Destiny Beyond Death

British Physicist John Polkinghorne will speak on “Can a Scientist Believe in a Destiny Beyond Death?” 7:30 p.m. March 29 at the University Club in downtown Santa Barbara. The event, sponsored by the college’s Behavioral and Natural Sciences Division, is free and open to the public.

Polkinghorne will address the Westmont student body in chapel at 10:30 that morning with a talk on “A Physicist’s Approach to the Christian Faith.” Members of the public are also welcome in chapel.

Polkinghorne was a theoretical elementary particle physicist at Cambridge University for 25 years before becoming an ordained priest in the Church of England. After serving for several years as a parish priest, he returned to Cambridge and ultimately served as president of Queens’ College until his retirement in 1996.

A Fellow of the Royal Society, Polkinghorne is a Knight of the British Empire and the author of numerous books on science and religion. He received the Templeton Prize in 2002.

“Belief in a destiny beyond death is not a scientific expectation, but it depends upon the faithfulness of God, as Jesus himself taught,” Polkinghorne said.

“Making sense of the idea requires an understanding of what is the meaning of the soul. It also requires concepts of both continuity and discontinuity between this life and the life to come. The Resurrection of Christ is our best guide to thinking about these issues.”

Polkinghorne believes the universe is an “open” and “flexible” system, where patterns can be seen to exist, but where “the providential aspect cannot be ruled out.”

Asked if his exacting scientific background makes him scornful of the vagaries of theology, he responded: “Far from it. Theology is much more difficult. Physics, at least at the undergraduate level, is a subject on which the dust has settled. In theology the dust never settles.”

For more information, contact the public affairs office at (805) 565-7057 or e-mail For directions to campus, visit the college Web site at