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Posted on March 11th, 2013, by

John Polkinghorne is one of the most outstanding philosophers of the contemporary time. He has made a considerable contribution in the development of the modern science and philosophy and his views are very popular today, as he gains more and more supporters. In this respect, it is possible to trace the mainstream trend in his philosophical works, which indicates clearly to the close relationship between metaphysic and science. Traditionally, philosophers, such as Bacon, distinguished clearly science and metaphysics. In such a way, Bacon and many other philosophers denied the existence of close relationships between metaphysics and science but the emergence of science in the 20th century and the unparalleled progress of science made it penetrating deep into the philosophy of present days. In this regard, John Polkinghorne is one of the representatives of the modern philosophy, who stands on the ground of close relationships between metaphysics and science, arguing that they are interrelated and influence each other, while it is impossible to think of scientific progress without philosophical re-evaluation of new scientific discoveries and progress.
At this point, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that John Polkinghorne was a renowned scientist, who worked in the field of mathematics. His scientific work influenced apparently his philosophical views and contributed to the development of his views on the relationship between metaphysics and science. In fact, John Polkinghorne has developed quite pragmatic view on the development of the world and science. He builds up his philosophy standing on a solid scientific ground. For instance, John Polkinghorne argues that “After all, the universe required ten billion years of evolution before life was even possible; the evolution of the stars and the evolving of new chemical elements in the nuclear furnaces of the stars were indispensable prerequisites for the generation of life”¯ (Polkinghorne, 109). In such a way, he views the problem of the appearance and generation of life from the sheer scientific ground but steadily he extrapolates his scientific views on philosophical terms, which reveal the close relationship between his scientific views and philosophy. For instance, the emergence of life, being viewed from sheer scientific stand point, is apparently unsatisfactory for John Polkinghorne and he attempts to give a deeper, more philosophical explanation of the life and other relevant issues. This is exactly where his scientific views intertwine with his philosophical views.
At the same time, he points out that “bottom up thinkers try to start from experience and move from experience to understanding. They don’t start with certain general principles they think beforehand are likely to be true; they just hope to find out what reality is like”¯ (Polkinghorne, 134). This idea uncovers partially his views on philosophy and science. To put it more precisely, John Polkinghorne points out that the search for truth, which was the traditional goal of scientists is impossible without the development of the philosophical view on the life and reality. In other words, he stands on the ground that scientific experiments and studies need to have a philosophical framework within which they can develop. On the other hand, the philosophical framework can limit consistently the scope of scientific studies. For instance, it is possible to refer to the theory of evolution, which revolutionized the science and philosophy but the theory of evolution challenged existing philosophical norms and beliefs. Therefore, Charles Darwin had to go beyond the traditional philosophical framework in his studies and develop a new philosophy. This is exactly what John Polkinghorne suggests. In regard to evolution, he argues that “evolution, of course, is not something that simply applies to life here on earth; it applies to the whole universe”¯ (Polkinghorne, 192).

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