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 post—humility, 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 Javatpoint.com 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 Church. In 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:
3 thoughts on “Of God and Artificial Intelligence”
This was well researched! Lots of information. I am not excited about AI at all.
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I certainly understand. It is a somewhat controversial subject especially in religious settings. I have to admit my love for “all things techie” first started back when I was in grad school at Iowa State (I was in my late 30’s at the time) when computers were all DOS based and Windows had not arrived on the scene yet. From the first bunch of “1100101000101” I had to input into the DOS screen of a computer to analyze a research project I conducted (circa 1990-91) right on up through today with that “chat” I had with an AI machine (ChatGPT), there has always been a little thrill in me that gets excited every time I do something like that. 🙂 If I had only been younger when technology entered mainstream society and the world, I would have gotten a degree in an area of computer science/technology. Can you tell how much I like it??? 🙂
Scientists actually made a computer who could think on it’s own. and you know what the computer said to the scientists? it said, “Why don’t you believe in God?” the scientists immediately turned it off. So, I believe that God is very much alive today. I do believe that God is the sole owner of life and death. There is no question about it. Thank you for sharing this.
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