Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, a knight, physicist and Anglican priest, spoke on campus this week regarding the collaborative relationship that should exist between religion and science. President emeritus of Queen’s College at Cambridge University in England and author of 15 books on the connections between physics and faith, Polkinghorne’s treatment of theology as a natural science invigorated the search for interface between science and religion.
Speaking on the “gifts” that science and religion offer one another, Polkinghorne noted that many scientists have lost their sense of wonder about the fields they explore and the research they undertake. “I actually believe that science is possible because the world is a creation and we are creatures made in the image of a Creator.”
At the same time, he noted, Christians should embrace what science has to offer as it allows us to understand how the world works. In speaking of one often controversial topic, Polkinghorne explained that evolutionary potentiality echoes faith in that creatures “are allowed to be themselves and to make themselves… People who are seeking to speak modern truth should never fear truth regardless of where it comes from. I stand before you today as a man who has two eyes, the eye of science and the eye of religion. I can see more with both of those eyes together. They are truly friends, not foes.”
Dr. Polkinghorne resigned a prestigious position as Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge in 1979 to pursue theological studies, becoming a priest in 1982. His approach to the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy creation, using the habits of a rigorous scientific mind, have brought him international recognition as a unique voice for understanding the Bible as well as evolving doctrine.
His best-known books include The Faith of a Physicist, based on Polkinghorne’s Gifford Lectures which defend the rationality of the Nicene Creed phrase by phrase; Belief in God in an Age of Science, which defends critical realism as the proper philosophical attitude in both science and theology; and his recent work Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship. In 1997, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for distinguished service to science, religion, learning and medical ethics.