The media thrives on exaggerations and misrepresentations involving doomsday scenarios. One of the biggest movies when I was a teenager was titled “When Worlds Collide.” It was a science fiction story of a rogue star and its planet hitting and destroying the Earth with only a select group of humans escaping. A recent popular movie was built around the scientists developing an atomic bomb while fearing it would destroy the Earth. Several media presentations have suggested that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will wipe out humanity. Media outlets like The Guardian, The New York Post, Entrepreneur, and the BBC have all indicated that AI is a huge threat to humanity.
Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. Science fiction has long postulated that machines will replace humans and rule the world. Many science fiction stories revolve around non-human enemies of humanity or heroes such as R2-d2 and C-3po. What can computers do or not do? Is it true that AI is a huge threat to humanity?
AI can do some jobs faster and with greater accuracy than humans. Computers can build and run automation systems, causing the loss of human jobs. Computers can process languages more quickly than humans. They can also process numbers faster and more accurately, meaning that AI can predict economic change, develop weaponry, and invade human privacy quickly and efficiently. AI can create images, both authentic and false, and even produce videos known as deepfakes. AI can deliver fake news with video support that is so good humans can’t tell what is real and what is fake.
As we consider whether AI Is a huge threat to humanity, we must understand that the dangers are philosophical and not inevitable. There is an adage about computers that says, “garbage equals garbage out.” Building computers capable of producing AI requires intelligence and design by humans. Like almost everything humans create, we can use AI to mislead and damage or to improve people’s lives. As in everything else, we desperately need people guided by the teachings of Jesus to make the decisions about how we will use AI.
We have always had, and probably always will have, doom-sayers who predict the human race will be wiped out in the near future. From nuclear war to disease to hostile aliens, there have been countless books, movies, TV shows, and media reports of something that will soon destroy us all. The latest prediction is human destruction by Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI doom-sayers are now predicting the odds of AI wiping out humanity are one in ten and that this could happen within five years.
AI-powered ChatGPT and Google’s Bard can already pass the bar and medical licensing exams. On IQ tests, they score in the 99th percentile – genius level. Some say that AI, without human control or input, could create bioweapons, shut down financial systems, and eventually wipe out humans. One example of human destruction by Artificial Intelligence is that if AI were allowed to solve the climate crisis, its first step would be eliminating humanity. An atheist could claim that AI could wipe out any belief in God by showing that it can act as a god.
There are many kinds of intelligence, and they are all measured in different ways. My mentally-challenged son would score average intelligence on a verbal English language IQ test. However, on a test that involved shapes and simple mathematical logic, he would score a 25. The two tests measured different things. The biblical concept of God as the creator is that God created time, space, and matter/energy. AI is fabricated by humans and takes what is already created, reshaping it to a human frame of reference.
Could AI create chaos? Yes! Can AI take a human-created test structured by a computer and provide an answer another computer or human would accept? Of course! Is there a risk in letting any computer control human activity? Yes! Human destruction by Artificial Intelligence can only happen if we allow it.
All of us know by experience that computers are limited. They depend on electricity and proper data input and ignore human needs. Look at how many times airlines have been forced to shut down flights in recent years due to computer failures. Most fundamental is the fact that humans are not driven by data alone. We respond to psychological and spiritual needs, complex emotions, social needs, and environmental issues. Our relationship with God can make life a positive experience, but AI cannot address the uniqueness of humans.
Two months ago, I asked a computer if God exists. Actually, it was Open AI’s chatbot named ChatGPT. This Artificial Intelligence program has received much attention in the form of praise and concern. The praise is because of the many ways AI might positively affect business, medicine, entertainment, work, and education. The concern is how AI can negatively affect those same areas. That is especially true of education because students can use it to write their term papers. Now Google has an AI chatbot named Bard.
Since I had tested ChatGPT with questions on God’s existence, I wanted to put Bard to the same test. I first asked, “How did the universe begin?” Bard gave me a 176-word response compared to 237 words from ChatGPT on that question. It was four short paragraphs that all began with “The Big Bang Theory.” The third paragraph also mentioned the “Steady State Theory and the Oscillating Universe Theory” as if they have some credibility, which they no longer have. However, the Big Bang Theory does not fully explain how the universe began.
When I asked the AI chatbot named Bard to give me a 300-word essay proving the existence of God, it responded with these 354 words:
“There is no one definitive proof of the existence of God. However, there are a number of arguments that have been put forward that attempt to show that God is a reasonable explanation for the universe and the existence of life.
“One of the most common arguments for the existence of God is the cosmological argument. This argument states that the universe must have had a cause, and that this cause must be something that is uncaused itself. This uncaused cause is what people call God.
“Another common argument for the existence of God is the teleological argument. This argument states that the universe appears to be designed for a purpose. The order and complexity of the universe, the existence of life, and the laws of nature all seem to point to a creator who had a specific goal in mind when creating the universe.
“The existence of evil in the world is often seen as a challenge to the existence of God. However, some people argue that evil is necessary for free will to exist. If there were no evil, then there would be no good, and no choice between the two.
“Ultimately, whether or not you believe in God is a personal decision. There is no scientific evidence that can prove or disprove the existence of God. However, the arguments that have been put forward by philosophers and theologians can provide a framework for thinking about the question.
“Here are some additional arguments for the existence of God:
The moral argument: This argument states that the existence of objective moral values is evidence of a God who created us with a moral compass.
The argument from religious experience: This argument states that the personal experiences of people who claim to have encountered God provide evidence of His existence.
The argument from miracles: This argument states that the occurrence of miracles, such as healings and resurrections, is evidence of God’s intervention in the world.
“These arguments are not without their flaws, but they do provide some food for thought for those who are open to the possibility of God’s existence.”
That is the summary of arguments for God’s existence that the AI chatbot named Bard gave me. It corresponds very closely to ChatGPT’s answer, except that Bard added the argument from miracles and the existence of evil versus free will.
Again, I asked the AI chatbot named Bard the direct question, “Does God Exist?” Here is the answer I received:
“The existence of God is a question that has been debated for centuries. There is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God, so the answer ultimately comes down to faith.”
Bard went on to say that there is no right or wrong answer to that question, but each person must make their own decision. I suggest that there is scientific evidence in the design and fine-tuning of the universe and life, but many people choose to reject that evidence.
Like ChatGPT, Bard did not mention Genesis 1:1, so I asked, “What do we learn from Genesis 1:1?” I thought Bard’s answer to this question was the best of all:
“Genesis 1:1 teaches us that God is the creator of the universe. He created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. He is the source of all life and all order.
“Genesis 1:1 also teaches us that God is a God of order. He created the universe in an orderly fashion, with each part having its own purpose. This order is a reflection of God’s own character, which is orderly and just.
“Finally, Genesis 1:1 teaches us that God is a God of love. He created the universe out of love, and he continues to love his creation. This love is evident in the beauty and order of the universe, and it is also evident in the way that God cares for his creation.
“Genesis 1:1 is a foundational verse for all of Christianity. It teaches us about God’s character, his creation, and his love for us.”
So, I have now questioned two of the latest versions of Artificial Intelligence about the existence of God. Whether it’s an AI chatbot named Bard or ChatGPT, all AIs are created and programmed by humans, so we can expect the answers to correspond to human responses. How would you answer the question, “Does God exist?” The difference is that AI does not have a life, but you do. So, how does your answer to that question affect your life?
I remember an incident when I was giving my lecture series at Purdue University many years ago. A young man told me he couldn’t argue with any of the evidence I had presented. He meant it as a compliment, but he teared up when I asked what he was going to do with it. Finally, he said, “I am going to put it out of my thinking because I don’t want to quit the way I am living.” Isn’t that the way a lot of us are? Genuine faith leads to action.
In Deuteronomy 31:20, God says about Israel, “When I have brought them into a land which I swore to their fathers, one that flowed with milk and honey and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat. Then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and provoke me and break my covenant.” In Deuteronomy 32:16-21, we see that happening. A similar thing is happening in America today.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus compares faith with the mustard seed, saying that we can move mountains if we have faith. Things have happened in my life that even people in my family don’t believe could be possible. If you don’t have faith, it is amazing what you don’t try. Even more amazing is what God causes to happen from the smallest of efforts with a little faith. Genuine faith leads to action.
In Mark 4:36-41, we read the story of a storm that was swamping the boat in which Jesus was sleeping. He quiets the sea by command, and His disciples were afraid. Jesus says, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
Faith drives out fear. The history of the Church is full of people who did things that most of us would be afraid to try. In some cases, they died for their faith. That isn’t a bad thing. We have incredible promises from Jesus, even if our faith results in losing our lives.
The August 2021 issue of Scientific American contains an interesting article by Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University titled “The Appeal of Bad Science.” Oreskes points out that an enormous amount of public claims of scientific discoveries are simply bad science. It is essential to understand that for a scientific discovery to be valid, it must be reproducible. If researchers can’t reproduce it, it is not science at all. The money spent on irreproducible medical research in the United States alone amounts to 28 billion dollars a year.
This is not just a financial issue. People turn to bogus medical claims because the media reports them as miracle cures. I have had a personal loss due to bad science. My son-in-law, who had cancer, was given a “scientific” study showing a cancer cure from a marijuana product. A Ph.D. with scientific credentials wrote the article. I looked for studies by other researchers showing that this cure worked, but I could find none. I urged my son-in-law to use conventional medical treatment, but he chose to accept that single report. He died as a result of a bogus claim by a “medical expert.” Following bad science in medicine can be fatal.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Keep that which has been entrusted to you and turn a deaf ear to empty and worldly chatter and objections from what is falsely called science which some have claimed to possess” (1 Timothy 6:20). In our culture, scientists have to produce something flashy and spectacular to get published or funded. Unfortunately, this has caused people to accept medical claims by “experts,” which scientific methods cannot duplicate.
Christ’s teachings have been duplicated over and over and proven to work. Alternatives to His teachings have been disastrous. As we have said many times, science and faith are friends, but you must have good science and good faith. Many people have been wounded by the results of following false claims, not only in this life but in their eternal destiny.
As we said yesterday, science cannot detect 68.3% of the energy in the cosmos, but we know it is there because of its effect on the galaxies. Also, today’s scientists cannot detect 26.8% of the mass in the universe, but they know it is there because of gravity. They call it “dark matter.” To make their theories work, scientists now say that there must be a bizarre form of matter that does not affect or interact with light, visible or invisible, in any way. They call this hypothetical particle which cannot be seen or detected, “the axion.” The axion would explain dark matter, but the big question is how can we detect it?
As science attempts to understand the nature of the world we live in, it becomes evident that the creation is not just the physical world that our senses can detect. Seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and tasting are wonderful, but they are just physical manifestations of something far more significant.
For Christians, this is not the mystery that it might be to an atheist. Hebrews 11:3 says it well: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” My physics studies have convinced me that the world we can see is just a snippet of the total creation.
We are beginning to understand that there are many dimensions beyond what our senses perceive. Even when we extend our senses with machines, we still cannot detect the axion. The wonder of creation simply brings us back to the Psalmist’s song: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). The cry of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-23 reminds us of our limitations: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or before the Earth existed.”
Remember that “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). Science is a friend of faith, and God has given us a limited view of what He has done. The full scope of creation is beyond our comprehension, but science helps fill in some gaps in our understanding. Perhaps someday science will find the axion.
I recently had a discussion with an atheist who said, “I have no faith.” I pointed out that his statement was simply not true because things in his life radiated a faith. He has faith in America, even though there are things going on in this country that might try to destroy that faith. He has faith in gravity. He doesn’t walk around worrying that gravity will fail, and he will float off into space. He has faith in the political party that he supports and even faith in a professional sports team. Everyone has faith in something. The question is not whether we have faith but what we have faith in.
What does your faith do for you, and is your faith growing or dying? Everyone has faith in something or someone. Is your faith in any way dependent on another human being? If so, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed in that faith. People die. Politicians lie. Sports figures lose their ability. Philosophical beliefs radiate the inability of humans to think rationally.
I am an old man, and sometimes I make contact with atheistic people I knew years ago when I was an atheist. If they are still atheists, they cannot give me any evidence to support their atheistic faith. They are opposed to belief in God, but their atheism has not blessed them. They are getting ready to die with nothing but frustration, anger, disappointment, and disillusionment.
My atheist friend admitted that being an atheist had not improved his life. He then challenged me to show him how my faith had improved my life. That was easy. My faith led me to a wife who was a blessing to me. There was never any evidence in our 49 years of marriage that she even thought about being unfaithful. When death took her from me, my faith sustained me and led me to a second wonderful woman who has blessed my life. My faith has caused me to have an excellent relationship with my children. It has helped me find joy in a son who has sustained multiple birth defects.
My faith has also given me friends I can trust. I know they would never let me down, and I can rely on them for help in all circumstances. My faith led me to a career in teaching instead of the one my father picked out for me, which primarily involved making money. My teaching experience was rewarding and full of joy. My faith took me into a ministry that makes my life pregnant with purpose and full of value.
My faith causes me not to fear death. My faith is in Jesus Christ and His word, not in humans. I have received hatred and abuse from people who claimed to be Christians, but my faith in Christ has sustained me. I have not listened to the humans who have their own set of problems and refuse to follow the love and compassion that Jesus taught.
Everyone has faith in something, but in what? I want to share my faith with others because I want the world to be saturated with a belief based on love, service, and peace. God has given us all kinds of evidence for faith in Him. Life teaches us that not having faith in God and His Word brings misery and frustration. When Thomas had a faith problem, Jesus gave him evidence (John 20:24-29). Today we have more evidence than ever to believe and live by faith in God.
Like many other religions, there is a movement toward Atheism as a business enterprise. The magazine known as Skeptical Inquirer is a four-color, flashy periodical that devotes a large percentage of its material to attacking various Christian groups. There is no shortage of targets for this magazine. Between young earth groups, TV evangelists, and miracle-claiming churches, there is always something to which the magazine can apply destructive scientific research. Many of their articles and the research they point to are well done.
The problem is that the Center for Inquiry paints everyone with the same brush. Much of their material condemns all religious faith and all biblical interpretations with the same condemnation. In a recent letter to the membership, their executive director announced that the board of directors authorized hiring a marketing director for the Center for Inquiry. The goal is “to expand and broaden their legal challenges, educational offerings, community building and creating and sharing evidenced resources.” They are appealing for donations to accomplish their goals.
Commercial Atheism is a religion. It is based on faith in a selected group of writers whose material is produced without peer review in most cases and is frequently highly prejudiced. They are appealing to those who wish to deny spiritual matters, and they ignore the work of experts who have religious faith.
As the world blindly moves toward the rejection of God, and especially Christianity, we can expect Atheism as a business enterprise to become a high dollar operation. Hiring a marketing director is just one more indication of the direction atheism is headed. We need to avoid the shysters, hypocrites, and false teachers in religion while responding to the atheists’ challenges. The need for that has never been greater.
Remember 1 Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
In the past two days, we have looked at a basic understanding of what faith is and how faith works in our lives. We saw that the Bible defines faith as the foundation on which we build our lives. We pointed out that faith is involved in science. I have been very personal in discussing my family and the destructive faith that has destructively influenced all of us. My faith is very different, and it came about differently.
One facet of faith is that we frequently share it within families. When a family member rejects the faith of the rest of the family, that creates conflict. My parents strongly emphasized education as the foundation on which to build your life. They viewed religion as irrational nonsense that enslaved and restricted humans. At every opportunity, my parents ridiculed religious faith. Hypocrisy, racism, violence, war, and waste provided a constant barrage of good reasons for them to reject faith in God. By the time I was eight years old, I regurgitated my parent’s faith and took a lead role in atheism. That is how faith works in our lives.
In junior high, I had a science teacher named Wayne Gross, who made it clear that he believed that there was academic evidence that God exists, and the Bible is true. In high school, I had a great interest and some aptitude in science. In addition to that, I became infatuated with an attractive young lady who was one of the top students in my high school class.
I did not have any moral values because my parents taught me that educated people realize that life is “survival of the fittest.” The moral guidance I received was to make sure you come out number one. I found that this attractive young lady was morally uncompromising, and she based her morality on the Bible. To get her to compromise her morality, I wanted to show her that faith in God and the Bible was educationally absurd.
I set out to prove to this girl, and to Mr. Gross, that educated people who read the Bible would not believe anything in it. Mr. Gross encouraged me to start with Genesis 1. I had stolen a Bible from a motel (there were no Bibles in my parent’s library), and I started reading it and researching the words in the original manuscripts to prove it wrong.
As I read the Bible and understood its message, looking at the scientific evidence, I started rejecting everything my parents, my peers, and the religious experts of the day told me. In doing that, I began to understand that everything I had ever been told about God and the Bible was wrong. Education was leading me to a new faith, and my parents did not handle my efforts well. They denigrated the faith of Mr. Gross, my girlfriend, and myself.
How faith works in our lives determines the direction we take. Several years later, I was faced with what to do with a child who was born blind, mentally challenged, and with both cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. This polarized my faith and my parent’s faith. My father used a parallel example of buying a car and finding it was defective. “What do you do?” he asked. “You take it back and demand a refund.”
How we handle evidence, and what we do with it becomes the foundation that impacts our lives. Tomorrow we’ll look at that a little deeper.
Yesterday we looked at the definition of the word “faith.” The Bible defines faith as the foundation (Greek “hupostasis”) of our lives (Hebrews 11:1). We mentioned that we all have faith in gravity. We also saw how the scientific faith that light is a wave and not a particle had to change as new evidence became available. All of us have foundations that rule our lives, and faith or lack of faith in God is one of them.
Even our understanding of what God is affects us in a variety of ways.* In the distant past, people thought of gods as physical beings that looked like humans. Roman and Greek gods were humans with superpowers of one kind or another. Some people today still view God as a human with human emotions and desires. Experiences in life can weaken or destroy that kind of faith. When someone rejects faith in God because of a tragedy in life, the root cause of that rejection is a flawed concept of what God is.
Faith or lack of faith in God can determine the foundation of our lives. The question that we must ask is, “What is the foundation (faith) on which I base my life?” For my father, who was an atheist, the foundation of his life was education. His father was a minister, and that faith did not appeal to him as a way to build his life. Instead, he pursued the highest level of education possible, achieving a Ph.D. in philosophy at Columbia University under one of the leading educators in his field. Then he became a full professor at Indiana University and was recognized as one of the top experts in his field.
After a long career with numerous awards and recognitions, my father retired. Did all of these achievements and recognitions provide a foundation for him? A regular activity for my father was to engage in a cocktail hour. He dealt with the stress and frustration of his work by drinking. My father was not socially active. He went to social affairs only because he had to, and alcohol was the foundation, the lubricant which enabled him to function socially.
Shortly after his retirement, my father developed leukemia. Going through the brutal treatments available at that time was tragic and agonizing to watch. The end of his life was a constant battle to survive, and the treatments eventually killed him. Death was the ultimate tragedy because he died without hope of anything better.
The other problem with my father’s faith was what his foundation did to and for my mother and my two brothers. My mother was forced to become the social director of the family. Social events were her life, and achieving recognition from her peers was her foundation. After my father died, she became the leader of the retirement center where she lived. She commanded the respect of everyone there, including the management and staff. This became her foundation, and her faith was that it would continue. When she suffered a stroke and was moved to the care center, she was not even allowed to eat with her peers, much less play a role in the retirement center’s social events. She was so mortified and miserable in her new situation that I had to move her 200 miles from the retirement center to a facility near me. She was miserable there as well.
My parents had a dependence on alcohol as a foundation for life and a faith that it would make everything else function normally. This rubbed off on the rest of the family. Like many people in today’s world, the negative destroyed not only my father’s faith but my mother and brother’s faith as well. Faith or lack of faith in God will determine the course of your life. In tomorrow’s discussion, we will look at how we can build a workable faith.