Theology in the Context of Science

John Polkinghorne

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April 20, 2010
192 pages, 5 1/8 x 8 1/16
ISBN: 9780300164565
Paper

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A renowned physicist-theologian provides a new framework for dialogue between science and religion

Just as gendered, cultural, and geographical perspectives have illuminated and advanced theological thought, the contributions of twentieth-century science have much to offer theology. In his latest book, physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne, renowned as one of the world’s foremost thinkers on science and religion, offers a lucid argument for developing the intersection of the two fields as another form of contextual theology.

Countering recent assertions by “new atheists” that religious belief is irrational and even dangerous, Polkinghorne explores ways that theology can be open to and informed by science. He describes recent scientific discourse on such subjects as epistemology, objectivity, uncertainty, and rationality and considers the religious importance of the evolution in these areas of scientific thought. Then, evaluating such topics as relativity, space and time, and evolutionary theory, he uses a scientific style of inquiry as a foundation on which to build a model of Christian belief structure. Science and theology share in the great human quest for truth and understanding, says Polkinghorne, and he illustrates how their interaction can be fruitful for both.

John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS, is fellow and retired president, Queens’ College, Cambridge University. He was founding president of the International Society for Science and Religion and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize. The author of numerous books, he lives in Cambridge, UK.

“John Polkinghorne is one of the leading voices in constructive conversations between theology and the natural sciences.  Theology in the Context of Science shows how scientific discourse can inform theological discourse and provide new insights for both science and theology.  This book solidifies Polkinghorne’s reputation as one of the clearest and most thoughtful scholars on questions at the interface of theology and science.”—Nathan J. Hallanger, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Graduate Theological Union 

"An important contribution to theology, successfully showing the role that scientific knowledge must play in theological work."—Keith Ward, Oxford University

"Sir John Polkinghorne's brief survey should be required reading for anyone engaging the religious implications of contemporary science, regardless of their personal beliefs."--Karl W. Giberson, Quarterly Review of Biology

"Polkinghorne is not a deist, placing Gd at the beginning of time and then backing off to see how it all goes. He sees God as continuously emptying himself in love, allowing the universe to evolve freely, being present in grace, while allowing for mutations and dark alleys he mentions elsewhere."--Dean Nelson, The Christian Century

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