I’m going to claim bias in 2 ways. One is that I know John Polkinghorne and he truly is a humble and extremely intelligent person. In this book he does not beat his opponents with a stick, preferring to show them the errors in their thinking and allow them, through love to come to a better understanding. The second is that I am reading this from a Christian perspective. I’ve said before that I dislike the distinctly pompous and condescending manner in which the current militant atheists deliver their arguments (argue is what they do best). They show zero humility in such argument and rarely advance anything other than thoughtless derision for those who have faith.
Therefore, a book seeking to carefully knot creation with current cosmological thinking is a potential minefield to traverse.
In this book John Polkinghorne manages to balance the theological arguments and the scientific knowledge with care. He has the knowledge to be able to do this given his background in theoretical physics. He gives us a truly coherent view to combine both the divine and and the natural. I’m not sure how it would read to someone who has no grounding in basic quantum theory as some of the terminology is quite esoteric.
I don’t think this book would please the rather muddle minded young-earth creationists either. The book marries cosmological time and space with a creator and by necessity this throws a literal interpretation of Genesis into a degree of disarray. This too is dealt with deftly and with care but
He does however raise one very interesting question, but does not discuss it further. It is that there is no good reason as to “why” we are here. To me, this opens a whole other category of deeper philosophical debate. A brief exploration led me to the rather disturbing conclusion that we might be a vanity project for a capricious God “let us make man in our image”. Alongside this, we are left pondering the possibility of whether John Polkinghorne’s cosmos includes extra-terrestrial life or whether he considers that we are alone in the vastness of the cosmos.
The book does deliver some startling swipes and this quote is one of the very best:
“The testimony of the tone deaf would not be allowed to negate the reality of music, and so it seems reasonable that those who claim never to have had a sense of the divine should not be given equal weight with those who have”
I think I’ll leave it at that