I suspect John Polkinghorne is the most educated guest to appear on the podcast (and the first ‘Sir’). So he seemed like the right person to speak to for some answers on life, the universe and everything.
We were mainly looking for some insights in the relationship between faith and science. Predictably though we came away with even more questions!
John seemed to be coming from the starting point that the world as we have it now is the world that God wanted. So John has tried to reconcile this world with the Bible’s creation account. And so he rejects the traditional understanding of the ‘Fall’ and understands death as being part of God’s plan for life.
But regardless of how literally you take the Genesis creation account, I struggle to see any evidence in the Bible that death was part of God’s original intention for us. Surely the biblical narrative shows that our broken relationship with the life giving God has led to death, and that Jesus died to deal with this broken relationship and to overcome death, so that we can be in relationship with God forever. Consequently, death has lost its sting, and will be banished from God’s new creation.
So I don’t think God original intention was for this world to be filled with death and suffering. This leaves me with the problem of how to reconcile this worldview with the apparent evidence of the process of evolution that requires death and suffering. But I think I’d rather have this conundrum, then the one that I think John is left with, that of reconciling these death filled processes with the belief that the God behind them reveals himself as the source of life and love.