MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 21

Science and Theology from the Bottom Up: Sir John Polkinghorne on Enriching the Dialogue

In 1979, a much-respected physicist named John Polkinghorne resigned from his position at Cambridge. Just five years earlier he had been honored for his remarkable achievements in mathematical physics (he had been part of the team that discovered the quark) by being appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society. Polkinghorne was departing the environs of this profound and mysterious reflection on the nature of reality for a vocation no less intellectually and personally challenging: the study of theology and service as an Anglican priest. 

One of the benefits to the public of Polkinghorne’s twin interests in science and theology has been the remarkable series of books he has written since 1983, beginning with The Way the World Is, continuing with the publication of his 1993 Gifford Lectures (published as The Faith of a Physicist: Reflections of a Bottom-Up Thinker) and most recently Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality (Yale). Sir John Polkinghorne talks about the main themes of this book in this Conversation54 minutes.

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    Sir John Polkinghorne: “. . . the dialogue between science and religion is getting more theological in its character . . .”
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    “ . . . I don’t think that our sense of wonder or our sense of beauty or our sense of moral obligation simply reduce to various proteins circling around in our brains . . .”
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    “ . . . we have to balance bookishness with a worshiping engagement, to move from experience to understanding . . .”
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    “ . . . we can see that perfection itself is a dynamical possibility; divine perfection doesn’t mean that God does not engage with time . . .”
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    “ . . . the resurrection of Jesus is the seminal event, the seed from which God’s new creation [grows], God’s redemption of the old creation . . .”
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    “ . . . in physics we’ve come to realize the physical world is not mere mechanism, it is something more subtle and, I believe, more supple than that . . .”
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    Closing