Thomas Heilke on the Crisis of Democracy

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Which of the Following Values are Important to Democracy?

  • Rule of Law and an Impartial Judiciary
  • A Constitution
  • Human Rights and Fair Access to Trial and Good Representation
  • Fair Representation and Moral Accountability of Political Leadership
  • Freedom of the Press
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Right to Protest and Assemble, to Publicly Debate Key Issues
  • Concern for the Common Good
  • Peace and Civility
  • Moral Leadership Employing Wisdom
  • Fair Elections
  • Fair Access to Higher Education
  • Sound Religious Foundation for Political Discourse
  • Proper and Fair Taxation System and Wealth Distribution
  • Access to Good Healthcare

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GR-9-nB-YE What is Democracy?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IBegL_V6AA  Jonathan Haidt NYU and Jordan Peterson University of Toronto on why we need to preserve debate within the university for the sake of democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEiMYaQcAAU The Truth About Democracy

Jurgen Habermas, Three Normative Models of Democracy

Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, Dialectics of Secularization.

  • Dahl, Robert A. (1989) Democracy and its Critics. London: Yale University Press. This is a seminal piece by one of the greats of Political Science. It charts the course of democracy through a series of ‘transformations’ from the city state through to the nation state. It provides a very nice exposition of the various elements of ‘democracy’ and the different ways in which democratic principles can be applied to systems of government.
  • Achen, C. & Bartels, L. (2016) Democracy For Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. This is one of the most important contributions to the study of democracy over the last decade. It makes for pretty uncomfortable reading: with empirical evidence, the authors really challenge some of our assumptions about the things we expect elections to do. It’s a good diagnosis of some of the problems with (a narrow focus on) electoral democracy, but sadly it doesn’t consider many substantive solutions.
  • Van Reybrouck, D. (2016) Against Elections: The Case for Democracy. London: Random House. This isn’t an academic work. It channels some of the criticisms of electoral democracy made by Achen & Bartels, but it’s very accessible and makes quite a persuasive (and counter-intuitive) case for supplementing traditional institutions with more extensive citizen-based decision-making.
  • Lijphart, A. (2007) Thinking about Democracy: Power Sharing and Majority Rule in Theory and Practice. Basingstoke: Routledge. Lijphart has been one of the key theorists on democracy as power-sharing (as opposed to the exercise of majority rule). His work significantly influenced the development of Northern Ireland’s political institutions as a form of conflict management, but his work has had a great deal of influence in a range of conflict and non-conflict contexts.

 

Benjamin Perrin on Human Slavery in Canada February 25

Professor Benjamin Perrin

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Associate Professor UBC Law

Senior Fellow MacDonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy

 

Confronting Modern-Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Canada

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 4 p.m.

Woodward (IRC) Room 1

120101_003 Audio  File

Abstract

Modern-day slavery is one of the most egregious human rights violations of our time. Human trafficking involving sexual exploitation and forced labour occurs around the world – including here in Canada. Professor Perrin will present the main findings from his study on human trafficking in Canada, including the shocking prevalence of Canadian women and girls as victims, and discuss how our country is responding to this hidden national tragedy.

Biography 

Benjamin Perrin is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law and a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy. He is one of Canada’s leading authorities on human trafficking and author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking (Penguin, 2011), which was named one of the top books of the year by the Globe and Mail. Prof. Perrin has served as Special Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister and Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The U.S. State Department has recognized him as a “hero” acting to end modern-day slavery.

He received a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary in 2001, a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto in 2005, and a Master of Laws (with honours) from McGill University in 2007. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 2007 and the Bar in British Columbia in 2010. Professor Perrin is an internationally recognized researcher and advocate for victims of crime. The Governor General of Canada and victims’ groups have also recognized him for his work to combat human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Professor Perrin is the recipient of the Wilson-Prichard Award for Community and Professional Service from the University of Toronto. He is co-editor of Human Trafficking: Exploring the International Nature, Concerns, and Complexities (CRC Press, 2012), and editor of Modern Warfare: Armed Groups, Private Militaries, Humanitarian Organizations and the Law (UBC Press, 2012). He is also the author of numerous law review articles and book chapters, and regularly provides commentary in the media. Prior to joining UBC, he was a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada, judicial intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, assistant director of the Special Court for Sierra Leone Legal Clinic (which assisted the Trial and Appeals Chambers), senior policy advisor to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and executive director of a non-governmental organization that combats human trafficking.

 

Jens Zimmerman, Canada Research Chair Interpretation, Religion & Culture

Jens ZimmermannThe Creative Challenge of Christian Humanism

Jens Zimmermann

Canadian Research Chair of Interpretation, Religion and Culture, TWU

Wednesday, February 27 @ 4:00 pm, Woodward IRC Room 5

ABSTRACT

The question of who we moderns are and what vision of humanity to assume in Western culture lies at the heart of hotly debated questions about the role of religion in education, politics, and culture. The urgency for recovery of a greater purpose for social practice is indicated by the increasing number of publications on the demise of higher education. Dr. Zimmermann contends that a main cause of this malaise is to be found in the alienation of reason and faith. He remains hopeful that the West can recover and rearticulate its identity, renew its cultural purpose by recovering the humanist ethos that originally shaped it. The journey he takes us on traces the religious roots of humanism from patristic theology, through the Renaissance and into modern philosophy. Historically, humanism was based on a creative correlation of, and compatibility between, reason and faith. Our speaker uses his considerable skill to re-imagine humanism for our current cultural and intellectual climate. This lecture follows in stream of thought with the CBC Ideas Series called The Myth of the Secular, a reframing of the conversation about religion and society in the twenty-first century.

BIOGRAPHY

Jens Zimmermann holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. He currently occupies the Canada Research Chair in Interpretation, Religion and Culture, and is Professor of English at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley. He has published eight previous books in the areas of theology, philosophy, and literary theory. He is board member of the International Bonhoeffer Society (English Language Section), and co-editor of the IBI (International Bonhoeffer Interpretation) series. With two other colleagues, he also runs the Religion, Culture and Conflict group at TWU, which organizes inter-faith conferences. The group recently published Politics and the Religious Imagination (Routledge 2010). Dr. Zimmermann has just released a new book from Oxford University Press in 2012 (Humanism & Religion: a call for the Renewal of Western Culture) from which comes the theme of today’s lecture.

Text of Dr. Zimmermann’s Talk on Wednesday, February 27UBC Lecture on Christian Humanism

http://twu.ca/research/academic/faculty-research/chairs-and-professorships/canada-research-chairs/jens-zimmermann/

Recommended Reading for this Forum:

Brunner, Emil. Christianity and Civilization. Second Part: Specific Problems. 2 vols. Vol. 2, New York: Scribner’s, 1949.

———. Christianity and Civilisation. First Part: Foundations. Gifford Lectures, 1947-1948.  New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1948.

Butler, Judith, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Cornel West, Eduardo (ed.) Mendieta, and Jonathan (ed.) VanAntwerpen. The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

Casanova, José. “The Secular and the Secularisms.” Social Research 76, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 1049-66.

———. “Rethinking Secularization: A Global Comparitive Perspective.” The Hedgehog Review  (Spring and Summer 2006): 7-22.

Sommerville, John. Decline of the Secular University. Oxford University Press. 2006.

Strousma, Guy G. The End of Sacrifice: Religious Transformations in Late Antiquity. Translated by Susan Emanuel.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. (for some Jewish/Christians influences on profound cultural changes.

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Harvard University Press, 2007.

Taylor, Charles, and James Heft. A Catholic Modernity? : Charles Taylor’s Marianist Award Lecture, with Responses by William M. Shea, Rosemary Luling Haughton, George Marsden, and Jean Bethke Elshtain.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. (If people don’t want to read “a secular age”)

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Some provocative quotes from Jens Zimmermann, Incarnational Humanism.

 

Understanding the nature of reason is central to our conception of human existence. We have to resist a narrow conception of human rationality that excludes religion as irrational because such a view cripples our ability to analyze correctly the current state of Western culture. As Rodney Stark has argued in his book The Victory of Reason, Christianity’s ability to combine faith and reason with a progressive view of human nature laid the foundation for Western science and technological progress…. Building on Judaism, Christianity also allowed for the concepts of human dignity, personhood and individuality that have decisively shaped Western views of society. (p. 25 & 26)

Neither the best nor the worst features of modernity are comprehensible without the transformative influence of Christianity on Greco-Roman culture.Without religion, the West would not be what it is, and without understanding the religious roots of Western culture and their continuing influence on Western thought, we lack the self-understanding necessary to address our current cultural crisis. (p. 26.)

The reduction of reason to scientific objectivity, combined with an individualistic understanding of the human self as an island of autonomous consciousness and will, has draw a sharp line between faith and reason, between science and religion, between fact and value. (p. 35)

Living in a postsecular world means that secularism is no longer the standard for reasonable thought. If indeed it is true that Western culture continues to experience a crisis of identity and purpose, the dogmatic exclusion of sources of transcendent purpose (i.e. religion) seems unwise…. Such dogmatism is not secular thinking, if secular is taken at its root meaning of “this worldly”. Rather, the arbitrary exclusion of religion from reasonable discourse is secularist ideology, a fundamentalist rejection of all interpretation of the world, except the materialist one that excludes religion.  (p. 41)

When science begins to think, that is, when it moves beyond verification and begins to interpret the meaning of its findings, science takes recourse to philosophy and theology. (p. 42)

 

Further Graduate Student Dialogue http://ubcgcu.org

Also hear David Lyle Jeffrey on the topic in the GFCF Series:

http://gcu-ubc.ca/David%20Jeffrey%20Regent.mp3

Endorsements of Jens Zimmermann’s Work:

“A timely and thoughtful analysis of how human beings, in the course of several centuries, have come to dominate a world, and yet have lost a sense of what it means to be human. Jens Zimmerman demonstrates with depth and clarity the way that our common humanity was uniquely recovered in the incarnation. This is truly a topic for our times.”

~Barry Harvey, Baylor University

“Jens Zimmerman has wisely and judiciously mined the depths and fullness of the Christian humanist tradition. There are those who take humanism to be the polar opposite of faith. Zimmerman has made it clear that the noblest aspects of Christian humanism act as a corrective to both a secular humanism and many forms of contemporary Christianity. This classical form has a breadth and depth to it that is well worth investigating with Dr. Zimmermann. Going beyond dualism and deconstructing caricatures of Christianity, faith and reason are woven together in a nuanced, subtle and refined manner.  Public responsibility to a common good is elevated as a high value.”

~Professor Ron Dart, Dept. of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of the Fraser Valley

Faraday Institute Film & Panel on Biological Origins

Faraday Institute Film & Faculty Panel on Biological Origins

Wednesday, November 14 @ 4:00 p.m. Woodward Room 5, UBC

Reading Material: Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies

UBC Regent & TWU Live Panelists

  • Bart van der Kamp, Professor Emeritus and Former Head of Forestry, UBC
  • Iain Provan, Professor of Ancient Hebrew Literature, Regent College
  • Judith Toronchuk,  retired Professor Biopsychology, Trinity Western University 

Reflections on Panel Discussion by Dr. Iain Provan:

I enjoyed being part of the panel last Wednesday.  The topic we were discussing was the important one of “reading God’s two books” – creation, on the one hand, and Scripture, on the other.  Can we read these two books together, with integrity?  I believe that we can, IF we avoid making mistakes in reading either one.

On the side of “reading creation,” for example, one of the mistakes we have made is in the area of what some people call “natural evil” or “physical evil” – tsunamis, earthquakes, and the like.  We call such things “evil,” and then we are faced with the “problem” of reconciling the suffering arising from this “evil” with the idea of a good Creator.  But I don’t think it makes any sense to call “evil” the suffering in the world that is an inevitable outcome of the fact that the good God has made the world in the particular way that he has, and not in some other way.  This kind of suffering is simply a consequence of living in this world, and not another one.  You will suffer if you put your hand in a fire.  It’s not pleasant.  It hurts.  But evil does not come into it.  Likewise, moving tectonic plates are necessary for the proper and good functioning of this world, but sometimes moving tectonic plates do cause earthquakes and tsunamis.

On the side of “reading Scripture,” one of the mistakes we have made is to think we are reading Scripture “literally” when actually we are not.  To read any text literally is to read it in accordance with its literal sense, in its historical and cultural context.  This includes a book like Genesis.  We all too often make Genesis try to speak about realities in which it really has no interest (e.g. the origin of matter, or the precise processes by which the world came to be as it is now).  In focusing on such matters, we fail to consider properly the subjects in which Genesis is interested – for example, our human vocation in the world as God’s image-bearers, including our calling to look after the earth.  It is one of the disastrous aspects of the debate about faith, Bible and science in the last 150 years, in fact, that in trying to make a book like Genesis speak to our questions about physical, chemical and biological processes, we have failed to allow it to question us about philosophy, politics, economics, and ethics.  Yet I can get through my entire day without knowing precisely how I got here.  I cannot get through an entire day without knowing what it means to be here – who I am, what my job is, what my purpose is, what I should hope for, and so on.  Science cannot answer such questions. Scripture does.

Follow up Reading on Origins

Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies.
Cambidge Companion on Darwin.
Alister E. McGrath, Darwin & the Divine: evolutionary design and natural theology.
David Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders.
John Polkinghorne, Faith of a Physicist.
Simon Conway Morris, Life’s Solution.
Francis Collins, The Language of God.
David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: the Christian Revolution and its fashionable Enemies.

Distinguished Participant in the Faraday Institute Film on Origins and Evolution

Three have been guests of the GFCF in past years

  • Sir John Polkinghorne, former top Mathematical Physicist, former President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a World Authority on the Science and Religion Discourse
  •  Katherine Blundell, Astrophysicist, Oxford University
  •  William Dembski, American Mathematician and Philosopher, Proponent of Intelligent Design
  •  Simon Conway Morris, Palaeobiologist, Cambridge University.
  •  Sir John Houghton, Climate Scientist, Former Chair of the Scientific Assessment Panel of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Alister McGrath, Theologian of Science & Religion, King’s College, London
  • Ard Louis, Biophysicist, Oxford University
  • Denis Alexander, Director or the Faraday Institute for Science & Religion, Cambridge University and Former Cancer Researcher.
  • Francis Collins, Former Director, Human Genome Research, now the Director of the National Institute of Health, Maryland.

Questions Discussed in Film

  • What is the explanatory power of evolution theory? What does it fail to explain?
  • What are we to think of Intelligent Design Theory and irreducible complexity?
  • Is evolution compatible with belief in a God or does it eliminate need for God?
  • Is evolution at all compatible with the biblical account of origins in Genesis?
  • Can we apply evolution theory to human morality?
  • What are we to make of the misuse of evolutionary theory in eugenics?
  • What about the dark side of evolution–its waste, destruction, elimination?
  • Should evolution ever be taken as a philosophy of life?
  • What is our human responsibility to be stewards of our blue-green planet?

 

Also posted on Facebook event page at http://goo.gl/Ncx8Y   and a CSCA event listing at http://goo.gl/sMMht
Co-sponsored by UBC’s GFCF (Graduate & Faculty Christian Fellowship) and the Vancouver Area Science & Religion Forum, Canadian Science & Christian Affiliation.
Further Graduate Student Dialogue http://ubcgcu.org

 

Brad S. Gregory, Early Modern European History, Notre Dame University

Losing My Religion: The Reformation Era and the Secularization of Knowledge?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012  @ 4:00 p.m.  Woodward, Room 5, UBC

How did theology go from being “queen of the sciences” to exclusion from the secularized academy?  Standard narratives point to the emergence of modern science and critical humanistic scholarship as the keys to the eventual secularization of knowledge.  But as Brad Gregory argues in his new book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society, the eventual secularization of knowledge was more paradoxical: it was a long-term result of the unresolved doctrinal disagreements that followed from the Reformation in the sixteenth century, and the political privileging of theology in the confessionally divided universities of early modern Europe.  This insulated theology from new knowledge and set it up in the modern era for an institutional fall from which it has never recovered.

Biography   http://history.nd.edu/faculty/directory/brad-s-gregory/

 Dr. Brad Gregory holds a PhD in History from Princeton University. His principal research interests center on Christianity in the Reformation era (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), including magisterial Protestantism, radical Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism approached comparatively and cross-confessionally. He is concerned to understand the long-term ideological influences and institutional consequences of the Reformation era on the making of the modern Western world, and to trace the postmodern condition back to the premodern world. Another of his areas of research and interest is methodology and theory in the understanding of religion and history. His publications include: The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012).
Co-editor, with Alister Chapman and J. R. D. Coffey, Seeing Things Their Way: Intellectual History and the Return of Religion (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009)
”No Room for God? History, Science, Metaphysics, and the Study of Religion,” History and Theory, 47 (2008): 495-519. Academic awards include the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 2005,
and the Kaneb Teaching Award, College of Arts and Letters, Notre Dame, 2005

  Addendum: Please read at least the Introduction and Chapter Six  of Gregory’s book The Unintended Reformation before the lecture.

“Hyperpluralism” is Brad Gregory’s description of what some have called “the postmodern condition” in his new book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Belknap, 2012).  We live in an era in which, empirically speaking, human beings hold an enormously wide range of truth claims pertaining to questions about meaning, morality, value, purpose, and priorities.  Their respective claims influence their actions and the sorts of lives they aspire to live.  The academy contributes to hyperpluralism through the findings of the humanities and social sciences, which disclose a vast array of ways in which human beings across cultures and over time have answered these fundamental human questions, up to and including the present in our era of cosmopolitan globalization.  Every attempt to transcend the hyperpluralism ends up augmenting it, without any shared criteria for how the many rival—and often politically conflictual—claims might be assessed in consensually persuasive ways.  The same holds true of the “real world,” except that religious answers to these questions are permitted in ways that are not true of the academy.  The many competing religious truth claims augment still further the hyperpluralism characteristic of the early twenty-first century, without any shared means of adjudicating among them.  Professor Gregory’s lecture on the Reformation era and the secularization of knowledge will explore one long-term strand which, in the Western world, contributed in paradoxical ways to the exclusion of religious truth claims from assumptions about knowledge and its pursuit in the academy.
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Dr. Gregory asks what propelled the West into its trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and he finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past. His analysis is as much about the present as the past; he identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of five centuries. A hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs, an absence of any substantive common good, the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism—all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West. Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to advance the realization of this vision, not to disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West. Today, what we are left with are fragments: intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse; a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief; a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vision of religion; a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism; and the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.

 Find Gregory on YouTube

Further Graduate Student Dialogue http://ubcgcu.org

Comments on the Lecture by UBC Professors

I found his presentation well-delivered and clear. But I would put more explanatory power for the ending of Christendom in the shifting themes identified by sociologists like Peter Berger and philosophers like Charles Taylor. I don’t think the world we have lost since the Reformation could have been sustained by better magisterial efforts of theological faculties of universities in Europe and American. Gregory’s epistemological points in critiquing the hegemony of current naturalism in the physical sciences were certainly convincing, but hardly new. Historians tell stories, and Gregory’s story was superb.

George Egerton, Professor Emeritus History, UBC

This event was an intellectual treat. I have bought the book and am busily devouring it.
There are serious implications for our life as a conservative orthodox community which need airing more widely. My own church could usefully reflect on this with respect to the way in which schism has become a way of life for mainstream Protestantism.

Olav Slaymaker, Geography, UBC

 

Science & Christian Faith in Synergy?

Encouraging Note from Dr. Arnold Sikkema, PhD Physics from UBC

Thousands of students head off to university this fall with high anticipation to ply their future through higher education and skills training. Many will be a bit shocked to discover that major universities do not welcome through their gates their faith-based thinking. Is there any support for these students who respect scientific knowledge and have a strong faith?

During this past summer, a group of professors shared with me that they had established an introductory  course on Christianity at a public university.  Many students who took this course expressed surprise that it is possible to simultaneously be a Christian and an intellectually-fulfilled scholar. Especially in science, there is the widespread misconception that science has shown religion to be false or useless. However, many notable scholars worldwide provide articulate voices to the contrary. For example, the renowned Notre Dame Philosopher Alvin Plantinga in his important recent book Where the Conflict Really Lies (OUP, 2011), clearly demonstrates that there is  deep concord between the Christian worldview and contemporary science, while significant conflict between good science and naturalism/materialism.

The Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation (CSCA)  http://www.csca.ca/  is a lively organisation dedicated to promote mutually appreciative connections between science and the Christian faith, and to expose such intellectual dead ends as the conflict relationship model. This occurs within the scholarly and professional communities as well as in the church and society at large (confronting fears and misconceptions in both arenas). The Vancouver area has an active group, typically inviting one or more guest lecturers annually, hosting them at UBC, Regent College, as well as SFU, Trinity Western University and Redeemer Pacific. Our events are free and open to the public. This coming January 2013, we have invited Ian Hutchinson, a reputable Plasma Physicist from MIT. http://www.psfc.mit.edu/~hutch/

 Special Membership Note: Until the end of September, the CSCA is offering a 25% discount on membership. In addition, students can join free of charge. The association has much to offer, from scholarly resources to Christian fellowship. We encourage you to visit and become acquainted!

Arnold Sikkema, PhD Physics from UBC

Professor of Physics, Chair of Mathematical Sciences, Trinity Western University

Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, Vice President of CSCA