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Catherine and Andy Crouch

God the Economist

John Polkinghorne's Trinitarian reality.

Science proceeds by articles; theology proceeds by books. Einstein's entire output in the celebrated annus mirabilis of 1905 was five articles that total seventy-five pages in length, while Louis de Broglie provided one of the foundational insights of quantum mechanics in a four-page paper in 1923. The defining works of theology, on the other hand, are more easily measured in pounds than pages—Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Calvin's Institutes, Barth's Church Dogmatics.

Notwithstanding this difference—and it is just the first of many ways in which the two fields tend to attract and shape persons of rather different temperaments—science and theology both require years of training and immersion in their respective, highly specialized languages. Physics may only require a few pages to lay out a fundamental theory, while theology requires a few volumes, but mastering either one requires a decade or more of study.

Yet the questions that science and theology ask are of interest to far more individuals than can expect to grasp the answers in their full technical glory. Fortunately, between the forbidding technicality of Einstein's papers and the off-putting heft of the average work of systematic theology, there is a kind of sweet spot: the invited lecture series. Such lectures constitute a genre all their own, defined by their unwritten but universal 60-minute time limit, the boundless curiosity and limited specialization of a general university audience, and—at least if the lecturer is John Polkinghorne—the capacity of an elder statesman to sort out with uncommon clarity the core issues of his field. And the result of these lectures—again, at least if the scholar in question is Polkinghorne—is a book that scientists, theologians, and lay people in every sense of the word can engage and enjoy.

Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality expands on the scientist-theologian's 2003 Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary. ...

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