Have We Taken AI Too Far? Can AI Have A Soul?

Have We Taken AI Too Far? Can AI Have A Soul?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant progress in recent years, and its ramifications for humanity's future are becoming increasingly apparent. As we push the frontiers of AI technology further, some intriguing concerns regarding the junction of technology and faith arise. Is artificial intelligence a threat to Christianity? This is a complicated subject that needs a deep knowledge of both technology and faith.

AI was responsible for writing and editing the paragraph you just read. That is the level of clarity, accuracy, and intelligence we are dealing with when it comes to the explosion of AI adoption in many companies, from Snapchat to Netflix.

While some are beginning to squint their eyes in curiosity, the average Christian is not giving any thought to the usage and rise of AI softwares. Nor should they at the moment. There is not a problem that Uber employs AI for detecting frauds and evaluating risks during safety processes. I love watching the creative ways people are using tech.

While most are not paying attention, some technologists strongly believe that artificial intelligence is on a path toward autonomy. Anyone else scoff a little when you read that? Well, let's think about it more critically because the development of AI may be the greatest threat to Christian theology since Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species.

Today, AI has progressed to the point where it can fly planes, interpret X-rays, and even compose music in the style of Bach. The sudden onset of artificial intelligence is not apocalyptic. However, the possibility of any threat to humans, no matter how minor, is real enough for some to advocate for precautionary measures. Over 11,000 people, including Hawking, Noam Chomsky, and Elon Musk, have signed an open letter warning about the "pitfalls" of AI development.

Open Letter Phrasing: "There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls."

What Does This Have To Do With Christianity?

Ah, yes. The meat and potatoes of the article. Let me lay out the general concern: Christianity hinges on several fundamental principles, such as the soul and free will. Christians believe people have a soul, a spiritual element outside their physical bodies. However, the question of whether machines can have souls has now been thrown in the blender. If AI can acquire self-awareness and emotions, does it have a soul?

What exactly is a soul? St. Augustine, the early Christian philosopher, once observed that “I have therefore found nothing certain about the origin of the soul in the canonical scriptures.” Well, that's a bummer, Augustine.

And Mike McHargue, a self-described Christian mystic and author, adds to Augustine by saying, “Those in religious contexts don’t know precisely what a soul is,” McHargue says. “We’ve understood it to be some non-physical essence of an individual that’s not dependent upon or tied to their body. Would AI have a soul by that definition?” 👈 Not sure I agree with this guy, but he gave me something to chew on. You can look him up yourself here.

Here Is The Crux Of The Issue

This all seems absurd. I know. But when you consider the advancement of the human species just to today (in vitro fertilization, genetic cloning, etc.), it is not difficult for us to project forward the questions that will arise about the soul and all that God's grace covers.

If machines endowed with artificial intelligence possessed a soul, would they be capable of establishing a relationship with God? This raises an intriguing question about the extent of Christ's redemption. According to the Bible, the death of Jesus on the cross redeemed "all things" in creation, which includes everything from tiny insects to complex human beings. In light of this, whether Jesus's death also redeemed artificial intelligence is worth considering. If so, can they be "saved"?

A few years ago, Christopher Benek, an associate pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, spoke to Gizmodo about this very question. He believes that the redemption of all creation, including AI, is not beyond the realm of possibility. In his view, if AI can function autonomously, then it should be encouraged to participate in the redemptive purposes of Christ in the world.

Easy Answers Are Wrong

If someone is able to give a quick, concise answer to this topic, run for the hills. A Jesus followers, we have to be both faithful and smart. Big questions are coming down the line:

  • As AI advances, will it become capable of making moral decisions and judgments? If so, how do we ensure that these decisions align with Christian values and teachings?
  • Will AI eventually replace human labor in specific industries, leading to job losses and economic disruption? How can Christians respond to this potential crisis with compassion and justice?
  • Could the development of AI lead to new forms of warfare and conflict? How can Christians advocate for peace and reconciliation in a world where machines may be used as weapons?
  • As AI becomes increasingly sophisticated, could it surpass human intelligence and wisdom? How can Christians maintain their faith and spiritual discernment in a world where machines may offer seemingly perfect solutions and answers?
Psalm 27:1 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?" This verse reminds us that no matter our challenges, we can always rely on the Lord's protection and strength. We do not have to fear the unknown or uncertain future because our faith is in God, who is always with us.

Is AI A Threat To Christianity?

AI is neither good nor bad; it is a tool that may be used for good or bad reasons, depending on how it is produced and employed. As Christians, it is our job to guarantee that artificial intelligence promotes the greater good of humanity and is consistent with our values and beliefs.

The continual advancement of the human race is generally a good thing. God created us with intelligent minds to use, strong hands to build, and a strong sense of morality to make sound judgments (if we choose).

Whether artificial intelligence poses a danger to Christianity is complex and demands considerable critical thought and reflection. While technology presents significant ethical challenges, it also offers opportunities for growth and exploration. As we continue to create and employ artificial intelligence, we are obligated, as Christians, to ensure that technology is consistent with our beliefs and promotes the greater good of humankind. If we do so, we can negotiate the problems and potential of this fast-emerging technology with knowledge and grace.

That👆 closing paragraph 👆 was written entirely by an AI. I made you an AI sandwich. Hopefully I helped. Probably not.

Here are other places to you can hear from a lot smarter people about this: