Ah, what can be better than a good night’s sleep, a hot shower, a cup of coffee, and finding a book review by AC Grayling on a cool spring morning? In this case, it’s not so much a review as a cheerful dismemberment and deposition of the fragmented corpse into an acid bath. John Polkinghorne has written another of those books of religious apologetics that tries to claim the privilege of scientific thought while not engaging any.
John Polkinghorne’s former student Nicholas Beale runs a website on behalf of his mentor, on which questions about religion, and the relation of religion to science, can be posted. This apparently self-published book is a compilation of 51 of these website questions with Beale’s and sometimes Polkinghorne’s answers. The questions range over creation, the existence of evil, evolution, intelligent design and most of the other familiar old debating points, plus “How does the death of Jesus save the world?”, “Why believe Jesus rose from the dead?” and “How much do you need to believe to be a Christian?”
Since these latter questions premise membership of the asylum already, I shall focus just on the various questions that touch on the relation of science and religion, because the interest attaching to Polkinghorne is that he is a physicist who became a Church of England vicar, which makes people think that he has a special line into the science-religion question. Were he a vicar who gave up the Church of England to become a physicist he would not be regarded as anything more special than sensible; but this is how the world wags.
See? Bracing! Read the whole thing to wake yourself up fully and be prepared to meet the day with a happy contempt for foolishness.