Tag Archives: faith

Billy Graham’s TEDtalk

The annual TED conference (TED = Technology, Entertainment, Design) bills itself as “bring[ing] together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” You see presenters at TED along the lines of Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Freeman Dyson, Marvin Minsky, and on and on. Many of the best TED talks are available for free as video podcasts at the iTunes store or from TED’s website. I was quite surprised to find, among these “best of TED” talks, a 27-minute lecture from 1998 by Billy Graham. His talk was on “Technology, Faith, and Human Shortcomings”. Here it is, in its entirety. You should really watch the whole thing.

I think it takes a lot of guts for an evangelical Christian — to say nothing of a then-80-year old with Parkinson’s Disease — to walk into TED, into a crowd of people who by and large have precious little sympathy for your position, and talk with such ease and boldness. But Billy Graham has been around the block a few times and been into more hostile environments than that.

I happen to agree with Graham’s conclusions about Jesus Christ (although not every point of his Southern Baptist theology). But even if you don’t, listen to the questions he asks and the points he raises*. What about human evil, death, and suffering? Technology won’t solve these problems; what will?

(* …and don’t respond by reflexively hurling insults at Christians like depressingly many of the commenters at TED’s web site do. If you disagree with Christianity, fine, but step up to the plate and put forth a viable answer to the question rather than simply name-call like a 5-year old on the playground.)


Filed under Christianity, Technology

The Pope’s message to academia

Some quotes from the Inside Higher Ed article:

“At times, however, the value of the Church’s contribution to the public forum is questioned. It is important therefore to recall that the truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another. The Church’s mission, in fact, involves her in humanity’s struggle to arrive at truth. In articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should serve as the basis of praxis.”

“Truth,” he continued a little later in his speech, “means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her the entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being.” […]

“While we have sought diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will. Subsequently we observe, with distress, the notion of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in — a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves.”

Some interesting comments as well about academic freedom in that article, too.

The comments thus far appear to come mostly from hardcore rationalists who appear to think that if you cannot taste, touch, feel, see, or hear it, then it doesn’t exist; and that rationality and the vague concept of “enlightenment” apart from faith is the ideal end state for humanity. I’ve learned that there’s no point in trying to engage such people.

For my part, I found myself wishing that we Protestants were half as articulate about the relationship between faith and reason as the Pope is (and perhaps the Catholic Church is).


Filed under Academic freedom, Christianity, Education, Higher ed, Life in academia