Saturday, December 09, 2023 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

John Polkinghorne

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Let me end this chapter by suggesting that religion has done something for science. The latter came to full flower in its modern form in seventeenth-century Europe. Have you ever wondered why that's so? After all the ancient Greeks were pretty clever and the Chinese achieved a sophisticated culture well before we Europeans did, yet they did not hit on science as we now understand it. Quite a lot of people have thought that the missing ingredient was provided by the Christian religion. Of course, it's impossible to prove that so - we can't rerun history without Christianity and see what happens - but there's a respectable case worth considering. It runs like this.
The way Christians think about creation (and the same is true for Jews and Muslims) has four significant consequences. The first is that we expect the world to be orderly because its Creator is rational and consistent, yet God is also free to create a universe whichever way God chooses. Therefore, we can't figure it out just by thinking what the order of nature ought to be; we'll have to take a look and see. In other words, observation and experiment are indispensable. That's the bit the Greeks missed. They thought you could do it all just by cogitating. Third, because the world is God's creation, it's worthy of study. That, perhaps, was a point that the Chinese missed as they concentrated their attention on the world of humanity at the expense of the world of nature. Fourth, because the creation is not itself divine, we can prod it and investigate it without impiety. Put all these features together, and you have the intellectual setting in which science can get going.
It's certainly a historical fact that most of the pioneers of modern science were religious men. They may have had their difficulties with the Church (like Galileo) or been of an orthodox cast of mind (like Newton), but religion was important for them. They used to like to say that God had written two books for our instruction, the book of scripture and the book of nature. I think we need to try to decipher both books if we're to understand what's really happening.
page 29-30.

John Polkinghorne

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There is something for which Newton — or better to say not Newton alone, but modern science in general — can still be made responsible: it is splitting of our world in two. I have been saying that modern science broke down the barriers that separated the heavens and the earth, and that it united and unified the universe. And that is true. But, as I have said, too, it did this by substituting for our world of quality and sense perception, the world in which we live, and love, and die, another world — the world of quantity, or reified geometry, a world in which, through there is place for everything, there is no place for man. Thus the world of science — the real world — became estranged and utterly divorced from the world of life, which science has been unable to explain — not even to explain away by calling it "subjective".
True, these worlds are everyday — and even more and more — connected by praxis. Yet for theory they are divided by an abyss.
Two worlds: this means two truths. Or no truth at all.
This is the tragedy of the modern mind which "solved the riddle of the universe," but only to replace it by another riddle: the riddle of itself.

Alexandre Koyre

There is arguably no more important and pressing topic than the relation of science and religion in the modern world. Science is clearly one of the most profound methods that humans have yet devised for discovering truth, while religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Truth and meaning, science and religion; but we still cannot figure out how to get the two of them together in a fashion that both find acceptable.

Ken Wilber

There are those whose views about religion are not very different from my own, but who nevertheless feel that we should try to damp down the conflict, that we should compromise it. … I respect their views and I understand their motives, and I don't condemn them, but I'm not having it. To me, the conflict between science and religion is more important than these issues of science education or even environmentalism. I think the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief; and anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization.

Steven Weinberg

Mind has come up with this brilliant way of looking at the world, science, but it can’t look at itself. Science has no place for the mind. The whole of our science is based upon empirical, repeatable experiments. Whereas thought is not in that category, you can’t take thought into a laboratory. The essential fact of our existence, perhaps the only fact of our existence – our own thought and perception is ruled off-side by the science it has invented. Science looks at the universe, doesn’t see itself there, doesn’t see mind there, so you have a world in which mind has no place. We are still no nearer to coming to terms with the actual dynamics of what consciousness is.

Alan Moore

History of science played a very important role for me. Before I knew well how to do an experiment, I knew why Joliot has missed the neutron, why his wife missed the fission, why they succeeded in having artificial radioactivity, and even why they almost missed the other things, by doing very nice experiments, but didn't come to the conclusion. That is science. Science is doubt, is research. It is not something which is – and that is the danger of teaching – which is too academic and which the people explain you it is like the logic thing that comes out of the computer, which is not true. You have intuition, you have passion.

Georges Charpak
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