March Madness ’14: Faith & Academia Bracket

A few more higher ed titles from Tom’s shelf, see Higher Ed bracket for picture of another stack. What is on yours? Please share in the comments section below 🙂 In addition, please let me know if you’d like to join the team by writing a book review or a piece on higher ed in general for the blog 🙂

Page in dynamic development as we explore the most pressing issues for the Christian to engage when journeying in higher ed during March Madness ’14 and in months/years to come. . . . To God be the glory!

Voting is at ESN March Madness ’14.

Faith and Academia

4) Discerning the truth [and upon what basis/authority]

– Truth: Can we know it, and if so how? Different types of evidence, inference, hypothesis testing and argumentation are used in different fields. Definitions, presuppositions and criteria often determine the conclusion before we begin. But most people are not aware of the differences, and assume every field, every individual, operates on the same principles.

– I know that many have talked about the faith and science idea, but I think behind that is the question of faith and reason as a larger issue. The larger issue behind that is the question of authority as was mentioned already. So it is not just about the issue of finding a balance point between faith and science (or metaphysics and physics) and even discovering a way that they won’t end up battling with each other, it is what is the relationship between faith and reason as a larger question and the larger question is the nature of authority. Authority from the human level – does the scientist have authority beyond their own scientific conclusions – as well as questions of the nature of revelation as authority.

– Fear and resistance–some folks seem to fear reading and thinking about thinkers identified as antagonistic to faith, yet many of these works are foundational in western scholarship.

13) Pluralism and tolerance

– Learning a voice, Earning a hearing – Nicholas Wolterstorff, “I was a participant in a shared **human** enterprise, rather than a combatant against the enterprise. That was crucial.”

– Principled Plurality in higher education… a Christian among other voices at the table of education in an equitable, engaging, enriching benefit to those in and passing through the university that enables people to hospitably, intelligently engage God’s diversity of people with hope and purpose.

5) Finding and keeping vocation

– Does my work matter to God and to the Church?

– How can we encourage and support scholars who are struggling to find meaningful academic work?

– Disciples/ Apprentices of Jesus on university campuses – Dallas Willard ( “..Thirdly, make a point of specifically treating our subject matter in relation to God. I suggest that at least one whole lecture in each course in a Christian university should be devoted to the relationship of the subject matter to God. One whole hour, specifically devoted to a consideration of how the specialized knowledge of the academic discipline being studied in that class fits into the comprehensive whole of the reality of our knowledge of God…. [a very good friend in a secular university does this, speaking of ultimate issues in the field]

“Fourth, devote one week of research each year to exploring the connection of my subject matter to fundamental Christian doctrine—”mere Christianity.” After a few years you might not need this and that’s good, you can go fishing or whatever you like to do. But keep at it until it’s done,… until it’s done…..”

12) Theology and nature

– The importance of embrace what Alister E. McGrath terms “a Christian natural theology”. What is that? “A Christian natural theology is thus about seeing nature in a specific manner, which enables the truth, beauty, and goodness of God to be discerned, and which acknowledges nature as a legitimate, authorized, and limited pointer to the divine. There is no question of such a natural theology ‘proving’ the existence of God or a transcendent realm on the basis of pure reason, or seeing nature as a gateway to a fully orbed theistic system. Rather, natural theology addresses fundamental questions about divine disclosure and human cognition and perception. In what way can human beings, reflecting on nature by means of natural processes, discern the transcendent?” — Alister E. McGrath. The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology. Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

– How can Christian scientists practice excellent science while avoiding “scientism” or materialism? How can we create what C. S. Lewis called “regenerate science?”

– Global Warming (a.k.a. Climate Change) is either one of the greatest challenges the human race will face over the next century or “the greatest hoax,” in the words of one U.S. senator. Which is correct, and can Christians agree on an answer? If it is real, what is the best Christian response?

– Origins. Where did I come from and what is the basis for my significance and value as a person?

– Origins: Where did we come from, and what difference does it make in our conception of humans and God? How should we approach the interpretation of scientific and Biblical evidence? Could you give a reasoned, evidence-based argument for why a certain interpretation of either is better than some other?

– Where did we come from? Is the standard secular model (quantum fluctuation/big bang/abiogenesis/neodarwinian-evolution) or the Biblical/theistic model (Divine creation) the better scientific hypothesis for the origin of the universe, life, species, and humanity? Or, dropping the word ‘scientific’ and expanding to all models (including Quranic, Vedic, etc), what is the best explanation, out of all the competing explanations, for how we came to be here? Which explanation best fits all the evidence we have?

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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