Thinking Matters Forum at Auckland University

This March, Thinking Matters is coordinating two events at Auckland University with the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship. We’re excited about the speakers that we’ve organized and are really looking forward to the discussion over two great nights. The events are open to both university students and the public, so if you’re in Auckland, come and join us.

Here are the details. We’ll announce the theatre locations this week.

The Thinking Matters Forum

Has Science Disproved God?

Time: 7pm, Thursday March 11
Location: OGGB4
Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Have the discoveries of modern science proved that belief in God is irrational and untenable? Does faith hinder or inspire scientific research? In this public Q and A event, several of New Zealand’s top scientists and Christian thinkers come together to examine the claims of popular atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, and explore the the credibility of God in the context of cosmology, biology, and physics.


  • Neil Broom (PhD) is Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at The University of Auckland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2008 and is the author of the book How Blind Is the Watchmaker?: Nature’s Design & the Limits of Naturalistic Science.
  • Jeff Tallon (PhD) is Distinguished Scientist at Industrial Research Ltd and a former Professor of Physics at Victoria University. He is internationally known for his research in high-temperature superconductors, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2002 was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award.
  • Robert Mann (PhD) previously taught biochemistry and environmental studies at the UoA and and has been on the council of the NZ Association of Scientists.
  • Matthew Flannagan (PhD) lectures in the History of Philosophy at Laidlaw College and specializes in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. He is a prominent New Zealand Christian thinker, debater and blogger.

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Christianity On Trial

Time: 7pm, Tuesday March 16
Location: 260 – 098
Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Today, many best-selling atheists argue that belief in God is delusional and a roadblock to political, moral, and scientific progress. In this public Q and A event, several of New Zealand’s top Christian thinkers come together to consider popular arguments against Christianity and whether belief in God is merely a consequence of superstition and credulity.


  • Jeff Tallon (PhD) is Distinguished Scientist at Industrial Research Ltd and a former Professor of Physics at Victoria University. He is internationally known for his research in high-temperature superconductors, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2002 was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award.
  • Matthew Flannagan (PhD) lectures in the History of Philosophy at Laidlaw College and specializes in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. He is a prominent New Zealand Christian thinker, debater and blogger.
  • Michael Drake (DipTeach) is the principal of Carey College in Panmure and a pastor of the Tamaki Reformed Baptist Church. He has been involved in advocacy for Christian schools and in raising issues about race, education, and Christianity before Parliament. He is also a TSCF Associate Chaplain at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
  • Joe Fleener (MDiv) lectures in Old Testament, Church History, Christian Worldview, Apologetics, and Christian Ethics at The Shepherd’s Bible College.

Support this event on Facebook.

The Thinking Matters Forums are organised by an interdenominational group of Christians dedicated to addressing the difficult questions about faith, truth and life. Our website can be viewed at

UPDATE (1/03/2010): The location for the second lecture has been confirmed.

Atheist Bus Campaign Comes to New Zealand


The campaign to promote atheism on New Zealand buses was launched yesterday.[1] Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 in order to run the advertisements from March next year. The campaign migrates from Britain, where 800 buses in that country have circulated slogans such as “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” and “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” Spokesperson for the campaign, Simon Fisher, argues[2] that while the group has no agenda to increase atheist numbers they hope the advertisements will reduce any stigma that might be attached to the atheism label. At the 2006 census 1.3 million New Zealanders professed to be without religion, although how many of these are actually atheists was not measured.

While some[3] may be critical of the campaign, Christians should welcome the fact that one of the (intended or unintended) consequences of the advertisements is that it puts the question of God’s existence back into public debate. Contrary to the atheist message of the campaign, the debate about God matters and is worth worrying about.

(HT: Rob[4])





Richard Dawkins is coming to NZ

As a part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, zoologist and popular atheist Richard Dawkins has been invited to speak in Wellington early next year. Dawkins is the author of many landmark books on evolution, including the recently published “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution”. He will speaking at the Festival as apart of the Writers and Readers Week, along with influential philosopher and atheist Peter Singer.

Dawkins is no stranger to controversy, and indeed has invited it openly himself, with his polemical writing and often incendiary comments.  He has been described as “Darwin’s Rottweiler” and a “fundamentalist” in the service of the evolutionary cause. Dawkins’ previous book, The God Delusion, sold more than 1.5 million copies but has been criticized as unsophisticated, prone to caricature and ultimately out of its depth, with even some atheists embarrassed and cringing at some of its claims. But if there’s one thing Dawkins is good at, it’s at stimulating debate. Let’s hope his arrival will encourage the right kind of debate, with more light than heat.714blog_richard_dawkins_2

October Events in Auckland

Faith at University

What are the common issues that Christians face in their study at university? This symposium will seek to address that question and help to introduce young people to the challenges and skills necessary for their faith to survive the tertiary environment.  Guest speakers include Paul Windsor, Dr David Richmond, Doug and Puti Wilson, Yael Klangwisan (Laidlaw College), and issues discussed will be university life, how Christians can impact the university, how a career as a scientist can relate to faith, and apologetics in the academy. This has been set up particularly for young adults and Year 13s, and will feature Scripture Union, TSCF, Student life, and Thinking Matters.

Get in quick and email or register via their facebook page:

When: Friday 16th Oct, 7:00 – 9:30pm
Where: Lynfield Community Church, 35 the Avenue, Lynfield

Thinking Biblically in a Postmodern World

Dr. Bryan Martin will discuss post-modernism and how this new cultural and philosophical mood relates to the Christian worldview.  Bryan is the director of Biblical Foundations at the Hamilton Christian School and is married to Laura and they have three young children. He has trained as a teacher at the University of Waikato and has since graduated with degrees in Divinity and Ministry from The ‘Masters Seminary’ in the USA. After nine years in full-time ministry, including four years of pastoring a Church in the UK, Bryan now lives in hamilton, NZ, where he serves as an elder in his home church.

When: 17 & 18 Oct
Where: Manurewa Bible Church, 84 Maich Rd
Cost: Donations are encouraged to help cover costs

2-3: Understanding our Times: What is Postmodernism?
3.15-3.45: Afternoon Tea
4-5: Irreconcillable Differences: Post-Modernism and the Bible
5.15-6.45: Fellowship Tea
7-8: A New Church in Town: Understanding the Emerging Church
10-12.15 Divine Architecture: Following the Master’s Plan for His Church (regular Sunday Service)
7-8 Courageous and Unashamed: Impacing our generation with the Gospel

(source: Joe Fleener at Emeth Aletheia)

Unlimited Apologetics: Faith and Science symposium

Stuart McEwing will be delivering three talks: “The Argument from Evolution,” “Conflict in the Conflict Thesis?: Historical Perspectives in the Relationship Between Science and Christianity” and “The Death of Science in the Modern Era?”.

When: Tuesday, 20 October, 2009, 7-9pm.
Where: Encounter Christian Centre, 495 Rosebank Rd, Avondale.
COST: Free

Ben Witherington in New Zealand

Ben Witherington III, one of the leading evangelical scholars alive today, will be visiting New Zealand for a conference at East City Wesleyan Church next weekend. Dr Witherington will be speaking on “The Johannine Literature: The Legacy of the Beloved Disciple” in two parts and also “Personal Observations about the Church around the Globe”. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear him.

If you’ve not encountered him before, Dr Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He has authored over thirty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies by Christianity Today. Dr Witherington was one of the NT experts consulted by Lee Strobel for The Case for Christ and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a soceity dedicated to New Testament studies. Here’s an interview with Witherington and skeptic, Michael Shermer, on Strobel’s Faith Under Fire program.

His lectures will be apart of a conference on the Wesleyan Theological Tradition. On the Sunday he will be preaching at the morning service for East City and at cession|community in the evening. Download the conference brochure here.

Where: East City Wesleyan Church Centre 219 Burswood Drive, Botany, Auckland

Registration Fee: $20, not including the Saturday night event.

Conference Programme :

Friday 31 July

7.30pm  The Johnannine Literature: Legacy of the Beloved Disciple: Part 1

Saturday 1 August

1.30pm The Johnannine Literature: Legacy of the Beloved Disciple: Part 2

7pm Personal Observations about the Church around the Globe. Ticket price for this is $20 (it includes dinner).

Sunday Church Services

10am Morning service at East City Church (219 Burswood Drive, Botany, Auckland)

5.45pm cession|community (The Depot, Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga)

Is the New Atheism Reasonable?

Last night I presented the talk ‘Is the New Atheism Reasonable?’ at Thinking Matters Tauranga.  It was split into two parts – the first was a bit of worldview and epistemology and the second more social commentary and history to refute the New Atheist claim that Christianity is somehow bloodthirsty.

To start my presentation, I looked at the question of Agnosticism and identified the two types: Soft Agnosticism and Hard Agnosticism. Read more

Tauranga Event: 26 May – Dr Jeff Tallon: Astronomy and the Bible

Last night at Thinking Matters Tauranga we had Dr Jeff Tallon present on Astronomy and the Bible.  This was the last event in our “Faith & Science” series and we had 111 people turn up – a very good turn out.

The feedback after this event (and his presentation from 8 weeks ago) has been very positive, so I hope to get Dr Tallon back next year to present again.  It sounds like Thinking Matters Auckland may also ask him to speak up there.

So what did you think of his presentation?

Please place your comments and feedback below and I’ll ask Jeff to respond to any questions – although naturally he is busy, so he may not be able to  to respond right away.

Tauranga Event: 12th May – Dr Graeme Finlay: Evolution and Faith

On the 12th May, Thinking Matters Tauranga had Dr Graeme Finlay present on Evolution and Faith.  This was a presentation on Theistic Evolution which certainly got people thinking, and challenged many of us with some evidence for evolution from the field of Gene Science (Graeme holds a PhD in Cell Biology, and a Bachelor of Theology).

The feedback thus-far has been wide and varied.  There have been so many emails back and forth on this that I thought I would take advantage of the “Thinking Matters Talk” site to give you an opportunity to discuss your feedback online.

So what did you think of his presentation?

I will invite Graeme to keep an eye on this post, so you can ask him any questions you have directly in the comments below – although naturally he is busy, so please don’t be disappointed if he is unable to respond right away.

NZ Preaching Conference

Towards a Kiwi-Made Preaching

I heard today that there has recently been a large preaching conference held in Auckland, NZ. I am informed that about 200 people attended.

Here is the guy who I think may have organized it:

Check out a picture of the brochure here.

The registration form is at this address (MS Word format).

Here is some info from their website:

So Langham Partnership New Zealand is sponsoring a forum on April 18th which we’ve called Towards a Kiwi-made Preaching. More than 25 experienced and emerging preachers will provoke us with questions from their own wrestling with preaching in this NZ context. We are so grateful for the commitment of people like Mark Strom (Laidlaw), Murray Robertson (Spreydon Baptist), Lynne Baab (University of Otago), Nigel Pollock (TSCF), and Bishop Winston Halapua (Anglican). But there are a whole bunch of up-and-comers as well. It will be a fabulous and unashamed talkfest. Then at the end of the day there will be an optional session where we will ask ‘what is the Spirit saying?’ about some sort of ongoing focus on preaching in NZ.

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Event: DVD Screening of Dr JP Moreland on Faith and Reason

Bring your popcorn for movie night!

What: Dr JP Moreland on Faith and Reason
When: Tuesday 28 April – 7:00pm
Where: Lecture Room 2, Laidlaw College, 80 Central Park Drive, Henderson, West Auckland
Format: DVD followed by discussion, (Dr Matthew Flannagan will be available for questions)
Cost: Free!

Dr Moreland is distinguished professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California. In this DVD, he will talk about the importance of truth in religion, the evidence for monotheism and his own personal experience in coming to the Christian faith.

With degrees in philosophy, theology and chemistry, Dr Moreland has taught at several universities throughout the USA. He has authored and co-authored books including Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview; Christianity and the Nature of Science; Scaling the Secular City; Does God Exist?; Immortality: The Other Side of Death; The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Times.

He is co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Being Human and Jesus under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. His work appears in journals such as Christianity Today, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and The American Philosophical Quarterly.

He is a very good, clear and easy to follow speaker.

Thinking Matters Auckland 001


Thinking Matters is proud to present the very first of Thinking Matters Auckland. The details of what this is and how this event will be run follows. Big thanks go to Madeline Flannagan for orchestrating and managing the event. Make sure you mark this in your calendar.
What: Dr Steve Kumar speaking on Faith and Reason
When: Tuesday, 17th March 7-9pm
Where: Lecture Room 2, Laidlaw College, 221 Lincoln Rd, Henderson, West Auckland
Format: Talk followed by questions, answers and discussion.
Cost: Free!
Dont miss hearing New Zealands most prominent Christian Apologist.

For almost thirty years Dr Kumar has been actively involved in speaking and writing about apologetics, philosophy and faith. As a New Zealand Christian apologist, he is a sought-after speaker in academic and church settings around the world. He is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs and is an influential voice on issues that relate to the credibility of the Christian truth claims.

Mark it in your calendar now and forward this email to your friends


Media Release:
Following on from the interest Dr William Lane Craig generated when he visited New Zealand last year, Thinking Matters Auckland (TMA) announce the launch of their Apologetics seminars.

At the seminars, TMA will showcase New Zealands best Apologetic talents and screen DVDs of the worlds top Apologists defending the Christian Faith.
Opportunity for analysis, discussion and questions will follow each event.
Thinking Matters is a community of professional and lay apologists dedicated to offering credible reasons to believe and rationally answering objections to the Christian faith.

Seminars will be held at West Aucklands Laidlaw College in LR2 fortnightly on Tuesdays from 7-9pm.
TMA seminars are free events, accessible to all and open to anyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.
For further information contact:
Dr Matthew Flannagan
09 835 1554
021 256 7174

Public Lecture on Global Warming: a Christian response

Auckland University school of theology is hosting a public lecture on Global Warming: a Christian response with Professor Robert White, Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Cambridge.

Professor Robert White is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge (since 1989) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1994. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society, and a member of the American Geophysical Union. He leads a research group investigating the Earth’s dynamic crust. His scientific work is published in over 300 articles. Bob is Associate Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, and a director of the John Ray Initiative, an educational charity that works to develop and communicate a Christian understanding of the environment.

Thursday 12 March 2009, 6-7 pm

Theatre OGGB4, Business School, corner of Symonds Street and Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Parking under Owen G Glenn building,
$5 flat rate

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