Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality

Yale University Press
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Most often, the dialogue between religion and science is initiated by the discoveries of modern science—big bang cosmology, evolution, or quantum theory, for example. In this book, scientist-theologian John Polkinghorne changes the discussion. He approaches the dialogue from a little-explored perspective in which theology shapes the argument and sets the agenda of questions to be considered.
The author begins with a review of approaches to science and religion in which the classification focuses on theological content rather than on methodological technique. He then proceeds with chapters discussing the role of Scripture, a theology of nature, the doctrine of God, sacramental theology, and eschatology. Throughout, Polkinghorne takes the perspective of Trinitarian thinking while arguing in a style that reflects the influence of his career as a theoretical physicist. In the final chapter, the author defends the appropriateness of addressing issues of science and religion from the specific standpoint of his Christian belief. His book provides an important model for theologians and scientists alike, showing how their two fields can inform one another in significant ways.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Yale University Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2008
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780300153538
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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divdivIn this captivating book, one of the most highly regarded scientist-theologians of our time explores aspects of the interaction of science and theology. John Polkinghorne defends the place of theology in the university (it is part of the human search for truth) and discusses the role of revelation in religion (it is a record of experience and not the communication of unchallengeable propositions). Throughout his thought-provoking conversation, Polkinghorne speaks with an honesty and openness that derives from his many years of experience in scientific research.

A central concern of Polkinghorne’s collection of writings is to reconcile what science can say about the processes of the universe with theology’s belief in a God active within creation. The author examines two related concepts in depth. The first is the divine self-limitation involved in creation that leads to an important reappraisal of the traditional claim that God does not act as a cause among causes. The other is the nature of time and God’s involvement with it, an issue that Polkinghorne shows can link metascience and theological understandings. In the final section of the book, the author reviews three centuries of the science and theology debate and assesses the work of major contemporary contributors to the discussion: Wolfhart Pannenberg, Thomas Torrance, and Paul Davies. He also considers why the science-theology discussion has for several centuries been a particular preoccupation of the English.
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John Polkinghorne is a major figure in today’s debates over the compatibility of science and religion. Internationally known as both a theoretical physicist and a theologian—the only ordained member of the Royal Society—Polkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his inquiry into the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science. In this thought-provoking book, the author focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, contending that these "intellectual cousins" are both concerned with interpreted experience and with the quest for truth about reality. He argues eloquently that scientific and theological inquiries are parallel.

The book begins with a discussion of what belief in God can mean in our times. Polkinghorne explores a new natural theology and emphasizes the importance of moral and aesthetic experience and the human intuition of value and hope. In other chapters, he compares science’s struggle to understand the nature of light with Christian theology’s struggle to understand the nature of Christ. He addresses the question, Does God act in the physical world? And he extends his ideas about the role of chaos theory, surveys the prospects for future dialogue between scientific and theological thinkers, and defends a critical realist understanding of the activities of both disciplines. Polkinghorne concludes with a consideration of the nature of mathematical truths and the links between the complementary realities of physical and mental experience.

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