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Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion
Synopses & Reviews
Reality is multi-layered, asserts the Reverend John Polkinghorne, and in this insightful book he explores various dimensions of the human encounter with reality. Through a well-reasoned and logical process, Polkinghorne argues that reality consists not only of the scientific processes of the natural world but also the personal dimension of human nature and its significance. He offers an integrated view of reality, encompassing a range of insights deriving from physicsand#8217; account of causal structure, evolutionary understanding of human nature, the unique significance of Jesus of Nazareth, and the human encounter with God.
The author devotes further chapters to specific problems and questions raised by the Christian account of divine reality. He discusses, for example, the nature of time and Godand#8217;s relation to it, the interrelationship of the worldand#8217;s faiths, the problem of evil, and practical ethical issues relating to genetic advances, including stem cell research. Continuing in his pursuit of a dialogue between science and theology that accords equal weight to the insights of each, Polkinghorne expands our understanding of the nature of reality and our appreciation of its complexity.
"According to the physicist-priest Polkinghorne, 'If the physicists seem to achieve their ends more successfully than the theologians, that is simply a reflection of how much easier science is than theology.' Without abandoning his general standpoint as both a scientist and a theologian, Polkinghorne's essays pursue a wider set of interests, acknowledging terrain where theology becomes difficult and uncertain work. Reflections on issues of space-time, quantum mechanics and chaos theory — familiar from Polkinghorne's previous books — are joined by essays on human nature, the problem of evil, the historical Jesus and the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. Polkinghorne's basic approach remains consistent: he is a friend of science, but a foe of scientific reductionism, arguing that 'nothing [science] can tell us requires us to deny our directly experienced human capacity' to act responsibly and seek meaning in the universe. Surveying human aptitudes for self-consciousness, language, rationality, creativity, moral awareness and the 'slantedness' of human life that theologians call sin, Polkinghorne concludes, 'how strange it is that many biologists... claim not to be able so see anything really distinctive about Homo sapiens.' Balancing intellectual modesty with openness about his own Christian faith, Polkinghorne's reflections will engage both thoughtful believers and inquirers into issues of faith and reason." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The latest communiquand#233; from John Polkinghorne as he continues his survey of the frontier between science and religion
About the Author
John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS, is fellow and retired president of Queensand#8217; College, Cambridge. Winner of the 2002 Templeton Prize, he is both a quantum physicist and an Anglican priest.
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