Science and the Trinity


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The Christian Encounter with Reality

John Polkinghorne

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One of our great theologians, also a physicist, here sets a new agenda for religion’s dialogue with science

Most often, the dialogue between religion and science is initiated by the discoveries of modern science—big bang cosmology, evolution, or quantum theory, for example. In this book, scientist-theologian John Polkinghorne changes the discussion. He approaches the dialogue from a little-explored perspective in which theology shapes the argument and sets the agenda of questions to be considered.

The author begins with a review of approaches to science and religion in which the classification focuses on theological content rather than on methodological technique. He then proceeds with chapters discussing the role of Scripture, a theology of nature, the doctrine of God, sacramental theology, and eschatology. Throughout, Polkinghorne takes the perspective of Trinitarian thinking while arguing in a style that reflects the influence of his career as a theoretical physicist. In the final chapter, the author defends the appropriateness of addressing issues of science and religion from the specific standpoint of his Christian belief. His book provides an important model for theologians and scientists alike, showing how their two fields can inform one another in significant ways.

John Polkinghorne, F.R.S., K.B.E., is past president and now fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge, as well as canon theologian of Liverpool. A quantum physicist who became an Anglican priest, he is one of only two clergypersons who are Fellows of the Royal Society. Among his many honors is the 2002 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.

"Polkinghorne writes convincingly, fairly, and with nuance, choosing relevant and sometimes wonderfully surprising examples from nature or the Bible. He provides dozens of almost completely new ways of seeing connections among various phenomena."—Guy Fitch Lytle III, The School of Theology, The University of the South, Sewanee

"Vintage Polkinghorne: clear, informed, interdisciplinarily sophisticated, compelling."—Miroslav Volf, Yale Divinity School

"This book makes a vital contribution to the dialogue between science and theology. Polkinghorne is unique in his desire to make the interaction a two-way relationship, where science informs theology and theology illuminates science."—Nathan J. Hallanger, The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union

"[Polkinghorne's] account of science and Christian theology succeeds unusually well in doing justice to both sides of the conversation."Catherine and Andy Crouch, Books & Culture


“This excellent model of interdisciplinary study is recommended for academic and large public libraries.”—Library Journal

“Polkinghorne writes masterfully. He can be accurate without becoming technical, simple without becoming simplistic, orthodox without posturing as a defender of the faith. . . . This volume provides a valuable introduction to Polkinghorne’s interests and the theology-science dialogue in general, with references to other works where readers can research topics in more detail.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Science and the Trinity is a part of an ongoing journey, weaving a lucid and thoughtful account of the relationships between modern science and Christian theology, wherein Polkinghorne is one of our leading voices."—Owen Gingerich, Science & Theology News

"A simulating read with many challenging insights. We wholeheartedly commend it to a broad audience."—Kelly M. Kapic and Donald N. Petcher,  Christian Scholar's Review

"A fine defense of particularity in both science and theology from the pen of a very insightful "bottom-up" thinker and fine Christian scholar."—Dennis W. Cheek, PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

"Another important book by Polkinghorne. . . . The strength of the book is its explanation of the relevance of Trinitarianism for each issue and the relevance of each issue to the advancement of the religion-science dialogue."—Barry L. Whitney, Religious Studies Review

Selected by as a Best Book of 2004 in the Religion category by Publishers Weekly
ISBN: 9780300104455
Publication Date: August 11, 2004
208 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

Sales Restrictions: Not for sale in the European Union and Commonwealth except Canada
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