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Keywords:

  • act metaphysics;
  • commitment;
  • Richard Dawkins;
  • Daniel Dennett;
  • field of force;
  • final causation;
  • formal causation;
  • logic of achievement;
  • Michael Polanyi;
  • reductionism

Although Michael Polanyi's model of science and his construal of the nature of the real are usually thought to be congenial to religion and although Polanyi himself says that “the stage on which we thus resume our full intellectual powers is borrowed from the Christian scheme of Fall and Redemption” (Polanyi 1958, 324), theologians have given little attention to the model of God he presents. The metaphysical and theological vision unfolded in part 4 of Personal Knowledge is a thoughtful alternative to materialist versions of neo-Darwinism and provides a platform for revisiting four long-standing controversies at the interface of science and religion: whether life and mind can be completely specified in terms of physical analysis, whether nature can be adequately understood without appeal to final causes, whether natural selection adequately explains life's diverse forms, and whether knowledge can be fully objectified. Through an exploration of Polanyi's contribution to these discussions, we undertake to show not only that his treatment of God as a cosmic field is strikingly original but also that in reinstating activity as a metaphysical category, he reconstructs our understanding of our creaturely hope and calling.