253 episodes

Bigger Questions explores the big questions of life. It's is a fun and stimulating forum where a guest is interviewed on a particular topic or theme. We hear their story and their reflections on a short passage from the Bible and we have a few laughs along the way. Bigger Questions is an activity of City Bible Forum in Melbourne, Australia.

Bigger question‪s‬ City Bible Forum

    • Christianity
    • 4.9 • 27 Ratings

Bigger Questions explores the big questions of life. It's is a fun and stimulating forum where a guest is interviewed on a particular topic or theme. We hear their story and their reflections on a short passage from the Bible and we have a few laughs along the way. Bigger Questions is an activity of City Bible Forum in Melbourne, Australia.

    Ep 190: How do we reboot life? | Stephen McAlpine

    Ep 190: How do we reboot life? | Stephen McAlpine

    After an exhausting and challenging 2020 many have wanted to start afresh in 2021 - to refresh and reboot so to speak. How can we do this? Is this even possible? And how can the desire for reboot offer a glimpse of something bigger?

    Our guest: Steve McAlpine works with Third Space, an initiative of City Bible Forum, which engages the big questions of life, faith and culture. Steve is a popular blogger, author and speaker and he loves exploring the bigger questions raised by our culture.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.

    Bigger Questions asked in this conversation

    Love of writing & engaging culture

    Steve, you love writing and reflecting on ideas and apparently your first published piece was a Grade 2 story about a family of mice being terrorised by a shark on the beaches of Perth. That’s a very creative story - did it end well for the mice?

    Smaller Questions

    So Steve our smaller question to you is, which of the following was ranked by critics as the worst TV series reboot?

    Are reboots ever as good as the originals?

    Reboot life after Covid: what do we reboot

    So you can reboot computers, TV shows, but what about life? Because after the challenges and weariness of 2020 and the pandemic - an unprecedented year in many respects - it caused a lot of people to wish 2020 to finish up so we can start again in 2021 - to refresh and reboot so to speak. Can you appreciate why people would want to reboot?

    Now 2021 is actually here, it seems there’s a lot of similarities to 2020: snap lockdowns, border closures and new more viral strains of Covid. How do you think people are coping?

    How has this impacted the desire for reboot?

    The future will be better

    Inbuilt into the notion of reboot is the concept that the future will be better. Where do you think we get the idea that the future will be better?

    According to psychologist Steven Pinker, by every major measure of human well-being, from personal safety to longevity to economic security to happiness, people everywhere are far better off today than they were before the start of the Enlightenment in the 17th century. So surely it’s reasonable to think that the world is getting better?

    Bible: reboot vs resurrection

    The Bible doesn’t use the term, reboot, it instead describes this transformation as resurrection. So how is resurrection different from rebooting?

    The resurrection life for those who believe is described in the Book of Romans in the New Testament, where the author, the Apostle Paul writes, in Romans 6:4

    We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

    It seems to link the idea of resurrection of Jesus to the new life of the believer - so how does Jesus’ resurrection impact people’s lives today?

    How has this ‘new life’ in Christ affected you amidst the challenges of 2020?

    The Big Question

    So Steve, how do we reboot life?

    • 27 min
    Ep 189: Is the Bible true? | James White

    Ep 189: Is the Bible true? | James White

    The Bible is one of the world's most influential books, but is it true? We debate the claim that the Bible is no more than ancient fiction, explore objections to it being truth and uncover what the Bible originally said. A fascinating conversation sure to stimulate your thinking.

    Our guest: Dr. James White. James is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, an organisation defending the Christian faith based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, and an accomplished debater having participated in over one hundred and fifty moderated debates.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.

    Bigger Questions asked in this conversation

    Introduction to James’s passion for debates

    Over 150 debates - that’s a lot of debates. Did you like arguing a lot as a child?

    What made you start debating - are you a naturally argumentative person?

    But are debates worth it?

    So James, you defend the Christian message. But what makes you believe that the Christian message is true? Did you grow up in a Christian home - was that why?

    Bible - why believe Bible to be true?

    How much does your assumptions and presuppositions impact your reflection on this question?

    What’s the toughest objection to believing that to be true?

    Textual transmission

    Many point to the work of textual critic Bart Ehrman Hitchens claims that Ehrman exposed the “huge uncertainty befogging the New Testament texts”. So is there uncertainty befogging the texts?

    Your latest doctoral studies focus on textual transmission - so what have you been looking at?

    The Bible

    So how much do you think the Biblical authors were consciously writing what they thought was the truth? So for example in John 19:35 - reacting to the appearance of blood and water coming out of Jesus side at his crucifixion:

    The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

    So do you think he was consciously writing the truth, or was he just really bad at this, or was this a later invention to trick people into believing it as the truth?

    The Big Question

    So James, Is the Bible true?

    • 27 min
    Ep 188: Will science save us? | Denis Alexander

    Ep 188: Will science save us? | Denis Alexander

    What do we make of the scientific response to Coronavirus? The swift development of a Covid vaccine has been described as a 'miracle'. We explore the scientific response to Covid, the impact of religion on science and consider an even bigger problem which also requires salvation.

    Our guest: Dr Denis Alexander. Denis is Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. He worked for many years as a molecular biologist and now he writes, lectures and broadcasts widely in the field of science and religion.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in this conversation

    Faraday Institute

    Denis, you are involved in the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, what exactly does the Faraday Institute do?

    I seem to remember something about Faraday from my high school physics - who was Faraday?

    Is it true we have him to thank for electricity?

    So you use a lot of electricity in his honour?

    But he also had something to do with religion?

    Interest in Science

    So, what about you Denis, what fascinates you about science?

    Now, there’s a fairly widespread opinion that science and theology are in opposition. So did you have to ignore your scientific worldview when you decided to be a Christian?

    What convinced you to become a Christian believer?

    Were there challenges to your belief in God as you progressed in your professional science career?

    But isn’t there the idea that Christianity impedes scientific progress? It’s common to believe that nothing holds back scientific and technological progress like religion. So Denis, how do you see your Christian faith intersect with your scientific research?

    Science and Coronavirus

    Speaking of scientific progress, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused all sorts of challenges across the world with over 100 million cases and over 2 million people deaths. It’s been an enormous medical and scientific challenge and many people have turned to science and the search for Coronavirus vaccines. Some have said that ‘Never before have scientists and clinicians united with such scale and singular focus.’ The research into Covid-19 is a bit different to cancer, which was your area of expertise. What have you made of the scientific response to Coronavirus?

    What do you make of the speed at getting a vaccine?

    In recent months there have been a number of articles with the theme that science will save us from Covid-19. There is a confidence that science and the vaccines that scientists created will stop the pandemic and save the day. So is it too much to say that science will save us from Coronavirus?

    Bible: salvation in Jesus

    But the Bible claims that Jesus saves, in Acts 4:12 speaking about Jesus that,

    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’

    What is meant here, because Jesus can’t really save us from the pandemic?

    But Jesus isn’t going to produce a vaccine - surely that would be more use to more people than some kind of spiritual salvation?

    Christian response to Covid

    But given that salvation is found in no one else, does this mean that Christians shouldn’t have medical help or that God is opposed to being saved by science? Because some have been praying that God will save them from the virus, without any medical assistance. One pastor once said, ‘covid-19 is an evil from which control and protection can only come direct from the Almighty.’ Is this your view - that God will act independently of any medical or scientific advance?

    But these people firmly believe that “God is larger than this dreaded virus” - so do you think that the virus is bigger than God?

    The Big Question

    So Denis, will science save us?

    • 27 min
    Ep 187: What is truth? | Ryan Young

    Ep 187: What is truth? | Ryan Young

    What is truth in a world of fake news and alternative facts? We confront some of the mind bending challenges truth and language pose and discover an even bigger truth that is relevant for our lives today.

    Our guest: Dr. Ryan Young is the Director of the National Security College Futures Hub. He has worked across multiple Departments in the Australian Public Service and also has a PhD in philosophy and logic

    This conversation was recorded live in Canberra in September 2019 in partnership with the Simeon Network.

    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in this conversation

    Ryan - you work with the National Security College. What does that mean? Is not connected to national security is it?

    Smaller Questions

    Today we’re asking Dr. Ryan Young about the truth. So Ryan our smaller questions to you are about ‘lying’.

    Introduction to truth - liar paradox

    So Ryan, your PhD research was in lying, and in particular something known as the ‘liar paradox’, so can tell us a bit about your research - what exactly is the liar paradox?

    What exactly is a paradox? Is it something that is true and false at the same time?

    Why is the ‘liar paradox’, a paradox?

    Isn’t the liar paradox just a linguistic error?

    So why did you spend 3-4 years of your life wrestling with this?

    So what did you discover?

    Ways of searching for truth

    So what does it then mean that something is true?

    What does this mean for the relationship between language and truth? Is it therefore a bit complicated?

    Language - way of expressing truth.

    What about science? Surely that’s a more certain and robust method of determining truth, indeed atheist philosopher Dan Dennett once said,

    There is no better source of truth on any topic than well conducted science.

    And fellow atheist Sam Harris also claimed that

    Science represents our best efforts to know what is true in the world.

    So is there no better source of truth on any topic than well conducted science?

    So is truth elusive?

    Can we ever know the truth?

    Humility

    The idea of epistemic humility is found in the Bible, for example, Psalm 131:1, the Psalmist writes - I don’t concern myself with things that are too wonderful for me. It seems that the Psalmist acknowledges that there are just things they can’t know, so is it a part of the biblical worldview to accept that as humans we can’t know everything?

    So what does it mean when we can’t know everything?

    But does that mean that Christians are content with ignorance and not wanting to push the boundaries of human knowledge?

    Bible’s answer - truth in Jesus

    Today’s big question is ‘What is truth?’ and this is the very question that Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asks Jesus in John 18:38 where he is being being interrogated and tried. He asks this question because Jesus has answered another of Pilate’s questions about if he was a king, by saying,

    “You say that I am a king. In fact, that’s the reason I was born. I was born and came into the world to be a witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth listens to me.”

    So what was Jesus saying about the truth?

    When it comes to truth, Jesus Christ, in the pages of the Bible makes an even more radical claim. Whilst he claims to be a witness to the truth, he says more, he doesn’t just claim to know the truth, or speak the truth, but in John 14:6, he claims to be the truth.

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

    Isn’t claiming to ‘be’ the truth fairly egotistical?

    In what way is Jesus therefore ‘the truth’?

    But why should we believe Jesus is telling the truth? Wouldn’t this make another great ‘would I lie to you’ story? ‘I once convinced a group of 12 disciples that I was truth embodied in human form’?

    Truth is embodied: Personal answer

    Why do you believe that

    • 27 min
    Is Jesus for Asia? | KK Yeo

    Is Jesus for Asia? | KK Yeo

    Join Dr. KK Yeo as we explore the differences between Eastern and Western culture and discover an even bigger story. With Chinese New Year approaching, a conversation to get you thinking about cultural diversity and some bigger questions.

    Our guest: Dr. KK Yeo. is a Chinese scholar born in Malaysia, educated in the U.S., and currently teaching in Chicago, Beijing, and Jerusalem. He is the author of 35 books and has a particular interest in the dialogue between cultures of antiquity and modern times. KK was in Australia at the invitation of Overseas Council Australia.

    This episode was originally broadcast and released on 3rd February 2019, hence the absence of an episode number.


    Help us keep asking Bigger Questions. Support the show for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger questions asked in the conversation

    You teach in in Jerusalem, New York and Beijing - you don’t do this at the same time I take it?

    Do you ever get confused where you are?

    Difference between East and West

    KK you were born and raised in a Chinese Malaysian context, but you studied and now teach in the United States. Now it’s common to describe the United States as representing Western culture and China and Asia as representing Eastern culture. So what are the differences between Eastern and Western cultures?

    So maybe to illustrate - let’s chat a bit about the differences in Eastern and Western Culture when compared to ?

    Punctuality

    Queueing

    Is it dangerous to think that one type of culture is ‘better’ or superior to the other?

    But does culture change at all?

    You have an interest in the dialogue between cultures of antiquity and modern times. Which modern culture more closely resembles the ancient world - Eastern or Western?

    Role of religion in culture

    What about the role of religion. Is there a difference in the place of religion in an Eastern or Western culture?

    What about the Christian faith - is that a western religion?

    Now you’ve written a book, ‘What does Jerusalem have to do with Beijing?’ What do you mean by that title? What were you hoping to achieve with the book?

    So how do people from a Chinese background view Jesus?

    What is it about Jesus that is attractive to Chinese people?

    Does someone have to reject Eastern culture to become a Christian?

    KK's story

    In 2014 the famed atheist Richard Dawkins once tweeted:


    How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one.


    What do you make of what Richard Dawkins said?

    Bible’s answer - Revelation 5:8-10

    We’re asking Dr. KK Yeo today’s big question, ‘Is Jesus for Asia?’ And the Bible speaks about something of this in the last book of the Bible in the book of Revelation.

    Revelation speaks in picture language about events in the future and one image appears in Chapter 5 where there is a vision of a lamb who is on a throne and is deemed worthy to open a scroll with seven seals. And then the creatures around the throne sing a song to the lamb, in verse 9


    ‘You are worthy to take the scroll

    and to open its seals,

    because you were slain,

    and with your blood you purchased for God

    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

    10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

    and they will reign on the earth.’


    So KK, this is possibly a strange picture language to our ears, but what is meant by these visions?

    The lamb represents Jesus, so what is achieved by his death?

    What do you make of the line, ‘he - that is Jesus - purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation?

    So with this vision of the future, do you think that people will retain their distinctiveness as their ‘tribe’ or race in heaven? Will we identify people from different tribes and nations?

    Do you think this is a positive t

    • 27 min
    What has Covid taught us? | Tim Hinks

    What has Covid taught us? | Tim Hinks

    Coronavirus has changed the world. So what have we learned? We hear from an Oxford respiratory researcher and doctor who has seen the impact of Covid first hand. He shares the challenges and lessons of confronting Coronavirus. A timely reflection.

    Our guest: Dr Timothy Hinks. Tim works as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and is an honorary NHS Consultant. Tim is a researcher in immunology and leads a research team studying the mucosal immunology of the human airways.

    This podcast episode will be available on our Monday night Facebook Premiere.


    Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.


    Bigger Questions asked in the conversation

    Experience of Covid

    Now Tim, the world has together been deeply impacted by the Covid19 pandemic. But it seems that the UK experience of Coronavirus has been a bit different to that of ours in Australia. Can you share a bit about the UK experience of Covid?

    Now Tim, you work in the area of respiratory medicine. Now my understanding of Covid19 is that it’s a respiratory virus - so have you had much to do with Covid19 since it’s emergence?

    You were looking after Covid patients? How was that experience?

    Research experience of Covid

    You work in the area of respiratory research - but you’re not specifically working on the Coronavirus vaccine are you? Is a vaccine possible?

    What has it taught us?

    Now stepping back a bit, the pandemic has confronted us with lots of big questions and made us think and reflect a lot. But what sort of things do you think the pandemic has taught us?

    Bible: reflecting on the fleetingness of life

    Perhaps surprisingly, a number of the themes and ideas of things we’ve learned from the Covid pandemic are found in the Bible. Some of these themes are found in the Old Testament book of Psalms. Psalm 39 verses 4 and 5 says,


    “Show me, Lord, my life’s end

    and the number of my days;

    let me know how fleeting my life is.

    5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;

    the span of my years is as nothing before you.

    Everyone is but a breath,

    even those who seem secure.


    How do you think these verses have connected to the Covid pandemic?

    So how is the idea that we’re but a breath make you feel? Doesn’t it make you depressed?

    But does this mean that the Bible is diminishing the value of life?

    You’re a scientist and a doctor intent on increasing the number of days of people. Does this mean you’re working against what the Bible describes here?

    Bible: hope in Jesus

    It seems that Covid has taught us many difficult lessons - this can all seem a bit depressing, where have you sought comfort?

    There is good news recorded in the New Testament book of Hebrews, Hebrews 2:14-15,


    Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.


    How has this resonated with you in the Covid world?

    The Big Question

    So Tim, what has Covid taught us?

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

BBlackwo ,

Helpful and interesting

I really enjoy listening to this on a Sunday evening.

Takyn ,

Thought provoking and fun!

A fascinating insight into people’s lives and diverse fields of expertise showing how their faith shapes the answers to questions that everyone shares. Highly recommended if you’re tired of shallow sound-bite answers and want to hear more meaty discussion that is fun and authentic.

jgarth22 ,

Great guests, great chats!

Bigger Questions tackles life, the universe and everything and has a bit of fun too! Robert is an entertaining host and the guests come from a wide & diverse background.

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