chapter  12
20 Pages

On Revising Natural Theology: John Polkinghorne and the False Modesty of Liberal Theology

John Polkinghorne is rightly acknowledged as a ‘living icon’ of the renewal of the dialogue between science and religion.1 Throughout his prolific career as a scientist-theologian he has been at the forefront of much creative work that has challenged the (sadly still widespread) assumption of a basic conflict between Christian faith and the scientific worldview. Polkinghorne, however, goes further than simply affirming the mutual compatibility of religious belief and a commitment to scientific truth. For him, ‘belief in God in an age of science’ is not just presented as a valid option amongst others but he equally defends Christian theology as ‘a true Theory of Everything’ that is ‘much grander and more comprehensive and intellectually satisfying than any Grand Unified Theory of particle physics could ever be’.2 This essay will consider Polkinghorne’s theological project in the context of the tradition of theological liberalism and its central rhetorical posture of modesty.