Posted by: gcarkner | February 11, 2018

Expert Panel on Addiction

Bill Newsome Lecture, January 31 @ UBC

Excellent, Efficient Service, Very Reasonable Prices

1935 West Broadway (at Cypress) Vancouver

Posted by: gcarkner | February 6, 2018

Thirteen Good Books for 2018 Reflection

Thirteen Top Apologetics Resources for 2018

You Can find them all at Regent College Bookstore

~Dr. Gordon Carkner


  • Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies.
  • David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God.
  • James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love.
  • Alister McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe.
  • David Brooks, The Road to Character.
  • Miraslov Volf, Flourishing.
  • Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name.
  • Andy Crouch, Playing God.
  • Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth.
  • Tom McLeish, Faith and Wisdom in Science.
  • N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God.
  • Craig & Meister, God is Good; God is Great. 
  • Tim Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical.

Posted by: gcarkner | February 3, 2018

National Science & Faith Conference, May 2018

Posted by: gcarkner | January 14, 2018

Leading Stanford Neuroscientist Bill Newsome at UBC/TWU    Bill Newsome January 31 @ UBC

“In my lifetime, there has never been a moment like this one… in terms of the speed and acceleration of discovery.” William Newsome, director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, says new technologies are allowing researchers to make significant progress in understanding the brain.


Co-sponsored with the Canadian Science & Christian Affiliation and UBC Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum. Other lectures in the series at 

Supported financially by the UBC Murrin Fund and Oikodome Foundation

What about our brains allows us be one person at the office and a very different person at home? Professor William Newsome explains how a constant rewiring of neural connectivity enables the “socially sensitive” production of behavior.

See also the January 6-12 Issue of the Economist.

Read: Explaining the Brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience by Carl F. Craver

Thomas Nagel, What is it like to be a bat?

Compare post on Ghost in the Machine.

Further Reading on neuroscience and faith, the body-soul question

Brown, W.S. & Strawn, B.D. (2012). The physical nature of Christian life:

Neuroscience, psychology and the church. NY: Cambridge University Press.–this one is good on implications for Christians

Jeeves, M. & Brown, W.S. (2009). Neuroscience, psychology, and religion: illusions,

delusions, and realities about human nature. West Conshohocken: Templeton Foundation


Markham, Paul N. (2007). Rewired: Exploring religious conversion. Eugene, OR:


the one by Nancey Murphy that Bill had on the screen, although old is excellent on theology/philosophy  of monism/dualism

Murphy, Nancey. (2006). Bodies and souls, or spirited bodies? New York, NY:


Green, Joel & Palmer, Stuart. (2005). In search of the soul: four views of the mind-body

problem. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Jeeves, Malcolm, ed. (2004). From cells to souls–and beyond: changing portraits of

human nature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Jeeves, Malcolm. (2006). Human nature: reflections on the integration of psychology and

Christianity . Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.

Murphy, N. & Brown, W. S. (2007). Did my neurons make me do it?: Philosophical and

neurobiological perspectives on moral responsibility and free will. Oxford:

Clarendon. Bill Newsome on State of Neuroscience Bill Newsome on Free Will Test of Faith Series with Bill Newsome

Awards and Prizes

  • Rank Prize in Opto-electronics
  • Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (American Psychological Association)
  • Karl Spencer Lashley Award (American Philosophical Society)
  • Champalimaud Vision Award
  • Pepose Award for the Study of Vision at Brandeis University
  • 100 Published scientific articles
Next, GFCF Panel on Addiction

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.

Woodward IRC Room 5, GATE One UBC


Distinguished Panel Members

John Koehn, Addiction Medical Practitioner, New Westminster, Royal Columbia Hospital, completed a Fellowship under Dr. Evan Wood, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Jay Wong, Psychiatry UBC, Providence Health, front line addiction worker, under Dr. Evan Wood

Jadine Cairns, Nutritionist, Children’s Hospital, Specialist in Eating Disorders

Gabriel Loh, Doctor of Pharmacology, Vancouver Coastal Health, Clinical Assistant Professor, works at Richmond Hospital. 


Various types of addiction, especially drug, food and alcohol, are showing up as a major social and health problem in Canadian society. It has been recognized by the Royal College of Physicians as a training priority. In recent years, substance abuse and the concurrent disorders have been highlighted in the media through the fentanyl crisis. This interdisciplinary panel of healthcare professionals will address various aspects of the problem and propose some ways forward from within their fields of expertise. Faith-based and medical solutions will be explored as a long-term solution to this vexing problem that deeply challenges so many lives.




Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 4.19.30 PM
Posted by: gcarkner | January 13, 2018

Recovery of Identity through Virtue

 The Power of Virtue to Transform and Empower

What kind of people do we aspire to be? What will help us persevere amidst challenges and tragedies and show resilience for the long haul? What kind of things which we think, say and do will make us stronger, focused, more effective? How do we locate ourselves in relation to the good? What do wisdom, courage and hope, benevolence and love, moderation, self-restraint and frugality, patience and gratitude have to do with academia and with everyday life? Can we live well if we live and love virtuously? Our virtue will inform our academic vision, and our vision shapes our goals and actions day to day, and cumulatively this impacts creation and society. Virtue involves our desires and emotions, disposition and attitudes, our stance towards and within the world. There is an art, a joy, a creativity, a finesse to virtue. To embrace virtue involves living deeply, prayerfully, circumspectly, hopefully, expectantly.

A moral virtue is an excellence of character, developed by conscious choices over time and thus for which we can and should be praised, that disposes one to act in such a reasonable way to avoid extremes, to act in short as a sage would act. ~ Aristotle

Here are some examples of virtue that leads us into taking responsibility for ourselves and our world from Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth.

  • 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 human creation are only one species among many and 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 and it is our obligation to respect and manage it well. The virtue principle is to act to preserve diverse kinds of life and 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. Another different 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, or temperance, a habitual control of one’s appetites. The vice here is profligacy or self-indulgence (to be belly-oriented). Frugality speaks to an economy of the use of finite goods which is a sort of planetary hospitality. The opposing vice is greed (excessive acquisition) or avarice, a craving to acquire blinded to the limits inherent within creation.


  • 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. The vice is hubris or overweening pride, an exaggerated self-confidence. Honesty means to be without guile or duplicity (perversion of truth for personal gain); it entails that we will act with forethought. It opposite is Deception a cunning misrepresentation often fuelled by envy and spite in order to see enemies harmed and humiliated.


  • Wisdom and Hope: Wisdom is an excellence of intellect, developed over time, that allows one to live the good life (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 and not just humans. We should act in such a way that the ability of living creature can maintain themselves and reproduce. Foolishness is the position of habitual lack of sound judgment, to act as if the earth is endlessly exploitable. Hopetrust oriented forward in time rooted in God’s promises, a yearning for shalom. Despair is the absence of any expectation of a good future; it leads to the sickness unto death of Kierkegaard.


  • Patience and Serenity: 152 assuming a belief is Sabbath rest for land humans and animals, it is a principle of rejuvenation. It takes the long vew and shows a calm forebearance. We should act in such a way that the creatures 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 a assurance of God’s grace.


  • Benevolence and Love: Benevolence is willingness to promote the well-being of another plus a feeling of affection for the other. To love the earth means to serve and cultivate it and protect it from harm (to be earthkeepers). It involves recognition of God as the real owner and we humans as the tenants, those who tend the earth gardens. If we love God’s good creation, we will not exploit or pillage it; we will nurture it. This may seem strange, but it is biblical (Genesis 2:15). The ecological tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico should actually break our hearts.


  • Justice and Courage: Justice, a central feature of human flourishing, is the disposition to act impartially and fairly; it implies respect for the rights of others. In Isaiah 24, justice is intimately tied to the health of the land; sociall justice and ecological health are bound together. We are enjoined to act so as to treat others, human and non-human fairly. 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.

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 communities. The settled disposition to act well, which makes us who we are, are nurtured by the stories  we imbibe and the communities of which we are a part. ~ Steven Bouma-Prediger

See also David Brooks, The Road to Character.

Our lives often follow either of two dramatically different routes:

  1. expedience, pleasure now, entitlement, short cuts morally, take all you can get and run, immediate self-gratification. This route can lead to nihilism (loss of self) or tyranny.
  2. sacrifice, work hard for a better future, delay gratification, focus on the greater good, think about others, share, take responsibility. This is the route to a higher freedom, a legacy life. You are saving up for a better future self (a university education, a better marriage, a better reputation, a better world).
Posted by: gcarkner | January 8, 2018

Late Modernity and its Prospects

Learning from an Analysis of Late Modernity

The irony of late modernity is that, just when we thought we were most  free, we discovered that we were actually in chains of a culture of nihilism and cynicism, anger and resentment. We dare to know the truth about our situation, and to think critically about it. We also long to experience life in its fullness and abundance, to live with passion towards the good. We want to discover our calling and make a meaningful contribution. We have discovered that nihilism is a seductive trap, with false promises that cannot deliver. Radical individualism is out of touch with reality, it does not sustain, and cynicism self-destructs. Nihilism leaves us homeless, fearful, deceptive, suspicious, isolated, and morally frozen.

Ultimately, it is a form of anti-humanism, working against our best interests, as well as the best interests of others. The great escape from nihilism, as we have articulated it, is a committed process. It moves us out of naïveté into maturity. We have been on a spiritual journey that requires both map (a new paradigm) and compass (wisdom, discernment, interpretive skill). We do have the choice of a robust alternative, an upward trek towards virtue, which is at the heart of human flourishing and meaning. With some help, we can recover a fresh consciousness, an effective individuality in relation to the good, to agape love, and to community. We can live from the depth of character, rather than stroll superficially as flâneurs, aristocrats of style, or reduce ourselves to technical performers, a mere cog in the big economic machinery. Read More…

Posted by: gcarkner | January 4, 2018

GCU Winter-Spring 2018

 Grad Christian Union, Winter/Spring Term 2018

We exist to help you reach high as a graduate student and to find your truest self. GCU is a network of believers and seekers, a friendly learning community providing mutual support and dialogue. We include those pursuing the deeper life, meaningful character formation, those who want to grow in personal/emotional intelligence as well as in academic skill. We would be excited to meet you and hear about your journey, your passion and your areas of curiosity and joie de vivre. Join us at upcoming activities which include social outings, study group and special lectures. I’d be happy to meet personally over coffee as well. ~Gord

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 3.13.41 PM


Welcome to New Opportunities to Expand Your Horizons

 Welcome to UBC if you have just started your program.  We begin January with our study group on Tuesday, January 16 at 7 pm at our home 277 West 16th Ave., Vancouver (just east of Cambie), in the book of II Corinthians, continuing our theme of Incarnation and the New Covenant. We start with an introduction to Paul’s invention of Christian theology with top scholar N.T. (Tom) Wright. GCU sponsors discussion groups, retreats, films, speakers and fun outdoor hikes, some ski trips, in the local mountains. We like international food and fun. GCU is like a little UN with friends from around the globe. Write to if you want to be regularly informed about our activities and resources to enhance your experience at UBC. All of us are on a journey both academically and spiritually. We hope that GCU can add fun, wisdom and colour to that adventure as you travel with new companions. Success in grad school is aided by a good support group–walking through your challenges with others. You have much to offer to UBC and to other students, things from the centre of your passion, questions that lead into curious investigation. We have just released a book written by our staff support worker Gordon Carkner which gives the spirit of GCU, and we think that you will benefit from it as a resource. It is called The Great Escape from Nihilism: rediscovering our passion in late modernity

GCU helps you navigate 

Joined by his wife Ute, and a number of UBC faculty interested in supporting graduate students, Gord loves to hear stories from around the world and he enjoys the wonder of engaging our Christian faith with culture and with science. In one sense, we drill down into the ancient Christian heritage of the university.  Ute has expertise in spiritual formation and intercession. Contact her for prayer about your issues. We work hard for you! GCU is all about dialogue, discussion, probing good question and personal growth, keeping us on the cutting edge.

First Lecture of 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 3.46.31 PM Bill Newsome on State of Neuroscience Bill Newsome on Free Will


Posted by: gcarkner | December 11, 2017

Christmas Reading

Christmas Reading Suggestions

Scot McKnight, The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Amon Us. Waterbrook.

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Vintage; and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

Terry Glasprey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Story Behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music and Film. Baker

Michael Rota, Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence and the Abundant Life. IVP Academic

Marina Nemat, Prisoner of Teran: a Memoir. Penguin (International Bestseller)

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God: an Invitation to the Skeptical.

Sandra Maria Van Opsal, The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World. IVP

Steven Backhouse, Kierkegaard: A Single Life. Zondervan

Stephen Bauman, Matthew Soerens & Issam Smier, Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. Moody

Miraslov Volf, Flourishing: why we need religion in a globalized world. Yale University Press

Jonathan Sacks, Not in the Name of God: Confronting Religious Violence. Schocken. Piano Guys Christmas


Pastors and Christian Leaders

Christopher Wright, How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All its Worth. Zondervan 2017

Kevin Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity. Brazos

Oliver O’Donovan, Entering into Rest: Ethics as Theology, Volume 3

Gordon T. Smith, Institutional Intelligence: How to Build an Effective Organization.

Preston Manning, Faith, Leadership and Public Life: Leadership Lessons from Moses to Jesus.

Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels. Baylor University Press.


Perhaps you will attend a Handel’s Messiah concert at this time of year to revive your sense of wonder at the nature of the Christmas celebrations. You want to rise above the pressures of wants from your kids and the consumeristic greed, the stresses of entertainment. One of the grand pieces in this phenomenal production is the oratorio “Unto Us a Child is Born”. This powerful, stirring  piece of music is based on a prophetic passage in the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 9: 2-7, rooted in a poem delivered 600 years before the birth of Christ. Christians have taken this as a predictor of the coming Messiah. They own it as a statement about the prophetic child, a royal agent. He would be a Wonderful Counsellor, someone filled with wisdom about how life and relationships work; a Mighty God, a champion with authority to bring change for the good into the world; Everlasting Father, someone benevolent who knew the end from the beginning, who had a unique, eternal perspective on our lives and our troubles;  a Prince of Peace, someone who would sort out the injustices and remove oppression, who will level the playing field, and promote reconciliation. It speaks of the presence of Yahweh with his people, a presence of renewal and reformation, in a time of transition to a new cultural ethos. This prophetic child would bring Light, Joy, Freedom, and Peace.


Posted by: gcarkner | December 7, 2017

Bill Newsome Speaks on Neuroscience and Faith Bill Newsome on State of Neuroscience Bill Newsome on Free Will    Bill Newsome, a similar talk given in recent years.


Posted by: gcarkner | December 3, 2017

Advent Investigations

Advent Investigations Reframed

Advent speaks of God’s coming to be with us, a presence to fill the void of absence. Our world is so often typified by will-to-power, nihilism, with wandering souls, broken dreams and fragmented lives. But there is no greater claim among all the religions and philosophies of the world than this: God took on a human body and spent time with us, dwelt among us. It entails his most dramatic revelation, his greatest speech-act.  Angelic hosts burst into glorious song to announce the event. O Holy Night!

Just at the right time, high time (kairos), he comes to dwell in incarnate flesh: pulsating corpuscles, arms and legs running to greet us, face filled with compassion, hands breaking bread to feed the masses. Here lies the grand invitation to counter nihilism, search into the deeper things of life, reach higher for a transcendent encounter, to ponder the big questions of meaning, purpose and identity. We must put our best philosophers and scholars, poets and scientists to work on this investigation. What’s this that is happening to us, to our world? What’s the meaning of this virgin birth, this epiphany of grace, this gift, this cosmic event, this explosion of the human and divine imagination? Advent is that and more.

Incarnation Mystery: We have touched him with our hands, rubbed shoulders, felt his robust embrace, dined together, listened to his wisdom, felt his care. Mary sings, “Things hidden for centuries have become so clear. Insight and justice have set up a new epistemology, a new way of knowing and being, a new world where love rules. Infinite meets finite good and ushers in peace; a new future is born. Our people have longed for this for centuries in our wildest dreams and deepest depths. Once we could only hope for such things. Now they are tangible and real.” How do we discern such grand experience?

Cognitive Barrier: The proud and cynical skeptics, who want to treat such evidence for God like a laboratory investigation, cannot see the light in Advent, cannot discern the import of the storyline, cannot understand why scholars would travel the globe to investigate the signs. Handicapped by moral blockage, our cynics cannot receive divine love; they are deaf to the announcement of joy unspeakable; there is no feeling of wonder at the Advent Miracle. “Show me the hard data; bring us fire from heaven. Show us the cognitive bullet that explains, the hermeneutical key to unlock the episode. Adults must face the harsh reality of meaninglessness.” Instead, they find only fantasy, obscurity and confusion; they walk away from incarnate signs without knowing the profound significance of their loss. Time to read another book from the New Atheists to bury our guilt and refuse the mystery of a special newborn that may be the hinge of history. They settle for absence. Are we late moderns looking for God in all the wrong places and then carelessly claiming he doesn’t exist and is irrelevant to our human dreams? Do we have the wrong methodology, a dysfunctional hermeneutic?

Cognitive Hope: As a counterpoint to this skeptic’s dilemma, Loyola philosopher Paul K. Moser reframes the approach: “Are we humans in a position on our own to answer the question of whether God exists, without our being morally challenged by God?” This draws on the ancient Hebrew prophetic tradition: God hides from the proud and reveals himself to the humble and teachable, those with the open heart and the imagination of a young child. Revelation involves encounter: divine cognitive grace engaging stony hearts. What kind of person will discover God, feel divine presence and experience holy communion, hear the angels announcing the birth and recognize what it means?  What kind of approach will improve our sight and hearing? To seek out God is morally loaded and humanly humbling. Courage, humility and perseverance is required.

Evidence for God is no spectator sport where we treat him as a laboratory experiment; rather, it requires the seeker to submit to someone as authoritative Lord, and to undergo examination. The pure in heart and the righteous will see God. Ah, there’s the rub: No magic cognitive bullet to answer all questions or provide the right hermeneutical key. Our wise philosopher Dr. Moser informs us that we need kardiatheology the right motivation of the heart to deal properly with the hidden God, who is shy and hides from our arrogant attitudes, our attempts to control the ultimate experiment. We desperately need healing from our cynicism in order to see and perceive, to engage fruitfully a holy and loving God. These investigations after all are not just about the first cause or the evidence of a designer in a fine-tuned universe. We will need to seek him on his terms, to attend to his approach. The Divine Fox sets the parameters for discovery and the rules of engagement. The Wexford Carol

Indeed, what if the fundamentals are not cosmos, nebulae and galaxies, matter and energy, time, space and motion, protons and electrons, but rather love, joy, peace and goodness, I-Thou relationship, purity of inner self. How do we filter the cosmic noise, the cacophony of human skepticism, and hear his voice calling to us? Come everyone who is tired and stressed, hungry and exhausted and I will give you rest, peace, and healing. Handel’s Messiah captures the grand theme, the deep hope, the phenomenal drama of the divine-human story.

God will show up when atheists stop their cynical rant and attend more carefully to his initiatives. The investigation is recalibrated. His agape love is directed at the human conscience is an invitational call to existential depth; we experience disclosure in the midst of transformation. Grace works like this. Agape offers an enlightening love that shines divine light on our inner depths and motivations. This methodology will help us recognize him as King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of peace, God of gods, Immanuel.

Moser captures the essential life-or-death question: “Are we sincerely attending to the divine call via conscience and experienced agape in a way that leads us before the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus where we can become part of his new creation?” This is an investigation worthy of several PhDs. How do we respond to this incarnational gift, this intersection with the divine, of heaven come to earth? Will we agree to his conditions in this preeminent investigation, and approach like a child in openness to epiphany? God will speak if we listen and respond; he will come; he will invite us into trinitarian communion, to learn more than our imaginations could ever fathom.

~Gord Carkner, Advent Season 2017 Piano Guys Christmas

Older Posts »