Posted by: gcarkner | July 26, 2016

Welcome to GCU Fall 2016

 GCU Fall Term Welcome 2016

This is a group that exists to help you reach your fullest potential as a graduate student. You help us build community among other grad students on campus and respond to those pursuing the deeper life.

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UBC is a Great Opportunity to Expand Your Horizons and Sharpen Your Skills

 Welcome to UBC! See you at the GSS Clubs Fair on Friday, September 2 at 10:30 to 1:30 in the Grad Student Centre Ballroom. We will sponsor a reception for new students second week of classes (Wednesday, September 14 at 6:00 pm at the home of Professor Emeritus Dr. Ed and Anne Jull, 1828 Western Parkway). Our study group begins in September on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on the theme: Pursuit of Joy. It is rooted in the book of Philippians. Our hikes begin on September 10 and 17. Our fall retreat will be held at A Rocha Centre in White Rock on September 23, 24. We are all on a journey both academically and spiritually. We hope that GCU can add fun, spice, wisdom and colour to that adventure.

Our updates are on the GCU Blog Site We post important lectures, social events and study group information, places to intersect with others who can build your imagination. It is a great network of creative minds and you add much with your background experiences, academic passion and searching questions. We hope that you will find it a home away from home in a community of mutual support. You can also ask questions or get more information from Gord at or  Ute at

We can also meet for coffee before school starts! Looking forward to hearing your story and your aspirations for grad school


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Posted by: gcarkner | July 17, 2016

Summer Good Reading

Gord’s Summer Reading 2016

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If we encounter a person of rare intellect, we should ask what books they read

Brené Brown (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. Avery. This is a surprisingly insightful book on human and family relationships; you might have seen her popular TED Talk on vulnerability or shame. She is a shame researcher in Texas who offers pearls of wisdom. We know a family of a GCU Alumnus in the UK that has been totally transformed by her teaching. Shame is the big elephant in the room for many of us.

Companion Volumes

Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves. (IVP, 2015)

Andy Crouch (2016). Strong and Weak: embracing a life of love, risk and true flourishing. IVP His books Culture Making and Playing God have been a huge hit for Christians looking to engage culture and find a creative, biblical way forward.


Timothy Jackson (2015). Political Agape: Christian Love and Liberal Democracy. Eerdmans. This is part of a trilogy on agape theology; there is a great final essay on Martin Luther King Jr.

Dallas Willard. The Allure of Gentleness: defending the faith in the manner of Jesus. Harper One. Willard has encouraged many young Christian philosophers in his time, and is also well-known for his work on Christian spirituality.

Two Great Books on Globalization

Miraslov Volf (2015). Flourishing: why we need religion in the age of globalization. Yale

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference: how to avoid the clash of civilization. Continuum

Two Books on Science & Religion

Fraser Fleming (2016). The Truth about Science and Religion: From the Big Bang to Neuroscience. Wipf & Stock Fraser is a former PhD student in Chemistry at UBC and one of the early members of GCU and the GFCF Committee.

Tom McLeish (2014). Faith and Wisdom in Science. Oxford University Press. (upcoming speaking tour at UBC, SFU and TWU first week of November 2016)

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.  (a very popular speaker, writer and philosopher from Calvin College).

Christian Artist Makato Fujimura, Silence and Beauty.

Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: the power of talk in a digital age.

Brian Fikkert & Russell Mask (2015). From Dependence to Dignity: how to alleviate poverty through church-centered microfinance. Zondervan

Books are food for the soul. They can be like a journey into another world. Some become our best friends. They can make a huge difference in our perspective. These authors can also be our mentors. Read outside your discipline to maximize your creativity. 

Good Reading  ~Gord

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Posted by: gcarkner | June 28, 2016

Virtue Liberates in the Long Run

Three Propositions from David Brooks, The Road to Character

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1. We don’t live for happiness, we live for holiness. Day to day we seek our pleasure, but deep down, human beings are endowed with moral imagination. All human beings seek to lead lives not just of pleasure, but of purpose, righteousness, and virtue. As John Stuart Mill put it, people have a responsibility to become more moral over time. The best life is oriented around the increasing excellence of the soul and is nourished by moral joy, the quiet sense of gratitude and tranquility that comes as a byproduct of successful moral struggle. The meaningful life is the same eternal thing, the combination of some sort of ideals and some man or woman’s struggle for those ideals. Life is essentially a moral drama, not a hedonistic one.

2. Proposition one defines the goal of life. The long road to character begins with an accurate understanding of our nature, and the core of that understanding is that we are flawed creatures. We have an innate tendency towards selfishness and overconfidence. We have a tendency to see ourselves as the centre of the universe, as if everything revolves around us.We resolve to do one thing but end up doing its opposite. We know what is deep and important in life, but we will pursue the things that are shallow and vain. Furthermore we overestimate our own strength and rationalize our own failures. We know less than we think we do. We give in to short-term desire even when we know we shouldn’t. We imagine that spiritual and moral needs can be solved through status and material things.

3. Although we are flawed creatures, we are also splendidly endowed. We are divided within ourselves, both fearfully and wonderfully made. We do sin, but we also have a capacity to recognize sin, and to overcome sin. We are both weak and strong, bound and free, blind and far-seeing.We thus have the capacity to struggle with ourselves. There is something heroic about a person in struggle with herself, strained on the rack of conscience, suffering torments, yet staying alive and growing stronger, sacrificing a worldly success for the sake of inner victory.

Compare Current Schools of Denial of Transcendence: Norms are nothing but the product of society and good is what we call good out of self-interest or certain social relations. All normative claims are problematic and therefore there are no criteria for judgment or discernment at a moral level. This comes as the next stage after the death of God (Deus Abscondicus) in western culture. It involves the admission (Nietzsche) that one cannot preserve Christian values once one has gotten rid of God. The Enlightenment tried to preserve ethical norms and absolutes based on reason (Kant) or emotions (Hume) or utility (Bentham). Often views in late modernity are part of a philosophy of absence. George Steiner in his important book Real Presences is quite helpful in his articulation of the loss of transcendence (presence) in late modern thought. The focus is on immanence (the here and now) and human practices. Virtues would then be reduced to the values of one’s tribe.

We are relentless. We depersonalize God to an idea to be discussed. We reduce people around us to resources to be used. We define ourselves as consumers to be satisfied. The more we do it, the more we incapacitate ourselves from growing up to a maturity capable of living adult lives of love, adoration, trust and sacrifice…. In our identity-confused society, too many of us have settled for a pastiche identity composed of social security number, medical records, academic degrees, job history, and whatever fragments of genealogy we can salvage. (E. Peterson 2010, 66, 79)

~Gordon Carkner

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Posted by: gcarkner | May 9, 2016

Leverage your Virtue

Leverage the Virtuous Community

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What kind of people form a virtuous community? How do we locate ourselves with respect to the good? What do wisdom, courage and hope, benevolence and love have to do with scholarship? What do moderation, self-restraint and frugality, patience and gratitude have to do with academic excellence, business acumen or scientific brilliance? Can we truly flourish if we live, work and love virtuously? Is self-interest and the almighty sovereignty of individual choice perhaps a scam of our age? Can virtue inform our academic vision to help it flourish? Our vision shapes our goals and actions day to day. Many of us will know of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s landmark book After Virtue which decried the cultural loss of this ancient language of virtue; in its place late modernity have substituted the Nietzschean/Weberian language of posited values–self-invented morality. Is this wise for full human flourishing?

A moral virtue is an excellence of character, developed by conscious choices over time and thus for which we can and should be praised; virtue disposes one to act in such a reasonable way to avoid extremes, to act in short as a sage would act. It is hard to develop solo; we need others to learn how to practice virtue. Virtues are heuristic; they teach us about new dimensions of life as we embrace them and embody them. Where do we find training in the virtues and character these days? Steven Bouma-Prediger (For the Beauty of the Earth, p. 140) a UBC GFCF visiting scholar shared his concern for environmental stewardship virtues. He articulate the language this way:

A virtue is a state of praiseworthy character—with the attendant desires, attitudes and emotions. Formed by choices over time, a virtue disposes us to act in certain excellent ways. Knowing which way is the truly excellent way involves avoiding the extremes of vice by looking to people of virtue as role models. As certain virtues shape our character they influence how we see the world. And the entire process of forming virtues is shaped by a particular narrative and community. The settled disposition to act well, which makes us who we are, is nurtured by the stories we imbibe and the communities of which we are a part.

There is an art, a finesse, a personal strength and creativity to virtue. It shows up in how we operate in the world and how we treat others. Virtues orient us toward both individual and group flourishing. It assumes trustworthy social relationships characteristic of a moral community; it takes into consideration an individual as well as a common good. There are academic and research virtues (Linda Zagzebski’s Virtues of the Mind) which help the university keep its integrity as a knowledge centre. Oxford’s Iris Murdoch, although not a believer in God, had a high view of the good, influencing premier Canadian philosopher of the self Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self). Basic honesty is under strain today as we are pushed to publish more and more and to superior academic performance (Matthew Crawford,  The World Outside Your Head).

Crawford suggest that our quest for radical individualism and autonomy is leading us into a unhealthy moral autism. We are losing our moral skill and agency. Matthew calls this the ‘cult of sincerity’, i.e., that you yourself can be the source of the norms by which you justify yourself–a radical responsibility for which we were not designed. It offers too much sovereignty. He says that we actually need others (friends, family, colleagues) to check our own self-understanding–through triangulation–to tell us we are doing OK, that we are good or excellent, or not so noble. One thing that sets us apart as humans is our desire to justify ourselves; we never act without moral implications. We need this web of people we respect (aka normativity). Charles Taylor agrees (Sources of the Self).

Here’s the rub: In times of cultural flux, where it is unclear what the rules are, how to value things or behaviour, it is difficult for us to understand ourselves socially. This leads to an existential crisis of alienation. So we become victims of the values of the marketplace–productivity, performance, usefulness, cash-out value. Matthew’s friend, psychologist Alain Ehrenburg (Weariness of the Self), notes that this is leading to epidemic levels of depression in our current culture of performance. Enough is never enough:

Depression presents itself as an illness of responsibility in which the dominant feeling is that of failure. The depressed individual is unable to measure up; he is tired of having to become himself. In a culture of performance, the person reads the value and status of her soul in her worldly accomplishments.

We are ever guilt-ridden and stressed. We are always faced with the raw issue of making things happen, our capacity, leading to this new pathology of weariness. The weariness of having to become one’s fullest self is leading to depression. On top of this, it is difficult to mitigate this depression in an age of performance, because weariness comes to equal weakness. So we turn to quick fixes, stimulants like Prozac or Adderall (an amphetamine) to keep us high-performing. This is an epidemic among students and also young faculty in high-performance universities. All the while we seek liberation through this autonomy, we are discovering a very serious brand of slavery. Modernity has turned on us: performance in capitalistic terms can crush us. We are not flourishing. We need a broader and richer set of moral parameters.
Brad Gregory, author of The Unintended Reformation has a chapter called “Subjectivizing Morality” on important sea changes in morality in the West. He makes note of a time when the virtuous community was a common social and political consciousness, part of people’s identity. But this has been exchanged today for a language of rights. Gregory notes: “A transformation from a substantive morality of the good to a formal morality of rights constitutes the central change in Western ethics over the past half millennium, in terms of theory, practice, laws and institutions.”

At one time, rights were articulated within values of the communal good (within the discourse of the virtuous community); now they have morphed into a consumeristic commodity to fulfill my subjective desires or opinions–my choice. This approach is threatening our freedom, dignity and rights. Today, our individual good seems to be in tension with the common good (within a discourse of individualism, self-interest and entitlements). We are struggling to find the social glue (the common purpose) to hold society together. Is the default position of personal preference and consumerism the answer? How do we recover again and leverage the power of virtue? This is no small concern; it is both a local and a global phenomenon.

Gordon E. Carkner, PhD Philosophical Theology

See also David Brooks, The Road to Character.

Jim Wallis, The (Un)Common Good.

Other blog posts on The Qualities of the Will.

Posted by: gcarkner | April 26, 2016

Creation and the Virtuous

Impact of Virtues & Vices of the Human Creature


Steven Bouma-Prediger, Environmental Philosopher 

Spirit BearSpirit Bear in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest

Respect & Receptivity: If life in all its diversity is a gift from a benevolent Creator, we should respect its innate, intrinsic and precious value—its creational integrity. Biodiversity (a rich and full flourishing fittedness) is an intended result of God’s wise and orderly creative activity. We as the human dimension of creation are only one species among multitudes, and so we should cultivate the earth in harmony with other creatures, so that we can all sing a symphony of God’s praises together (Psalms 104; 148).

In other words, other creatures count morally or have moral standing. We have the same God-loved home, and are interdependent with other God-loved creatures on this planet. The virtue principle is to act to preserve diverse kinds of life. The opposing vice is conceit: to ignore or disdain other creatures, or just use or abuse them for our appetites or pleasure. Conceit has no genuine interest in another and will if necessary violate the integrity of the other through a lack of regard. A different kind of vice would be to worship the other creatures through an excess of reverence. Receptivity is a form of hospitality, which acknowledges our interdependence with the creaturely other; self-sufficiency is the vice that says we don’t have need of the other.

Self-Restraint and Frugality: The assumption here is that since creation is finite, others’ basic needs take precedence over our greedy wants. We should learn to live within our means and learn when ‘enough is enough’. There is a prima facie duty to preserve non-renewable resources and conserve scarce though renewable resources. Self-restraint is moderation (old Greek concept) of inordinate desires (temperance), a habitual control of one’s appetites and desires. The vice here is profligacy or self-indulgence (to be belly-oriented). Frugality speaks to an economy of the use of finite goods which acts as a form of hospitality. The opposing vice is greed (excessive acquisition) or avarice, a craving to acquire, blinded to the limits inherent within creation. Think of the recent financial meltdown for illustration of this vice or the destruction of the rainforests of the world.

Humility and Honesty: Humility speaks to the art of being responsible, unpretentious and aware of one’s limits; it recognizes that we humanoids are both finite and faulted; we should act cautiously and move slowly with a view to the consequences of how we consume and live with others. We don’t know all of the implications of our actions and so we should endeavour to be circumspect and careful. The opposing vice is hubris or overweening pride, an exaggerated self-confidence in our own creativity. Honesty means to be without guile or duplicity (perversion of truth for personal gain); it entails that we will act with forethought and put on the brakes even when we are disadvantaged. Its opposite is deception, a cunning misrepresentation of the facts often fuelled by envy and spite in order to see enemies harmed and humiliated. When we make creation our enemy, we can see the potential for harmful destruction. When we make creation our partner as in the recently built greenest home ever near Kamloops, it is speaking to humility, truthfulness and integrity.

Wisdom and Hope: Wisdom is an excellence of intellect, developed over time, one that allows us to live the good life (For the Beauty of the Earth, p. 150). It originates in the fear or worship of God. It is “sound practical judgment based on uncommon insight honed through long experience and informed by cultivated memory.” Assumption: it is God’s will that the whole of creation be fruitful and flourish, not just humans. We should act in such a way that the ability of living creatures can maintain themselves and reproduce—fecundity. Foolishness is the vice of habitual lack of sound judgment, to act as if the earth is endlessly exploitable. Hope is trust oriented forward in time rooted in God’s promises as talked about in an earlier section, a yearning for shalom or wholeness. Despair, hope’s nemesis, is the absence of any expectation of a good future; it leads to the sickness unto death of Kierkegaard, and this cynicism leads to death dealing against others in creation.

Patience and Serenity: Assuming a belief in Sabbath rest for land, humans and animals, it is a principle of rejuvenation. It takes the long view and shows a calm forbearance. We should act in such a way that the creatures, land and property under our care are given their needful rest. The vice is impetuousness, an impulsiveness based on fear of the future, that drive to gratify our desires in the immediate moment. Serenity is an unruffled peacefulness, an inner calm amidst chaos rooted in an assurance of God’s grace and his patience. This is the founding principle of farming: planting the seed and waiting. This takes the pressure off our obsession with productivity, acquisition, and consumerism. If rest is part of our rhythm, we will stay in the game longer and do better more creative work–work towards the bigger contribution.

Benevolence and Love: Benevolence is willingness to promote the well-being of another despite our feelings; love involves a feeling of affection (care) for the other. To love the earth means to serve and cultivate it and protect it from harm (to be earthkeepers), to take responsibility for it. It involves recognition of God as the real owner and we humans as the tenants, those who tend the earth gardens for the Master. If we love God’s good creation, we will not exploit, waste or pillage it; we will nurture it and preserve its well-being. This idea of loving (not worshipping) creation may seem strange, but it is biblical (Genesis 2:15). Caritas (charity or love towards the other) is the ultimate goal of Christian spirituality. The ecological tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico should actually break our hearts; creation is groaning (Romans 8); what a terrible waste.

Justice and Courage: Justice is a central feature of human flourishing, the disposition to act impartially and fairly; it implies respect for the rights of others, especially the vulnerable. In Isaiah 24, justice is intimately tied to the health of the land; social justice and ecological health are bound together. Biblically we are enjoined to act so as to treat others, human and non-human fairly and to attend to the weak, widow, orphan, sick and handicapped. Courage is the moral strength in the face of danger, tenacity in the face of opposition, a stubborn persistence in the face of adversity. Often it takes tremendous courage to sustain justice, to lobby for justice and to do the right thing.

Such is the leverage of virtue. It trumps moral relativism, moral autism or mindless subjectivism. In today’s late modern world, older vices such as acquisitive attitude have become virtues causing a moral inversion. There is still time to recover and retrieve these ancient virtues once again and to truly flourish on this blue green planet. Steve Bouma-Prediger is a good place to start on this journey home. He is a lead voice in this field of creation care.

See also The Four Cardinal Virtues by Joseph Pieper

Notes recorded from For the Beauty of the Earth by Gordon Carkner

Other relevant blog posts include ‘Qualities of the Will’ on the work of Charles taylor and the recovery of the good.

Posted by: gcarkner | April 12, 2016

The God Particle in Physics

Finding God, … the particle.

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Haldron Collider Cern

In early 2011, deep under the Swiss-French countryside, scientists began studying the chaotic fires of high energy particle interactions using the new large hadron collider at CERN. The LHC had achieved incredibly high energies, rarely seen in the universe since the Big Bang. By July 2012 scientists excitedly announced that they had produced the massive Higgs boson, a.k.a. the “god particle.”

The divine nickname, and attendant media hype, begs the question of whether this discovery has any religious implications. At first blush, the question is almost embarrassing to scientists. It appears that the name “God particle” originated from “God-d*mn” particle, not any theological connection. The Higgs particle was the simply the last major prediction of the Standard Model (SM) of physics and its detection was the ultimate triumph. Yet, it is the very success of the SM that has potential implications for metaphysics and theology.

The Standard Model gives deep insights into nature; however, many run contrary to our common-sense view of reality. For example, according to the SM the universe is populated by both real and “virtual” particles, which are the by-products of invisible fields, such as the “Higgs field,” that span space and time. Virtual particles have a shadowy existence, randomly appearing then disappearing, yet have a measurable effect on real particles. Even real particles may be created from “nothing”. Here the physics intersects with the metaphysical discussion of the nature of matter. The SM description of continual creation (and annihilation) may also have implications for the theology of creation. Using theological language, one could describe the Higgs particle as the incarnation of the omnipresent Higgs field, in which we live and move and have our being, bequeathing to all matter the gift of mass. What this means needs to be worked out more rigorously.

The awesome technical and scientific achievement of this discovery also leads us to seriously reconsider the question of why humans, with pen and paper, computers and particle detectors, can so deeply understand the physical universe. This same question prompted Eugene Wigner to write the paper “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences”. In the Standard Model, the unreasonable effectiveness of “symmetry” prompts the same question. The success of the scientific enterprise seems to point to some transcendent reality because we appear to be able to apprehend truths beyond our brains’ biochemical activity. Such a reality has always been the province of religion. Thus, the discovery of the Higgs particle invites us to explore the broader interactions between science and theology.

Barry Pointon, Ph.D

Physics Department

British Columbia Institute of Technology

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Further References on God & Physics:

John Polkinghorne, One World: the interaction of science and theology.

Denis Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix: science & faith in the 21st century.

Ard Louis, Physicist, Oxford University

Jennifer Wiseman, NASA physicist.

Tom McLeish, Faith & Wisdom in Science (OUP, 2014)

Alister McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe.

Posted by: gcarkner | April 3, 2016

Great Books on Science & Religion

Great Books on Science and Religion

See also Resources on Faith & Scholarship


Mind Expanding Quotes on a Fine-Tuned Universe & Biosphere

Slides of Pointon Lecture Human-Haunted Cosmos

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Background Microwave Radiation from the Big Bang

Polkinghorne, Sir John, One World: The Interaction of Science & Theology. Princeton. (physicist/theologian—leading light on Science & Religion)

Polkinghorne, Sir John, Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of ScienceReligion, Science and Providence.

McGrath, Alister. A Fine-Tuned Universe: the quest for God in Science and Theology. (Gifford Lectures)

Hutchinson, Ian. Monopolizing Knowledge.

Craig & Meister (eds.). God is Great; God is Good.

Gingerich, Owen, God’s Universe.

Collins, Francis, The Language of God. Free Press.

Pascal, Blaise.  Pensees.  Trans. A. J. Krailsheimer.  Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1966.

Capell & Cook eds., Not Just Science: Questions Where Christian Faith and Natural Science Intersect. Zondervan

Jaki, Stanley, The Road to Science and the Ways to God. Chicago (Gifford Lectures on history of science)

Russell, Colin, Crosscurrents: Interactions Between Science & Faith. Eerdmans

Danielson, Dennis (ed.), The Book of the Cosmos. Perceus.

Plantinga, Alvin, Where the Conflict Really Lies: science, religion and naturalism. (a critique of the new atheist and the hegemony of Philosophical Naturalism)

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Horse Head Nebula: where stars are born from cosmic dust

Lewis, C.S., Miracles. Macmillan (a classic)

Waltke, Bruce, “Gift of the Cosmos” (article on Genesis 1:1-2:4) Chapter 8 in   An Old Testament Theology, Zondervan, 2007.

Alexander, Denis, Rebuilding the Matrix: Science & Faith in the 21st Century. Zondervan (director of Faraday Institute in Cambridge, UK)

Burke, ed., Creation & Evolution: 7 Prominent Christians Debate. IVP UK.

Livingstone, D. N., Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter BetweenEvangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought.

Owens, V.S., Godspy: Faith, Perception, and the New Physics.

Gingerich, Owen, “Let There Be Light” article on natural theology by America’s top Christian physicist at Harvard’s Smithsonian Institute.

Theology of Creation

Alexander, Denis, Evolution or Creation?: Must we Choose?

Capon, R. F.,  “The Third Peacock” in The Romance of the Word. Eerdmans

Gunton, C., The Triune Creator: a historical and systematic study. Eerdmans (English theologian)

Walsh & Middleton, The Transforming Vision. IVP (on Christian worldview)

Bouma-Prediger, S., For the Beauty of the Earth: a Christian vision of creation care. Baker Academic, 2010.

Nagel, Thomas, Mind and Cosmos.

Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination.

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Limits of Science; Perspective on Science

Medawar, P., The Limits of Science.

Schumacher, E.F. A Guide for the Perplexed. Abacus. (brilliant challenge to ontological reductionism)

Polanyi, Michael.,  Personal Knowledge:Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy.

Carkner, Gordon, Unpublished paper: “Scientism and the Search for an Integrated Reality” (several posts from this on the Blog)

McGrath, A. & J., The Dawkins Delusion? IVP 2007.

Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Lion Books, 2011.

Jeeves & Berry,  Science, Life, and Christian Belief. Apollos Books.

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History of the Cosmos

Ward, Keith, Pascal’s Fire:  Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding.

Harper, Charles Jr. ed., Spiritual Information: 100 Perspectives on Science and Religion. Templeton Foundation Press.

Spencer, N. & White, R. Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living.  SPCK, 2007.

See also DVD Series called Test of Faith from Faraday Institute in Cambridge, UK

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Upcoming Speaker November 2016




Posted by: gcarkner | March 28, 2016

UBC Discussion on Our Place in the Cosmos


Dr. Pointon’s Slides of the Presentation The human haunted cosmos – Final April 1 2016 

Fairmount Lounge, St. John’s College, UBC

See also

See also blog posts on fine-tuned universe

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Posted by: gcarkner | March 23, 2016

The Power of Good Friday and Easter

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Giovanni Bellini, The Garden of Gethsemane

Faith in God includes one’s ongoing resolve to receive God’s moral character in Christ inwardly, and to belong to God, in the reverent attitude of Gethsemane; Christ in you is the inward agent-power of Christ working, directing at the level of psychological and motivational attitudes, towards a cooperative person’s renewal in God’s image as God’s beloved child; furthermore Gethsemane union with Christ as Lord calls for volitional cooperation and companionship with Christ, who empowers and guides how we think, not just what we think.

~Dr. Paul Moser, Philosopher Loyola University, Chicago

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 and reflect on the meaningful quotes by other authors and leaders.

~Gordon Carkner

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. as an instrument of 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, former BBC Filmmaker and Professor of Faith and the Arts, Regent College Good Friday Poem by Malcolm Guite Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | February 20, 2016

Political Scientist Examines the Secular-Religious Debate

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Response by Dr. Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus, Geography

Audio File Thomas Heilke

Full Biography For Thomas Heilke

 Thomas Heilke received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1990. After 23 years as a faculty member and a variety of administrative positions at the University of Kansas, he has been Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies UBC Okanagan since January, 2014. He is the recipient of three teaching awards, and has written on a variety of topics in political philosophy, including civic friendship, political theology, the political thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, Eric Voegelin, John Howard Yoder, and Thucydides, and Anabaptist political thought. He has authored or co- authored four books and edited or co-edited six further volumes. His work has appeared in journals that include American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Polity, The Review of Politics, and Modern Theology. Among his published books are Voegelin on the Idea of Race: An Analysis of Modern European Racism (1990); Nietzsche’s Tragic Regime: Culture, Aesthetics, and Political Education (1998); Eric Voegelin: In Quest of Reality (1999). He co-edited with Ashley Woodwiss The Re-Enchantment of Political Science: Christian Scholars Engage Their Discipline, (2001). He belongs to the American Political Science Association and the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars. Read More…

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