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The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview ApproachRobert A. Harris
Cascade Books, (paperback), 301 pages, 2004
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.
About the Author:
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Backgrounds to Integration
Chapter 2. Why Integrate Faith and Learning?
Chapter 3. Where Does Knowledge Come From?
Chapter 4. Political and Social Influences on Knowledge
Chapter 5. Worldview Foundations
Chapter 6. Science and Scientific Naturalism
Chapter 7. The Worldview of Postmodernism
Chapter 8. The Worldview of Christianity
Chapter 9. Evaluating Worldviews
Chapter 10. Joining Faith and Learning
Chapter 11. A Taxonomy for Worldview Integration
Chapter 12. The Christian Touchstone
Appendix: Useful Web Sites
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