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Belief in God in an Age of Science

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  33 reviews
John Polkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his exploration of the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science: he is internationally known as a theoretical physicist and as a theologian. In this thought-provoking book, Polkinghorne focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, contending that the inquiries of these "intellectual cousins" are p ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published February 8th 2003 by Yale University Press (first published December 1st 1998)
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Hywel Owen
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
A disappointing read, as I am told by my non-scientist, religious friends that this is a great essay. Don't get me wrong though: Polkinghorne knows his material inside out - both the high energy physics and the theology - and as an introduction to the issues at the heart of the relationship between science and religion (and in particular, Christianity) it is very good.

However, Polkinghorne offers no compelling resolution of the real difficulties between faith and reason in the late 20th (and now
...more
David
Oct 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
"The poverty of an objectivist account is made only too clear when we consider the mystery of music. From a scientific point of view, it is nothing but vibrations in the air, impinging on the eardrums and stimulating neural currents in the brain. How does it come about that this banal sequence of temporal activity has the power to speak to our hearts of an eternal beauty?

The whole range of subjective experience, from perceiving a patch of pink, to being enthralled by a performance of the Mass i
...more
Wahid
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion-science
Dr. John Polkinghorne is a trained particle physicist who has worked within the field for 25 years, having initially obtained his PhD under the guidance of the illustrious Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam. He is now an ordained Anglican priest who has spent the majority of the last 15 years exploring themes within the debate surrounding science and religion. He is a major voice in the UK, the author of a number of books and has some very useful things to say about the current state of religion an ...more
Ben De Bono
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Belief in God in an Age of Science is an important and challenging read. John Polkinghorne, a theoretical physicist, attempts to bridge the gap between theology and science by the showing the relationship between the two disciplines and how students of both can learn from each other.

The book is far from an easy read, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit there were a few places that were well over my head. I'm a pastor and theologian-in-training so dense discussions of quantum physics are a bit ou
...more
Zach
Awful book. Had to read part of it for a class, but stopped. Illogical, mesmerizingly wrong, head-scratchingly out of touch, and did I say illogical?
Dan Claffey
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this as much as I did the last Polkinghorne book I read (Quarks, Chaos, Christianity). There was a lot of material that was redundant and I preferred the presentation in the previous book. I don't know if it was because I was reading it fresh or if the writing style was less dense and more eloquent or if I simply wasn't in the right frame of mind for this one.
It's a fairly through review of Science and Theology and how they converge together (especially regarding physics and math)
...more
Sara
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I was especially impressed with the mathematical postscript.
The whole book is written in the style of a scientific paper, there are lots of references and citations. As a book supposedly written for people not versed in philosophy, physics or science in general, it still requires of the reader to know a considerable amount about those subjects. That the reason why my rating is 3/5 stars.
Lambda Moses
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I really found interesting and thought provoking is Polkinghorne's comparison of the processes of science and religion (especially theology), although I'm not impressed by his discussion of divine action.
Amanda Patchin
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Parts were really, really good. I particularly enjoyed the analogy of theological development with revision of scientific understanding.

Parts were hard to understand (I blame myself), and parts referred so much to his other writing that I think I needed to read this after Faith of a Physicist.
Joan Lieberman
Winner of Templeton Prize for religious thought.
Ming Shiu
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I read the book Belief In God In An Age Of Science by John Polkinghorne. This book discusses about the contrasts and differences about how the Christian God is related to science. It is a confusing book, as one must have knowledge about physics and science, but it mainly addresses the issue if God acts physically in our world. In some parts of the book, he compares the fact the both and science and religion are searching for an answer to find truth. It is very challenging, and I had to re-read s ...more
Ming Shiu
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it

I read the book Belief In God In An Age Of Science by John Polkinghorne. This book discusses about the contrasts and differences about how the Christian God is related to science. It is a confusing book, as one must have knowledge about physics and science, but it mainly addresses the issue if God acts physically in our world. In some parts of the book, he compares the fact the both and science and religion are searching for an answer to find truth. It is very challenging, and I had to re-read s
...more
Eppursimuov3
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is meant to be an introduction to the dialogue between science and religion. The author, Sir John Polkinghorne, is a distinguished quantum physicist and Professor at Oxford University. He is also an ordained priest of the Church of England. His experiences as both a scientist and a theologian place him in a privileged position to speak on both subjects. He is thus at the forefront of ongoing dialogue between these fields, and is well respected by people on both sides. His books, like this o ...more
Alexander Poulsen
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
John Polkinghorne is both a theoretical partical physicist and an ordained member of the Anglican clergy, so he brings considerable expertise to the table as he discusses issues of science and religion. The book is a bit of a smattering of the author's previous writings, and is based off a series of lectures he gave at Yale. Polkinghorne gets into some very interesting discussions about science and religion and how we seek truth in both of these realms. He also discusses chaos theory and how thi ...more
Kevin Gunn
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A physicist, theologian, and priest, Polkinghorne makes the argument that theology nor science alone can give a comprehensive answer to the realities around us, but rather the two interacting with one another in dialogue is necessary to understand the world we live in. Science offers us the means to understand the physical world while theology gives us insight into God the Creator of the physical world. He continues to make the argument that though some things in our universe can be explained us ...more
Suzanne
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Polkinghorne is a quantum physicist who knows his science. He is also a minister who knows theology. Neither side conflict in his view. I love this. I loved how he got right inside Quantum Theory in this book with no intimidation on the level of his readers. I also loved how he has taken nature and physics as a manifestation of God's will, rather than an argument against it. His belief is that science enhances our belief in God and the more we know of science, the more we know of God. I love thi ...more
Stephen
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
The book is written in a difficult style, encompassing a fair breadth of knowledge within a relatively short exposition. To appreciate it fully, it would be helpful to know something of advanced physics and possibly some advanced mathematics, as well as some philosophy and theology. It would, additionally, be helpful to have already read some works by Polkinghorne and other science/theology works. I marked it at three stars partly for its difficulty. I would like to read it again in a month or t ...more
Lee
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
John Polkinghorne tends to repeat ideas in his (many) books, but this is probably one of the better introductions to his overall thought. This volume, based on lectures delivered at Yale University in the mid-90s, is too brief to fully lay out Polkinghorne's arguments or reply to every objection; but it presents the essentials of his case for a "modest" natural theology, God's action in the physical world and a "critical realist" approach to scientific and theological knowledge in clear, accessi ...more
David A-S
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Polkinghorne was the president of Queens' College at Cambridge University. Later in his career he also followed a calling into the Anglican Church. This quantum physicist tries to look at faith with a similar approach that he uses in science. His term is critical realism. In some ways it grants God power (more than in process theology) but it also recognizes much freedom in God's creation. He carefully touches on ontological, epistemological and other issues. In the end, he has deep praise for a ...more
Maughn Gregory
I heard Polkinghorne interviewed and was impressed by his reasonableness, if not by his theism. Likewise with this book, I didn't care much for (or even about) his arguments for the reasonableness of theism, except as they helped me to understand his "critical realist" epistemological stance on both science and religion. If you're wondering what a critical realist scientist believes about the status of scientific knowledge and method, chapter 5 here is a great summary.
Michael
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of essays on science and Christian faith by John Polkinghorne, F.R.S., a renowned theoretical physicist who subsequently became an Anglican priest. (Polkinghorne won the Templeton Prize in religion and science a few years ago.) I am still pondering some of his reflections, especially his ideas about freedom (in nature) and Calvinist ideas on human freedom and God's providence and sovereignty in all things.

James Marroquin
Jun 02, 2010 rated it liked it
The comparison of how theology and the natural sciences adapt explanatory models to accomodate new phenomema was insightful. He uses the examples of the particle/wave duality of light in physics and God/man duality of Christ, showing how making sense of observable phenomena in each area required arriving at paradoxical understandings of reality.
David Monroe
Jun 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
John Polkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his exploration of the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science: he is internationally known as a theoretical physicist and as a theologian. In this thought-provoking book, Polkinghorne focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, contending that the inquiries of these "intellectual cousins" are parallel.
Angela
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Angela by: bibliography of Monkey Trials & Gorilla Sermons
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
Hit and miss. I was surprised to find his comments on philosophy of science (usually mentioned as a lead-up to a comment on religion) more interesting and thought-provoking than what he actually had to say about belief and religion.
Trey Meadows
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it
enjoyed the style and discussion of the author's view of math and science and their place in a religious world view. there is depth to the thoughts discussed here without overwhelming the reader thus making it a great primer for future reading.
Steve
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Really very very mixed. A good first lecture, but then after that it goes down hill. Genesis is myth, and the future is open to God. He does not know the future as an action of self-limitation etc.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I watched Polkinghorne on science channel discussing Einstein's belief of God and how this inter-relates into his physics.
Vance J.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good examination. Especially useful is the citation of references - a lot more to read here.
Larry Taylor
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
essential for understanding science and faith
Chad
Mar 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: sciencereligion
Quick reading, brings up some good points.
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John Charlton Polkinghorne is an English theoretical physicist, theologian, writer and Anglican priest. A prominent and leading voice explaining the relationship between science and religion, he was professor of Mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest in 1982. He served as th ...more

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