Posted by: gcarkner | April 10, 2015

Take Every Thought Captive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUOAKyTK6JY John Lennox Is Anything Worth Believing?

Take Every Thought Captive

Take every thought captive poses an inspiring challenge by Paul the Apostle in II Corinthians 10; this is part of our ongoing GCU study group. It entails a challenging statement on intellectual and spiritual discipline, one of the mind and heart. The UBC graduate students wrestle with the quest to think and negotiate the university landscape differently, to access and apply the graces of God in their context. Paul uses the dramatic, attention-grabbing metaphor of war in order to build Christian resolve in the young church, while at the same time deconstructing the very culture of war.

What kind of warfare is Paul addressing? What kind of weapons is he offering? What sort of strategy? How does it relate to the academic enterprise of graduate school? What are the ideologies of our colleagues that set up a wall to the gospel, the negative apologetic? What worldview has taken our friend captive and hampers their spiritual insight? How do we get at the whole truth with the aid of the Logos? These are critical questions.

Paul’s weapons are rooted in the capital virtues, the gentleness and authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit: truthfulness and integrity, righteousness, patience, the gospel of peace and blessing (shalom), faithfulness, hope, knowledge of God and his calling, a constructive stance or attitude (Ephesians 6: 13-17), discernment and discipleship, respect and dialogue, leveraging agape love, refusal of despair. We must build our consciousness and use multivalent angles and approaches to build bridges to faith as the diagram below suggests. We also need to tap in to those Christian roots of higher learning and preparation for leadership.

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It is not people themselves, but faulty or immoral reason, that we are called to take captive on campus. This comes complete with arguments and assumptions that set themselves against the knowledge of God: scientism, consumerism, materialistic naturalism, exclusive secularism, reductionism, market fundamentalism, toxic politics of hate, and various types of imperialism. These can be somewhat formidable at times. Alister McGrath, a British theologian, represents for many of us someone that believes the mind really matters to spiritual health, that sharp theology and clear thinking is important to all believers. He articulates Paul’s intent and strategy in his books: Intellectuals Don’t Need God? and A Fine-Tuned Universe. See also Blog Post Can We Make Peace Between Faith and Reason?

Christ-centeredness must reign supreme in our minds and not just in our hearts. Grace and love must be combined with philosophical and theological sharpness. Circumspect thinking and positive action also comes through strongly in the prophetic work by Jim Wallis, The (Un)Common Good: How the gospel brings hope to a world divided. Our strategy on campus and beyond must be active in initiating and hosting conversation about the big questions. It is a public challenge and a confidence-builder for Christians that Jesus the Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God, the very nexus of faith and reason, truth and love personified. This is the background radiation of the universe.

~Dr. Gordon Carkner

Does the Universe Need God? Dr. Hans Halvorson, Princeton University 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDwpTcSEjak

Paul K. Moser The Christ-shaped Philosophy Project

http://www.epsociety.org/userfiles/art-Moser%20(Christ-Shaped%20Philosophy).pdf

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo3vRqrW8NU Ravi Zaccharias Response to New Atheism

Questions and Answers with Professor John Lennox

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tr7dCphnkw

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Posted by: gcarkner | April 8, 2015

God and the Multiverse, May 6, UBC

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Deborah Haarsma

Astronomer from Calvin College and  President of BioLogos

God and the Multiverse

 Wednesday, May 6 @ 4:00 p.m.

Woodward (IRC) Room 1, UBC

Abstract

The last 100 years have transformed our understanding of the universe.  We now know that the universe is ancient, beginning in a Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and that it continues to expand today, at an ever-increasing rate.  We’ve also seen amazing evidence that some physical laws and constants are fine-tuned for life, as well as hints that our universe is part of a much bigger multiverse. What does all this have to do with God?   This talk will give an overview of a range of religious and non-religious responses to these exciting discoveries.

Biography

 Deborah Haarsma earned a PhD in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in1997. An experienced research scientist, she was Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College from 2009-2012, Professor of Astronomy from 1999-2012. She has several publications in the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. Dr. Haarsma has studied very large galaxies (at the centers of galaxy clusters), very young galaxies (undergoing rapid star formation in the early universe), and gravitational lenses (where spacetime is curved by a massive object). Her work uses data from several major telescopes, including the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico, the Southern Astrophysical Research optical and infrared telescope in Cerro Pachon, Chile, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory in orbit around the earth. Since January 2013, Dr. Haarsma has served as President of BioLogos (biologos.org) a serious academic dialogue between current world-class science and Christian faith.  BioLogos was founded by Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institute of Health in the USA, and runs annual conferences for scientists and church leaders. In this subject area, Haarsma published Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design with her husband and fellow physicist, Loren Haarsma. She also edited the anthology Delight in Creation: Scientists Share Their Work with the Church with Rev. Scott Hoezee.

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Sample Talk by Dr. Haarsma at Westmont College https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYRZvMpYVAs

See also:

Satyan Devados at Cal Tech God, Math and the Multiverse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrWyj34WGFE

Interview with Physicist Steven Barr 

http://www.strangenotions.com/modern-physics-ancient-faith-an-interview-with-physicist-dr-stephen-barr/

David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes 

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_christian_big_history?language=en

Posted by: gcarkner | March 30, 2015

Rene Girard on Deep Easter

The Gospel According to René Girard

~ Peter Barber, Ph.D. Student Religious Studies at UBC~

The two principal assertions of Girard’s hermeneutical model are ‘mimetic desire’ and ‘scapegoating’. Mimetic desire is the idea that humans do not experience being and identity autonomously, but always only through an Other, a model for one’s desire. Desire and by extension ‘being’ is borrowed. This essential feature of human nature accounts for the enormous learning capability (the physical apparatus for which is now identified as the brain’s mirror neuron system), and is a positive basic feature of human existence. And yet, since desiring and being is through a model-other – two or more persons desiring the same object(s) – rivalry over the object(s) can and often does result, occasioning conflict and seeming to necessitate in the estimation of the rival(s) the need for sacrifice of the Other, in order to gain the being blocked or inhibited by the model-obstacle.

It is in this way that scapegoating regularly results from mimetic desire going sideways, as just described. Positive learning descends into destructive violence. The term scapegoat is chosen by Girard because it encapsulates our cultures’ reception of the spirit of Christ’s revelation throughout history, that sacrifice of the other is not ‘good’, is not even necessary, but is the false transfer of responsibility for rivalry and violence off of oneself and entirely onto the Other. The transferal is followed by destruction of the Other for his/her/their guilt, and for the danger or social pollution they still pose, in blocking access to the desired object(s). Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | March 29, 2015

The Challenge of Easter

Giovanni_Bellini

Giovanni Bellini

How are we to understand Good Friday and Easter from such a distance? How does it relate to our experience? Is it mere sentiment or something more profound? Andy Crouch in his book Culture Making: recovering our creative calling, (Chapter 8 “Jesus as Culture Maker”) has some brilliant insights into the difference that Jesus life, death and resurrection have for shaping the horizons of possibility (shalom and human flourishing) for societies, ancient and modern. He helps us grapple with the various dimensions of this sorrow and celebration. See also I Corinthians 15.

The Cross

He suffered the full weight of the human story of rebellion against God. He was literally impaled on the worst that culture can do–an instrument of torture that stood for all the other cultural dead ends of history, from spears to bombs, gas chambers to waterboards. Like all other instruments of violence, a cross is cultural folly and futility at its most horrible. (141)

The core calling of [Jesus] life is not something he does at all in an active sense–it is something he suffers. The strangest and most wonderful paradox of the biblical story is that its most consequential moment is not an action but a passion–not a doing but a suffering. (142)

On Good Friday, love embraced suffering as Jesus drank the bitter cup. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. self-consciously followed the same journey of the suffering death of Jesus, the way of the cross, as he promoted civil rights for African-Americans in the Southern USA in the 1960s. He worked hard to replace the perverted symbol of the cross which was used as a justification for aggression, hate and violence—e.g. the Ku Klux Klan. His life quest was to restore the cross as a symbol of love, mercy, justice and non-violence. He incarnated a form of extreme love, a committed non-violent protest against systemic injustice. ~Iwan Russell-Jones, Professor of Faith and the Arts, Regent College

Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | March 24, 2015

Scholar Claims Moral Knowledge is Possible

Book Review by J. W. Wartick

(full review http://jwwartick.com/2014/09/01/ismk-smith/)

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R. Scott Smith’s In Search of Moral Knowledge: Overcoming the Fact-Value Dichotomy (IVP Academic 2014) is a systematic look at the possibility of moral knowledge in various metaethical systems, with an argument that a theistic, and specifically Christian, worldview is the most plausible way to ground the reality of morals.

Smith begins by providing overviews of various historical perspectives on ethics, including biblical, ancient (Plato and Aristotle), early (Augustine through Aquinas), and early modern (Reformation through the Enlightenment) systems. This survey is necessarily brief, but Smith provides enough information and background for readers to get an understanding of various ethical systems along with some difficulties related to each.

Next, the major options of naturalism, relativism, and postmodernism for ethics are examined in turn, with much critical interaction. For example, Smith argues that ethical relativism is deeply flawed in both method and content. He argues that relativism does not provide an adequate basis for moral knowledge, and it also undermines its own argument for ethical diversity and, by extension, relativism. Moreover, it fails to provide any way forward for how one is to live on such an ethical system and is thus confronted with the reality that it is unlivable. Ultimately, he concludes that “Ethical Relativism utterly fails as a moral theory and as a guide to one’s own moral life” (163).

For Naturalism, however, Smith contends the situation is even worse: “we cannot have knowledge of reality, period, based on naturalism’s ontology. Yet there are many things we do know. Therefore, naturalism is false and we should reject it not just for ethics, but in toto” (137). His argument for this thesis is, briefly, that naturalism has no basis for mental states–and therefore, for beliefs–and so we cannot have knowledge (see 147ff especially).

For full review see: http://jwwartick.com/2014/09/01/ismk-smith/

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Posted by: gcarkner | March 22, 2015

Is Agape Love a Source of the Good?

Charles Taylor and the Constitutive Good 

According to Taylor, sources of the good tend to vary from (a) those solely external to the self, to (b) those both internal and external, to (c) those totally internal. As he notes, at one time, the good was wholly external to the self as it was perceived in Plato’s moral ontology; the good was endemic to the structure of reality. The Stoics also saw things this way. Taylor notes the big transition in moral sources in the last four centuries:

Moving from an epoch in which people could find it plausible to see the order of the cosmos as a moral source, to one in which a very common view presents us a universe which is very neutral, and finds the moral sources in human capacities. (1994, p. 215)

He takes Plato as his representative of the first. “The cosmos, ordered by the good, set standards of goodness for human beings, and is properly the object of moral awe and admiration, inspiring us to act rightly” (Taylor, 1994). There is, however, an important distinction. Taylor himself is a moral realist, but not a neo-Platonist (the view that the good is part of the metaphysical structure of the world). Platonic moral realism has been discredited because it leans too heavily on the idea of an ontic logos, a meaningful order. Nor is Taylor, on the other hand, a radical subjectivist. His view of realism lies somewhere between the Romantic subjectivist Rilke, and the Platonic objectivist. He wants to champion both the subjective and objective dimensions of the moral self, and maintain that there are sources outside as well as inside the self. Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | March 15, 2015

The Courageous Quest for Justice

Thought-provoking Quotes from Jim Wallis, The (Un)Common Good

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  ~Robert F. Kennedy

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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“People were made for family, community, and human flourishing, not consumerism, materialism, addiction, and empty overwork.” (p. 18)

“How do we build a culture for the common good in an age of selfishness?” (p. 21)

“Who we think Jesus is will determine the kind of Christianity we live.” (p. 25)

“We are looking for moral clarity, mental sharpness, and emotional maturity in our responses to the steady assault of outside messages on our lives.” (p. 37)

“The greatest challenge to us in a world of injustice and a culture of cynicism is how to hang on to belief in a better world that would change this one.” (p. 39)

“The pilgrimage of our lives is the learning to apply the kingdom to the biggest and most consequential of social and political events, to the most personal of our closest relationships, and to the daily interactions we have with colleagues, coworkers, neighbours, and complete strangers. The Teacher wants to teach us in all those ways.” (p. 39)

“The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are the charter of the kingdom of God, the Magna Carta or the constitution of the kingdom; they are the instruction manual for living in the new age.” (p. 47)

“To be able to feel the pain of the world is to participate in the very heart of God. The compassionate response of God’s people to human suffering is one of their defining characteristics.” (p. 48)

“And when Jesus is asked by his disciples who will be first in his kingdom, he tells them it will be the servants of all. Humility us the one of the most under appreciated values in our intensely competitive culture, economy and politics.” (p. 49)

Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | March 12, 2015

C.S. Lewis and the Meaning of Love

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Jason Lepojarvi

Junior Research Fellow St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University

 Agape versus Eros: C. S. Lewis and Anders Nygren on the Meaning of Love

Wednesday, March 25 at 4:00 p.m. Woodward (IRC) Room 1

Agape versus Eros (slides)

Recording File  120131_004

Agape versus Eros (handout) 

  Abstract

 C. S. Lewis noted that he was shaken by reading Anders Nygren’s famous book Agape and Eros(1932) while in his thirties. Nygren’s antithetical juxtaposition of eros and agape had become enormously influential in twentieth century Protestant theology. Among other controversial claims, Nygren argued that human love is always selfish. In The Four Loves(1960), C. S. Lewis vehemently denies this claim, and constructs his own theology of love. The lecture will evaluate this most important disagreement between these two prominent scholars, including its profound implications. Contrary to what Nygren thought, Lewis contends that the pursuit of happiness is not morally culpable and even eros has the dawn of agape. While arguing for this view, however, Lewis was driven to some exaggeration.

  Biography

Jason Lepojärvi is a Junior Research Fellow in theology at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford, a Ph.D. Candidate with a dissertation to be defended in early 2015, and a former President of the Oxford C. S. Lewis Society. Born to a Canadian mother and a Finnish father, he studied theology and philosophy at the University of Helsinki. His master’s thesis (2008) on the theology of the body and sexuality by John Paul II was later published as the first introduction to the subject in Finnish (2012), and his upcoming doctoral dissertation (2015) is on C. S. Lewis’s theology of love. His research interests lie in Roman Catholic and Protestant philosophy and theology, more specifically, philosophy and theology of love, the body, sexuality, worship, and idolatry. In 2014, he won the Karl Schlecht Award. http://www.st-benets.ox.ac.uk/-fellows.

See also Joseph Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues.

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Other Lectures on C.S. Lewis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGRuQkUQMWQ Lecture on Four Loves

http://www.cslewis.org/?utm_source=E-Chronicles+October+23%2C+2014&utm_campaign=October23+E-Chronicles&utm_medium=email

Posted by: gcarkner | March 4, 2015

Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford: a memoir. by Carolyn Weber
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Commentary by Jan Porcino, former Student Worker at Harvard University
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This is a great book. It gave me so much joy to watch this very competent and diligent young Canadian woman journey from agnosticism to faith in Jesus as she pursued her studies for a D.Phil at Oxford.  There are wonderful quotes from great literature she includes in each chapter. It is fascinating to observe the varied circle of friends and professors God brought into her life: their significant conversations over time, her deep questioning and diligent study in the rich (yet decidedly hostile to Christianity) environment of Oxford. It was completely engaging; I could have sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting.

One male theological student befriended Carolyn; he not only makes good coffee, but is skilled in carefully discussing her tough questions and patiently listening to her many doubts over the weeks and years. He is also consistently gracious and kind to her in her suspicions about the trustworthiness of men arising from her life-experience and her feminist convictions. I was particularly moved by her description of this theological student’s American parents who visited Oxford and invited Carolyn to join them for dinner. They embody the beauty of the gospel and life-long discipleship through the tough places of life: including his father’s military service in Viet Nam. That evening visit impacted her deeply. When I finished the book, I read the “Acknowledgments” and to my joy, discovered a personal link to his folks who are now her in-laws. Her father-in-law, Stuart Weber, was an outstanding member of my graduating class of ‘67 at Wheaton College! Her description fits what I knew of him from a distance during those four years. This is a thrilling true story.

30% off at Regent Bookstore
Hope you have time to enjoy this special journey to faith, one of real integrity.
Gord
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Posted by: gcarkner | February 28, 2015

What Happened to Ideals?

In Search of a Few Good Adventurers

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Some see this as such a cynical age that they wonder whether ideals have currency anymore. We wish to protest. As a ministry to graduate students at UBC and beyond, in Graduate Christian Union and the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum, we are diligently on a quest. It is not an easy, safe or superficial desire. Quite the contrary, in our quest, we are looking to find and nurture the next generation of culture- and nation-shapers, builders of the literary imagination, institution-shapers. We are looking for the future apologists, justice-seekers, politicians who care about the common good and the weaker members of society, peace-negotiators, international relations adjudicators. Read More…

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