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The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview Approach

Robert A. Harris

Cascade Books, (paperback), 301 pages, 2004

Item# B091
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One hundred years ago getting a liberal education was a good thing. It meant developing the ability to understand and argue every position on an issue and then choosing the best one based on a logical, rational decision instead of prejudice, ignorance, or blind assumptions. However, with the secular academic community adopting naturalism (in the sciences) and postmodernism (in the liberal arts), the university often has its own built-in prejudice, and a liberal education today is frequently equated with efforts to disavow students of any theistic worldview they may bring along with their quest for knowledge.

This is an issue that has concerned Richard Harris as he has taught at the university level for the past 25 years and he has written an excellent book that should assist students of faith in approaching the university world with their eyes wide open. The book is entitled The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview Approach. Harris compares and contrasts the worldviews of philosophic naturalism, postmodernism, and Christian theism. Throughout the book, emphasis is placed on helping students develop the practical skills needed to evaluate knowledge claims and to integrate all knowledge into a unified whole. A critical thinking approach is encouraged where faith and fact inform each other in a positive way, rather than the confrontational approach frequently found in the university.

There is a wide selection of books available on worldview issues today, but I find this one particularly helpful for college students since the author has spent his career in that environment. The questions at the end of each chapter and the additional bibliography and web references at the end of the book, make this an ideal resource for personal reflection and group discussion. Harris is currently teaching a course based on the book and posting additional discussion questions to his website related to that effort (http://www.virtualsalt.com/int/).

Although the book is written for Christians, I think students of other faiths will also find the worldview approach helpful in the university setting, as will professors who teach from a postmodern or naturalistic worldview and desire to understand and communicate more effectively with their theistic worldview students.

When I was a college student getting my degree at the University of California 25 years ago it was similar books by James Sire and Francis Schaeffer that helped me integrate my own faith with the secular academic environment. Since I have a 17 year old son going off to the university to study math and music in September, we plan to spend some time this summer reading through Harris's book together and grappling with the questions at the end of each chapter. I can't give you a better recommendation then that.

-DW

Endorsements:
Worldview survey books abound, but what sets this one apart and makes it essential is its treatment of how knowledge functions and is propagated "in the real world." It is insufficient to merely categorize thinkers or their views. Students need to reckon with how certain claims are advanced and accepted regardless of their merits. Harris' book teaches a savvy form of skepticism that still exudes a love of truth and values the life of the mind. Highly recommended for home schoolers, youth workers, campus ministers, college students, professors, and anyone concerned with training Christian students in how to engage the world of ideas.
-Patrick Rist, Christian Leadership Ministries' Academic Initiative

About the Author:
Robert A. Harris has taught courses in writing, literature, and critical thinking at the college and university level for more than 25 years. He holds the Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1. Backgrounds to Integration
1.1 An Overview of the Integration of Faith and Learning
1.2 The Search for True Knowledge
1.3 Knowledge Versus Belief
1.4 Christian Belief
1.5 Integration and Critical Thinking
1.6 Integration as an Ongoing Process
1.7 Integration and the Educated Christian
1.8 Implications for Integration

Chapter 2. Why Integrate Faith and Learning?
2.1 Is Integration Really Necessary?
2.2 Why Not Follow the "Two Realms" View?
2.3 Integration Produces Confidence in Learning
2.4 Secular Learning Is Incomplete
2.5 The Christian Worldview as a Clarifier
2.6 A Commitment to the Unity of Truth
2.7 What Happens Without Integration?
2.8 What Are the Results of Integration?

Chapter 3. Where Does Knowledge Come From?
3.1 What is Knowledge?
3.2 Whose Epistemology?
3.3 The Impact of Worldview on Knowledge
3.4 The Issue of Authority
3.5 Implications for Integration

Chapter 4. Political and Social Influences on Knowledge
4.1 The Politics of Knowledge
4.2 The Sociology of Knowledge
4.3 Implications for Integration

Chapter 5. Worldview Foundations
5.1 What is a Worldview?
5.2 Ontology Anyone?
5.3 The Assumption of God
5.4 The Exclusion of God
5.5 Keeping God Out
5.6 Implications for Integration

Chapter 6. Science and Scientific Naturalism
6.1 In Praise of Science
6.2 The Rise and Fall and Rise of Scientism
6.3 The Definition of Scientific Naturalism
6.4 Difficulties with Naturalism
6.5 Confusions About Science Caused by Naturalism
6.6 Fact and Interpretation
6.7 Implications for Integration: Archaeoraptor: A Case Study

Chapter 7. The Worldview of Postmodernism
7.1 What is Postmodernism?
7.2 The Historical Context
7.3 Postmodernist Anti-foundationalism
7.4 Postmodernism and Christianity
7.5 Implications for Integration

Chapter 8. The Worldview of Christianity
8.1 Christianity and the Christian Worldview
8.2 God
8.3 Reality (Ontology)
8.4 Knowledge and Truth (Epistemology)
8.5 Reason
8.6 Human Nature
8.7 Ethics and Values (Axiology)
8.8 Humanity's Challenge
8.9 The Solution to Humanity's Challenge
8.10 Implications for Integration: The Hermeneutics of Integration

Chapter 9. Evaluating Worldviews
9.1 Integration as Critical Thinking
9.2 Factual Adequacy
9.3 Logical Consistency
9.4 Explanatory Power
9.5 Livability
9.6 Knowledge Claims and Ideology
9.7 A Handful of Fallacies
9.8 Implications for Integration

Chapter 10. Joining Faith and Learning
10.1 The Meaning of Integration
10.2 General Approaches to Integration
10. 3 Specific Approaches to Integration
10.4 Integrative Outcomes
10.5 A Hint About Christian Scholarship
10.6 Implications for Integration

Chapter 11. A Taxonomy for Worldview Integration
11.1 The Integrative Challenge
11.2 Worldview
11.3 Purpose and Focus
11.4 Assumptions
11.5 Methods
11.6 Origins
11.7 Implications for Integration

Chapter 12. The Christian Touchstone
12.1 The Dynamics of Integration
12.2 Christophobia
12.3 The Needed Renaissance
12.4 Implications for Integration

Appendix: Useful Web Sites

Bibliography


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