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Tim Keller on Interpreting the Bible
Timothy Keller is an American author, speaker, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, New York. Timothy is the author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. However, he learned the most from his nine years as a pastor of West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in the small blue-collar town of Hopewell, Virginia. The congregation there loved him, suffered through his earliest days as a pastor, and taught an intellectual northerner to be clear. His second church was Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.
Question: Are you a biblical literalist?
Keller: I don’t know of anybody who’s really a biblical literalist because everybody says, you know, in the Book of Luke Chapter 1 says, “This is [an] account. I put together from eye witnesses of life of Jesus.” So, that’s a historical prose narrative and you read it as a historical prose narrative. When you get to Psalms, it’s got, it’s strophic in nature, it’s got parallelisms, so we know it’s poetry and so you read it as poetry, you don’t take it literally. And when David says, “The stars came and fought against the Assyrians.” You know, we know that that’s poetry. Then there are some places like Genesis 1, Chapter 1, like the Book of Ecclesiastes, there’s a couple of places in the Bible whether genre is not easy to discern and where people are going to be arguing about whether you take that literally or not. Obviously, Genesis 1 has a big impact on how you understand evolution and so forth. So, I would consider myself a person who believes in the full authority of the Bible, and yet even if you believe that, there’s room for debate about what parts of the Bible you take literally or not. Yet when somebody says, “Are you a bible literalist?” They probably will still think I am a biblical literalist because I think Jesus actually rose from the dead. And if some people say, “Well, that’s makes you a literalist.” Then, I don’t think that’s what the word “literal” means but I’ll go with it. For example, though, Genesis 2 and 3 I think are written you might say as historical prose narrative whereas Genesis 1 is not. So, you know, I would actually, if personally, I would say I don’t take Genesis 1 literally. I actually do take the talking snake literally. That’s why I… and there’s people around me who have the same view of the Bible who would draw the line on the other side of the snake and there’s other people who would draw it all the way at the beginning and say, “No, you have to take Genesis 1 literally.” So, and these are all, this is all within the fraternity and the sorority, you might say, of people who believe that you have to take the Bible as the full authoritative word of God. So I do think [Bill Maher] is missing the spectrum. It’s a little bit like if you say to a person of a particular race, “All you people look alike.” That’s awfully insulting, and for [Bill Maher] to look at, say, Evangelical Christians and say, “All you people are literalists,” is just as insulting.
Question: What is your approach to literal interpretations?
Keller: The essence of the model is in the book “The Prodigal God” because the prodigal god is about the famous story in Luke 15 where Jesus tells that is usually called the Parable the Prodigal Son. If you read it fully, it’s actually about two sons. One is the younger brother who goes off and squanders his money on prostitutes, and the other is the elder brother who stays home and obeys the father. And what I’d look at that as is the younger brother symbolizing, you might say, the secular person who says I can live anywhere I want. The elder brother is symbolizing the religious person who’s very moralistic and self righteous. And both being alienated from the father and as Jesus way of saying these are both wrong. So, that is a great way to explain in one simple, with one simple narrative how our model differs. I think most people tend to say, well, there is you can go off and live your way or else you can live God’s way, and that’s the two approaches. And a lot of secular people say, fine. I’ve seen that the God’s way thing. It’s full of moralism, self righteousness and oppression, I’m going to go and make up my own mind as to how to live. And a lot of believers think that that there’s only two ways and I’m trying to show that there’s three and there’s another approach.
The Pastor does not believe anyone is truly a biblical literalist.
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Duke researchers have developed the first gel-based synthetic cartilage with the strength of the real thing. A quarter-sized disc of the material can withstand the weight of a 100-pound kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.
In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.
That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:
"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."
The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.
Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."
Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.
Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.
On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash
Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."
"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.
The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.