It is the faithfulness of God that allows epistemology to model ontology.

— John Polkinghorne

The most delicious John Polkinghorne quotes that are new and everybody is talking about

When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it.


Theologians have a great problem because they're seeking to speak about God.

Since God is the ground of everything that is, there's a sense in which every human inquiry is grist to the theological mill. Obviously, no theologian can know everything.


At present, too much theological thinking is very human-centered.


The rational transparency and beauty of the universe are surely too remarkable to be treated as just happy accidents.


God is not a God of the edges, with a vested interest in beginnings.

God is the God of the whole show.


Quantum theory also tells us that the world is not simply objective;

somehow it's something more subtle than that. In some sense it is veiled from us, but it has a structure that we can understand.


Science cannot tell theology how to construct a doctrine of creation, but you can't construct a doctrine of creation without taking account of the age of the universe and the evolutionary character of cosmic history.


The test of a theory is its ability to cope with all the relevant phenomena, not its a priori 'reasonableness'. The latter would have proved a poor guide in the development of science, which often makes progress by its encounter with the totally unexpected and initially extremely puzzling.


Chance doesn't mean meaningless randomness, but historical contingency.

This happens rather than that, and that's the way that novelty, new things, come about.


I also think we need to maintain distinctions - the doctrine of creation is different from a scientific cosmology, and we should resist the temptation, which sometimes scientists give in to, to try to assimilate the concepts of theology to the concepts of science.


After all, the universe required ten billion years of evolution before life was even possible; the evolution of the stars and the evolving of new chemical elements in the nuclear furnaces of the stars were indispensable prerequisites for the generation of life.


Yes, I was a parish priest for five years.

I was a curate in a large working class parish in Bristol and the Vicar of a village in Kent.


About John Polkinghorne

Quotes 37 sayings
Nationality British
Profession Physicist
Birthday October 16, 1930

If the experience of science teaches anything, it's that the world is very strange and surprising. The many revolutions in science have certainly shown that.


However, as the Eastern churches have always maintained, through Christ creation is intended eventually to share in the life of God, the life of divine nature.


I was very much on the mathematical side, where you probably do your best work before you're forty-five. Having passed that significant date, I thought I would do something else.


Whitehead reacted strongly against the idea of God as a cosmic tyrant, one who brings about everything.


Of course, Einstein was a very great scientist indeed, and I have enormous respect for him, and great admiration for the discoveries he made. But he was very committed to a view of the objectivity of the physical world.


I very much enjoyed my career in science.

I didn't leave science because I was disillusioned, but felt I'd done my bit for it after about twenty-five years.


Those theologians who are beginning to take the doctrine of creation very seriously should pay some attention to science's story.


I think it's very important to maintain the classical Christian distinction between the Creator and creation.


So Whitehead's metaphysics doesn't fit very well on to physics as we understand the process of the world.


Nevertheless, all of us who work in quantum physics believe in the reality of a quantum world, and the reality of quantum entities like protons and electrons.


Well, it's because I gladly acknowledge some ideas that are part of process theology, but which I think are not tied to all the details of process thought, and are very illuminating and helpful.


The physical fabric of the world had to be such as to enable that ten billion year preliminary evolution to produce the raw materials of life. Without it there would not have been the chemical materials to allow life to evolve here on earth.


I'm a very passionate believer in the unity of knowledge.

There is one world of reality - one world of our experience that we're seeking to describe.


Of course, nobody would deny the importance of human beings for theological thinking, but the time span of history that theologians think about is a few thousand years of human culture rather than the fifteen billion years of the history of the universe.


Evolution, of course, is not something that simply applies to life here on earth; it applies to the whole universe.


People, and especially theologians, should try to familiarize themselves with scientific ideas. Of course, science is technical in many respects, but there are some very good books that try to set out some of the conceptual structure of science.


The remarkable insights that science affords us into the intelligible workings of the world cry out for an explanation more profound than that which itself can provide. Religion, if it is to take seriously its claim that the world is the creation of god, must be humble enough to learn from science what that world is actually like. The dialogue between them can only be mutually enriching.


Science and religion...are friends, not foes, in the common quest for knowledge. Some people may find this surprising, for there's a feeling throughout our society that religious belief is outmoded, or downright impossible, in a scientific age. I don't agree. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if people in this so-called 'scientific age' knew a bit more about science than many of them actually do, they'd find it easier to share my views.


Theology differs from science in many respects, because of its different subject matter, a personal God who cannot be put to the test in the way that the impersonal physical world can be subjected to experimental enquiry. Yet science and theology have this in common, that each can be, and should be defended as being investigations of what is, the search for increasing verisimilitude in our understanding of reality.


I need the binocular approach of science and religion if I am to do any sort of justice to the deep and rich reality of the world in which we live.


Mathematics is the abstract key which turns the lock of the physical universe.


Bottom up thinkers try to start from experience and move from experience to understanding. They don't start with certain general principles they think beforehand are likely to be true; they just hope to find out what reality is like.


God didn't produce a ready-made world.

The Creator has done something cleverer than this, making a world able to make itself.


Hope is much more than a mood. It involves a commitment to action.... What we hope for should be what we are prepared to work far as that power lies in us.