Dr. Sy Garte October 1, 2020

Thursday, October 1, @ 4:00 p.m., 2020

Visiting Lecturer Sy Garte, Biochemist, Former Professor and Division Director National Institute of Health, Washington, DC 

A Sense of Wonder: the Long Journey of a Scientist to Faith

Abstract

Raised as an enthusiastic atheist and trained as a top biochemist, Dr. Garte began to question materialistic naturalism at one point in his career. This was sparked by his study of quantum physics and molecular biology: for example, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the observer effect, and quantum entanglement, the complexity of biochemical systems such as protein synthesis, photosynthesis and abiogenesis. These scientific findings made him question the pure materialism outlook: he began to wonder about the God question, and it was science itself that guided him forward. 

Biography

Sy (Seymour) Garte, PhD in biochemistry, has been a tenured professor at New York University, Rutgers University, and the University of Pittsburgh, Division Director at the Center for Scientific Review of the National Institutes of Health, and interim vice president for research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He has published over two hundred peer-reviewed scientific papers and four books. He has also published articles in Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith and is the editor-in-chief of God and Nature. His faith journey is published inThe Works of His Hands (2019, Kregel).

Co-sponsored with the Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation

Audio Recording of UBC GFCF Sy Garte Lecture

Regent College Sy Garte Lecture Monday September 28.

Other GFCF Speakers on Science & Faith

https://ubcgfcf.com/2018/08/18/alister-mcgrath-september-19-2018/

Alister McGrath, Probing the Viability of Natural Theology for the Twenty-first Century. 

https://ubcgfcf.com/2015/03/26/astronomer-deborah-haarsma-god-and-the-multiverse-may-6/

Ray Aldred on Truth and Reconciliation

Meeting Postponed Until Further Notice: Covid-19 Safety Concern

Rev. Dr. Raymond C. Aldred

Samples of Ray’s Perspective from YouTube

Director of the Indigenous Studies Program

Professor of Indigenous Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology

Can We Handle the Truth and Take Responsibility for Reconciliation?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 @ 4 PM

Zoom Lecture

Abstract

In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on residential schools, Canadians have often viewed Christianity as the enemy of Indigenous people. But there is another side to the story, claims Professor Ray Aldred. Almost two-thirds of Indigenous people in Canada actually call themselves Christian and appreciate what they have learned from Christian leadership over the years. Aldred notes that there is currently real hope for a better day, a way forward for our Indigenous people. This hope begins in community, in rethinking our identity, who we are and where we have come from. In this address, he will show the need to tell the truth and use human imagination to heal relationships with the land/creation, with family, clan and community, and with the Creator. At the heart of Indigenous peoples’ quest for healing is a shift in identity from shame to dignity of heritage. Mohawk writer Patricia Monture notes that key to this shift is a decision to take responsibility for all relationships, “Responsibility is at the heart of Indigenous freedom and self-determination.” We must strive to live in harmony with all things and all peoples, including the new visitors. We also wish to heal our treaty covenant relationships: through the threefold strategy of telling the truth, listening to one another, and seeking a common plan to repair the damage of abuse. Employing the principles of restorative justice, the difficult task of retelling our stories offers an important, creative way forward. These stories help us revisit the pain, face reality, and rediscover the good roots of our heritage. These vital steps constitute the effective direction of hope, as Ray has discovered through much experience.

Biography

Reverend Dr. Raymond C. Aldred holds a Master of Divinity from Canadian Theological Seminary,  and a Doctor of Theology  from Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology. Currently he is the Director of the Indigenous Studies Program, whose mission is to partner with the Indigenous Church around theological education. He is professor of Theology: Narrative, Systematic, Indigenous at the Vancouver School of Theology on the UBC campus. A status Cree, he is ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Canada. Born in Northern Alberta, he now resides with his wife in Richmond. Formerly Ray served as the Assistant Professor of Theology at Ambrose Seminary in Calgary, Alberta. He is former Director for the First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada, now a committee member, where he works to encourage Indigenous churches. Ray also has had the privilege of addressing several college conferences and meetings to raise awareness of these issues. He and his wife, Elaine, are involved in ministry to help train people to facilitate support groups for people who have suffered abuse.

Charles Taylor and the Modern Quest for Identity

                         

          Charles Taylor and the Modern Quest for Identity: Dialogue on a Great Mind

Dr. Gordon E. Carkner &  Dr. Marvin McDonald

4:00 pm, Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Henry Angus Room 241, UBC

Sauder Business School

 

Dr. Carkner

___________________

 

Question Period

 

28 Sources of Identity

Abstract 

Pre-eminent McGill University Emeritus Philosopher Charles Taylor is an iconic international scholar in the field of the late modern self. His critical thinking bridges Continental and Anglo-American thought. Millennials are currently facing a significant existential identity struggle and Taylor’s work can help.

Dr. Carkner will trace the contribution of Charles Taylor on the question of identity, drawing on his three major tomes: Sources of the Self(1989); A Secular Age (2007); The Language Animal (2016). Throughout his work, Taylor offers a highly sophisticated approach; he helps the individual to develop a strong consciousness that avoids identity crisis and collapse of meaning, with its accompanying anxiety (angst). For the reflective person, he believes that identity, morality and spirituality are inescapably interwoven. But the quest for identity also involves a quest to recover lost or repressed human language capacity—in particular, constitutive language. This recovery can open whole new worlds for Millennials and others as they wrestle with identity and purpose. In The Language Animal, Taylor reveals the various contours of language necessary for this recovery of a robust identity. Significant to this perspective are the moral sources within one’s moral framework that are discovered through building a relationship to the good.  The best account of life makes sense of these moral sources of metabiological (human) meaning. Taylor notes that as we grow morally, our maturing meanings involve us in “seeing better, believing better and ultimately living better”. Dr. Carkner will apply these insights to one current existential dilemma in the West, the crisis of affirmation.

Dr. McDonald will focus on the application of Taylor’s idea of moral footing and its implications for dialogue across difference within the celebrated Canadian cultural mosaic. He will show how this insight applies, with special reference to the Gerard Bouchard-Charles Taylor Commission Report of 2008 called “Building the Future: a Time for Reconciliation.” https://www.cpac.ca/en/programs/public-record/episodes/14595692/ Taylor gives us deep insight into this dynamic identity question. It is critical for fruitful dialogue and bridging between groups who represent diversity to each other. Discernment is required for mature integration. What is the respect and dignity that is due others? What will it cost us and how will it benefit all concerned? Taylor’s astute understanding increases our ability to reframe this important discussion.

Biographies

Gordon E. Carkner holds a PhD in philosophy of late modern culture from University of Wales, UK (2006). His dissertation is entitled “A Critical Examination of Michel Foucault’s Concept of Moral Self-Constitution in Dialogue with Charles Taylor.” He has been invested in the work of Charles Taylor for over two decades. His own writing and research interacts regularly with the Taylor’s thought including the 2016 publication, The Great Escape from Nihilism: Rediscovering Our Passion in Late Modernity, a critique of Western culture which analyses the quest for identity. In the context of the UBC’s Graduate Christian Union and The Forum, Gordon  is passionate about questions of meaning and identity, faith and culture, science and religion. His work as a chaplain and meta-educator helps to shape young leaders for a strong future contribution. He offers graduate students extracurricular space to reflect on their work and their lives at UBC, feeding them targeted resources and faculty support. His research interests are in the area of freedom, identity and the moral good, secularity and philosophical anthropology.

Marvin McDonald is a professional psychologist, Associate Professor of Counselling Psychology, and is involved in thesis supervision in the Gender Studies Program at Trinity Western University. He directed the MA in Counselling Psychology during 2001-2017. He is a writer whose work engages theoretical psychology and positive psychology. A gracious interlocutor, Marvin loves dialogue across worldview perspectives. He believes in a creative interface between philosophy and psychology, and articulates responses to his graduate student inquiries from a vast landscape of knowledge and insight. https://www.twu.ca/profile/marvin-mcdonald

Diversity Skill Set & Wisdom for Dialogue
  • Able to pursue ideas amidst diversity and think for yourself.
  • Champion a continual search for the truth, and disagreement with lies and deception, propaganda, poor scholarship.
  • Beware: too much choice can be harmful to one’s psychological and sociological wellbeing.
  • Don’t buy into relativism or subjectivism (unfortunately, 70% of Canadians do just that). It cannot be lived well—definitely notgood for human flourishing.
  • Remember that your personal opinion might be poorly examined and ill-informed, weak empirically, bigoted or seriously biased.
  • Celebrate high values/virtues/ideals: honesty, trustworthiness, compassion, decency, respect for life, good environmental stewardship, taking responsibility for your behaviour and for others (inclusive humanism).
  • Shun dishonesty, cheating, abuse, exploitation, theft, fraud, plagiarism, things causing emotional pain and suffering to others, the not-so-good or dark side of human character.
  • Ask yourself what leads to a truly good life?
  • Learn to distinguish between good, better, best decisions. Not all theories or worldviews are of equal value. There is a hierarchy among the moral goods.
  • Think about the consequences of your actions and decisions, including the unintended ones.

See also CBC Ideas Series on Charles Taylor and the Myth of the Secular https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-myth-of-the-secular-part-1-1.3135538

Charles Taylor on Democracy, Diversity, Religion

GFCF Lectures for 2019-2020 Academic Year

Critical Thinking for the Common Good

We Champion Scholarly Excellence and Moral Responsibility

Craig Gay

Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Regent College

Modern Technology and the Diminishment of the Human

Thursday, September 26, 2019,  4:00 p.m., Woodward (IRC) Room 3

 

Audio File of Craig’s Lecture

Abstract

From the plow to the printing press, technologies have repeatedly revolutionized human life and shaped our understanding of our purposes and possibilities. Recent advances in automatic machine technology have further revolutionized our understanding of the human prospect. Yet have recent technological developments actually encouraged embodied human flourishing? By exploring the implications of the Christian doctrines of creation, incarnation, and resurrection, Dr. Gay retrieves a foundation from which to evaluate and critique modern technological development without asking us to unplug completely.

Biography

 Craig Gay lectures in the area of Christianity, Society, and Culture, and directs Regent’s ThM degree program. He is the author of With Liberty or Justice for Whom?,Eerdmans, 1991, The Way of the (Modern) World,Eerdmans, 1998; Cash Values: The Value of Money the Nature of Worth,Eerdmans, 2004; Dialogue, Catalogue and Monologue,Regent College Publishing, 2008; and Modern Technology and the Human Future: A Christian Appraisal, IVP Academic, 2018. Craig was the co-editor (with C. Peter Molloy) of The Way of Truth in the Present Age, Regent College, 1999. He has contributed chapters to a number of collections on the subjects of modernity, secularization, economic ethics, and technology, and his articles and reviews have appeared in Christian Scholar’s Review, American Journal of Sociology, Crux, and Markets & Morality.

Co-sponsored with Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation

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From the beginning, machine technology was developed to function automatically…. designed and deployed  to function independently of unauthorized human interference and unimpeded by human frailties, inconsistencies, and irrationalities…. Modern technological development has as a result been moving away from ordinary embodied human existence for some time…. From within the technological [machine] worldview, human embodiment is simply not a particularly high priority. This, I want to suggest, betrays serious confusion about the nature of the created order as well as confusion about the human place and task within the created order.

~Craig Gay

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Other Scholars interested in Technology and Culture

George Grant

Quentin Schultze

Albert Borgmann

Jacques Ellul

Sherry Turkle

Bob Doede 

 

 

 

Dennis Danielson Grapples with Moral Discourse

Beyond Paralysis: Radical Hope for Morality in a Cynical Age

Dennis Danielson

Professor Emeritus English UBC

 

Wednesday, March 13 at 4 pm,  

UBC Mathematics Building, Room 100

Audio FileZ0000008

Abstract

Three quarters of a century after the publication of C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, moral relativism remains the approach to ethics that dominates the public square. The reductionist (even nihilist) approach to morality and other things that give meaning to human life also continues to shape what our children are taught in school. In the face of this ongoing dominance, it’s imperative that we reassert a case for moral realism and cultivate hope for an ethics transcending a mere exercise of power.

Biography

Dennis Danielson (PhD Stanford) is Professor Emeritus and former Head of English at the University of British Columbia. His interests have ranged across literature, religion, the history of science, and ethics. He is a past recipient of UBC’s Killam Prize for research in the humanities, and of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Konrad Adenauer Research Award. His articles have appeared in Mind, Milton Studies, Nature, American Journal of Physics, Journal for the History of Astronomy, and Scientific American. His books include Milton’s Good God: A Study in Literary Theodicy(1982), The Book of the Cosmos: Imagining the Universe from Heraclitus to Hawking(2000), The First Copernican: Georg Joachim Rheticus and the Rise of the Copernican Revolution(2006),Paradise Lost and the Cosmological Revolution(2014), and, most recently, The Tao of Right and Wrong: Rediscovering Humanity’s Moral Foundations(2018).

 

On his recent book, The Tao of Right and Wrong:

“Dennis Danielson’s message in The Tao of Right and Wrong needs to be urgently heeded. … This book should be on every teacher’s reading list.”

—Margaret Somerville, Professor of Bioethics, University of Notre Dame Australia

 

The Tao of Right and Wrongis a remarkably compressed and equally lucid exposition of the truths that really count. … The debate in which this book engages is, in the full sense of the term, a fundamental one.”

—Rex Murphy, Commentator for The National Post and formerly for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 

“Dennis Danielson marks the 75thanniversary of C.S. Lewis’s classic work The Abolition of Manby updating it for our present situation and applying it to current concerns in a skilful and thought-provoking way. Timely, deft, impressive.”  

—Michael Ward, University of Oxford, co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis; author, Planet Narnia.

 

Written in the tradition of The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis’s classic work on moral philosophy celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2018, The Tao of Right and Wrong addresses questions such as what is just? What is right? What is wrong? What purposes, and what virtues, are worth pursuing? And most importantly, how can we weigh answers to these questions without lapsing into, “That’s only your opinion”?

In The Tao of Right and Wrong, Dennis Danielson offers a vigorous primer on moral realism, asserting that humans can and should exercise ethical judgments—and that these judgments are not reducible to subjective opinion, animal instinct, or cultural “construction.” The book is a twenty-first century call for the virtuous cultivation of “humans with hearts,” for a rejection of moral nihilism, and for a life-affirming embrace of moral realism founded in the Tao—the transcultural fund of ultimate postulates that form the very ground of moral judgment, codes of ethics, and standards of right and wrong.

The point is not that animal behaviours have no relevance to our understanding of human nature, but rather that we  require a standard  of judgment above and beyond that offered by bare biology as a guide to what is morally permissible, advantageous, or obligatory. (39)

The very fabric of our lives is teleological–purpose-driven–in ways that far transcend the disseminating of our genes (though perhaps that is part of it). Therefore, a failure to account for that strong sense and experience of purpose, of goal-directedness, of moral worthwhileness, is a serious failure indeed. It points decisively to a limitation of science as naturalistically conceived and practical….So the inability of naturalistic science to account for the “goods and shoulds” of human moral life might accordingly be treated less as a failure than as blameless omission–a mere innocent incapacity to achieve something that was never part of its competence or job description in the first place. (58, 59)

[Human rights codes] embody, or should embody, or at least reflect, a vision of what it means for human beings to flourish, to fulfill their potential, to cultivate their gifts, to pursue good purposes, to live lives of meaning and justice….Rights codes by themselves, however, are inadequate as a moral foundation….They are no substitute for the cultivation of virtue. (63, 75)

What assumptions are you making about the nature and purpose of human beings, about what constitutes the good life? How does your moral framework promote virtues of beneficence and magnanimity? How does it cultivate human happiness? (76)

 

Other Scholarship on  Moral Realism

Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self; A Secular Age; The Language Animal.

Alasdair McIntyre, After Virtue; Three Versions of Moral Inquiry

R. Scott Smith, In Search of Moral Knowledge.

Russ Shafer-Landau, Moral Realism: a Defense.

Miraslov Volf, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World.

Jim Wallis, The (Un)Common Good.

Dennis Hollinger, Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World..

David Brooks, The Road to Character.

Glenn Tinder Atlantic Monthly 1989 article “Can We Be Good Without God?” which morphed into his book The Political Meaning of Christianity.

 

 

Robert Mann, Cosmologist, University of Waterloo

Next in GFCF Series

Audio File of Robert Mann’s talk on the Multiverse

Professor Robert Mann, Professor of Physics and Applied Mathematics,

University of Waterloo

The Multiverse, Science and Theology: A Critical Inquiry

January 16, 2019 @ 4:00 pm,  

Math Room 100

(Just behind Koerner’s Library)

Thanks to all who participated in this stimulating and thought provoking lecture. We will edit it and post it later this term. ~Gordon for the GFCF Committee

Books on Faith & Physics recommended by Robert Mann:

Sir John Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist: Reflections of a Bottom Up Thinker.

George F. R. Ellis, Before the Beginning: Cosmology Explained

George F. R. Ellis and Nancey Murphy, On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology and Ethics.

 

Abstract

Professor Mann explains multiverse theory and what implications the acceptance of multiverse theory may have for science and theology. If the multiverse is rejected as an explanation for the particularity of our universe, scientists and theologians are left to address why our particular universe exists rather than every universe.

 

Biography

Robert B. Mann (PhD University of Toronto) is Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo; he has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Cambridge Universities, and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.  He is an Affiliate Member of the Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing. Author of over 350 papers, he has received numerous awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, Teaching Excellence awards from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and from the University of Waterloo, and a Presidential Award of merit from the University of Waterloo. He was chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo from 2001-2008 and is a past President of the Canadian Association of Physicists (2009-2011) and the Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation (1996-2007). He has served on the Advisory Board of the John Templeton Foundation.

His research interests are in black holes, cosmology, particle physics, quantum foundations, and quantum information, as well as the science/religion dialogue. His Waterloo research group looks at these questions:

  • How would relativity influence how a quantum computer worked?
  • Could we use a quantum probe to peek inside a black hole?
  • Is it possible that the Big Bang could be replaced with a black hole at the beginning of time?

Audio File of Robert Mann’s TWU talk  Time and Eternity

Part of a TWU, SFU, UBC Tour co-sponsored with CSCA, the  Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation  https://www.csca.ca/vancouver/

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Bob Doede October 24 on Transhumanism

 

Irving Barber Learning Centre/Library, Room 182

Response to Professor Doede:  Dr. Martin Ester, Head of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University

Martin Ester Research Interests, PhD ETH, Zurich, Switzerland

  • Data Mining in Social Media
  • Recommendation in Social Media
  • Opinion Mining from Online Product Reviews
  • Data Mining in Biological Networks
  • Discovery of Cancer Markers from Gene Expression and Variation Data

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Anyone who carefully pays attention to the arc of western cultural thought and practice since the rise of modernity will discern a progressively intensifying and spreading pursuit of abstractions as the most trusted means of representing reality and accessing truth. The increases in our power to intellectually grasp and materially control nature, eventually brought with it stupendous gains in human standards of living for a good portion of Earth’s growing population. Yet, in recent decades, it has dawned on many that these improvements in material standards of living came with an unanticipated price: viz., a rather steep and almost unbearable reduction of the existential meaningfulness of life.

Since the rise of information sciences in the 1940s, our fondness for abstractions has expressed itself most emphatically in a number of cultural domains: for example, our culture’s growing preference for digitality over analogue, for algorithm over observation, for informational effigies over empirical realities, and for data-structures over concrete physical presences. This obsession with bloodless abstractions finds its ideological epicenter today in a computational variant of functionalism that has dominated the cognitive sciences for the last four decades. Quite generally, the cognitive sciences view the mind as essentially an information processing software running in, on, and through the brain’s neuronal connectivity, which both receives input from the hardware peripheries of the body’s senses and which also outputs commands to the body’s hardware motor peripheries. Computational functionalism provides the conceptual sub-structure upon which most articulations of transhumanism directly rely.