Saturday after Epiphany 2
January 23, 2010
The Lord be with you
“All truth is God’s truth” is a sentiment Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne must certainly agree with. For the first twenty-five years of his adult life he made his living as a theoretical physicist working on theories of elementary particles and he played a significant role in the discovery of the quark. He then left that field of study and turned his focus to theology, becoming a priest in the Church of England. He excelled there also, eventually becoming president of Queens’ College, Cambridge. He has written numerous books and articles, received numerous awards, and been involved in numerous organizations, especially those that deal with the relationship between religion and science.
I have recently finished his book Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship. His goal in this book is to encourage scientists who have discounted theology to take a second look at what theology has to say, and to encourage theologians who have discounted science to take a second look at what science has to say. As I do not fall into either of these categories, it is hard for me to say if the book accomplishes its goal (I am a theologian that feels science is a great blessing as it seeks to understand the created universe our God has placed us in.) You might say, for me, Polkinghorne was “preaching to the choir.”
I did, however, find the book fascinating. Polkinghorne was able to explain his scientific points in a way that a person unfamiliar with the intricacies of the mathematics of quantum physics could understand. The parallels between the truth seeking efforts of science and theology were well thought out. The possible theological implications of quantum physics could have been fleshed out more, but perhaps the scientists reading the book would not be quite ready for that. Then again a quantum physicist might feel the say same way about his field and theologians.
One thing that scientists often search for is some unified theory that explains everything, something like the underpinnings of all reality. Polkinghorne ends his book with the statement, “I believe that ultimately the cousinly relationships that we have investigated in this book find their most profound understanding in terms of that true Theory of Everything which is Trinitarian theology.” Though I do not agree with all his conclusions, to that one I give a big “Amen!”
This is a short book (just over 100 pages), and well written. However I do think that most people would need some college to really follow what he is saying. This is not Polkinghorne’s fault. It is the fault of the subject matter. For those of you who are members of Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS), you can expect an insight or two that I’ve gleaned from this book to surface in my sermons from time to time.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert