Reviews, Comments & Errata

Comments

“People looking for an intelligent discussion of some of the difficult questions that come up when one is serious about faith and serious about science should look at Questions of Truth. Here, Polkinghorne and Beale have provided their responses to questions raised by just such people. For sampling a wide variety of topics, or digging down into a few, this little book is a refreshing contrast to the polemic and misinformation that have characterized much of the writing in this area.”

William D Phillips, Nobel Prizewinner in Physics

“Here in the 21st century, many thoughtful seekers are rejecting shrill and extreme positions of atheistic scientism or religious fundamentalism, and are instead searching for deeper answers to questions about God and the natural world. Standing on the rational bedrock of faith as the “evidence of things not seen”, Polkinghorne and Beale provide richly nuanced responses to the questions that many seekers are asking. This is simply a fantastic resource.”

Francis Collins, Leader of the Human Genome Project, and author of The Language of God

“A wonderfully accessible, informative and authoritative guide to the big questions in science and religion. An ideal starting point for those new to the field; a great stimulus to discussion for those who are already initiated.”

Alister McGrath

“an important contribution to the dialogue between science and religion.”

Martin A Nowak, Professor of Biology and of Mathematics, Harvard University

“who better to write on the questions about God, Science and Religion? …there could not be either a larger or a more topical set of issues… this matters to every man and every woman”

Prof Onora O’Neill PBA Hon FRS President of the British Academy, in her opening remarks at the UK Launch Discussion

An excellent addition to the science/religion debate. I think the question and answer format works really well, so that you can dip in at the points you are particularly interested in, and it’s complemented by three appendices, which give you more depth on the fine-tuning of the universe, the brain and evolution. It’s a remarkable book which I commend to you very strongly.

Prof Eric Priest FRS, in his opening remarks at the UK Launch Discussion

“a great new book … We hope more such dialogue will help us all understand the ways that both science and religion explore questions of truth.”

The Trinity Forum

“Beautifully written and thought-provoking”

Prof John Campbell, Harvard University


Reviews

“…topics…are of universal interest. Many readers will welcome this accessible format.”
Publishers Weekly

“a kind of antidote to Richard Dawkins … intriguing … a thought-provoking work”
Library Journal

“deals eloquently with many of the issues that keep coming up in the science-religion debate.”
Times Higher Education

“remarkably even-handed …appendices on the anthropic principle, the mind/body relationship and evolution contain lucid explanations … a valuable lesson for anyone wishing to wade into the science and religion debate.” Physics World.

“renowned physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne, who accepts evolution in full, has no problems reconciling his faith with his science….Despite the complexity of some of the scientific issues discussed, Questions of Truth is a commendably clear read.  The authors’ general strategy is not to deny what science says about the universe and humanity’s place in it, but to show that none of this contradicts their Christian beliefs…It is a pity that the people people most likely to buy this book are those simply seeking intellectual reassurance that their faith is not irrational.  Those who would most benefit from reading it are in fact fundamentalists who think that evolutionary science must be wrong, and overconfident atheists who believe that the religious are manifestly irrational.” Julian Baggini Financial Times 21 Feb 09.

(Baggini, although a smart man, misconstrues some of our arguments as “God of the Gaps”. See a discussion here. We also had a constructive discussion on Premier Christian Radio broadcast on 14-Mar-09 see podcast here)


“apparently self-published*… delusion…disgusting, though it is novel… scandal that the Royal Society is allowing its premises to be used… superstitious lucubrations of illiterate goatherds”. AC Grayling in New Humanist.

(Curiously he conceals from his readers that the book is endorsed by 2 Nobel Laureates and 2 other world-leading scientists, and that 2 FRSs were happy to join us and Onora on the panel for this “scandalous” event – which was also attended by 3 Vice-Presidents of the RS and c 40 other FRSs and FBAs. He totally fails to engage with any of the arguments in the book, which speaks volumes.)

* er, no. Westminster John Knox is a highly respected US publisher which goes back to the 1830s and has about 1,600 books in print. But why should Grayling care about facts?


Questions of Truth explores Polkinghorne’s thinking in a dif­ferent manner. His colleague and one-time student Nicholas Beale has set up an interactive website to which one can email questions relating to science and religion. The book draws on this expanding archive of issues: the death and resurrection of Jesus, embryo research, angels, Adam and Eve, the features that separate humanity from other animals, Providence. The field is rich, the answers are short and digestible, and the authors are at ease with themselves when having to admit that they are not sure of an answer. The final appendix raises an intriguing thought: the realisation that a principle of co-operation (equals love at the human level?) has a fundamental part to play in the process of evolution. What a wonder­ful counterbalance to the tendency to see it all as a matter of selfish survival!  Church Times


“The language evokes the shimmering beauty of a stained glass window…it is a book that will repay rereading and rereading” – quoting especially from the Appendix on Evolution. The Living Church May 3rd 2009.

Reader Comments

“I’ve really enjoyed getting into it and it has already helped me prepare for a university mission.”
Revd. Mark Powley – Associate Pastor St Paul’s Church · Queen Caroline St · London · W6

“A great book. I have been dipping into it as you recommend in the Introduction and much enjoyed it – and I hope and expect that it will be well used.” Bob White FRS, Professor of Geophysics, University of Cambridge

“”I am enormously impressed and have ordered 4 more copies to give to people” Peter Spufford FBA, Emeritus Professor of European History, University of Cambridge


Errata

On page 103 (Appendix A) a strange phrase got into the quote from Hawking which should be deleted, as per the strikethrough below: “A bottom-up approach to cosmology either requires one to postulate an initial state of the universe that is carefully fine-tuned – as if prescribed by an outside agency – or it requires one to invoke the notion of eternal inflation, a mighty speculative notion to the generation of many different universes, which prevents one from predicting what a typical observer would see”

Jump to top

“a refreshing contrast to the polemic and misinformation that have characterized much of the writing in this area” William Phillips

“Richly nuanced responses … simply a fantastic resource” Francis Collins

“Wonderfully accessible, informative and authoritative.” Alister McGrath

“an important contribution” Martin Nowak

“this matters to every man and every woman” Onora O’Neill

“of universal interest. Many readers will welcome this accessible format” Publishers Weekly

“antidote to Richard Dawkins … intriguing … a thought-provoking work” Library Journal

“deals eloquently with many of the issues…in the science-religion debate.” Times H. E.

“commendably clear…those who would most benefit from reading it are… atheists who believe that the religious are manifestly irrational” FT.

“remarkably even-handed …lucid explanations … a valuable lesson” Physics World

“rich…digestible..intriguing” Church Times

“evokes the shimmering beauty of a stained glass window … will repay rereading and rereading” Living Church.

One Erratum has been found in Appendix A – see here.

The new Polkinghorne Q&A website is now here.