morePublished 15 months ago by J
It was an okay book. Not much else to say as a result.Published 15 months ago by Rev. Dr. Bruce A. Overstreet -pastor