Theology in the Context of Science by John Polkinghorne

By John Polkinghorne

Simply as gendered, cultural, and geographical views have illuminated and complex theological inspiration, the contributions of twentieth-century technological know-how have a lot to supply theology. In his most recent ebook, physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne, popular as one of many world’s superior thinkers on technological know-how and faith, bargains a lucid argument for constructing the intersection of the 2 fields as one other kind of contextual theology. Countering fresh assertions by means of “new atheists” that spiritual trust is irrational or even harmful, Polkinghorne explores ways in which theology might be open to and expert by way of technological know-how. He describes contemporary clinical discourse on such topics as epistemology, objectivity, uncertainty, and rationality and considers the non secular value of the evolution in those parts of clinical notion. Then, comparing such issues as relativity, area and time, and evolutionary idea, he makes use of a systematic form of inquiry as a beginning on which to construct a version of Christian trust constitution. technology and theology percentage within the nice human quest for fact and realizing, says Polkinghorne, and he illustrates how their interplay might be fruitful for either.

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M. Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958. 35 DISCOURSE book in order to explain how, as a scientist, he could commit himself to what he believed to be true, while knowing that it might be false. I believe this to be the status of all human knowledge. We are able to attain best explanations of our experience, which we should treat with the utmost seriousness, but to claim to have achieved absolute proof and indubitable certainty is to go beyond finite human capacity. Absolutely coercive argument is not at our disposal.

Polkinghorne, Reason and Reality, SPCK/Trinity Press International, 1991, chs 1–2; Belief in God in an Age of Science, Yale University Press, 1998, chs 3 and 5; Quantum Physics and Theology, SPCK/Yale University Press, 2007. 26 DISCOURSE assertions of apophatic theology—that there is an element of irreducible mystery involved in encounter with the infinite reality of God, beyond any finite human ability to articulate—should also be accorded appropriate respect. In every realm of human enquiry, well-winnowed experience should be taken with the utmost seriousness, even when its nature seems to run contrary to prior ‘reasonable’ expectation.

5. For an example, see D. F. Ford and R. Muers (eds), The Modern Theologians (3rd edition), Blackwell, 2005. 7 CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY stream of theological enquiry. There has been a tendency to think of theology’s relationship with science simply in terms of wrestling with specific issues and problems, such as creation or divine action, rather than in the general terms that would recognise the scientific context as affording also an opportunity to make use of an intellectual style of thinking of a more widely insightful kind.

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