Review: Questions of Truth–Fifty-one Responses to Questions About God, Science, and Belief

5 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Cosmos & Destiny, Culture, Research, Information Society, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Philosophy, Religion & Politics of Religion, Science & Politics of Science, True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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John C. Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale

5.0 out of 5 stars Key Contribution at a Very Good Time
April 7, 2011
This is one of three books that I selected to explore the science versus religion or science with religion reflections. Although I awarded the six star ranking to the shortest of three, God and Science: Coming Full Circle?, it must be acknowledged that John Polkinghorne, co author of this book, and Hans Kung, author of the third book I chose, The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion are Nobel-level pioneers on the topics of God’s existence and the complementarity of science and religion. 

In general all three of the books slam Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion, which my own review found to be sophmoric, but I was too quick to accept God and reject religion. The three books together make a very persuasive case for the value of the spiritual, which I have always accepted, and also for religion as organized emphathy, which I now see as a spectacular offset for uncaring governments and corporations, if, if, if inter-faith collaboration can recognize that secular corruption is the obstacle to creating a prosperous world at peace [see my letter to the Pope at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, or tiny URL Assisi-Intelligence.

I certainly recommend prospective buyers use the Inside the Book feature, and always appreciate publishers that use that feature offered from Amazon. Organized into sections including the concept and existence of God, the universe, evolution, evil, human being, and religion, the book benefits from being a well-organized mix of intelligent questions from others, and then a duality of answers from each the two co-authors. 

Here are my notes, unless specifically noted, all from the book:

+ Man a psychosomatic unity of mind and matter
+ We are not in an either/or world–dualities co-exist
+ Energy integrated with information as parts are integrated with whole
+ Good and bad are intertwined, without the bad could not have choice of the good
+ Earthquakes may be considered bad, but they push mineral deposits up and are part of Earth’s life
+ Science was about exchanges of energy, but the new meme in town is “active information”

This book can be said to be a very pro-Christian version that specifically excludes non-Christian religions from being the one true religion because it focuses on Jesus being unique among all the prophets, the only one that died in mid-life and was resurrected.

QUOTE (23): Souls is an “infinitely complex information-sharing pattern.”

QUOTE (24): “There are many problems facing humanity whose tackling requires the utmost cooperation between people of good will and concern for the common good, both religious and non-religious.”

QUOTE (27): “Faith involves trust in well-motivated beliefs…”

Game theory proves that “generous tit-for-tat” beats “selfish tit-for-tat”

QUOTE (34): “One of the major advanced in theology and philosophy over the last fifty years is a deeper understanding of the connection between love and freedom.”

Love leads to cooperation which leads to (constructive) evolution.

Key book of note: Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding

Universe is only 4% “matter,” the rest is 22% “dark matter” and 74% “dark energy”

Evolution as Darwin’s search engine

QUOTE (51): “…the ways in which deep order arises apparently spontaneously from chaotic systems is also very surprising–it is bevcoming understood a bit better and John’s idea that ‘active information’ is a causal principle seems to have increasing merit.”

QUOTE (52): Godel’s theorem shows us that truth can never be totally caught in any purely logical system…”

+ “Inherent potentiality”
+ Evil appears essential to maturing self-consciousness
+ Moral choices are a defining and inherent potentiality of humanity
+ Genetics, environment, AND choice define humanity, with the latter being the major aspect
+ Evolution beyond body and community is about cultural evolution

On this latter point, see everything by Will Durant, but especially:

Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
The Lessons of History

Core Concept (88): There is no algorithm for devining truth–it is a human function, the more minds the better.

See these two books that I funded:

INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

QUOTE (96): “The more we know, the more interesting questions we can ask. One difference between wisdom and mere knowledge is that wisdom deepens your understanding of how much you don’t know.”

On page 97, the bottom line comes together:

01 No conflict between science and religion.
02 No territoriality of knowledge should be entertained
03 Potential knowledge is infinite
04 Brain is the most complex system known to exist

Three appendices:

A Anthropic fine-tuning. Covers six numbers (very high math)

B Brain and mind. Fallacy of brain being same as mind. Morality plays big. Everything in the universe has a physical aspect and an informational aspect.

C Evolution. Emergent behavior, emergent properties, evolution appears to show benefits of religion, role of religion in enhancing cooperation [all three books note the atrocities associated with both religion and secular despots].

Overall this is a really good book that is easy to explore “by the question.” Each chapter has additional reference works suggested by the co-authors.

This book more so than the other two leads me to suggest the reader explore, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, the following two lists, and within the first list particularly, the sub-lists:

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Civilization-Building

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Collective Intelligence

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Common Wealth

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Conscious, Evolutionary, Integral Activism & Goodness

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dialog for Truth & Reconciliation

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Diversity of Voices & Values (Other than USA)

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Diversity of Voices & Values (USA)

–Worth a Look: Books Reviews on Education for Freedom & Innovation

–Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Evolutionary Dynamics

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

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