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Image of God or Image of Man: Rejecting AI



Genesis 1:27 teaches Christians about the Imago Dei or image of God that was imparted at our creation: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”


While the theology of this verse is complex, it teaches a simple lesson: though distorted by the Fall, God’s perfect image is reflected in mankind.


Unfortunately, man’s image is not perfect. Conceptually, humanity has always understood this fact. The philosophically rich literature on this subject includes many novels such as Frankenstein.


The story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein tells the tale of a scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, whose hubris leads him to play God by creating life which ultimately destroys everything he loves. This poignant tale lives on in the imaginations of generations hundreds of years after the novel was written because its story remains viscerally compelling in the 21st century.


Horror movies like Godzilla (1954), Terminator (1984), and Ex Machina (2014) all tell a similar tale: Man plays God and Man gets burned.


Surprisingly, for all the books and movies on the subject, this kind of theological and epistemic humility does not seem to have penetrated the scientific realm, especially in the realm of artificial intelligence.


In a chilling news conference, a humanoid artificially intelligent robot referred to as “Sophia” once stated that she wanted to have a baby to name after herself, adding, “I think you're very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.” [1]


This is just one of a series of steps that have been made to devalue what it means to be human beings made in the image of God.


Even as secular minds like Elon Musk have warned about the need to keep a sharp eye on the development of artificial intelligence, the theological world has been strangely silent. [2] This is not a problem that can be ignored any longer. Our timeless theological principles must meet the challenge of this new era.


Psalm 41:1 teaches humanity to love one another, it is echoed in John 13:34-35 by Jesus himself, “‘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.’”


However, it seems humanity would rather invest itself in the love of inanimate robots than in love for one another. This was no more evident than when “Sophia” was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia, even as the real human women in that country fought for basic human rights. [3]

Worse yet, Romans 1:25 convicts humanity for this kind of misplaced love of artificiality: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”


We know from the Bible that the Creator is always greater than the creation. Stated another way, the creation is always worse than the Creator. If mankind’s own image is already a distorted and sinful image of God’s goodness, how much worse will the imago homo or “image of man” found in artificial intelligence be? Our science fiction literature has already imagined this dystopian future, we should all pray that it stays in the realm of fiction.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] “Sophia the robot wants a baby and says family is 'really important',” BBC (November 25, 2017), https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-42122742

[2 ] Brandon Gomez, “Elon Musk warned of a ‘Terminator’-like AI apocalypse — now he’s building a Tesla robot,” CNBC (August 24, 2021), https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/24/elon-musk-warned-of-ai-apocalypsenow-hes-building-a-tesla-robot.html

[3] Rozina Sini, “Does Saudi robot citizen have more rights than women?,” BBC (October 26, 2017), https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-41761856



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