We were very sad to hear of the death, on March 9th, of John Polkinghorne, a leading and influential voice in the science-faith debate. His career in science, working on particle physics and related topics, was very distinguished. He was appointed as Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University in 1968 and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. His PhD students included Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson and Martin Rees, the current Astronomer Royal. However, in 1979 he left the world of academic physics to train for the priesthood in the Church of England and thus embarked on a very different style of life.
Over the succeeding years, his contribution to the discussion about the relationship between science and religion has been immense, with an impressive, intelligent, informative and thought-provoking output of books, talks, lectures and videos. But in addition to all this, John Polkinghorne was a wonderful human being – kind, thoughtful and humble. John had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions – on at least two of these we were speakers at the same conferences and have also both contributed to the Faraday Institute’s multi-media resource ‘Test of Faith’. Graham also had the pleasure of contributing, with him, to the ‘God: New Evidence’ series of videos on cosmic fine tuning.
A brief tribute from the Faraday Institute may be found here: Revd. Canon Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS (16 October 1930 to 9 March 2021) | Faraday (cam.ac.uk).
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John Bryant and Graham Swinerd comment on biology, physics and faith.