A Review of Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan: 2014)
By David H. Leonard, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics, Luther Rice University, Atlanta, GA

It might be tempting to think that productivity is a topic more suitable for business leaders and entrepreneurs, for whom it’s essential to “get things done” as efficiently as possible.  As Matt Perman argues in What’s Best Next, however, productivity is mainly about loving others by putting their needs first.  Such an emphasis results not only in greater productivity, but is also consistent with a Christian view of such matters.  Indeed, the implication is that all Christians, regardless of their vocation, are called to excel in their productivity.  To achieve that goal, it’s not sufficient that we’re merely aware of the relevant skills of productivity; rather, our employment of these skills must be motivated and informed by a proper theological foundation.  In this regard, Perman’s book offers readers a unique and insightful perspective on the topic of productivity, explicitly informed by the Christian faith.

Christian scholars, in particular, ought to take seriously Perman’s insights on productivity, for the ideas and principles he develops have direct relevance for the quality of their teaching and research.  Whereas Andreas Köstenberger, for example, has challenged scholars to pursue their work with excellence, in terms of demonstrating boldness amidst the pressures of “academic respectability” and displaying integrity in their scholarly activities, Perman highlights for readers the practical steps that might be taken to clear the way for such excellence to be achieved.  Continue Reading…

Optical illusion involving a trident with either 2 or 3 tines, and a cat either on the side or in front

Is this cat clawing the front or the side of this 2 (or 3?) tined fork? Does God know for sure? (Illustration by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre; Public Domain)

I’ve always been sympathetic to Einstein’s famous assertion “God doesn’t play dice with the world.” In my public health training, I regularly and fruitfully used statistics and probability theory. Ideologically, they struck me as concessions to pragmatism. Human beings are too complex, their measurable attributes innumerable; we cannot know enough about them to accurately describe their full condition at any moment. We appeal to the law of large numbers to save us from our finitude. Somewhere behind those statistics are objective truths about the health of each individual in the public. As with people, so with photons; underneath those probability waves, surely there must be a bedrock of certainty.

When I read about this result in Big Bang cosmology, I was intrigued. I discovered that an interpretation of quantum physics with certainty at its core does exist, and has existed for some time. It was never widely adopted, and has become less popular in recent years. This new cosmological result resurrects it, or at least its central and most controversial element — a guiding equation that makes the properties of a single particle dependent on every other particle in the universe. This results in nonlocal effects which are considered irreconcilable with the locality of other physical phenomena.  It also gives each particle a definite location and velocity. The probability wave still limits how precisely those quantities can be measured, meaning this version of quantum physics gives all the same results as fundamentally probabilistic interpretations.

Having been intrigued, I began to wonder. Why am I so opposed to a fundamentally probabilistic reality? Continue Reading…

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious but most discussions of origins seem to generate far more heat than light. They preach to the choir of those who agree, fail to engage those with whom they disagree on their own terms and perpetuate the unfortunate notion that Christianity and science are at war with each other. Gerald Rau’s Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything (InterVarsity Press, 2012) is a notable exception to that trend in that it is intended to promote understanding and conversation rather than more controversy.

Gerald Rau takes a novel approach in this book. Rather than taking a side, he lays out six different models that may be found in the current discussions. This itself is important because most of the coverage of this issue assumes two very diametrically opposed options: naturalistic evolution, that there is no god and the universe and all life arose simply through physical causation, and young earth creationism, which treats Genesis 1 as a literal account of how God created the world in six literal days, a world that is approximately 10,000 years old.

Rau identifies four other models and their proponents: Continue Reading…