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“If we are seeking to serve the God of truth then we should really welcome truth from whatever source it comes. We shouldn’t fear the truth. Some of it will be from science, obviously, but by no means all of it. It will sometimes by perplexing, how this bit of truth relates to that bit of truth; we know that within science itself often enough and we find it outside of science as well. The crucial thing is to be honest.”
John 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.”
John Polkinghorne
“Epistemology models ontology.”
John Polkinghorne
“the strangely elusive and counterintuitive character of the quantum world has encouraged some to suggest that the idea of entities like electrons which can be in unpicturable states such as superpositions of being ‘here’ and being ‘there’ is no more than a convenient manner of speaking which facilitates calculations, and that electrons themselves are not to be taken with ontological seriousness. The counterattack of the scientific realist appeals to intelligibility as the key to reality. It is precisely because the assumption of the existence of electrons allows us to understand a vast range of directly accessible phenomena—such as the periodic table in chemistry, the phenomenon of superconductivity at low temperatures and the behaviour of devices such as the laser—that we take their existence seriously.”
John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
“scientific discovery requires the boldness of provisional commitment to a point of view, while remaining aware that this may require subsequent modification in the light of further experience.”
John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
“Claims for the
occurrence of miraculous events will have to be evaluated on
a case-by-case basis. There can be no general theory to cover
the character of unique events, but the refusal to contemplate
the possibility of revelatory disclosures of an unprecedented
kind would be an unacceptable limitation, imposed arbitrarily
on the horizons of religious thought.”
John Polkinghorne
“In
the scientific community, the adjective ‘theological’ is some-
times used pejoratively to refer to a vague or ill-formulated
belief. I believe this usage to be very far from the truth. It sad-
dens me that some of my colleagues remain unaware of the
truth-seeking intent and rational scrupulosity that character-
ise theological discourse at its best.”
John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship
“As a consequence, scientists who are carefully reflective
about their activity do not instinctively ask the question ‘Is it
reasonable?’ as if they were confident beforehand what shape
rationality had to take. We have noted how ‘unreasonable’, in
classical Newtonian terms, the nature of light turned out to
be. Instead, for the scientist the proper phrasing of the truth-
seeking question takes the form, ‘What makes you think that
might be the case?”
John Polkinghorne
“The widespread success of science is too significant
an issue to be treated as if it were a happy accident that we are
free to enjoy without enquiring more deeply into why this is
the case. Critical realist achievements of this kind cannot be a
matter of logical generality, something that one would expect
to be attainable in all possible worlds. Rather, they are an ex-
perientially confirmed aspect of the particularity of the world
in which we live and of the kind of beings that we are. Achiev-
ing scientific success is a specific ability possessed by human-
kind, exercised in the kind of universe that we inhabit. I believe
that a full understanding of this remarkable human capacity
for scientific discovery ultimately requires the insight that our
power in this respect is the gift of the universe’s Creator who,
in that ancient and powerful phrase, has made humanity in the
image of God (Genesis 1:26–27).”
John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship
“The doctrine of creation of the kind that the Abrahamic faiths profess is such that it encourages the expectation that there will be a deep order in the world, expressive of the Mind and Purpose of that world’s Creator. It also asserts that the character of this order has been freely chosen by God, since it was not determined beforehand by some kind of pre-existing blueprint (as, for example, Platonic thinking had supposed to be the case). As a consequence, the nature of cosmic order cannot be discovered just by taking thought, as if humans could themselves explore a noetic realm of rational constraint to whichthe Creator had had to submit, but the pattern of the world has to be discerned through the observations and experiments that are necessary in order to determine what form the divine choice has actually taken. What is needed, therefore, for successful science is the union of the mathematical expression of order with the empirical investigation of the actual properties of nature, a methodological synthesis of a kind that was pioneered with great skill and fruitfulness by Galileo.”
John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship


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