Tag Archives: Charles Darwin

Although not converting, Charles Darwin like Antony Flew struggled until his dying accepting that the universe came about by chance!!!



The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.


Charles Darwin wrote THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES  and it was published in  November of 1859, and at that time Darwin was still a theist. However, later in life he became an agnostic. Francis Schaeffer pointed out that Darwin’s letters later in his life gave the reasons for him leaving Christianity behind. One of those reasons was that it conflicted with his theory, but yet late in his life he still struggled with his view that the universe came about by chance. I have included a quote from Antony Flew where he quotes Darwin’s THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES and I think he has a good point that Darwin at that time did think a Divine Mind was behind the creation. Nevertheless, Darwin did lose his faith and leave Christianity, but evidently he agonized over this even up until a few months before he died in 1882. This same issues weighed heavy on Flew’s mind too in the last decade of his life and he embraced theism.

From Antony Flew’s book THERE IS A GOD: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind,  (pages 103-107):

Einstein, the discoverer of relativity, was not the only great
scientist who saw a connection between the laws of nature
and the Mind of God. The progenitors of quantum physics,
the other great scientific discovery of modern times, Max
Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and Paul
Dirac, have all made similar statements, 17 and I reproduce
a few of these below.
Werner Heisenberg, famous for Heisenberg’s uncer-
tainty principle and matrix mechanics, said, “In the course
of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on
the relationship of these two regions of thought [science
and religion], for I have never been able to doubt the real-
ity of that to which they point.”18 On another occasion he
Wolfgang [Pauli] asked me quite unexpectedly: “Do
you believe in a personal God?”. . . “May I rephrase
your question?” I asked. “I myself should prefer the
following formulation: Can you, or anyone else,
reach the central order of things or events, whose
existence seems beyond doubt, as directly as you
can reach the soul of another human being. I am
using the term ‘soul’ quite deliberately so as not
to be misunderstood. If you put your question like
that, I would say yes. . . .If the magnetic force that
has guided this particular compass—and what else
was its source but the central order?—should ever
become extinguished, terrible things may happen to
mankind, far more terrible even than concentration
camps and atom bombs.”19
Another quantum pioneer, Erwin Schrödinger, who
developed wave mechanics, stated:
The scientific picture of the world around me is
very deficient. It gives me a lot of factual informa-
tion, puts all our experience in a magnificently con-
sistent order, but is ghastly silent about all that is
really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It
cannot tell a word about the sensation of red and
blue, bitter and sweet, feelings of delight and sor-
row. It knows nothing of beauty and ugly, good or
bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends
to answer questions in these domains, but the an-
swers are very often so silly that we are not inclined
to take them seriously.
Science is reticent too when it is a question of
the great Unity of which we somehow form a part,
to which we belong. The most popular name for it
in our time is God, with a capital “G.” Science is,
very usually, branded as being atheistic. After what
we have said this is not astonishing. If its world
picture does not even contain beauty, delight, sor-
row, if personality is cut out of it by agreement, how
should it contain the most sublime idea that pres-
ents itself to the human mind.20
Max Planck, who first introduced the quantum hypoth-
esis, unambiguously held that science complements reli-
gion, contending, “There can never be any real opposition
between religion and science; for the one is the comple-
ment of the other.”21 He also said, “Religion and natural
science are fighting a joint battle in an incessant, never
relaxing crusade against skepticism and against dogma-
tism, against unbelief and superstition . . . [and therefore]
‘On to God!’”22
Paul A. M. Dirac, who complemented Heisenberg and
Schrödinger with a third formulation of quantum theory,
observed that “God is a mathematician of a very high order
and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the
Generations before any of these scientists, Charles
Darwin had already expressed a similar view:
[Reason tells me of the] extreme difficulty or rather
impossibility of conceiving this immense and won-
derful universe, including man with his capability
of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as
the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus
reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause
having an intelligent mind in some degree analo-
gous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a
This train of thought has been kept alive in the present
time in the writings of many of today’s leading expositors of
science. These range from scientists like Paul Davies, John
Barrow, John Polkinghorne, Freeman Dyson, Francis Col-
lins, Owen Gingerich, and Roger Penrose to philosophers
of science like Richard Swinburne and John Leslie.
Davies and Barrow, in particular, have further developed
the insights of Einstein, Heisenberg, and other scientists
into theories about the relationship between the rational-
ity of nature and the Mind of God. Both have received the
Templeton Prize for their contributions to this exploration.
Their works correct many common misconceptions while
shedding light on the issues discussed here.

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons...Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever very strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, “it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind

 Darwin’s own words

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. On the other hand, novels which are works of the imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily—against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a pretty woman all the better.

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher æsthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.


Francis Schaeffer commented:

This is the old man Darwin writing at the end of his life. What is saying here is the further he has gone on with his studies the more he has seen himself reduced to a machine as far as aesthetic things are concerned. We go through this we find that his struggles and my sincere conviction is that he never came to the logical conclusion of his own position, but he nevertheless in the death of the higher qualities as he calls them, art, music, poetry, and so on, what he had happen to him was his own theory was producing this in his own self just as his theories a hundred years later have produced this in our culture. I don’t think you can hold the evolutionary theory as he held it without becoming a machine. What has happened to Darwin personally is merely a forerunner to what occurred to the whole culture as it has fallen in this world of pure material, chance and later determinism. Here he is in a situation where his mannishness has suffered in the midst of his own position.


Charles Darwin (1809–1882), who proposed the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.



Religious views of Charles Darwin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a letter to a correspondent at the University of Utrecht in 1873, Darwin expressed agnosticism:

I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came from and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.[71]


Francis Schaeffer observed:

This of course is a valid argument. The only answer to the problem of evil is the biblical answer of the fall. Darwin has a problem because he never had a high view of revelation, so he doesn’t have the answer any more than the liberal theologian has the answer. If you don’t have a space-time fall then you don’t have an answer to suffering. If you have a very, very significant man at the beginning, Darwin did not have that, but if you had a very significant, wonderful man at the beginning and can change history then the fall is the possible answer that can be given. To continue reading Darwin’s own words, “I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.”

What he (Darwin) is saying is that at this point I have no answer, but the interesting thing is he puts a semicolon after that and then says, “but man can do his duty.” Darwin understands what he has said undercuts all duty and all morals. So he adds as a faith sentence, “but man can do his duty.” It doesn’t fit really, but he adds because he sees that he must say this because otherwise what happens to man?

You can switch on further down the road and Darwin would be appalled to see where his own position has been taken, to Freud and Deterministic psychology. Modern Man has a dilemma because the word “duty” doesn’t have a meaning anymore.

(Determinism: The doctrine that human action is not free, but results from such causes as psychological and chemical makeup which render free-will an illusion.)



Darwin, C. R. to Graham, William

3 July 1881

In this letter Darwin goes against his agnosticism and again says that he can’t believe we are here as a result of chance::

Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?


Francis Schaeffer comments:

Can you feel this man? He is in real agony. You can feel the whole of modern man in this tension with Darwin. My mind can’t accept that ultimate of chance, that the universe is a result of chance. He has said 3 or 4 times now that he can’t accept that it all happened by chance and then he will write someone else and say something different.




John Polkinghorne – God and Science 1of3

Uploaded on Jul 7, 2008

John Polkinghorne is a former Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University, Dean of Trinity Hall and President of Queens College Cambridge. Here he discusses his views on the harmony between science and faith. This is another great example of the false dichotomy which young earth creationists continually regurgitate where an acceptance of evolution equates to atheism. Polkinghorne is also the author of many books on the subject of God and science such as “Science and Creation” and “Quarks, Chaos and Christianity.” Richard Dawkins said of Polkinghorne that he is one of a number of “good scientists who are sincerely religious”


John Polkinghorne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Polkinghorne

In 2007
Born 16 October 1930 (age 83)
Weston-super-MareEngland, UK
Nationality United Kingdom
Education MA mathematics (1952), PhD physics (1955)
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Occupation Physicistpriest, writer
Known for Particle physics; relationship between science and religion
Religion Anglican
Spouse(s) Ruth (née Martin) Polkinghorne
Children Peter (born 1957)
(born 1959)
Michael (1963)
Parents George and Dorothy (nèe Charlton) Polkinghorne
Relatives Peter Polkinghorne (brother, died 1942)
Ann Polkinghorne (sister, died 1930)
Awards Templeton PrizeKBEFRS

The Rev Dr John Charlton PolkinghorneKBEFRS (born 16 October 1930) is an English theoretical physicisttheologian, writer, and Anglican priest. A prominent and leading voice explaining the relationship between science and religion, he was professor of Mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest in 1982. He served as the president of Queens’ College, Cambridge from 1988 until 1996.

Polkinghorne is the author of five books on physics, and 26 on the relationship between science and religion; his publications include The Quantum World (1989), Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship (2005), Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion (2007), and Questions of Truth (2009).[1] The Polkinghorne Reader (edited by Thomas Jay Oord) provides key excerpts from Polkinghorne’s most influential books. He was knighted in 1997 and in 2002 received the £1 million Templeton Prize, awarded for exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Polkinghorne was born in Weston-super-Mare to Dorothy Charlton, the daughter of a groom and George Polkinghorne, who worked for the post office. John was the couple’s third child. There was a brother, Peter, and a sister, Ann, who died when she was six, one month before John’s birth. Peter died in 1942 while flying for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.[3]

He was educated at the local primary school in Street, Somerset, then was taught by a friend of the family at home, and later at a Quaker school. When he was 11 he went to Elmhurst Grammar School in Street, and when his father was promoted to head postmaster in Ely in 1945, Polkinghorne was transferred to The Perse School, Cambridge.[3] Following National Service in the Royal Army Educational Corps from 1948 to 1949, he read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1952, then earned his PhD in physics in 1955, supervised by Abdus Salam in the group led by Paul Dirac.[4]



He joined the Christian Union of UCCF while at Cambridge and met his future wife, Ruth Martin, another member of the Union and also a mathematics student. They married on 26 March 1955, and at the end of that year sailed from Liverpool to New York. Polkinghorne accepted a postdoctoral Harkness Fellowship with the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Murray Gell-Mann. Toward the end of the fellowship he was offered a position as lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, which he took up in 1956.[3]

After two years in Scotland, he returned to teach at Cambridge in 1958. He was promoted to reader in 1965, and in 1968 was offered a professorship in mathematical physics, a position he held until 1979,[3] his students including Brian Josephson and Martin Rees.[5] For 25 years, he worked on theories about elementary particles, played a role in the discovery of the quark,[2] and researched the analytic and high-energy properties of Feynman integrals and the foundations of S-Matrix theory.[6] While employed by Cambridge, he also spent time at PrincetonBerkeleyStanford, and at CERN in Geneva. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974.[3]

Priesthood and Queens’ College[edit]

Polkinghorne decided to train for the priesthood in 1977.[7] He said in an interview that he felt he had done his bit for science after 25 years, and that his best mathematical work was probably behind him; Christianity had always been central to his life, so ordination offered an attractive second career.[3] He resigned his chair in 1979 to study at Westcott House, Cambridge, an Anglican theological college, becoming an ordained priest on 6 June 1982 (Trinity Sunday). The ceremony was held at Trinity College, Cambridge and presided over by Bishop John A. T. Robinson. He worked for five years as a curate in south Bristol, then as vicar in Blean, Kent, before returning to Cambridge in 1986 as dean of chapel at Trinity Hall.[2][8] He became the president of Queens’ College that year, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.[8] He served as canon theologian ofLiverpool Cathedral from 1994 to 2005.[9]


In 1997 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), although as an ordained priest in the Church of England, he is not styled as “Sir John Polkinghorne”.[10] He is an Honorary Fellow of St Chad’s College, Durham and awarded an honorary doctorate by theUniversity of Durham in 1998; and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions to research at the interface between science and religion.[11]He spoke on “The Universe as Creation” at the Trotter Prize ceremony in 2003.

He has been a member of the BMA Medical Ethics Committee, the General Synod of the Church of England, the Doctrine Commission, and the Human Genetics Commission. He served as chairman of the governors of The Perse School from 1972 to 1981. He is a fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge and was for 10 years a canon theologian of Liverpool Cathedral. He is a founding member of the Society of Ordained Scientists and also of the International Society for Science and Religion, of which he was the first president.[12] He was selected to give the prestigious Gifford Lectures in 1993–1994, which he later published as The Faith of a Physicist.

In 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Hong Kong Baptist University as part of their 50-year celebrations. This included giving a public lecture on “The Dialogue between Science and Religion and Its Significance for the Academy” and an “East-West Dialogue” with Yang Chen-ning, a nobel laureate in physics.[13] He is a member of staff of the Psychology and Religion Research Group at Cambridge University.[14]


Polkinghorne said in an interview that he believes his move from science to religion has given him binocular vision, though he understands that it has aroused the kind of suspicion “that might follow the claim to be a vegetarian butcher.”[8] He describes his position as critical realism and believes that science and religion address aspects of the same reality. It is a consistent theme of his work that when he “turned his collar around” he did not stop seeking truth.[15] He believes the philosopher of science who has most helpfully struck the balance between the “critical” and “realism” aspects of this is Michael Polanyi.[16] He argues that there are five points of comparison between the ways in which science and theology pursue truth: moments of enforced radical revision, a period of unresolved confusion, new synthesis and understanding, continued wrestling with unresolved problems, deeper implications.[17]

Because scientific experiments try to eliminate extraneous influences, he believes they are atypical of what goes on in nature. He suggests that the mechanistic explanations of the world that have continued from Laplace to Richard Dawkins should be replaced by an understanding that most of nature is cloud-like rather than clock-like. He regards the mind, soul and body as different aspects of the same underlying reality—”dual aspect monism”—writing that “there is only one stuff in the world (not two—the material and the mental) but it can occur in two contrasting states (material and mental phases, a physicist might say) which explain our perception of the difference between mind and matter.”[18] He believes that standard physical causation cannot adequately describe the manifold ways in which things and people interact, and uses the phrase “active information” to describe how, when several outcomes are possible, there may be higher levels of causation that choose which one occurs.[19]

Sometimes Christianity seems to him to be just too good to be true, but when this sort of doubt arises he says to himself, “All right then, deny it,” and writes that he knows this is something he could never do.[20]

On the existence of God[edit]

Polkinghorne considers that “the question of the existence of God is the single most important question we face about the nature of reality”[21] and quotes with approval Anthony Kenny: “After all, if there is no God, then God is incalculably the greatest single creation of the human imagination.” He addresses the questions of “Does the concept of God make sense? If so, do we have reason for believing in such a thing?” He is “cautious about our powers to assess coherence,” pointing out that in 1900 a “competent … undergraduate could have demonstrated the ‘incoherence'” of quantum ideas. He suggests that “the nearest analogy in the physical world [to God] would be … the Quantum Vacuum.”[19]

He suggests that God is the ultimate answer to Leibniz‘s great question “why is there something rather than nothing?” The atheist’s “plain assertion of the world’s existence” is a “grossly impoverished view of reality … [arguing that] theism explains more than a reductionist atheism can ever address.” He is very doubtful of St Anselm‘s Ontological Argument. Referring to Gödel’s incompleteness theory, he said: “If we cannot prove the consistency of arithmetic it seems a bit much to hope that God’s existence is easier to deal with,” concluding that God is “ontologically necessary, but not logically necessary.” He “does not assert that God’s existence can be demonstrated in a logically coercive way (any more than God’s non-existence can) but that theism makes more sense of the world, and of human experience, than does atheism.”[22] He cites in particular:

  • The intelligibility of the universe: One would anticipate that evolutionary selection would produce hominid minds apt for coping with everyday experience, but that these minds should also be able to understand the subatomic world and general relativity goes far beyond anything of relevance to survival fitness. The mystery deepens when one recognises the proven fruitfulness of mathematical beauty as a guide to successful theory choice.[23]
  • The anthropic fine tuning of the universe: He quotes with approval Freeman Dyson, who said “the more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming”[24] and suggests there is a wide consensus amongst physicists that either there are a very large number of other universes in the Multiverse or that “there is just one universe which is the way it is in its anthropic fruitfulness because it is the expression of the purposive design of a Creator, who has endowed it with the finely tuned potentialty for life.”[25]
  • A wider humane reality: He considers that theism offers a more persuasive account of ethical and aesthetic perceptions. He argues that it is difficult to accommodate the idea that “we have real moral knowledge” and that statements such as ‘torturing children is wrong’ are more than “simply social conventions of the societies within which they are uttered” within an atheistic or naturalistic world view. He also believes such a world view finds it hard to explain how “Something of lasting significance is glimpsed in the beauty of the natural world and the beauty of the fruits of human creativity.”[26]

On free will[edit]

Polkinghorne regards the problem of evil as the most serious intellectual objection to the existence of God. He believes that “The well-known free will defence in relation to moral evil asserts that a world with a possibility of sinful people is better than one with perfectly programmed machines. The tale of human evil is such that one cannot make that assertion without a quiver, but I believe that it is true nevertheless. I have added to it the free-process defence, that a world allowed to make itself is better than a puppet theatre with a Cosmic Tyrant. I think that these two defences are opposite sides of the same coin, that our nature is inextricably linked with that of the physical world which has given us birth.”[27]

On creationism[edit]

Polkinghorne accepts evolution. Following the resignation of Michael Reiss, the director of education at the Royal Society—who had controversially argued that school pupils who believed in creationism should be used by science teachers to start discussions, rather than be rejected per se[28]—Polkinghorne argued in The Times that there is a distinction between believing in the mind and purpose of a divine creator, and what he calls creationism “in that curious North American sense,” with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and the belief that evolution is wrong, a position he rejects.[29]

Critical reception[edit]

Nancy Frankenberry, Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College, has described Polkinghorne as the finest British theologian/scientist of our time, citing his work on the possible relationship between chaos theory and natural theology.[30] Owen Gingerich, an astronomer and former Harvard professor, has called him a leading voice on the relationship between science and religion.[31]

The British writer Simon Blackburn has criticized Polkinghorne for using primitive thinking and rhetorical devices instead of engaging in philosophy. When Polkinghorne argues that the minute adjustments of cosmological constants for life points towards an explanation beyond the scientific realm, Blackburn argues that this relies on a natural preference for explanation in terms of agency. Blackburn writes that he finished Polkinghorne’s books in “despair at humanity’s capacity for self-deception.”[32] Against this, Freeman J. Dyson called Polkinghorne’s arguments on theology and natural science “polished and logically coherent.”[33] The novelist Simon Ings, writing in the New Scientist, said Polkinghorne’s argument for the proposition that God is real is cogent and his evidence elegant.[34]

Richard Dawkins, formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, writes that the same three names of British scientists who are also sincerely religious crop up with the “likable familiarity of senior partners in a firm of Dickensian lawyers”: Arthur PeacockeRussell Stannard, and John Polkinghorne, all of whom have either won the Templeton Prize or are on its board of trustees. Dawkins writes that he is not so much bewildered by their belief in a cosmic lawgiver, but by their beliefs in the minutiae of Christianity, such as the resurrection and forgiveness of sins, and that such scientists, in Britain and in the U.S., are the subject of bemused bafflement among their peers.[35] Polkinghorne responded that “debating with Dawkins is hopeless, because there’s no give and take. He doesn’t give you an inch. He just says no when you say yes”[8]and writes in Questions of Truth that he hopes Dawkins will be a bit less baffled once he reads it.[36]

A.C. Grayling criticized the Royal Society for allowing its premises to be used in connection with the launch of Questions of Truth, describing it as a scandal, and suggesting that Polkinghorne had exploited his fellowship there to publicize a “weak, casuistical and tendentious pamphlet.” After implying that the book’s publisher, Westminster John Knox, was a self-publisher, Grayling went on to write that Polkinghorne and others were eager to see the credibility accorded to scientific research extended to religious perspectives through association.[37]

In contrast to Grayling, science historian Edward B. Davis praises Questions of Truth, saying the book provides “the kind of technical information…that scientifically trained readers will appreciate—yet they can be read profitably by anyone interested in science and Christianity.” Davis concludes, “It hasn’t been easy to steer a middle course between fundamentalism and modernism, particularly on issues involving science. Polkinghorne has done that very successfully for a generation, and for this he ought to be both appreciated and emulated.”[38]


Polkinghorne has written 34 books, translated into 18 languages; 26 concern science and religion, often for a popular audience.

Science and religion

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Eric Metaxas (13 October 2011). Socrates in the City: Conversations on “Life, God, and Other Small Topics”. Penguin Books.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Participants, John Templeton Foundation, 2005, accessed 17 June 2010.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f O’Connor, J.J. and Robertson, E.F. John Charlton Polkinghorne profile at gap-system.org; retrieved 23 March 2010.
  4. Jump up^ From Physicist to Priest, pp. 9–11; 23–29; 34.
  5. Jump up^ From Physicist to Priest, pp. 40–50.
  6. Jump up^ Henry Margenau & Roy Abraham Varghese (eds.), Cosmos, Bios, Theos. Peru, IL: Open Court, 1992, p. 86.
  7. Jump up^ From Physicist to Priest, p. 9.
  8. Jump up to:a b c d Reisz, Matthew. On the side of the angelsTimes Higher Education, 19 February 2009.
  9. Jump up^ Third Way, December 2005, p. 34.
  10. Jump up^ Official Website This is a strange quirk of British Forms of address
  11. Jump up^ For basic biodata see Who’s Who 2006.
  12. Jump up^ ISSR Presidents
  13. Jump up^ “Diary of Events” (PDF). Hong Kong Baptist University. November 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  14. Jump up^ Staff list, Psychology and Religion Research Group, accessed 25 March 2010.
  15. Jump up^ See, for example, John Polkinhorne. Exploring Reality: the Intertwining of Science and Religion. p. ix.
  16. Jump up^ John Polkinghorne (2007). Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected KinshipSociety for Promoting Christian Knowledge. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-281-05767-2.
  17. Jump up^ Quantum Physics & Theology, pp. 15–22.
  18. Jump up^ Science and Christian Belief. p. 21.
  19. Jump up to:a b Sharpe, Kevin (July 2003). “Nudging John Polkinghorne”. Quodlibet Journal 5 (2–3).
  20. Jump up^ From Physicist to Priest, p. 107.
  21. Jump up^ This and (unless noted otherwise) all subsequent quotations are from Chapter 3 ofScience & Christian Belief, also known as The Faith of a Physicist.
  22. Jump up^ Science and Theology, pp. 71–83.
  23. Jump up^ Science and Theology, p. 72.
  24. Jump up^ Science & Christian Belief, p. 76.
  25. Jump up^ Science and Theology, p. 75.
  26. Jump up^ Science and Theology, pp. 81–82.
  27. Jump up^ Polkinghorne, John (2003). Belief in God in an Age of Science. New Haven, CT: Yale Nota Bene. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-300-09949-2.
  28. Jump up^ ‘Creationism’ biologist quits job, BBC News, 16 September 2008.
  29. Jump up^ Polkinghorne, John. “Shining a light where science and theology meet”The Times, 19 September 2008.
  30. Jump up^ Nancy K. Frankenberry (ed.), The Faith of Scientists in Their Own Words (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008) p. 340
  31. Jump up^ Owen Gingrich, “review of Science and the Trinity“, Science and Theology Newsquoted by the Yale University Press
  32. Jump up^ Blackburn, Simon. An Unbeautiful Mind, a review of John Polkinghorne’s The God of Hope and the End of the WorldThe New Republic, 1 August 2002.
  33. Jump up^ Freeman Dyson, “Is God in the Lab?”The New York Review of Books, 28 May 1998
  34. Jump up^ Simon Ings, “God Only Knows”New Scientist, 4 July 1998
  35. Jump up^ Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Co, 2006, p. 99.
  36. Jump up^ Polkinghorne, John (2009). Questions of Truth. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-664-23351-8.
  37. Jump up^ Grayling, A. C. “Book Review: Questions of Truth: God, Science and Belief by John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale”New Humanist, Volume 124, Issue 2, March/April 2009.
  38. Jump up^ Davis, Edward B. “The Motivated Belief of John Polkinghorne”First Things, 17 July 2009
  39. Jump up^ Questions of Truth website

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Ronald Oxburgh
President of Queens’ College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
John Eatwell

Authority control


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Both Charles Darwin and Chris Martin abandoned their earlier Christian views and left the church. Charles Darwin later became an agnostic while Chris Martin is still wrestling with his earlier Christian views and seems to have not come to a total conclusion what to do with them.


Charles Darwin views on God
religion and religious belief
from his autobiography and letters

During these two years [OCTOBER 1936 to January 1839] I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (although themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time, i.e., 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The question then continually rose, before my mind and would not be banished, is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible.

By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, (and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become), that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost uncomprehensible by us, that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.

Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being. like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws. But I have discussed this subject at the end of my book on the ‘Variations of Domesticated Animals and Plants,’ and the argument there given has never, as far as I can see, been answered.

But passing over the endless beautiful adaptations which we every­where meet with, it may be asked how can the generally beneficent arrangement of the world be accounted for? Some writers indeed are so much impressed with the amount of suffering in the world, that they doubt, if we look to all sentient beings, whether there is more of misery or of happiness; whether the world as a whole is a good or bad one. According to my judgment happiness decidedly prevails, though this would be very difficult to prove. If the truth of this conclusion be granted, it harmonizes well with the effects which we might expect from natural selection. If all the individuals of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree, they would neglect to propagate their kind; but we have no reason to believe that this has ever, or at least often occurred. Some other considerations, moreover, lead to the belief that all sentient beings have been formed so as to enjoy, as a general rule, happiness.

Every one who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and mental organs (excepting those which are neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to the possessor) of all beings have been developed through natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, together with use or habit, will admit that these organs have been formed so that their possessors may compete successfully with other beings, and thus increase in number. Now an animal may be led to pursue that course of action which is most beneficial to the species by suffering, such as pain, hunger, thirst, and fear; or by pleasure, as in eating and drinking, and in the propagation of the species, &c., or by both means combined, as in the search for food. But pain or suffering of any kind, if long continued, causes depression and lessens the power of action, yet is well adapted to make a creature guard itself against any great or sudden evil. Pleasurable sensations, on the other hand, may be long continued without any depressing effect; on the contrary, they stimulate the whole system to increased action. Hence it has come to pass that most or all sentient beings have been developed in such a manner, through natural selection, that pleasurable sensations serve as their habitual guides. We see this in the pleasure from exertion, even occasionally from great exertion of the body or mind, (in the pleasure of our daily meals, and especially in the pleasure derived from sociability, and from loving our families). The sum of such pleasures as these, which are habitual or frequently recurrent, give, as I can hardly doubt, to most sentient beings an excess of happiness over misery, although many occasionally suffer much. Such suffering is quite compatible with the belief in Natural Selection, which is not perfect in its action, but tends only to render each species as successful as possible in the battle for life with other species, in wonderfully complex and changing circumstances.

That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. Some have attempted to explain this with reference to man by imagining that it serves for his moral improvement. But the number of men in the world is as nothing compared with that of all other sentient beings, and they often suffer greatly without any moral improvement. A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe, is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the suffering of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time? This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent First Cause seems to me a strong one; whereas, as just remarked, the presence of much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection.

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. But it cannot be doubted that Hindoos, Mahomadans and others might argue in the same manner and with equal force in favour of the existence of one God, or of many Gods, or as with the Buddhists of no God. There are also many barbarian tribes who cannot be said with any truth to believe in what we call God: they believe indeed in spirits or ghosts, and it can be explained, as Tyler and Herbert Spencer have shown, how such a belief would be likely to arise.

Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever very strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, “it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.” I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind, and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me. and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sense of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.

With respect to immortality, nothing shows me (so clearly) how strong and almost instinctive a belief it is, as the consideration of the view now held by most physicists, namely, that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun, and thus gives it fresh life. Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.

Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt;– can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for the monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.

I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

Interestingly, Darwin’s firm agnosticism expressed in the Autobiography appeared to weaken during the final years of his life. In an 1879 letter addressed to James Fordyce, he wrote:

What my own (religious) views may be is a question of no consequence to any one but myself. But, as you asked, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates. . . . In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind. (F. Darwin 1888, I: 304;).



Chris Martin was brought up as an evangelical Christian but he left the faith once he left his childhood home. However, there are been some actions in his life in the last few years that demonstrate that he still is grappling with his childhood Chistian beliefs. Let us take look at a few verses in the Book of Romans chapter one and we will see how they are relevant to a song written by Coldplay.

On June 23, 2012 my son Wilson and I got to attend a Coldplay Concert in Dallas. It was great. I wish they had played “Cemeteries of London” at the Dallas concert since I like that song a lot. Let me show you two points from the Book of Romans:

God reveals Himself in two Ways 

Lets take a look at the lyrics from the song “Cemeteries of London:”

God is in the houses
And God is in my head
And all the cemeteries of London
I see God come in my garden
But I don’t know what He said
For my heart, it wasn’t open
Not open

Romans chapter one clearly points out that God has revealed Himself through both the created world around us  and also in a God-given conscience that testifies to each person that God exists.
Notice in this song that the song writer notes, “I see God come in my garden” and “God is in my head.” These are the exact two places mentioned by the scripture.  Romans 1:18-20 (Amplified version)

18For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],(B)

Concerning these verses Francis Schaeffer said:

The world is guilty of suppressing God’s truth and living accordingly. The universe and its form and the mannishness of Man speak the same truth that the Bible gives in greater detail.

This is what Chris Martin is having to deal with and he  is clearly searching for spiritual answers but it seems he have not found them quite yet. The song “42“: “Time is so short and I’m sure, There must be something more.” Then in the song “Lost” Martin sings these words: “Every river that I tried to cross, Every door I ever tried was locked..”
Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this “something more” that Coldplay is talking about, but he found riches (2:8-11), pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), fame (2:9) and his work (2:4) all “meaningless” and “vanity” and “a chasing of the wind.” Every door he tried was locked.

Solomon is searching for the meaning of life in the Book of Ecclesiastes and that reminds me a lot of the search that Chris Martin is currently in.  By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. My prediction: I am hoping that Coldplay’s next album will also come to that same conclusion that Solomon came to in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

Kerry Livgren of Kansas found Christ eventually after first trying some Eastern Religions. I remember telling my friends in 1978 when “Dust in the Wind” was the number 6 song in the USA that Kansas had written a philosophical song that came to the same conclusion about humanistic man as Solomon did so long ago and I predicted that some members of that band would come to know the Christ of the Bible in a personal way.

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Coldplay – Cemeteries of London ( FULL VIDEO)

The brilliant video for Cemeteries of London. It’s the perfect mix between music and image, Coldplay sold around 8 million albums with Viva La Vida.


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