February 2011

The Lost Codex – N.T. Wright Edition

by Dave on February 26, 2011

in General, Theology

I have N.T. Wright’s Paul In Fresh Perspective, audio version, and I have been through it more than 5 times.  Tom Wright is my favorite theologian and he has done so much to expand and explain the Christian faith.

One of the most revolutionary things about Bishop Wright’s discussion of Jesus is how he frames up the gospel.  So here it is, the short gospel per N.T. Wright, I love it.

The good news is that the covenant had been fulfilled and that new creation had begun.  The great apocalypse had occurred revealing Jesus as Israel’s Messiah.  Jesus was, therefore, Lord of the world and Caesar was not.

N.T. Wright, Paul In Fresh Perspective


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God didn’t say that blog

by Dave on February 13, 2011

in Theology

I have become a fan of the God Didn’t Say That blog and thought that I should put a shout out to Dr. Hoffman for his outstanding work.  This is from his site:

Joel M. Hoffman holds a PhD in theoretical linguistics, and has taught Bible in religious settings and translation theory at Brandeis University and at HUC-JIR in New York City. He is the chief translator of the widely read My People’s Prayer Book series (winner of the National Jewish Book Award) and author of the critically acclaimed In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language (NYU Press).

His latest book is And God Said: How Translations Conceal The Bible’s Original Meaning.

I have enjoyed his in depth looks into the language of the bible and the potential impacts to our understanding of God’s words.  Highly recommended.

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Many describe the thing that became the big bang as a Singularity.  Now there is a new singularity.  This is not a new idea.  People have been thinking about the time when computers will take over for us since the time we first thought of computers.  But this article puts it into focus and touches on some salient points.  From Time:

So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness – not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

We are talking about the day when computers are better at thinking than we are.  It’s not as far in the future as you might think.

We will successfully reverse-engineer the human brain by the mid-2020s. By the end of that decade, computers will be capable of human-level intelligence. Kurzweil puts the date of the Singularity – never say he’s not conservative – at 2045. In that year, he estimates, given the vast increases in computing power and the vast reductions in the cost of same, the quantity of artificial intelligence created will be about a billion times the sum of all the human intelligence that exists today.

One of the most humbling aspects of creating a computer that can think better than us (notice I said and believe it will be better, not just faster) is that it would make sense for that special computer to work on,….what?  Well, it will work on making computers even better.  That’s where the exponential development will really take off beyond our control.

I will be old when this happens, but it seems it will be within my lifetime.  Amazing.

I believe this is going to change everything.

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I had planned for my next post to be further analysis of my results and start to step into some application of the data to getting along with others.  But, I have hit the mother load in commentary on the research the kind people at Your Morals are doing.  I have added a link to my site and here it is:

the Your Morals Blog.

Remember, the surveys are at http://www.yourmorals.org

Have a great Day.

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Steeler Sunday

by Dave on February 6, 2011

in General

I am glad to say that we are having a beautiful day here in Virginia waiting for the Superbowl to start.  The only problem is figuring out what to do while waiting.  So far I did a brake job on my truck (I replaced them myself) rode the go Kart, went to church, delivered fresh eggs to a neighbor, cleaned the garage and the inside of the truck…..

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Your Morals – Part 2 – My Results

by Dave on February 5, 2011

in General

I am not going to make anyone wait to see what I got, so here it is.

It is obvious from this that I am much closer to a Liberal than I am to a Conservative.  I will be getting into a bit of discussion around each of the attributes, but I would like to offer a couple observations.

Although liberals score higher on the Harm and Fairness attributes, it is the lack of score on the remaining three that most differentiate the liberal score from the conservative score.

The conservative markers that liberals score low in, seem to me to be group dimensions versus the Harm and Fairness dimensions.  That is, the conservatives seem to weigh the group more than the individual.  I will analyze this more in coming posts.

Request – Is there someone out there reading this that has taken the test and scored higher on the conservative markers that we can involve in this discussion.  I am afraid that this will be terribly one sided without a conservative viewpoint.

Post continued, click here…

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Your Morals – Part 1 – Introduction

by Dave on February 1, 2011

in General

I admit that I have a difficult time understanding some people.  Its not that I cannot comprehend of them behaving as they do, but it is difficult for me to understand why they make the choices that they do.  I have been fascinated by this idea for a quite a few years, but I have uncovered a breakthrough (for me at least) that helps me.  This is particularly helpful since I have been dealing with a group of people lately that have come across as having a totally different basis of morality than myself.  This type of thing bothers me, so now this series.

This series of posts is going to be about the research conducted by Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia.  He, as well as his collaborators, has been conducting research into Moral Foundations.  This effort has been most illuminating to me as it has given a concrete indication for the basis of the behaviors I have observed in groups that seem to be immoral to me.  I have not contacted Professor Haidt directly yet, but I will shortly.

In a nutshell, Professor Haidt has been spearheading a study aimed at determining the drivers for moral behavior.  He has developed striking results that correlate and help explain liberal, conservative, and recently libertarian behaviors.  These variables are significant and fit well with some of the behaviors that I have seen.

Here they are:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.

2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulate the theory in 2010 based on new data, we are likely to include several forms of fairness, and to emphasize proportionality, which is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]

3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”

4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundation underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

I hope to get into some of the specific results as well as commentary in the coming posts.

Have a great day.


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