John C. Polkinghorne, Scientist and Priest, Dies at 90

By Alister McGrath
March 19, 2021

John Polkinghorne

The Rev. John C. Polkinghorne, a renowned mathematical physicist who stepped down as a Cambridge professor to become a parish priest, died on March 9 at the age of 90.

He was a leading British voice in the field of science and religion, a frequent visitor to the United States, and a major influence on Anglican reflections on the relation of science and faith.

Polkinghorne initially studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Trinity College Cambridge in the early 1950s, where he was an active member of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. He met Ruth Martin, who was also studying mathematics at Cambridge, and they later married. After gaining an outstanding first degree in mathematics, Polkinghorne took a doctorate at Cambridge in physics. After a series of academic appointments in North America and Scotland, he returned to Cambridge in 1958, where he finally became a professor of mathematical physics.