300 episodes

City Bible Forum records its public talks and makes these available for download

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City Bible Forum records its public talks and makes these available for download

    Ep 175: How will artificial Intelligence affect the future of humanity?

    Ep 175: How will artificial Intelligence affect the future of humanity?

    Artificial intelligence used to belong to the realm of science fiction but is now already changing the way we shop, work and live. Should we embrace this or be concerned with the growing influence of AI technologies? We ponder the future of humanity and where technology could take us.

    Our guest: Professor John Lennox: John is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and is an internationally renowned author and speaker on the interface of science, philosophy and religion, including his latest book, 2084 which explores artificial intelligence and the future of humanity.

    Check out the website for John's book new book 2084

    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

    So John, since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic you appear to have been doing a lot of online interviews. So do you have any idea of how many you’ve done?

    Do you get tired of doing interviews?

    Perhaps you need a robot to answer all the questions to save you having to do the interviews? Robo John?

    Do you think such a robot could be invented, that could help answer some of the questions you get concerning the bigger questions of life?

    What is AI?

    It would take quite an intelligence to do that - but I suppose the likelihood of that is the subject of your latest book, 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. So John, what made you interested in Artificial intelligence?

    What exactly is Artificial Intelligence - for there are a variety of understandings of the term?

    Presently what we call Artificial Intelligence is programmed by another intelligent being, humans. So then to what extent can AI really be called ‘artificial’ intelligence? Isn’t AI really just a derivative of human intelligence?

    So do you think it’s even theoretically possible to create true artificial intelligence?

    What of the future?

    But are there problems with big data, and one of the obvious ones as you outline in your book is the threat of surveillance and control - much like the novel 1984 - hence perhaps the title of your book - 2084. So is it inevitable that big data will lead to Big Brother?

    But how could God be better? In the Old Testament part of the Bible in Psalm 139 we learn about how God watches all things and knows all things about humans and the Psalmist writes in verse 7:


    Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?


    The Psalmist then writes about how wherever he goes, God is there. Isn’t this the same issue as the constant surveillance of Big Brother driven by big data - so how is the God of the Bible different?

    The future according to the Bible

    In the Bible there is a passage in 2 Timothy, one of the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, which speaks to some of the big questions raised by Artificial intelligence and the future of humanity. In 2 Timothy 1: 9-10 Paul speaks about the grace of God and says,


    This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


    So how does this passage speak to the future of humanity?

    Would the offer available here be threatened if humans did discover eternal life through Artificial intelligence?

    The Big Question

    So John, how will artificial Intelligence affect the future of humanity?

    • 27 min
    Aren't Christians supposed to care for the poor?

    Aren't Christians supposed to care for the poor?

    In a world obsessed with material prosperity Jesus' life and teaching present a challenge to everyone. He does not just call for radical compassion, sacrifice & mercy Jesus teaches it is the best way to live.

    But if Jesus criticised the rich and cared for the poor, why are so many Christians fixated on wealth?

    In our final talk in our series livestreamed from Hobart, 'Does Christianity have a PR Problem?' Aaron Johnstone will dive into what the Bible says about greed, money, inequality, and generosity.

    • 31 min
    Ep 174: What has Covid taught us?

    Ep 174: What has Covid taught us?

    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
    Law, Education & Religion: a response

    Law, Education & Religion: a response

    ‘I’m a wanna-be lawyer’ – so said David Robertson in this YouTube, in which he also takes on Michael Kirby and the NSW Law Society….And this is just a warm-up for his upcoming talk for City Legal in Canberra in which he will respond to Prof. Nick Aroney’s paper.

    • 41 min
    Has Christianity been complicit in racism?

    Has Christianity been complicit in racism?

    Does Christianity perpetuate racism?

    The Black Lives Matter movement has laid bare some of the anger, frustration and injustice that minority groups have been feeling for a long time. For some Christianity is seen as one of the barriers to genuine racial reconciliation and progress. For others, Christianity is the problem itself.

    This week at Bible Shots Aaron Johnstone will dive into some of the recent history regarding Christianity and racism. But more importantly we'll look at whether the Bible itself has created this climate, or whether it in fact can be the solution.

    Not only does the Bible offer a great framework for understanding human nature and racism, but in Jesus himself he offers a global vision of hope, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation available to all.

    • 32 min
    Ep 173: Why advocate for social justice?

    Ep 173: Why advocate for social justice?

    There are many social injustices and challenges in the world today. How do we react to desperate human suffering? We hear from someone who has witnessed countless human tragedies and been at the forefront of advocating for social change. What motivates his compassion and care? A powerful and at times confronting conversation.

    Our guest: Rev. Tim Costello. Tim Costello is one of Australia’s leading voices for social justice. He has previously worked as mayor of St Kilda, a baptist pastor, CEO of World Vision and is presently executive director of Micah Australia. Tim is a frequent media commentator, an author, speaker, former Victorian of the Year and was also named a ‘national living treasure’ and he joins me now.

    This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.

    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

    Tim - you’re apparently a national living treasure. How do you feel about that title?

    The list was created to honour Australians who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to Australian life. There are a lot of sports people on the list, not so many church leaders - what do you think this list says about what Australians value?

    Smaller Questions

    Tim, our smaller questions today are about poverty and income inequality in the world today.

    What is social justice?

    So Tim is there perhaps a paradox in the world at present? Over a billion people lifted out of poverty since 1990, yet the rich are richer than ever before - is the world more or less just than in 1990?

    Is inequality the driving force behind social justice issues?

    Advocating for social justice

    Tim you’ve been an advocate for social justice for many years, for many years you were the face of World Vision - how did you feel going into disaster areas?

    You’ve seen so much suffering firsthand - how do you process that?

    Was there any situation which particularly moved you?

    Tim’s Story: a faith that motivates

    What convinced you that the Christian faith was worth believing?

    What drives you to advocate for social justice? Is it your faith or something else?

    The Bible’s answer: God cares for the poor

    The Old Testament book of Micah was written in the 8th Century BC to the nation of Israel who had disobeyed God and God was threatening judgement. In light of the situation of the people of God, In chapter 6 Micah writes about the response God desires. He does not want ritualistic and legalistic sacrifices, instead he shares what he wants in verse 8,


    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?

    To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.


    Tim, how do you react to the exhortation, ‘act justly’?

    Many of the similar themes are found in the Old Testament wisdom book of Proverbs in Proverbs 31:8-9 says,


    Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

    for the rights of all who are destitute.

    Speak up and judge fairly;

    defend the rights of the poor and needy.


    Do you think this captures a Biblical vision for advocacy?

    How is biblical justice distinct from secular forms of justice?

    The Big Question

    So Tim, why advocate for social justice?

    • 29 min

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