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The Veritas Forum

The Veritas Forum

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At the Veritas Forum, we believe we were made to seek truth and be changed by it. We are a community of students, faculty, campus ministers, and more, who are pursuing a vision of the university that seeks and stewards truth and invites people of all backgrounds to explore the ideas that shape our lives. Since 1992, we’ve shared lectures and conversations with a firm belief that generous dialogue is essential for universities and the Christian faith alike. In this podcast, we're pulling from ...
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In today’s episode, you’ll hear from two scientists as they discuss the topic of knowledge. Is scientific knowledge the only true form of knowledge? Or are there other equally valid ways of knowing? You’ll hear from Praveen Sethupathy, professor of physiological genomics at Cornell, and David Rudge, professor of biological sciences at Western Michi…
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Advances in artificial intelligence and computing technology are happening at breakneck speed. Yet even the best A. I. today still falls short. Whether it's a frustratingly unhelpful chatbot, the uncanny valley of immersive virtual reality, or the nonsensical answers of ChatGPT. Are these glitches a short-term problem? Or is there something about h…
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The speakers in today’s forum engage with two main questions: What stories are you telling yourself? And how can you learn to tell better ones? You’ll hear today from practicing psychiatrist Curt Thompson and Health Behavior and Health Education professor Victor Strecher (UMichigan). Curt and Vic discuss what it looks like to tell better stories, t…
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For many of the key issues today, it’s challenging to simply agree to disagree. Not only do we have serious differences in opinion and belief, but how we choose to act in light of them can have profound consequences. How, then, should we live together? Is compromise a necessary component of community? In a forum originally titled “Can Truth and Tol…
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In college, it's common to feel the pressure to do everything—overload classes, join clubs, apply to internships, and more. But rarely do we stop to ask why. Behind all of our striving, what’s the purpose of our work anyway? The speakers in this episode ask this question. You'll hear from Lydia Dugdale, a primary care physician and director of the …
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What if there was a way to alleviate the symptoms of depression in just five days by changing a person’s brain activity? Obviously, this kind of shift would radically change a person’s life, finally letting them find happiness and satisfaction. Our guest today in this episode is David Carreon. He’s the co-founder of Acacia Clinic, a mental health c…
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One of our faculty partners and frequent Veritas Forum speakers, John Inazu (WUSTL), has a new book out — Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect. His book isn’t about the election per se, but so many of his ideas and tools will be helpful this year. As November approaches, we'll have to decide n…
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It would be great if the world was a better place. More kindness and friendship. Less war and injustice. For “everything sad to become untrue” (to paraphrase Tolkien). Our speaker in this episode is Mary Poplin (Claremont), and she cares about making the world a better place. In fact, she’s dedicated her life to it. Yet her dedication was challenge…
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We spend — on average — 90,000 hours of our life working. So it’s no wonder we want our jobs to bring us happiness. Yet, all too often, work doesn’t make us happy. Why is that? And is there anything we can do about it? In this episode, we discuss just that. You’ll hear from social scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Arthur Brooks (Harv…
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The concept of a “multiverse” — formerly an obscure idea in philosophy and theoretical physics — is now mainstream. Movies like best-picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once or Marvel’s Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse invite us into an expansive vision of the cosmos: one where there are infinite worlds, possibilities, and comparisons. Even…
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Meaning can be straightforward — a red octagon means “Stop!”, a hand wave with a smile means “Hello,” or adding two and two equals four. But meaning is often more complicated — a friend saying they’ll eat “whatever” for dinner or a significant other texting, “We need to talk.” In this episode, our speakers invite you into the messiness of meaning —…
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The "group projects" of high school and college never fully go away. Even outside of the classroom, we still have to depend on people who may disappoint us, wade through tricky relational dynamics, and face goals that can’t be accomplished on our own. One of the speakers in today’s episode invites us to embrace these group projects. In fact, he sug…
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While the beginning of the year often inspires a hopefulness and expectancy for life, New Years isn’t all excitement and courage. For you personally, this year may be a continuation of past sickness, relational strife, or financial uncertainty. For listeners in the United States, 2024 is an election year — which may mean fractured friendships, fami…
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This year has been another incredible one for The Veritas Forum podcast — all thanks to you, our amazing listeners. Thanks for making The Veritas Forum podcast be in the top 1% of all podcasts worldwide. In this episode, host Carley and special guest Seth share some top stats from the podcast in 2023 (300,000 listens!), discuss the recent changes t…
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This time of year, fantasy is in the air — tales of a red-nosed reindeer, a jolly North Pole resident, a virgin birth of God incarnate, and more. In this episode, we explore the role of fantastic stories in our lives — and what believing in them can mean for us. You’ll hear from Madeleine L’Engle, the best-selling author of A Wrinkle in Time, in a …
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Sometimes belief can get you the job, secure the win, or help you make a difference. And, sometimes, belief doesn't seem to help at all. So, can we know which beliefs are worth believing in? And, when do we just need to take a leap of faith? In today’s episode, our speakers wrestle with these questions. Psychology professor Matthew Vess (Texas A&M)…
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In the US, more and more adults believe in “nothing in particular.” Recent surveys from Pew Research and the Associated Press suggest that around 30% of American adults are religiously unaffiliated, up 10% from a decade ago. Surveys like these are helpful for religious belief in the abstract. But, when it comes to the questions and doubts you hold …
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Today, you may be wrestling with what "progress" means — whether it's in relation to your own journey, your family’s, or your community’s. What do you want? And how will you get there? In this episode, two Harvard professors explore these questions. In this 40-minute Forum excerpt, you’ll hear first from Tyler VanderWeele, the director of Harvard’s…
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Much of our external circumstances differ from how they were 2,000 years ago — largely, to our benefit. However, our internal lives are surprisingly similar. Our desires for money, sex, and power — and the extreme lengths we’re willing to go to get them — remain. In this episode, you’ll hear from best-selling author and New Testament Scholar, N.T. …
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What would your life be like if you knew everything? While it would be nice to remember everyone’s names and not have to study for tests, knowing everything has its drawbacks, too. You’d no longer feel surprised, curious, or filled with wonder. And, you'd miss out on getting to know people, asking hard and big questions, and the joy of learning new…
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Today’s guest has some unexpected news for you: being happy isn’t possible. Instead, he says, work towards being happy-er. You'll hear today from social scientist, happiness scholar, and best-selling author Arthur Brooks (Harvard). We talk with Arthur about this journey towards happier-ness and discuss his new book with Oprah Winfrey called Build t…
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Anthropologist Ernest Becker, in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Denial of Death, says that denying death is a necessary part of functioning in the world. It’s what inspires us to create culture, religion, and love, allowing us to avoid death and achieve immortality. But perhaps there is another way — besides denial — to relate to death. What …
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On November 8th, 2013, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones in recorded history hit the Philippines. Winds as high as 145 MPH tore through communities, causing $3B damage and killing over six thousand people. A few weeks later, the Forum in this episode took place. The world was still grappling with what happened, wondering what meaning could…
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Watching a few “how-to” videos on YouTube doesn’t make you an expert. To really know “how-to” change a tire, make puff pastry, or play the piano, you have to do it. Through experience, you discover new dimensions of your knowledge — from finding holes in your reasoning, to growing in flexibility and nuance, to even reassessing who you are and maybe…
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Do you remember your last biology class? Maybe it’s been decades since your junior year of high school. Or maybe you just went to lab last Thursday. But no matter what you do or don’t remember from biology, this episode is for you. Today, our speaker invites you to consider your biology — what you’re made of and why it matters. In this Forum excerp…
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There’s a sort of spark to life — moments that stir up something inside of us that we can’t explain. Maybe you've experienced this while playing with your dog, or singing along at a concert, or seeing the Northern Lights. Perhaps these sparks are simply neurons firing, chemicals releasing, and muscles contracting. Or perhaps these sparks point to s…
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If new and improved A.I. tools can write your next essay, create Picasso-style art, or produce a believable deep-fake, it’s fair to ask: Are we manufacturing human brains? In this episode, we dive into the complexity of the human brain — and what this means for morality, meaning, and purpose. You’ll hear from Dr. Rosalind Picard (MIT Media Lab) and…
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A.I. is no longer the stuff of science fiction. From Siri and Alexa to Chat GPT, our world is now inundated with artificial intelligence. One senses that it’s time to think more deeply about A.I. — its implications and its assumptions. In this episode, you'll hear an excerpt from a Forum event at Iowa State University from March 2023. Josh Swamidas…
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Do the stories we tell about ourselves have the power to change us? Our guest today says they can. To wrap up our season on meaning and purpose, we talk with author Daniel Nayeri. In his award-winning young adult novel, Everything Sad is Untrue, Daniel writes from the perspective of his twelve-year-old self, sharing the story of how he, his sister,…
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For the religious believer and the atheist alike, the problem of evil and suffering is troubling. If there is a God, why does he allow so much evil? And if there isn’t a God, how can we say that anything is evil? In this Forum event from 2014 at Harvard Medical School, Oxford mathematician John Lennox addresses one of the most challenging human que…
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What matters isn't how much faith you have, but what you're putting your faith in. In this forum episode, University of San Diego mathematics professor, Satyan Devadoss, talks about how he trusts in Christianity for the same reasons that he trusts in quantum mechanics — not because he is has zero doubt about their veracity, but because he has faith…
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Scholars, journalists, practitioners, and other thought leaders all agree — we’re facing a loneliness epidemic that’s as grave a threat to public health as obesity or substance abuse. Where do we go from here? In this Forum from 2019 at the University of Minnesota, psychiatrist Curt Thompson discusses human flourishing and community. When it comes …
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At every age, we ask questions of identity, community, and meaning — Who am I? Where do I belong? What is my purpose? But college students today are asking them with unique urgency and anxiety. In today's episode, we interview Kara Powell, a researcher at Fuller Youth Institute and co-author of 3 Big Questions that Change Every Teenager. We discuss…
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Want to be successful? You might need to get better at failing. In this episode, Charles Lee (Stanford) and Andy Van Schaack (Vanderbilt) explore what it takes to be failure-resilient. In this Forum from October 2022 at Vanderbilt, they discuss success, failure, and how we might find a resilient self-worth. Sign up for our newsletter here. Visit ve…
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With the average college student graduating with about $40,000 of student debt, you may be asking: Is college worth it? To answer that question, though, you have to ask another question first: What’s college for? In this Forum from April 2022, you’ll hear two Harvard professors — Nancy Hill and Rakesh Khurana — discuss the purpose of college, and w…
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“What’s my passion?” “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” These aren’t great questions because they’re fixed. They assume you’ll only have one job or one passion for the rest of your life. But, the reality is, both you and the world around you will change. You need a career decision-making tool that isn’t surprised by change but assumes …
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In today's world of misinformation and misrepresentation, it's wise to be skeptical. But has our skepticism gone too far? What does it look like to not only refute what is false — but also to follow what is true? In this episode, hear from two philosophy professors, Dr. Meghan Sullivan of Notre Dame and Dr. Katja Vogt of Columbia University. Their …
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The same facts can lead to different stories. You see this daily in your news feed — major events produce dozens of headlines, and each article has its own interpretation of the facts. This is how we make sense of the world: when we get information, we want to interpret it. But, with so many choices, is there a right interpretation? In today’s epis…
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In this episode, we're going Beyond the Forum with theoretical physicist Dr. Ard Louis (Oxford). He’s on the cutting edge of research about symmetry, and directs a research lab at Oxford. Yet for all of his scientific expertise, he doesn’t think science alone can answer questions of meaning and purpose. For those questions, he turns to his Christia…
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Science is powerful — and our speaker today, Oxford theoretical physicist Dr. Ard Louis, agrees. But when it comes to life's biggest questions, like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and “What makes us human?”, what does science's power contribute? In this encore episode, you'll hear from Dr. Ard Louis in a 2019 Veritas Forum at the Uni…
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For the twelfth season of The Veritas Forum Podcast, we're exploring some of life's biggest questions: “What’s the purpose of my work?” “How do I know if I’m successful?” “Am I living a meaningful life?” Each week, starting Thursday, February 2nd, we'll share the best Veritas content on meaning and purpose — Forums you love and engaging interviews …
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In this Winterlude episode, we interview Dr. Lydia Dugdale — a physician and medical ethicist at Columbia University — about the historic medical pledge, the Hippocratic Oath, and how it is not required by medical schools in the United States. (Surprising, right?) Listen to hear what's replacing it, what the Christian tradition might offer medical …
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In this Winterlude episode, we interview Dr. John Inazu, the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis. He gives us an insider's view of how we might engage with the university — not as consumers but as participants who faithfully serve, start conversations that matter, and seize the fleetin…
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This season we've asked: "What does it mean to be human?" And not too far downstream from this question is one you probably ask on a regular basis: "Who am I?" Both questions can be overwhelming. What if your answer isn’t right? Do you even know if there is a right answer? Can you change your mind? And is there a point when you have to have it all …
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You — like most of us — are likely fed up with social media. The apps that promised us more social connection and genuine communication instead gave us doom-scrolling, photoshopped vacation photos, and hordes of influencers. But in our quest for authentic community, have we looked in the wrong places? Can we express our true selves on social media …
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We live in a culture saturated with technology. From a helpful autocorrected text to a friend to the suspiciously targeted ads in your Instagram feed to the deepfakes that can create your likeness without your consent. Given technology's prevalence today, how should we think about our relationship with it? What does this relationship mean for what …
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Last week, you heard from Dr. Jennifer Frey about how you need other people to know who you are. That sounds great when these "other people" are kind, generous in dialogue, and want the best for you. But in our quest to discover what it means to be human, we will encounter other people whose ideas challenge us, expose us to new viewpoints, and unco…
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We're going *beyond the forum* with Dr. Jennifer Frey, our guest from last week. Dr. Frey is a philosopher at the University of South Carolina, and she teaches the philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, and other perennial philosophers. We look at happiness in our relationships with others and how friendship plays a role in what it means to be human. In o…
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If you're wondering if you'll get the "happily ever after" promised by fairy tales, you're not alone. For the past three decades, the General Social Survey has tracked a slow decline in happiness in the United States. Responses in 2021 suggest the lowest percentage of "Very Happy" Americans (19%) since 1988. But, what exactly *is* happiness — or it…
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