Overall, I found this discussion to be highly unscientific, using a lot of fancy verbal acrobatics to justify a lot of unsubstantiated beliefs. For example, Polkinghorne's analogy comparing the alleged dual nature of Jesus (i.e. being both human and divine) to wave-particle duality does not stand up to scrutiny. When physicists talk about wave-particle duality they are not stating that one thing is actually two different things simultaneously. As explained by astrophysicist Victor J. Stenger in his book The New Atheism, "the wave that is associated with particles is not a property of individual particles but the statistical property of an ensemble of many particles...there is no wave-particle duality." In other words, it's not that a particle is also a wave at the same time that it is a particle. It's that a whole bunch of particles sometimes assemble in wave-like patterns. This is not analogous to the duality that some Christians ascribe to Jesus, that he is simultaneously human and divine. Thus, this concept of duality cannot be offered as scientific support for the alleged dual-nature of Jesus.
Perhaps more to the point, when Polkinghorne stated that life after death has been "guaranteed within history by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" I would have liked Ms. Tippett to ask him exactly what historical evidence he was referring to. Outside of the writings of a few people who were admittedly attempting to create a new religion decades and centuries after the death of Jesus, there is no corroborating historical evidence for the Christian mythology.
I'd like to say something about Ms. Tippett's suggestion that the only leap of faith required to reconcile Genesis 1 with evolution is "to say God's days are longer than our days." This is a common argument used by people who want to preserve some claim of validity for the Genesis story. Polkinghorne was wise to sidestep it. The language of Genesis itself, which repeatedly refers to "the morning and the evening" as the definition of a day, seems to negate any claims that the length of a day might equate to anything other than a single rising and setting of the sun. Moreover, nowhere else in the text do the words day/morning/evening carry any other meaning than their usual 24-hour occurrences. So how can we justify making up exceptional definitions for their usage in this context?
I could go on and on pointing out the absurdities contained in this discussion. For example Polkinghorne's vision of a god who can't do things against god's nature. How circular! But what does it mean? What evidence can Polkinghorne cite to substantiate the nature of god? Isn't it intriguing that the nature of god, as described by Polkinghorne, is remarkably human-like? Polkinghorne's god is subject to rationalism, mathematics, and evolution. Let's be honest, this is not the vision of god that most Christians put forth.
Finally, Polkinghorne's answer to theodicy is no answer at all. He says:
"if God is going to bring into being a world in which creatures are allowed to make themselves, and God does that, because that is a greater good than a ready-made world or a magic world in which fire never burns anyone when they put their hands into it, and so on, when deeds, in fact, never have consequences, if that's a better world, then even God, you see, can't create that world without it having its shadow side."
First of all, how does Polkinghorne know that a world with pain is "a greater good" than a world without pain? He just makes this grand assumption, attributing it to god's discretion, without any evidence whatsoever. Moreover, Polkinghorne is saying that god cannot create a world free from pain and suffering and have it still be as interesting as the world we know. This is not only absurd, it's monumentally arrogant. When a hurricane, tsunami, or earthquake lays waste to a city and thousands of people are killed and thousands more made homeless, Polkinghorne would console them with the knowledge that their suffering is the price we pay for the gift of free-will and for living in an interesting world. Nice.
My advice to Dr. Polkinghorne is to stop talking in circles, stop making fancy-worded excuses for unproven theological doctrines, and just follow the evidence.
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