Thu, 24 August 2006
In his first book, The Way the World Is; The Christian Perspective of a Scientist, physicist John Polkinghorne makes the following observation: "If it is true, as I think it is, that intelligibility is the ground on which fundamental science ultimately makes its claim to be dealing with the way the world is, then it gives science a strong comradeship with theology, which is engaged in the similar, if more difficult, search for an understanding of God's ways with men." The Way the World Is was published in 1983, not long after John Polkinghorne was ordained as an Anglican priest.
Polkinghorne's first career was in science; he completed doctoral studies in theoretical physics at Cambridge in 1955. He went on to become a professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge and was involved in research that led to the discovery of subatomic particles, most notably the quark. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, resigned from his position at Cambridge in 1979 to pursue theological study and eventually ordination. He served as a curate in a working-class parish at Bristol in Kent for several years, during which time he also wrote the first of many books that bring together his twin engagements with theology and with science.
In his 2004 Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality (Yale University Press), Polkinghorne was still reflecting on the significance of the intelligibility of the Universe. In a chapter that sketches an outline for a theology of nature, Polkinghorne writes: "Our scientific ability to explore the rational beauty of the universe is seen to be part of the Fathers gift of the imago Dei to humankind, and the beautiful rational order of the universe is the imprint of the divine Logos, 'without whom was not anything made that was made.' Whether acknowledged or not, it is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who is at work in the truth-seeking community of scientists. That community's repeated experiences of wonder at the disclosed order of the universe are, in fact, tacit acts of the worship of its Creator."
I had the great good pleasure of talking with Sir John Polkinghorne about this book's principal arguments, a conversation which has just been released by MARS HILL AUDIO in a downloadable MP3 edition. "Science and Faith from the Bottom Up" is one of twenty or so MARS HILL AUDIO Conversations that will appear in download form in the next few months, along with our other series of Anthologies, Reports, and Audiobooks. Listeners to Audition will be informed as these are made available, or you may browse our online catalog for materials in a variety of audio formats.
Category:MHA MP3 -- posted at: 10:36pm EDT