From the Mere Orthodoxy Podcast Network: thoughtful weekly conversations about theology, the culture, and the church, hosted by Matthew Lee Anderson, Derek Rishmawy, Alastair Roberts, and Andrew Wilson.
The Age of AI, with Jason Thacker
57:16When students started turning in papers written by artificial intelligence, educators were caught flat-footed. We knew that machines would replace many human tasks, but we thought the humanities were immune to that. Have our writing standards fallen so low that we can no longer write better than computers? Or are we about to experience the awakening of Artificial Consciousness? Matt and Alastair discuss this situation with Jason Thacker, the Chair of Research in Technology Ethics at the ERLC. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: Written by a Bot [0:00] The ChatGPT Panic [2:45] What is human? [6:48] Is intelligence important? [11:09] Going Full Hobbit [20:57] Did we do this on purpose? [28:00] Inevitable Arms Race [34:44] Covid Tech-lash [45:20] AI(dolatry) [52:34]
Protestants & History, with Paul Gutacker
49:45On this episode of Mere Fidelity, historian of history Paul Gutacker joins Matt, Derek, and Alastair to talk about the changing and sometimes fraught relationship that Protestants have had with the notions of “history” and “tradition.” Paul’s book, The Old Faith in a New Nation, particularly examines how nineteenth century debates about slavery, etc., influenced our ideas about the roles of Scripture and Church in regard to history. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: Neo-Calvinism [0:30] My Fellow Subjects [2:08] Meta-history [3:22] What is Biblicism? [4:37] Misusing History [9:54] Scripture’s Changing Role [14:42] Tradition or History [18:41] Church Disputes [23:36] Foreigners [27:06] Spirit and Letter [29:35] Hermeneutical Precedent [42:42] How should pastors use history? [46:05]
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A Billion Dollars
51:11What would you do with a billion dollars to strengthen the Western Church? The question is straightforward enough, but the answers are where it gets interesting. The full Mere Fi cast and crew (Andrew, Matt, Derek, and Alastair) put their heads together to figure out what project would move the needle most. Christian billionaires, pay attention! Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: An Expensive Museum [0:00] Matt: The Role of the Church [3:23] Barking Up the Money Tree? [9:22] Alastair: Think Bigger [11:24] Derek: Think Longer [15:16] Deep and Wide [19:02] Andrew: Doubts and Questions [22:14] What Would God Fund? [25:29] Denominationally Opaque Commercials [31:47] Formation [37:37] Collective Funding [44:14]
The Man of Lawlessness
48:40When you come across a passage of Scripture that just throws you for a loop, who do you go to for guidance? Matt turns to Alastair and Derek. Let the Mere Fi cast and crew be your Scriptural support group. Today we look at another passage from the Apostle Paul that just doesn’t really sound like what we’d expect. Along the way we encounter the beasts of Revelation, ancient dictators, and fractal Mini-Me’s. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: Matt Works Out His Apocalyptic Pauline Issues [3:12] The Substance & Symbols of Lawlessness [10:18] Don’t Dehistoricize (Beasts of Revelation) [17:54] Preview Eschaton [24:19] The Restraining [33:09] How would you preach it? [41:02]
The Genesis of Gender, with Dr. Abigail Favale
48:13These days, it seems nobody without a doctorate in biology knows how to tell men apart from women. How did it come to this? And what can be done about it? Andrew, Matt, and Alastair talk to Dr. Abigail Favale, author of The Genesis of Gender, about how the gender paradigm arose, swallowed the concept of sex (like a "giant Pac-Man monster"), and brought into question the very existence of human nature. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: The Gender Paradigm [0:00] Sex Becomes Gender [8:24] Is Human Nature Real? [16:15] Practical Excursus [18:12] Contraceptive Context [24:11] Contradictions [31:52] Corrections [38:57]
Tolkien Dogmatics, with Austin Freeman
47:46J.R.R. Tolkien is known as the language professor who created a fantasy world and constructed several languages for fun. However, those who get to know his writing and thought well discover that behind those seemingly frivolous projects lie deeply seeded theological ideas. And where better to discuss the intersection of theology and fiction than here on Mere Fidelity. Austin Freeman, author of Tolkien Dogmatics, joins Matt, Derek, and Alastair to delve into the wealth of thought hidden in Middle Earth. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: Theology & Literature [0:00] Imaginary World [4:45] Actual World [10:37] What Dogmas? [14:28] Gift of Death [20:26] Peer Comparison [27:13] Sub-Creation [35:08] The Bombadil Question [42:39]
MAID in Canada
48:56Why are so many Canadians choosing to make use of “medical assistance in dying” and ending their lives prematurely? The Mere Fidelity crew (including Alastair’s new Plus One) tackle this vexing question and disturbing trend. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: A Problem in Canada [0:00] The Situation [3:10] The Terminology [8:04] The Act Itself [14:22] Passing the Buck [16:22] Death Catechesis [20:39] Conditions of Dying [28:35] “Good” Death [35:04] Life Extension [42:43]
Antisemitism in Thessalonians
43:01There is a passage in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians that is so jarring some have doubted whether Paul could actually have written it. On its face it seems like an easy tool for antisemites to grab on to. Even Matt is having issues with these few verses. So he and Andrew and Alastair got together to talk about, Mere Fi style. Full show notes at www.merefidelity.com. Timestamps: Uncomfortable Questions [0:00] Doesn’t Feel Pauline [2:54] What Pauline Means [5:56] A Sudden Shift of Tone [11:01] The Real Bombshell [15:26] There’s Jews and There’s Jews [21:27] But Antisemitism! [26:06] In this Case, Read the Greek [38:57]
End of Year Extravaganza
56:23At the end of each year, we like to take one episode of Mere Fidelity to give the hosts a chance to talk about their own projects and what has been their intellectual focus of the past year. We are blessed this year to have all four of the regular cast and crew together at once: Matt, Andrew, Alastair, and Derek. So listen in as they… [checks notes]… um… disagree over the first amendment, recite the meaning of every number in the Bible, and prevent one of Derek’s existential justifications from unplugging the internet? Hey, it’s Mere Fidelity, folks! Timestamps: Tolkien Dogmatics [0:31] Looking Backward and Forward [4:14] Andrew is writing books. [5:27] Alastair is making connections. [18:44] Derek is thinking about life. [34:56] Matt is revisiting and rewriting. [46:39] Full links and show notes at merefidelity.com.