Saturday, June 13, 2009

Suspending our "common sense"

Following up on my previous post about the strangeness of the physical universe confronting our "common sense" about miracles, I thought I should quote someone much more distinguished (and more eloquent) than me. The Revd. Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS has written extensively about the relationship between physics and theology.
In his book, Reason and Reality he concludes a chapter on the complexities and conundrums of quantum theory, particularly the quantum measurement problem:
``[Scientists] have learnt that the world is strange beyond our prior expectation, but also rationally satisfying in its idiosyncracy. The doctrines of a tripersonal God and of him making himself known in personal terms, have about them those elements of surprise and intellectual profundity which are characteristic of the best scientific theory. Our investigation of the physical world has stretched our minds and enlarged our notions of the conceivable. It would be surprising indeed if our encounter with God did not do the same.
I am not saying anything as ridiculous as asserting that after quantum theory anything goes I simply say that our experience of the quantum world prepares us for accounts of reality which will submit to no undue tyranny of common sense but which will seek, however difficult the task, to respect the nature of that with which we have to deal.’’
John Polkinghorne, Reason and Reality: The relationship between science and theology (SPCK, London, 1991), p. 98

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