Short Course / Reading Group Archive

Fall 2017: End of Medicine?

Taught by Jeff Baker, MD, PhD and Edward Dixon. More than in any time in history, Americans are embracing medical interventions to become smarter, taller, attractive, and successful. Is there a fundamental, moral difference about medicine promoting enhancement as opposed to therapy? What do these practices say about how we think about our identities and the meaning of a good life? Should Christians regard enhancement as a legitimate end (or goal) of medicine? In this seminar we will explore these questions using as a primary text Carl Elliott’s book, Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream.

Fall 2017: The Language of God

Taught by Greg Wray and Edward Dixon. It is often heard that science and faith cannot mingle. Faith rejects the rational, while science restricts us to a life with no meaning beyond the physical. Two enduring questions of science and faith are the origins of the universe and humanity. Is there evidence of divine design in the universe? Is the earth thousands or billions of years old? Do humans share common ancestry with the great apes? Is there a human uniqueness that defies evolutionary explanation? Join Duke biology professor Greg Wray and New Testament Ph.D. Edward Dixon for a six-week study on origins of the universe, the earth, and humanity through reading Dr. Francis Collins’ riveting book, The Language of God.

Spring 2017: Technology: From Genesis to Jobs

Has technology transformed from the art of making things to a way of being in the world? Is limitless technology an unqualified good? Is the human future the technological future? To explore these questions, “Technology from Genesis to Jobs” will hold up the relationship between technology and humanness in the light of the biblical narrative.

Fall 2016: Life Worth Living

In his Apology, Plato records that Socrates, during his trial, pronounces, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  It follows that a life worth living must be one that is examined.  This CCS short course is designed to provide the time and space to examine your own life here at the university from a number of angles. We will look together at the ideals of the university, the forces applied by the university environment, our own stated purpose and hopes for our lives, and will also consider the long view, both of a single lifetime and of the kingdom.

Spring 2016: Wisdom: How Not to Fail Your Life

This five-week course gives you a sense of the virtues and marks of wisdom taught in the Bible and in other ancient writings, so as to help you make wise decisions in life. Readings include Proverbs from the Old Testament, the Apology of Socrates, the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament, a bit on the life of Augustine, and an op-ed on the importance of practicing Sabbath rest.

Fall 2015: Race and Faith in Society

This class explores historical and contemporary aspects of race and the Christian faith. The class will engage the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. in a discussion on non-violent protest, visit non-profit ministries in Durham that advocate for racial reconciliation, discuss racial divide in American churches, and examine concepts and perceptions of race in the light of genetics and the Bible.

Spring 2015: Great Writings

This reading group examined some of the “Great Writings” in the Western intellectual tradition. The readings included: “The Wager” from Pensées by Blaise Pascal; selected poems by Emily Dickinson; The Grand Inquisitor passage from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky; excerpts from The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton; and “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis.

Fall 2014: Problem of Evil Reading Group

The Center for Christianity and Scholarship sponsored a reading group on Evil and the Justice of God, a book by Fall 2014 Veritas Forum speaker N.T. Wright.  The group explored questions such as why evil exists in the world, is God good given that evil exists, what the Bible says God is doing about evil, and will it always be this way. As the culmination of the reading group, participants shared an hour-long tea time conversation with N.T. Wright during the afternoon prior to the start of the Veritas Forum.

Spring 2014: Miracles Over Meals

The Center’s Program Director, Edward Dixon, led four weekly dinner discussions on miracles.  The group read biblical texts plus reflections on miracles by C. S. Lewis; Oxford Mathematician, John Lennox; and New Testament scholar, Craig Keener.

Spring 2014: What Makes us Human? A Look at Humanity in light of Science, Technology, and God

This course was an opportunity for undergrad and grad students and Duke faculty interested in exploring in greater depth questions raised by the January 2014 Veritas Forum: “Are We Merely Machines? A Professor’s Look at Humanity, Technology, and God.” The course was co-led by Duke professors Len White (Institute for Brain Sciences), Alex Hartemink (Computer Science, Statistical Science, and Biology), Greg Wray (Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology), and Charmaine Royal (African & African American Studies and Genome Sciences & Policy). It examined four different questions relating to human identity: Are we merely the computations of our brains?…Or sophisticated machines?…Or the product of evolutionary progress?…Or a product of genetic coding?

Fall 2013: Human Flourishing in Political and Economic Thought

“Human Flourishing in Political and Economic Thought” examined Christian and non-Christian views of human flourishing that underlie modern political and economic thought. Weeks 1 and 2 surveyed select views on human flourishing in ancient Greek and Roman and early Christian periods. Weeks 3 and 4 explored how these views inform modern political and economic theories.  In week 5, students reflected on how Christian thinking interacts with one or more of the political or economic theories discussed in the prior weeks.  The course was co-taught by Jed Atkins (Classics); Warren Smith (Christian History), Tom Nechyba (Economics), and Nicholas Troester (Duke Ph. D. in Political Science).