Professor of Education & Co-Director of the Gender Studies Minor
Trinity Western University
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m.
Friedman Building, Room 153, UBC Gate One
Why Saying Nothing at All Can Ruin a Perfectly Good Education.
There is a substantial and wide-ranging body of research connecting gender with achievement in schools and in career and home life. This lecture explores the intersection of feminism, faith, classroom silence and linguistic patterns. Gendered speech tendencies are understood as often aligned with expectations of femininity and masculinity with education as a primary site for gendered performances. The particular pattern of silence among female students in a whole variety of educational settings has been surprisingly consistent, particularly in light of advances in feminist pedagogical methods. Many female students are not very vocal in typical teacher-led classroom lessons. In addition, the Christian subculture has added identity factors and pressures concerning gender roles. While more recent work marks an important shift away from gender generalizations and sex differences to the particular situations and events at work in various educational settings, the research presented in this lecture explores how male students ‘have the floor’ with female students often serving as attentive, silent listeners. Various classrooms will serve as case studies, including a grade 2 classroom and 2 theology college classrooms; these examples offer implications for schooling in general and for what student silence tells us about the educational enterprise.
Allyson Jule, PhD, is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada. She is also the President of Canada’s Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF.com) and a 3M Canada Fellowship winner, 2016. Allyson has particular research interests in the area of gender & language & silence in the classroom as well as gender & language alongside religious identity. She is the author of 2 monographs Gender, Participation and Silence in the Language Classroom:Sh-shushing the Girls and A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender (with a second edition due out later this year) and 5 edited collections of sociolinguistic or Christian scholarship: Gender and the Language of Religion, Being Feminist, Being Christian: Essays from Academia, edited with Bettina Tate Pedersen, Language and Religious Identity, Shifting Visions: Gender and Discourse,Facing Challenges: Feminism in Christian Higher Education and Other Places, also with Pedersen. Dr. Jule has also authored several articles in books and peer-reviewed journals of significant readership, including The Canadian Modern Language Review and Gender and Education. She has been very active on the editorial boards of academic journals, such as Gender and Education journal, Gender and Language journal, the British Journal of Contemporary Religion and the Irish Journal of Applied Social Sciences. She serves on the executive council for the International Gender and Language Association (IGALA).
Allyson Jule is a highly respected and internationally renowned scholar in the field of gender and education and gender and language and gender and Christian identity. She has presented her research in interdisciplinary contexts, connecting strongly as an interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of Women’s Studies, Education, Applied Linguistics, Teacher Education, Christian scholarship and Media Studies. She has presented at many national and international conferences, including at conferences in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Taiwan, Belgium, and Brazil, and ranging in topics from Sex and the City, the Mary Tyler Moore show, a critique of the Women’s Cancer memoir genre, princesses and superheroes in classroom textbooks, and Christian feminism.
Allyson Jule won TWU’s Davis Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011 and was named one of Canada’s top 10 professors for 2016. She was awarded the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship for excellence in university teaching and leadership, marking the only time a TWU professor has been so honoured. The announcement is found here: http://3mcouncil.stlhe.ca/resources/award-winners/#allyson-jule
The question sessions following the science/theology talks so far have been fascinating
Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014)
and inspiring (the questions that is – I can’t speak for the answers). The central section of the presentations, focussing on drawing resource from Biblical wisdom literature, draws on the close reading of the Book of Job that forms the central chapter of Faith and Wisdom. So one of the questioners wanted to know about Jesus’ sayings about nature in the gospels, and their significance. As in the cycles of speeches between Job and his comforters, way before the probing questions of the Lord’s Answer in chapter 38, the gospels, too, are full of nature metaphor and action. The calming of the waves, the wind-image of the Spirit, the liking of the ‘signs of the times’ to the signs that the coming of the Kingdom is close – all these speak of a relationship with the natural world that reflects the Godly Wisdom of a deep seeing, an inner understanding, and an investment of significance into the material, natural world. More thinking required here!
Another question searched the dilemma facing the church in sharing both the positive narrative for science and its consequences for an ethical, hopeful and fruitful managing of nature in future. Given the explicit Creation-Fall-Election-Incarnation-Resurrection-Ministry of Reconciliation-New Creation story within which science and technology make sense as God’s gifts, how is all this worked through in a world that largely does not recognise that big story? It reminded me of a wonderful question from an atheist sociologist at one of the first ever university-based discussions of the Faith and Wisdom in Science idea: ‘I wish I could share in your vision and hope, but as an atheist I can’t begin to share your assumptions: what can you give me?’
I think that the answer is not ‘nothing’ by any means. Back to St. Paul and his brilliant summary of the work of the Church – the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ of 2 Corinthians 5. To talk about our work being that of ‘healing broken relationships’ is something that everyone knows about and everyone wants. To point to ways in which we can hope to reverse the mutual harm that we and our planet are inflicting on each other, by framing the challenge in those terms, and then by proceeding as one does in the healing of any broken relationship, is a practical way ahead that anyone can buy into. Replacing ignorance with knowledge, fear with wisdom, and mutual harm with mutual flourishing – this is a framework for political and social care that has already generated practical outcomes, such as the Responsible Research and Innovation policy in the UK and Europe.
Tom McLeish takes a scientist’s reading of a historical series of texts (the oldest is the celebrated nature poem from the ancient Middle-Eastern ‘wisdom’ text – the Book of Job) describing the search for understanding of nature. He makes the case for science as a deeply human, social and ancient activity, embedded in some of the oldest stories told about human desire to understand the natural world. Drawing on stories from the modern science of chaos and uncertainty alongside these medieval, patristic, classical and Biblical sources, this narrative approach challenges much of the current ‘science and religion’ debate as operating with the wrong assumptions and in the wrong space. It also develops a natural critique of the cultural separation of sciences and humanities, suggesting an approach to science, or in its more ancient form natural philosophy – the ‘love of wisdom of natural things’ – that can draw on theological and cultural roots that remain highly relevant today. McLeish suggests that deriving a human narrative for science in this way can transform the way political discussions of ‘troubled technologies’ are framed, the way we approach science in education and the media, and reframe the modes in which faith traditions engage with science.
Tom McLeish is a very accomplished prize-winning biophysics professor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research (2008-2014) at the highly ranked University of Durham in the UK. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He served as Vice-President of Science and Innovation in the Institute of Physics 2012-2015, and is currently chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee. Tom did a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University. A lectureship at Sheffield University in complex fluid physics was followed by a chair at Leeds University from 1993. He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research program in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry. His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. In 2014, he published an important book called Faith and Wisdom in Science (Oxford University Press).
Tom McLeish is a truly original and creative thinker, a superior intellect and a super nice and approachable guy. He is a deeply curious person that is offering a game changing perspective on contemporary debates of science and religion, science and the humanities. Professor McLeish draws on insights from a wide variety of disciplines. He has spoken at SFU, downtown Vancouver and Regent College. His lectures just keep getting better and richer each time. His book Faith and Wisdom in Science is a gem, as Dr. Olav Slaymaker says in his review. You simply must not miss him when he speaks at St. John’s College. He claims that ‘science’ is the current chapter of a longer book of natural philosophy, the love of wisdom about natural things. He taps into a long human quest to find a healing relationship to the whole cosmos.
Science is part of a larger culture. Classically it was the love of wisdom about natural things.
Science is a participative, relational, co-creative work within the overall kingdom of God for healing the broken relationship of humans and nature. It involves the critical factor of a broken covenant between humans and rocks.
Science is not about answers, but finding the right creative questions that give us traction.
The biblical narrative, upon deeper reflection, is deeply rooted in nature from beginning to end.
Job in his search for wisdom finds himself alongside God looking into creation with all the good, the bad and the ugly and grappling with it all. It involves courage.
The book of Job is God’s answer to suffering in a poem of questions.
We need to proceed with a deep kind of seeing in order to get beyond the kind of myths that block our vision, and freeze our intellect.
Wisdom is seeing the deep structure of nature. Nature is the long way to wisdom.
Wisdom comes from a healthy respect for the otherness of God and the otherness of nature.
In healthy biological life, there is a layer of dynamic chaos below the perceived order.
Tom McLeish’s scientific research over the last 25 years has contributed to the formation of the new field of ‘soft matter physics’. Interdisciplinary work with chemists, chemical engineers and biologists has sought to connect molecular structure and behaviour with emergent material or biological properties. He has also worked intensively with industrial researchers developing molecular design tools for new polymeric (plastic) materials, leading large national and international programs, with personal contributions mostly theoretical. Throughout he has also maintained an interest in public engagement with science, science policy and public values including the underlying, but often hidden, public narratives of science. He has been especially interested in the potential for theological narratives to inform debates in science and technology, both explicitly and implicitly.
Professor McLeish takes a fresh approach to the ‘science and religion’ debate, taking a scientist’s reading of the enigmatic and beautiful Book of Job as a centrepiece, and asking what science might ultimately be for. Rather than conflicting with faith, science can be seen as a deeply religious activity, and the current form of a deep and continuous thread in human culture.
Faith and Wisdom in Science presents science as the current flourishing of a very old and deeply human story. Weaving material from the modern science of the unpredictable together with ancient biblical and historical material it takes a fresh approach to the ‘science and religion’ debate – taking a scientist’s reading of the enigmatic and beautiful Book of Job as a centrepiece, and asking what science might ultimately be for. It makes the case for a story as human as any other – pain, love, desire, reconciliation, risk and healing emerge as surprising ingredients without which science is rootless. Rather than conflicting with faith, science can be seen as a deeply religious activity. There are urgent messages for the way we both celebrate and govern science.
McLeish delivers a picture of science as a questioning discipline nested within a much older, wider set of questions about the world, as represented by the searches for wisdom and a better understanding of creation in the books of Genesis, in Proverbs, in the letters of St Paul, in Isaiah and Hosea but most of all in that wonderful hymn to earth system science known as the Book of Job.
“This unique book is for those who are tired of the usual debates over science and religion. It is an intriguing read that includes stories from the lab about the quirkiness of scientific discovery, a deep meditation on the book of Job, and reflections on the current role of science in society. McLeish offers a thought-provoking view of the place of chaos and suffering in a universe under God’s control.” ~Deborah Haarsma, President of BioLogos
“Tom McLeish’s engaging passion for science is matched by his unique ability to help the reader locate science in a complex and enriching relationship with ancient texts and stories, contemporary culture and the big questions of human existence.” ~David Wilkinson, Durham University.
Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics at Durham University and also chairs the Royal Society’s education committee. After a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University, a lectureship at Sheffield University, in complex fluid physics, lead to a chair at Leeds University from 1993.
He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded by EPSRC and industry.
His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014 OUP published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York.
From 2008-2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2012 he was made Vice-President of Science by the Institute of Physics (IoP).
Support and Sponsorship Gratitude: Oikodome Foundation, Canadian Science & Christian Affiliation, Templeton Foundation, UBC Murrin Fund
Book Review: Tom McLeish (2014). Faith and Wisdom in Science. Oxford University Press. by Professor Emeritus Olav Slaymaker from UBC Geography
Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the highly ranked University of Durham in the UK.. With this book he has initiated a new genre of writing about the relation between science and faith. I have a raft of books on theology AND science; this book is the first one of which I am aware that attempts a theology OF science. It is an exciting book in so many ways and is marked by great originality. For some readers the case for the identicality of the scope of theology and science will be too radical to contemplate. Yet the argument is succinct and equally well grounded in Biblical exegesis and experiential empirical and theoretical science. I expect to continue to mine this book for several years to come.
The central theme of the book is that the scope of science and theology is identical and that therefore there must be insights that are worthy of exploration and exchange between the two disciplines. Both science and theology are built on faith; they are both more about imagination and creative questions than about method, logic and providing answers and they both involve pain and love as their central emotions. Perhaps the most revelatory part of his thinking is his view that order and chaos are equally part of God’s world and his refusal to accept the simplistic argument that God’s existence is proven from the fine tuning of the universe. He insists that we must grapple with the chaos and disorderliness of much of creation and incorporate this into our theology beyond simply throwing up our arms and declaring that the disorder is caused by the Fall. And he bases his view on an original exegesis of parts of Proverbs, Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Job (especially Job) and Genesis 1 and 2 and bolsters his argument with insights from Romans, I Corinthians, the Gospel according to John and the Revelation of John.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The starting point of his presentation is the question “What is the difference between science as knowledge and natural philosophy as the love of wisdom about nature?” He suggests that our contemporary use of the term science is only a small, though powerful, part of the story. Science as knowledge implies certainty; the love of wisdom implies a journey. He immediately proceeds to describe his own journey from ignorance to understanding in his research into the nature of jellies, peptides and other natural substances. The excitement and frustrations of the process of discovery of new insights are communicated effectively.
Paralleling his love of wisdom achieved in his laboratory is the author’s enthusiasm for the natural wisdom of the Old Testament. He moves from wisdom as a practical way of life (Proverbs 8) through the importance of the creative word (Psalm 33); the dynamism of creation (Psalm 104); the teaching of correction from creation (Jeremiah); the importance of care for creation (later Isaiah) and a focus on a distant hope and a different cosmos (early Isaiah and Hosea); to the establishing of order through classification (Genesis 1 and 2). But the ever-present tension of chaos and order has to be addressed head-on. What does understanding mean in the context of chaotic objects like comets, storms and earthquakes? Only a little understanding but profound amazement. The fact that order can emerge from chaos “lies within the foundations of science today but it is also a narrative theme of human culture that is as old as any.” (p.101).
There follows a profound exegesis of the book of Job. McLeish does so by taking three snapshots of the book: (1) Surveying the foundational questions of cosmology, geology, meteorology, astronomy and zoology, through chapter 38; (2) A whole book survey as a study of the problem of pain (chapters 1, 6, 16, 32, 38 and 39) and (3) Following a “nature trail” through the whole book. His conclusion is “with trepidation and against the weight of opinion” that the Lord’s answer to Job’s complaint about God’s justice in His management of creation as a whole is indeed a valid answer for five reasons: (1) There is a third path of constrained freedom in which true exploration of life really lies (by contrast with control and chaos); (2) Job is led to a new perspective that “decentralizes humanity from any claim to primacy in creation and affirms the human possibility of knowing creation with an insight that is an image of the divine”; (3) the final voice is participative and invitational; (4) leads to a human relationship with creation in terms of a covenant; and (5) the Lord’s answer is eschatological and looks to future healing of the broken relationship between humanity and the creation. This leads directly to the New Testament creation narratives of creation and reconciliation.
The chapter labelled “A theology of science” is the capstone of the book. McLeish summarizes three traditional ways of speaking about theology and science: (1) a conflict model (e.g. Dawkins); (2) a non-overlapping magisterial model (e.g. Gould); and (3) reconciliation by comparative methodology, keeping the objects of enquiry separate (e.g Polkinghorne). Each of these is inadequate, he says. A theology of science, by contrast, assumes a linear history moving from ignorance to understanding, a special human aptitude for wisdom (“the most inexplicable thing about science is that it is explicable”), deep wisdom (“there is a deeper significance to understanding nature than simply knowing things”), ambiguity of problems and pain (the call to wait and experience of pain), order and chaos (God is not only the shaping force of order, he also unleashes the forces of thunder, clouds, lightning and wind), the role of questioning, love in the practice of science and participation in reconciliation. Science becomes, within a Christian theology, the grounded outworking of the ministry of reconciliation between humankind and the world.
The love of wisdom about nature leads to a concluding chapter about how we can mend our ways, share our science and face up to the future. McLeish sees that both science and the church have some hard thinking to do in order to operationalize his insights. The healing of the academy and of the church are both implied.
The epilogue turns to the encounter of Jesus with a Roman Centurion as a parable for science. In that parable Jesus calls the understanding of true authority “great faith”. The ability to do science, to deploy the love of wisdom to do with natural things gives us both extraordinary authority and responsibility. Can we choose the way, in wisdom, that deserves to be called “great faith?”
Our understanding of the secular has evolved in significant ways over the past century, and this can often lead to confusion. Within modernity, how do those who most strongly identify as religious and this who view themselves as secular discover their common cause? In this talk, Dr. Heilke will drill down into that language and its surprising history. He will sharpen our understanding and propose creative ways of engaging with one another fruitfully across different visions of societal life. Vital issues of justice, public morality, civic and religious liberties are at stake as we seek sustainable ways forward for human flourishing and the common good. Rejecting the ideological culture wars, Dr. Heilke holds out hope to find a symbiotic interface between the secular and the religious voice. We all see from a limited perspective, and we can all discover our identity and public engagement afresh through constructive dialogue and artful cooperation.
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.
Research Interests: Political philosophy and theory; classical political thought; modern political thought; political theology; religion and politics; political ideologies; international relations in political philosophy
Teaching: Political philosophy; history of political thought; religion and politics; international relations in political philosophy
Future Prospects for Higher Education: Key Drivers of Sustainability
November 17, 2015 @ 4:00 p.m. Woodward (IRC) Room 1
Jens Zimmermann, Canada Chair in Interpretation, Religion and Culture, Trinity Western University
Emily Osborne, PhD Cambridge, Postdoctoral Fellow UBC English
Bruce Hindmarsh, James Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College
Ron Dart, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy, University of the Fraser Valley
Recording of the Discussion
In a recent Globe and Mail article, CNN’s reporter Farheed Zakaria posits the tough question, “Is liberal-arts education more than a nostalgia for a bygone era of higher learning, now out of sync with today’s hyper-competitive skills-based economies?” Such questions are also posed by many powerful influencers today. In a different issue of the Globe, Alan Wildeman, President and vice-chancellor of University of Windsor, adjures us in an article entitled “We ignore liberal arts at our peril” where he argues that the liberal arts is essential for civility, democracy, wise decision-making and competence in the job world. As a multicultural country playing in the global arena, Canada needs a citizenry that learns and studies human differences, social behaviors and cultural traditions. Indeed, does higher education encourage the pursuit of character development together with academic excellence? Is it innovative, socially relevant and sustainable? Does it prepare students for negotiating an increasingly complex and competitive globalized world? What will inspire and engage their imagination in the pursuit of active citizenship and civil discourse? Post-secondary education has a huge cultural and economic influence in Canada. It shapes the future, while building on a critical appreciation of the past. In its community, UBC Vancouver has 10,000 postgraduate and 41,000 undergraduate students from around the world. They come with high hopes for skill and credential development, and long to contribute to meaningful research and to acquire good future careers. A large percentage hope to make a better world. Education seems essential for both self-awareness and global awareness. At the same time, globally education is under intense pressure from various forces (intrinsic and extrinsic), currently pulling it in different directions, amidst conflicting public and political expectations. In the early history of universities like Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, Queen’s and McGill, character development was a central priority. It is timely for this panel to reflect upon the purpose and trajectory of the contemporary university, and the goods it is to pursue.
Jens Zimmermann, Canada Research Chair for Interpretation, Religion, and Culture at Trinity Western University, received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UBC and his Doctorate in Philosophy from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. His research interests in include continental philosophy (especially hermeneutics), theological anthropology, the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Christian humanism. He is author of Humanism and Religion: A Call For the Renewal of Western Culture (OUP 2012), and more recently of Hermeneutics: A Very Short Introduction, also with Oxford University Press.
Dr. Emily Osborne is currently a SSHRC-postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English, University of British Columbia. She received her PhD and MPhil from Cambridge University, where she studied medieval English, Icelandic and Scandinavian languages and literature. Her current research is interdisciplinary and transcultural, spanning literature from the seventh to fifteenth centuries in four languages, and engaging with sociolinguistics and philosophy of mind. Her academic publications and research projects are concerned with the history of rhetoric, poetic theory and metaphor theory, intentionality, and speech acts.
Bruce Hindmarsh took his D.Phil. degree in theology at Oxford University in 1993. From 1995 to 1997 he was also a research fellow at Christ Church, Oxford. He has since published and spoken widely to international audiences on the history of early British evangelicalism. He is the author of two major books: John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996) and The Evangelical Conversion Narrative (Oxford University Press, 2005). Bruce has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, research grants and fellowships. He has been a Mayers Research Fellow at the Huntington Library and a holder of the Henry Luce III Theological Fellowship. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is also a past-president of the American Society of Church History. He teaches the history of Christian spirituality at Regent College.
Ron Dart has taught in the department of political science, philosophy, religious studies at University of the Fraser Valley since 1990. He was on staff with Amnesty International in the 1980s. Ron has published more than 30 books/booklets, including books on Stephen Leacock, George Grant and the classical Canadian Red Tory tradition.
R. Scott Smith, Associate Professor of Ethics, Biola University
Dr. Scott Smith is keenly interested in our abilities to have knowledge of reality, particularly in the areas of ethics and religion. He also is very interested in the needed ontology to have knowledge. He addresses “constructivism,” the fact-value split, and issues with our being able to have knowledge on the basis of naturalism, postmodernism, and nominalism.
October 7 and 8, 2015
A. Can Scientific Naturalism Fully Explain Ethics?Woodward IRC Room 5 @ 4:00 p.m. October 7, 2015
In the west, until the Enlightenment, both ethics and religion tended to be seen as areas in which we could have knowledge. But that changed with the historical rise of 1) the view that the universe is a closed, mechanistic, and material system, 2) the view that science is the pinnacle of the disciplines, and 3) the rise of empiricism, science came to be viewed as the unique set of disciplines that gives us knowledge of facts. Instead, ethics and religion were relegated to the realm of mere values, personal preferences, and opinions. Before the rise of naturalism to prominence in the modern era, morals tended to be seen as the kind of thing that can be universal, objectively real, and transcendent, being knowable by reason and revelation. But under naturalism, morals have to be the kind of thing amenable to a physicalist ontology. Despite numerous alternatives proposed by naturalists (e.g., that morals are just a biological adaptation), Dr. Smith will argue that naturalism lacks the ontology to make sense of ethics. Moreover, he will argue that the fact-value split is false – i.e. that if naturalism is true, we cannot know anything (even in science, business, etc.). But we do know many things, even in ethics, and so naturalism is called into serious question. It lacks the explanatory power we need for moral knowledge. But that means a radically different worldview, and ontology, must be sought out and examined.
B. Does Postmodernism Offer a Better Alternative to Naturalism in Ethics?Woodward IRC Room 1 @ 4:00 p.m., October 8, 2015
Audio of Talk B.
If we cannot have any knowledge based on what naturalism allows as real, perhaps postmodernism (as explained by Wittgenstein or Derrida) might provide a favorable alternative. On this view, everything is interpretation, for there is no direct access to reality itself. To even have an experience requires interpretation. Thus postmodernism deconstructs and shows how science’s claim to a unique ability to give us knowledge of facts as they actually are in reality, is just another modern myth. Several ethicists have proposed more postmodern approaches to ethics, and a major figure is Alasdair MacIntyre. He proposes a return to Aristotle’s virtue ethics, modified in key ways, as a means to recover from the loss of moral knowledge precipitated by the Enlightenment. Yet knowledge now is to be understood as always from under a particular aspect; no one has an ahistorical, blind-to-nothing standpoint. For many scholars, the “postmodern condition” is axiomatic and reflects how we should move forward in ethics. But one may ask whether that indeed is the case. Professor Smith will argue that while postmoderns are right to draw our attention to the ways our situatedness affects how we interpret our experience, they are mistaken in their claims that everything is interpretation. Instead, he argue that we can know reality directly, and yet that does not mean we are blind-to-nothing, or can have a “God’s eye view”, or attain exhaustive knowledge. Postmodern attempts, moreover, cannot make adequate sense of what kind of things are some core moral principles and virtues (e.g. love and justice). If naturalist and postmodern approaches fail us regarding moral knowledge, is there a better explanation? Dr. Smith will argue that the best explanation is that moral principles and virtues exist objectively, and that they have a religious grounding – in God or theism. In this way, we can make robust sense of ethics.
Professor R. Scott Smith received his PhD in Religion and Social Ethics from University of Southern California in 2000. He has been Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Biola University since 2000. His academic interest is in Husserl, Phenomenology and Constructivism, Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. Deeply curious about the interrelationship of epistemology and metaphysics particularly in the area of ethics, he teaches graduate courses in ethics, philosophy of religion, metaphysics and epistemology. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association (APA). Dr. Smith is the author of a number of important books including In Search of Moral Knowledge: Overcoming the Fact-Value Dichotomy (IVP Academic, 2014), Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality: Testing Religious Truth-claims (Ashgate, 2012), and Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge: Philosophy of Language after MacIntyre and Hauerwas (Ashgate, 2003), along with many articles and chapters of books, including “Could We Know Reality, Given Physicalism? Nancey Murphy’s Views as Test Case,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 64:3 (September, 2012). He was honored with the Biola Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the year 2007-2008.
Online Christian Ethics & Moral Theology Research Bibliographies
Compiled and Annotated by James Bretzke
Professor Moral Theology Boston College School of Theology & Ministry 140 Commonwealth Ave. Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 http://www.bc.edu/stm
Latest Addition or Update to the Web-site: August 18, 2015 See below for individual bibliography update information
See also the following published 3 Research Bibliographies by James T. Bretzke, S.J.
A Research Bibliography in Christian Ethics and Catholic Moral Theology. Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006.
A book-length annotated and thoroughly indexed bibliography arranged topically, covering both Roman Catholic and Protestant themes and authors with titles in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.
Bibliography on Scripture and Christian Ethics. Studies in Religion and Society, 39. Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997.
Arranged both according to the Old and New Testament, as well as the individual books and/or authors of the New Testament. Entries are also given according to certain key thematic issues, such as methodology of the interplay and usage of the Bible in ethics, liberation theology and Scripture, biblical authority, feminist issues in biblical hermeneutics, as well as a number of theological themes such as justice and righteousness, the love command, law and gospel, sin and reconciliation, etc. Finally, entries are provided which cover a number of particular ethical themes such as ecology, economics, medical ethics, sexual ethics and gender issues, war and peace. A final section gathers titles which were published prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962- 1965) which marked a watershed for the greater appropriation of Scripture in the discipline of Roman Catholic moral theology.
Bibliography on East Asian Religion and Philosophy. Studies in Asian Thought and Religion, 23. Lewiston NY: Mellen Press, 2001.
Compiles, annotates, indexes and cross-references resources in the principal Western languages of English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish which focus on East Asia (principally China, Japan, and Korea) in the primary areas of philosophy and religious studies, with supporting resources in theology, history, culture, and related social sciences.
Astronomer from Calvin College and President of BioLogos
God and the Multiverse
Wednesday, May 6 @ 4:00 p.m.
Woodward (IRC) Room 1
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.
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.
See also: Satyan Devados at Cal Tech God, Math and the Multiverse
See also: Alister McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe: the Quest for God in Science and Theology. (2009).
Are there viable pathways from nature to God? Natural theology is making a comeback, stimulated as much by scientific advance as by theological and philosophical reflection. There is a growing realization that the sciences raise questions that transcend their capacity to answer them—above all, the question of the existence of God. So how can Christian theology relate to these new developments?
In this landmark work, based on his 2009 Gifford lectures, Alister McGrath examines the apparent ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe and its significance for natural theology. Exploring a wide range of physical and biological phenomena and drawing on the latest research in biochemistry and evolutionary biology, McGrath outlines our new understanding of the natural world and discusses its implications for traditional debates about the existence of God.
The celebrated Gifford Lectures have long been recognized as making landmark contributions to the discussion of natural theology. A Fine-Tuned Universe will contribute significantly to that discussion by developing a rich Trinitarian approach to natural theology that allows deep engagement with the intellectual and moral complexities of the natural world. It will be essential reading to those looking for a rigorous engagement between science and the Christian faith. – Amazon