Distinguished Christian scientist John Polkinghorne dies aged 90

A brilliant mind and a devout Christian: John Polkinghorne 1930-2021(Photo: Queens' College Cambridge)

John Polkinghorne, Anglican priest and respected theoretical physicist, has passed away at the age of 90.

The news of his death was shared by Queens' College, Cambridge, where he served as president from 1988 to 1996. 

He remained an Honorary Fellow of the college until his death in Cambridge on 10 March. 

Dr Polkinghorne enjoyed a distinguished career at Cambridge University, having previously been Professor of Mathematical Physics from 1968 until 1979, when he resigned to study for the priesthood. 

He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1982, serving first as a curate in south Bristol before becoming a vicar in Blean, Kent. In 1986, he returned to Cambridge University as Dean of Chapel at Trinity Hall and President of Queens' College. 

From 1994 to 2005, he served as canon theologian of Liverpool Cathedral. 

During his lifetime, he authored dozens of books, many of them on the relationship between religion and science. 

Polkinghorne's talents were recognised with a knighthood in 1997 and the prestigious Templeton Prize in 2002, donating the £1m prize money to endow college positions. 

Current President of Queens' College, Dr Mohamed El-Erian, spoke of his "great sadness" at Dr Polkinghorne's death, but also his "gratitude for all that John did for Queens' and beyond."

"To say John had an exceptional life would be an understatement," he said. 

"Born in 1930, he touched many lives as a highly respected physicist, theologian, and priest. The author of a number of influential books, he was admired for his important research and insights on religion and science." 

A private family-only funeral is to be held due to Covid restrictions, but the family plans to hold a public memorial service to celebrate his life once restrictions have been lifted.