Friday, April 17, 2009

interview with John Polkinghorne

Religion News Service has posted a brief Q&A with Rev. John Polkinghorne that's worth checking out: 10 Minutes with ... the Rev. John Polkinghorne. The interview sounds like it's supposed to be tied to a new book of his, but the questions are actually pretty general, and, some of them, really interesting.

Polkinghorne made his mark as a physicist but has spent his later years as a priest and theologian in the Church of England.
I had to read some of his book Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion for a course at LSU, and I really appreciate the man's work. There's quite a bit about quantum physics--none of which I claim to understand--early on in that particular book, but once you're past that, this book is full of insight.

For the longest time I couldn't recall where I'd read a particular idea related to evolution, and it turns out it was in Polkinghorne. This is actually just his recounting what earlier theologians, contemporaries of Darwin himself, had suggested, but it's no less provocative for being second-hand.

A world in which species were stable, totally immune from change, might well have been capable of being thought of theologically as a creation that had sprung into being ready-made, its origin simply the result of the direct action of the God who was that world's Designer. On the other hand, a world of radical temporality, in which change is the engine driving the emergence of novelty, is one to which its Creator's relationship has to be understood in somewhat different terms. In words used by both Charles Kingsley and Frederick Temple in the aftermath of the publication of the Origin [of Species], an evolving world may appropriately be thought of theologically as a creation in which creatures are 'allowed to make themselves'. In other words, from a theological perspective, evolution is simply the way in which creatures are allowed to explore and bring to birth the fruitfulness with which the Creator has endowed creation.

Just something to chew on.

Go check out the interview!

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