" (Polkinghorne, p. 4)
As with Lewis before him in our discussion, Polkinghorne supplies a reason for the certainty of God's presence in scientific affairs most simply because he believes there is no other more likely or rational explanation for certain accomplishments. Like Lewis, Polkinghorne simply places beyond the grasp of human capacity a certain loosely defined category of things that must inherently be accounted for by the unseen power of a higher being called God. This premise is a surprising one to extend from a discussion extolling the beauty of scientific accomplishments in that it satisfies itself on the basis of highly unempirical arguments. The central premise of Polkinghorne's text mirrors both in the blindness of its faith and the flaws in its presentation the central premise of Lewis' assertion. Namely, both proceed from the idea that because there are remarkable things for which explanations appear to be so unreachable, we must conclude that a divine force is accountable. This presumption is highly circular and rests on the acceptance that such an explanation itself is even possible. While it is not the province of a figure such as Lewis to even attempt to disprove the notion of a divine force as the explanation for all things too remarkable to be easily explained in human terms, it is most certainly the province of one such as Polkinghorne, proposing here to assess the belief in God in a scientific context, to attempt otherwise to disprove such an entity first and foremost, before proceeding to acceptance of said entity.
That said, there remain threads of scientific integrity strung throughout the text by Polkinghorne. And within these threads, we find Polkinghorne's relative confidence in science does challenge certain ways of posturing in religion. Accordingly, Polkinghorne indicates that at least where science is concerned, the fact that things can be disproved or that facts can be amended does not disprove the role of the divine in the process. Polkinghorne remarks that "I do not think that this realization of the necessary precariousness involved in human theorizing, condemns us to a post-modernist belief in the personal or communal construction of a variety of views from which we are free to make our a la carte selection. There is a middle way between certainty and relativism, which corresponds to the critical adherence to rationally motivated belief, held with conviction but open to the possibility of correction." (Polkinghorne, p. 15)
In this conception, Pokinghorne makes the argument that the scientific process makes certain assumptions always in a state of evolution and that this mutability does not alter the basic formula by which divine inspiration is present in scientific innovation. However, this very premise also might point to the way that our ideas relating to God, religion, nature and ourselves are always changing. And if these are always changing, even without guessing, we must inevitably find ourselves drawing, questioning...
Lewis. To this summary notion for the acceptance of Christianity, Lewis is compelled to argue that any connection between Christianity and other traditions of faith through history owes to their relative proximity to 'rightness.' Indeed, Lewis proposes that the world divides into a 'right' way and a wrong way of understanding the world and that while even the 'queerest' of religions may have some element of rightness held in their canons, Christians inherently understand that their faith is the closest in proximity to rightness. As Lewis observes, "the first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not. ON this point, Christianity lines up with the majority -- lines up with ancient Greeks and Romans, modern savages, Stoics, Platonists, Hindus, Mohammedans, etc., against the modern Western European materialist." (Lewis, p. 39-40)
From here, Lewis goes further to propose divisions within the world according to the type of God which adherents have conceptualized, and according to how adherents believe that divine influence or free will influence the universe. In each division, Lewis regards Christianity as the standard by which all other perceptions are to be judged. By doing so, the author proposes assuredness in the rightness of Christian faith that is at once characterized as the conclusion but with closer consideration reveals itself as the preemptive assumption. That is, in order for the logic of the ideas by Lewis, indeed for the logic of the ideas expressed above by Polkinghorne or the ideas dissected by McGrath to hold pertinence, one must accept in advance the specific structures and tenets that govern the Christian faith are known with certainty. One is required to possess a faith already which cannot be swayed in order to conjure any merit in the idea that Christianity could 'not have been guessed.'
As the discussion here shows, it was never necessary to 'guess' Christianity or its various rules. Quite to the contrary, the imperatives defining Christianity developed organically from other human structures that remain observable to use even this many centuries removed. From the earliest murmurings in ancient history about the probability of there being only one God to the eventual perception of God, man, morality, state and church as all being fully inseparable notions; from the first attempts at rationalizing acceptance of an unseen force to the eventual interweaving of scientific and theological faiths; from evidence in artifact to evidence in our present day culture; it is quite clear that the way that we as individual groups and as a collective attempt to define ourselves, to worship, to conceptualize an afterlife and to frame our origins have all created a certain necessity for answers. The culturally permeating implications of Christianity have consequently provided these answers at the ready, and may credit a combination of faith, ingenuity and yes, guesswork, for their perceived arrival at these answers.
Lewis, C.S. (2001). Mere Christianity. Harper San Francisco.
McGrath, A.E. (2004). Theology: The Basics. Wiley-Blackewell; 1st edition.
Polkinghorne, J. (2003). Belief in God in an Age of Science. Yale University Press.
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