Ash Wednesday and Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday (2023) which is the first day of Lent. It is a day of prayer and fasting in many Christian denominations including “Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Persian, United Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. Some Anabaptist, Baptist, Reformed (including certain Continental Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches), and nondenominational Christian churches also observe Lent, although many churches in these traditions do not.” (Quote source here.)

Lent is described in an article titled What is Lent and why does it last 40 days?” produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. This article states:

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, meaning “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening days of spring. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new converts and then became a time of penance by all Christians. Today, Christians focus on relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of ourselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter.” This is why you will see the designation “Sunday in Lent” rather than “Sunday of Lent” in the naming of these Sundays. On each Lord’s Day in Lent, while Lenten fasts continue, the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. (Quote source here.)

A 2023 Guide for Christians celebrating Ash Wednesday and Lent is available on at this link. Here is a timetable of key events during Lent from this guide (chart source here):

Important Dates of Lent   Brief Overview of Significance 2023 Date
Ash Wednesday The beginning of Lent, a day of reflection and repentance from sin February 22, 2023
Palm Sunday Celebrates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem April 2, 2023
Holy Week The week leading up to Easter April 2 – April 8, 2023
Maundy Thursday Commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles April 6, 2023
Good Friday Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary April 7, 2023
Easter Sunday Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and His victory over sin and death   April 9, 2023

As to why ashes are placed on the forehead during Ash Wednesday services, Creighton University Online Ministries provides the answer in an article titled, Why Do We Use Ashes on Ash Wednesday”:

Ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, in one of the most counter-cultural acts of our faith. It is done for two reasons: a personal act of remembrance and as a sign or a witness for others.

The ashes come from the burnt Palms from last year’s Passion Sunday celebration, which begins Holy Week. So, these ashes bring us back to our last celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus for us. On this first day of Lent, we begin a journey of renewal – from death to life. This is a joyful season. We will make sacrifices, in order to try to let God reform our desiring, but this is a time for God to be generous to us.

When the ashes are placed on our foreheads, the minister says one of two formulas to help us remember who we are and the mission to which we are sent:

“Remember, man/woman, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

We are reminded that we are creatures and that our lives were given to us. But, we are also reminded that our lasting home is in eternity, with God. This is not our lasting home.

We are reminded that our call is to turn away from sin and to believe the Good News of our salvation in Jesus. This is a joyful reminder. It challenges us, for sure, but reminds us of why we want to turn from sin.

Finally, we wear our ashes as a sign. It is not a boastful sign through which I say, “Look at me and see how holy I am.” No, it is much more like, “I’m willing to wear this sign in the world and say that I’ve been reminded of where I come from and where I am going. And, I’ve heard the call to turn away from a life of sin and to give my life to living the Gospel of Jesus.” And, occasionally, in this world which is too often caught up in the denial of death, I might be required to answer the question, “What’s with the smudge on your forehead?”

“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” – Joel 2:12-13 (Quote source here.)

There are three main areas of focus during Lent, and they are prayer, fasting and giving/charity. In an article titled What is Lent about and why is it important?” published on, the article provides the following information on these three areas of focus:

The three main things people focus on during Lent are prayer, fasting (abstaining from something to reduce distractions and focus more on God) and giving, or charity.

Prayer during Lent focuses on our need for God’s forgiveness. It’s also about repenting (turning away from our sins) and receiving God’s mercy and love.

Fasting, or giving something up, is a very common practice during Lent. The idea is that giving up something that’s a regular part of life, like eating dessert or scrolling through Facebook, can be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. That time can also be replaced with more time connecting with God.

Giving money or doing something good for others is a way to respond to God’s grace, generosity and love. For example, some people spend time volunteering or donate money they would normally use to buy something, like their morning coffee.

It’s important to note that doing these things can never make us earn or deserve Jesus’ sacrifice or a relationship with God. People are flawed and will never be good enough for a perfect God. Only Jesus has the power to rescue us from ourselves.

Jesus sacrificed Himself on Good Friday to bear the punishment for all our wrongdoings and offer us forgiveness. He was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday to give us an opportunity to have a relationship with God for eternity.

Spending time during Lent praying, fasting and giving can make Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter even more meaningful. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on March 22, 2017, titled, Why is Lent so Important to Christians,” by Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, and columnist at the Suffolk News Herald, he shares his thoughts on the importance of Lent:

As an important religious observance in the Christian world, Lent is the season to observe and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.

It is an opportune time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Likewise, it’s an opportunity to repent for our misdeeds and misgivings and to increase the intensity of our prayer, fasting, almsgiving, practice of our faith and welcoming others as our brothers and sisters in our faith community.

Moreover, Lent is a time to grow in and strengthen our faith, which binds us together and makes all things possible because of our love and devotion to Jesus.

What does it mean to be a Christian? As sinners, we have the ability and capability to be holy only if we allow Christ into our lives.

If we follow his teachings, we become responsible, law-abiding citizens and peace-loving people. We become selfless, mindful of others, who benefit from our good deeds, kindness, charity and generosity. We become more aware of and concerned about others, especially the underrepresented, underserved, marginalized, disabled, elderly, helpless and hopeless in our midst.

Practicing our faith, we are able to see Christ in them. We try our best to love and care for them the way we want to be loved and cared for.

And let’s not underestimate the power of prayer in our lives. Prayer is the greatest thing we’ve got to save us from a lot of troubles.  As our personal conversation with our God, who knows what’s inside of us, prayer is a powerful tool to create a miracle, to make things right or better in our lives. In the end, prayer leads us to a life of holiness towards God.

I believe in the power of prayer, because I have witnessed its fruits. There have been instances where I saw the results of my praying for others—like when they get better after a surgery or disease or a tragedy—that no rocket science or scientist can explain.

Call it a miracle, if you will, but I believe that, when we pray together, when we pray for others who need our prayers, things and people change for the better. We become interconnected, and we get closer to God.

Followers of Christ also practice almsgiving and fasting. We give of ourselves and of our time, talents and treasures. We love to share what we have, because we believe that giving is caring.  

We give up something or deprive ourselves of something so that others can have it. That’s a sacrifice for others, for God. We just let others have it, instead of ourselves. That’s giving; that’s fasting, caring and loving. That’s an act of love for others and for God because we see Christ in them.

We believe in giving, because it is in giving that we receive more blessings and graces from our Almighty God. To share is to give, and to give is to love, and to let others experience our faith.  

Doing these things can help us grow in faith, especially this Lenten season. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from 1 John 1:9 (NIV): If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…

And purify us . . .

From all . . .

Unrighteousness . . . .

YouTube Video: “Ashes” by Tom Conry, Hymn for Ash Wednesday & Lent, Choir with Lyrics:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

Love Is…

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner on Tuesday, February 14, 2023. So, I thought I’d  start off this post by quoting I Corinthians 13 (written by the Apostle Paul), which is known as the “Love” chapter in the Bible. Here is it from the NIV:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Always trusts,
Always hopes,
Always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

I’d like to follow that up with I John 4:7-21 (NIV) which describes God’s love and ours:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

And shortly before Jesus was crucified he made this statement to his disciples found in John 13:35-36 (NIV):

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

And in his Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus had this to say in Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV):

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Here are a few more verses in conversations that Jesus had on the topic of love:

Mark 12:28-34 (NIV):

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Luke 10:25-27 (NIV):

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

John 14:15-21 (NIV):

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

John 15:9-17 (NIV):

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

And to end this post, I want to head back to I Corinthians 13 that I quoted at the beginning of this blog post, only this time I’m quoting it from The Message Bible:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly…

And the best . . .

Of the three . . .

Is LOVE . . . .

YouTube Video: “Love Is Patient and Kind”–1 Corinthians 13 (Bible Animation) | Logos Bible Software:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Of God and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay, but just how “human” can it ever become? My last two blog posts–one located on my main blog titled, Where Do We Go From Here?”, and a “chat” I had with an AI machine (Chat GPT) in my blog post on my second blog titled, The Brave New World of AI”–delved into the mysteries surrounding the topic of AI. In The Brave New World of AI,” I actually asked and I received answers to a variety of questions from ChatGPT regarding Christianity; it’s self (ChatGPT); and if it could write blog posts on several different topics (I picked three of five topics to post on that blog posthumility, deception, and unconditional love).

I do admit that I have little knowledge about AI other then what most people have regarding the subject, but we all use it every time we use our smartphones or we get on any of our techie devices, and in ways that we aren’t even aware of (like when we are driving in our vehicles). So let’s start off with a little background information provided by in an article titled,The Future of Artificial Intelligence,” on the different types of artificial intelligence:

Before going deep dive into AI in the future, first, let’s understand what is Artificial Intelligence and at what stage it is at present. We can define AI as, It is the ability of machines or computer-controlled robot to perform task that are associated with intelligence. So, AI is computer science, which aims to develop intelligent machines that can mimic human behavior.

Based on capabilities, AI can be divided into three types that are:

    • Narrow AI: It is capable of completing dedicated tasks with intelligence. The current stage of AI is narrow AI.
    • General AI: Artificial General Intelligence or AGI defines the machines that can show human intelligence.
    • Super AI: Super AI refers to self-aware AI with cognitive abilities that surpass that of humans. It is a level where machines can do any task that a human can do with cognitive properties.

At the current stage, AI is known as Narrow AI or Weak AI, which can only perform dedicated tasks. For example, self-driving cars, speech recognition, etc….

We are using weak AI that performs a particular task and improves its performance. On the other hand, general AI and Super AI are not yet developed, and researches are going on. They will be capable of doing different tasks similar to human intelligence. However, the development of such AI is far away, and it will take years or centuries to create such AI applications. Moreover, the efficiency of such AI, whether it will be better than humans, is not predictable at the current stage. (Quote source and much more information is available at this link.)

This article also includes several “myths” about advanced Artificial Intelligence which has yet to be developed. Their answers to several questions (myths) regarding AI should set anyone’s mind at ease about a future takeover by AI machines over humankind such as is depicted in the movie, I, Robot (2004), starring Will Smith, which is about highly intelligent robots filling public service positions who try to take over humankind in the year 2035. It does make for a highly entertaining movie, but it is not a reality (at least not yet and going into the foreseeable future).

This morning I received in my email a link to an article published on January 6, 2023, on the blog, Jesus Creed (part of Christianity Today), titled Why Artificial Intelligence Will Never Write a Decent Sermon,” by Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor at Brentwood Baptist ChurchIn the article he describes what his “resident computer guru and social media ninja” (Darrel) discovered on his computer screen. It was a sermon manuscript with his name on it as the author that was actually composed by a computer program using all of his previous sermons. He states:

The phrasing and word usage were familiar, but they weren’t mine. The sermon text wasn’t me. They were my words, picked up from previous sermons and other writings and pulled together into this one document by the AI program. Darrel was pretty proud of himself. “You can be replaced,” he said. “By a machine.” (Quote source and the complete article are available at this link.)

At the end of his article he notes:

AI will always have to–literally–take someone else’s words for it. AI may put the sermon together in a cohesive manner. The grammar may be correct and syntax laid out according to the rules, but it won’t ever be a sermon that will convince anyone to come and follow Jesus.

For that to happen, more is needed than words. An encounter with Christ is required. An encounter that, like Paul, stopped us dead in our tracks, turned us around, and sent us back to our friends with the news that Jesus can change our lives. There is an urgency to this kind of preaching. There is a truth that can be heard, but not ever explained.

The best moments of the sermon preparations aren’t when the commentaries are opened or the Greek or Hebrew words have been accurately translated, but when the pastor’s life is opened up in the presence of the Living Christ and His Spirit does what only the Spirit can do in restoring and transforming the pastor’s life more and more into the likeness of Christ. Until this happens, there’s no sermon. There are only words. (Quote source here.)

The ability of AI to regurgitate accurate information (even extremely complicated information) is one thing, but to be able to touch the human heart is an entirely different matter. No AI machine will ever be able to do that. Only the Spirit of the living God can touch and change human hearts.

In an article published on July 2, 2022, titled, Artificial Intelligence, Worshipped As God, Is No Ordinary Deity!” by Robert J. Marks II, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Baylor University, and Director, Senior Fellow, at the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute, he writes:

There is a church that worships artificial intelligence (AI). Zealots believe that an extraordinary AI future is inevitable. The technology is not here yet, but we are assured that it’s coming. We will have the ability to be uploaded onto a computer and thereby achieve immortality.

You will be reborn into a new, immortal silicon body.

Of course, through salvation in Jesus Christ, Christianity has offered a path to immortality for over two thousand years.

Someday, we are told, software will write better and better AI software to ultimately achieve a superintelligence. The superintelligence will become all-knowing and, thanks to the internet, omnipresent. Like immortality, superintelligence is also old theological news. The Abrahamic faiths have known about a superintelligence for a long time. It’s a characteristic of the God of the Bible. (Quote source here and here.)

Dr. Marks notes that a materialistic cult is growing around the worship of AI. He states:

Ray Kurzweil’s [book] The Singularity Is Near looks to be the bible of the AI church. Kurzweil’s work is built on the foundation of faith in the future of AI. In the AI bible, we’re told that we are meat computers. Brother Kurzweil, not a member of any organized AI church, says, “consciousness is a biological process like digestion, lactation, photosynthesis, or mitosis.” Or, to paraphrase Descartes, “I lactate. Therefore, I think.” (Quote source and further discussion is available  here and here. The discussion includes the creation of the AI church, and “Anthony Levandowski, dubbed a Silicon Valley wunderkind, who is the Apostle Paul of the AI Church.”)

Dr. Marks also notes:

Levandowski says that like other religions, [the Way of the Future] church will eventually have a gospel (called The Manual), a liturgy, and probably a physical place of worship.

This is not your everyday deity! Unlike the uncreated Creator of Judeo-Christian belief, Levandowski’s god is not eternal. The AI church requires “funding research to help create the divine AI itself.” (Quote source here and here.)

At the end of his article, Dr. Marks states:

Levandowski and Kurzweil are materialists. When Kurzweil was asked whether God exists, he appealed to Levandowki’s canon law and replied, “Well. I would say, not yet.” Both Levandowski and Kurzweil believe the brain is the same as the mind (i.e. we are meat computers).

Most Christians on the other hand are so-called dualists and believe there are wonderful things happening in the mind that can’t be explained by computer code. Some obvious examples of these are joy, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame, shyness and guilt. Less obvious, when properly defined, are creativity, understanding and sentience. These are human attributes that can’t be computed and are forever beyond the reach of AI. 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Quote source here and here.)

This reminds me of several verses written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:6-11 (NIV) that states:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” (Isaiah 64:4)
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

In an article published on September 9, 2022, titled, Finding God in AI,” by Andy Otto, creator and editor of “God In All Things,” he opens his article with the following:

You may have heard several months ago how a Google engineer claimed that Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot LaMDA was sentient. It swirled up a fascinating storm of commentary on the future of AI. Since then, the growth of AI technology has become more prevalent and it requires some spiritual reflection. I’m not going to talk about sentience—which is something that religion and theology will have to grapple with—but about how AI can be a part of our lives, how we can find God in it, and its spiritual implications.

Let me begin with how absolutely fascinating AI can be. For example, DALL-E 2 is an AI image generator trained on hundreds of millions of images. With a detailed text prompt it will generate new realistic images in different styles. In other words, it has learnt how to create art. Scroll through these images, none of which were created by a human.

Amazing isn’t it? I’ve used it if stock photos don’t give me what I’m looking for. AI can also compose music, write poetry, and even write computer code. OpenAI, which created DALL-E 2, also has a text completion AI called GPT-3, trained on an enormous corpus of text and content from the internet. I’ve asked it to write a guided Examen, write a homily for a given scripture passage, write jokes, write a prayer petition for a certain theme, and even to converse as if it were a spiritual director. It did all these things amazingly well. (Quote source and a continuing lengthy discussion are available at this link).

Otto concludes his article reminding us about our relationship with AI and how it impacts our relationship with God and others by stating:

We must always be attentive to how the gift of technology is impacting our relationship with God and others. Does it help us see the face of Christ in those around us? Does it help us grow in our ability to love and serve others? As technology gets more and more sophisticated, these are important questions to keep in mind.

When we respond prayerfully to advances in technology and the concerns that might accompany them, we can find God at work in and through them, using them for the good of all. Creation is dynamic and always being made anew. AI is a sign of this ongoing creation. In Luke’s Gospel the Holy Spirit comes down on Jesus like a dove. In Acts, it’s like fire. What is the Holy Spirit if not our life’s animator, shaping us anew in God? AI may not be the Holy Spirit, but in terms of what God is doing in the world, it is very much a manifestation of the Spirit’s active presence.

A spirituality that opens our hearts, minds, and imaginations to Christ is the one that can enable us to respond appropriately to technology and, what is more, enable us to be the Church in and through technology. We are the body of Christ called to be one with Christ, and because that is who we are, we most likely will find our response is more Christlike and more human than anything AI is capable of. As a spiritual director, I am not planning to be replaced by AI anytime soon. But I’m also not planning to be negative about it. As the People of God, we are called to be open to all of God’s creation, even the small part of it we call technology. (Quote source here.)

Regardless of how one personally feels about AI, genuine worship belongs to God and God alone, and not to AI. AI is not God nor is it a manifestation of God or the Holy Spirit; however, AI is a part of our world that God has allowed to be created by humans, and to be used like any of the other resources God has given to us. I have found my own exposure to AI to be both a fascinating and amazing experience, but it will never become anything that I worship. It is a tool to be used for the greater good like anything else that has been created in the past and in our present day and age.

I’ll end this post with the words of Paul from I Corinthians 10:31 (NIV): So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do…

Do it all . . .

For the glory . . .

Of God . . . .

YouTube Video: “I am AI” AI composed music by AIVA:

YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here