The author organizes his inquiry around the Nicene Creed, an early statement that continues to summarize Christian beliefs. He applies to each of its tenets the question, "What is the evidence that makes you think this might be true?" The evidence Polkinghorne weighs includes the Hebrew and Christian scriptures--their historical contexts and the possible motivations for their having been written--scientific theories, and human self-consciousness as revealed in literary, philosophical, and psychological works.
He begins with the words, "We believe," and presents understandings of the nature of humanity, showing, for example, that Cartesian theory, evolution, and natural selection do not tell the entire story of what humans are about, especially in light of many sources that attest to our spirituality. Moving through the Creed, Polkinghorne considers the concept of divinity and God as creator in discussions that cover the Theory of Everything, the Big Bang Theory, and the possibility of divine presence within reality so that God is not simply an outside observer. Chapters on Jesus analyze the different ways events are described in the Gospels and the way motivation for belief is conveyed--for example, how do these writings explain why a young man killed in public disgrace could inspire a following, when other major world religious leaders lived to become highly revered elders in their communities?
"Faith seeking understanding" is, according to Polkinghorne, like the scientific quest. Both are journeys of intellectual discovery in which those who survey experience from an initially chosen point of view must be open to correction in the light of further experience. "Religion," he writes, "has long known that ultimately every human image of God proves to be an inadequate idol." The Faith of a Physicist, based on the prestigious 1993 Gifford Lectures, delivers a powerful message to scientists and theologians, theists and atheists alike.
Originally published in 1994.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
However, it is doubtful whether any practising scientist, religious believer or not, now thinks of laws in the way that the word literally implies. How, instead, scientists do or should view scientific laws has been debated since the time of Hume and Kant, and it is a vigorous field of investigation among current philosophers of science.
In this book, scientists (physical and biological), historians and students of ideas, all of them theologically informed, tackle this topic from many angles. They do so in relation to the lead public lecture at the conference from which the book stems, given by the eminent and iconoclastic philosopher of science, Professor Nancy Cartwright. She asked the question, “How could laws make things happen?”, and her answer was “They couldn’t!”
In this potent critique, a well-known chronicler of the West's encounter with Buddhism demonstrates how the Scientific Buddha's teachings deviate in crucial ways from those of the far older Buddha of ancient India. Donald Lopez shows that the Western focus on the Scientific Buddha threatens to bleach Buddhism of its vibrancy, complexity, and power, even as the superficial focus on "mindfulness" turns Buddhism into merely the latest self-help movement. The Scientific Buddha has served his purpose, Lopez argues. It is now time for him to pass into nirvana. This is not to say, however, that the teachings of the ancient Buddha must be dismissed as mere cultural artifacts. They continue to present a potent challenge, even to our modern world.
Throughout his life, from his childhood to his time in prison, Gendun Chopel wrote poetry that conveyed the events of his remarkable life. In the Forest of Faded Wisdom is the first comprehensive collection of his oeuvre in any language, assembling poems in both the original Tibetan and in English translation. A master of many forms of Tibetan verse, Gendun Chopel composed heartfelt hymns to the Buddha, pithy instructions for the practice of the dharma, stirring tributes to the Tibetan warrior-kings, cynical reflections on the ways of the world, and laments of a wanderer, forgotten in a foreign land. These poems exhibit the technical skill—wordplay, puns, the ability to evoke moods of pathos and irony—for which Gendun Chopel was known and reveal the poet to be a consummate craftsman, skilled in both Tibetan and Indian poetics. With a directness and force often at odds with the conventions of belles lettres, this is a poetry that is at once elegant and earthy. In the Forest of Faded Wisdom is a remarkable introduction to Tibet’s sophisticated poetic tradition and its most intriguing twentieth-century writer.