The following are a list of podcasts that I’ve been following and listening to that have been quite helpful in my philosophical, scientific, and theological studies. The criteria for consideration are based on 1) quality of content, 2) accurate presentation of the material, 3) constructive and respectful criticism of opposing views, 4) frequency of podcast release, and 5) a broad range of topics/issues discussed.
#1. Unbelievable? – Hosted by Justin Brierly with Premier Christian Radio. Unbelievable? is a UK-based public radio program, which airs every Saturday afternoon with an occasional podcast posting mid-week. Justin brings in several leading scholars in theological and philosophical matters and they debate and dialogue particular issues ranging from ethics, comparative religions, the existence of God, science, doctrinal differences, and current events.
- Quality. The best thing Unbelievable? has going for it is its ability to bring in leading scholars. Such guests include William Lane Craig, PZ MYers, James White, Roger Penrose, and even Rob Bell (okay, maybe they aren’t always scholarly).
- Accuracy. A benefit to have these types of dialogues is that it’s quite difficult to present, or get away with, straw man arguments. Each side presents their case and defense, which enables an accurate presentation of the facts and positions. You won’t simply hear one side of the conversation.
- Criticisms. This is another benefit to having both sides of the conversation present for discussion. The contributors and guests are always polite and respectful (even PZ Myers was on appropriate behavior!). Justin does an excellent job in controlling and keeping the conversation on track. What is also attractive to the balance is that listeners can call in or email the program and offer criticisms and comments (and not all of them are always from the Christian perspective).
- Frequency. The show airs every Saturday afternoon and the shows are usually about an hour and fifteen minutes. Most podcasts are released once a week anyways but it would be nice if Justin had airtime more than once a day. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking to have more than an hour and a half worth of airtime or more than one day of broadcast but the occasional mid-week podcast posting is a great treat.
- Variety of Topics. This is, perhaps, one of the most attractive features to the program. Topics include Islam, current events, existence of God, evolution, intelligent design, cosmology, Calvinism, historicity of Jesus, reliability of the biblical text, etc. Unbelievable? never appears to get bogged down in one topic where monotony takes over and listeners become disinterested.
- Website. http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable
#2. Defenders – Hosted by William Lane Craig with Reasonable Faith. This podcast is an audio recording of William Lane Craig’s Sunday School class at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. The purpose of the class is to equip the laity with sound doctrine and apologetics. The whole course takes about five years to exhaust and is intellectually and spiritually engaging.
- Quality. What is quite attractive to this podcast is that Craig, a prominent philosopher and theologian, presents the material in a historical/scientific/philosophical context, with biblical support, exegetical context (from the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic), and the status of the issue in contemporary scholarship.
- Accuracy. There isn’t much evidence of mischaracterizations or inaccuracies, not to say that there isn’t any, but Craig does well in citing and defending his material. There have been criticisms offered against Craig (a la James White), but the overall accuracy of Craig’s material is right on target.
- Criticisms. There isn’t much of a dialogue in this podcast but the Sunday School attendees do interact with Craig. Some questions and comments are a bit off but most of them are intelligent questions that demonstrates that they have wrestled with the material. Many of the questions you’ll find yourself responding with, “That’s a good question!” or they may be questions you may have been thinking yourself and had you been present would have asked.
- Frequency. The podcast is usually released once a week, typically on a Monday, but sometimes it doesn’t always come out once a week. This can be disappointing to those who follow it quite closely and have a great anticipation for the next one to be posted. The duration of the podcasts can throw you off, sometimes the discussions last forty-five minutes and other times it’s only fifteen minutes.
- Variety of Topics. There are hundreds of podcasts available. The format is that of a systematic theology beginning with fundamental doctrines (i.e. revelation, existence of God, theology proper, etc.) and progressing to more nuanced doctrines (i.e. atonement, self-understanding of Christ, eschatology, etc.).
- Website. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=podcasting_main#defenders2
#3. The Dividing Line – Hosted by James White with Alpha and Omega Ministries. James White offers an amazing podcast centered around a Reformed theological perspective on debates, current events, and other theological issues.
- Quality. White is a very credentialed scholar and presents his material with clarity. He is adept and skilled in handling the biblical languages and is very knowledgeable of other religions and Church history.
- Accuracy. When it comes to biblical languages, Church history, and other religions White is spot on. I actually disagree with White on a number of issues, which are fundamental disagreements on philosophical presuppositions and scientific issues. For instance, I’m a Molinist and I have certain philosophical understandings of agency and categorical concepts of divine knowledge that I bring to the text (not to say that these also have their origins from my own exegesis). Additionally, White is a young earth creationist whereas I am not. I can get past these differences because the majority White’s material is great and we shouldn’t let these smaller issues clout the good and more important issues. (See my note of appreciation for James White).
- Criticisms. Most of the program is White criticizing debates or other podcasts. There are many instances when callers will call in and dialogue with White. Most of the time they are question based but every once in a while there will be a caller who disagree with White. He doesn’t take criticism very well and I think he could be more tactful and amicable in his disagreements with others. However, don’t let this clout everything else.
- Frequency. The podcasts typically range from an hour to an hour and a half and air twice a week (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays). This is a great frequency because it’s enough to where you’ll be fed for the week and it’s not overkill where you’ll feel like you can never catch up.
- Variety of Topics. I’d give his a midrange approval. On the overall perspective there is a wide variety of topics ranging from Islam, to oneness Pentacostals, to Calvinism, and to Ergun Caner (for some reason I’m never get tired of the Caner issue because it has yet to be resolved). However, several weeks will go by and he’s still stuck on, say, a debate with a oneness Pentacostal. Sometimes, especially with these oneness folk, the arguments are so bad you can’t stand to listen anymore!
- Website. http://aomin.org/articles/webcast.html
#4. Reasonable Faith – Hosted by Kevin Harris and William Lane Craig. This podcast is conversationally based where Kevin interviews Craig about apologetic issues.
- Quality. The quality of the information cannot be compared to other scholarly resources (I’m not saying podcasts are scholarly materials). Sometimes Craig will respond to questions that have been submitted by listeners, which provide an excellent source of information, and sometimes there are more personal questions about spirituality.
- Accuracy. This is certainly up for discussion just like any other interview out there. The responses are certainly subjective to Craig since he’s offering his positions on the related content and issues.
- Criticisms. There isn’t much opposing dialogue since it’s interview based. Craig does offer his criticisms and thoughts on the issues but not much can be said for presenting the other side.
- Frequency. I really wish this podcast was released at a greater frequency and I suspect it’s primarily due to Craig’s schedule. I’d guess that the average release frequency is about once a week. However, within the last few weeks there have been an increase if podcasts being made available.
- Variety of Topics. The topics include personal spiritual matters, critiques of recent published material, cosmology, debate recaps, upcoming events, current events, and other theological issues.
- Website. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=podcasting_main#rf
#5. I Didn’t Know That – Hosted by Joe Aguirre with Reasons to Believe. This podcast is listener based where listeners email in their questions and the scholar team at Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross, Jeff Zweerink, Fuzz Rana, Ken Samples, et al.) answer the questions.
- Quality. The scholars are highly credentialed with most of them having earned a Ph.D. in their field. The format of the podcast and highly conducive for learning and even sometimes getting competing views for the answers.
- Accuracy. The material is generally quite accurate. Sometimes I’ve noticed that some answers are out-dated or slightly misrepresentative of the issues but not enough to where it makes the material completely wrong. For instance, when commenting on the alleged neutrino traveling faster than light, in the podcast it was claimed that this claim was coming out of CERN when it was actually coming from OPERA where the study and research was actually coming from. CERN was involved but it was OPERA, in Italy, where the main source of information and the study was based. This is hardly a reason to dismiss the information as being inaccurate but the vast majority of information is very accurate and educationally beneficial.
- Criticisms. Sometimes the scholars will have slight disagreements and varying positions on things and it’s always quite interesting to hear them talk it out. Sometimes the questions they’re answering are not so much inquiry related but are challenging the positions of RTB, which is always fun hearing their polite rebuttals.
- Frequency. The podcast is usually released once or twice a week and lasts anywhere from forty-five minutes to just over an hour.
- Variety of Topics. The topics include young earth-old earth debates, cosmology, astrophysics, biblical interpretations, intelligent design, Darwinism, and philosophical topics.
- Website. http://www.reasons.org/resources/radio-broadcasts-and-podcasts/idkt
#6. In Our Time – Hosted by Melvyn Bragg. This podcast is based out of the BBC 4, which delves into mathematical, scientific, and philosophical inquiries.
- Quality. I have nothing negative to say about this podcast. Bragg asks questions to help lay persons understand what’s going on and he’s able to engage with the guest scholars on a deep and more inquisitive way.
- Accuracy. The material being presented is certainly quite accurate and is up-to-date with current scholarship in the area.
- Criticisms. Bragg usually has two scholars present from leading institutions such as The Royal Society, Oxford, Cambridge, University College, London, etc. Usually, there are competing views being presented but I have no criticisms of their presentations. Sometimes they will criticize young earth creationism or intelligent design but they do so accurately. They don’t offer straw man arguments and will actually defend accurate presentations of dissenting views.
- Frequency. The podcasts usually range from twenty to thirty minutes and are released about once a week.
- Variety of Topics. The topics include mathematics, various philosophers, cosmology, life sciences, Darwinism, and other scientific issues.
- Website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/in-our-time/
#7. ID the Future – Hosted by The Discovery Institute. This podcast discusses various issues in the news and recent published work in the area of Darwinism and intelligent design.
- Quality. The format of the podcast is usually a criticism of a current issue or happenings in the news, and update about certain events related to Darwinism or intelligent design, or is interview based with guest scholars.
- Accuracy. The material is well-cited offering quotations and related resources.
- Criticisms. The program never has any guests that offer opposing views (at least I don’t recall ever listening to one like that). So, the material is certainly one-sided and is intended to be that way.
- Frequency. There isn’t a set frequency, though the average is typically about once or twice a week and range from five minutes to thirty minutes.
- Variety of Topics. The topics all fall under the category of intelligent design and Darwinism but focus on different aspects of it such as ID in physics/cosmology, biology, chemistry, law and public policy, etc.
- Website. http://www.idthefuture.com/
#8. Nature Podcast – Hosted by Carrie Smith and Jeff Marsh. This is a series of podcasts concurrent with the release of the Nature Journal and Magazine.
- Quality. The podcast offers a broad discussion of the topics being discussed but it doesn’t seem to get into the nuances and in-depth discussions of the material.
- Accuracy. The material, I would argue, is quite accurate. I disagree with a few aspects of Nature such as their promotion of Darwinism but everything else is excellent material (and their Darwinist material is quite good as well). Nature is one of the world’s largest scientific resources so you can trust much of what they have to say.
- Criticisms. The interviews and content isn’t really discussion or debate oriented; rather, it’s mostly interview and informative based. There are dissenting views within the Nature atmosphere, which is just conducive to the scientific and scholarly process.
- Frequency. The podcast ranges from five minutes to half an hour and is usually released once a week with occasional mid-week releases.
- Variety of Topics. The topics include scientific break throughs, chemistry, biology, Darwinism, physics, cosmology, etc.
- Website. http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/index.html
#9. Apologetics315 Apologist Interview – Hosted Brian Auten. This is a series of podcasts where Auten interviews some of the leading scholars in the area of philosophy and theology.
- Quality. The podcast offers informative discussions from the guest scholars. They discuss upcoming publications, issues of their expertise, upcoming or past events, and personal insights.
- Accuracy. This category isn’t very applicable since this is interview based.
- Criticisms. With the podcast being interview based there usually isn’t any disagreements or dialogues containing opposing views.
- Frequency. The program usually lasts about an hour and is released once a week.
- Variety of Topics. The topics and scholars include theologians and philosophers with an occasional scientist.
- Website. http://feeds.feedburner.com/Apologetics315Interviews
#10. MIT World – Hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is an iTunesU based podcast, which is available via audio and video. The MIT channel focuses on scientific endeavors such as physics, cosmology, information, and life sciences.
- Quality. This is about as good as it gets when it comes to scientific and mathematical issues. I had a hard time placing MIT at the bottom of the list but don’t let this rating turn you away from the great quality of scholarship.
- Accuracy. The material is quite accurate and very educational when it comes to these scientific and mathematical issues. Sometimes the philosophy, when discussed, is a bit off and their philosophical presuppositions are eschew.
- Criticisms. The programs are usually presentations or classroom settings, so there isn’t much criticism or dialogue present.
- Frequency. There’s no set regularly scheduled release. They are quite inconsistent, sometimes it will range to several a day and then be silent for a month. The podcasts/videos are usually about an hour in length.
- Variety of Topics. X
- Website. http://web.mit.edu/itunesu/