Religion and Philosophy in 2024

This month we have a special article on AI – Artificial Intelligence – which has become a significant issue across the world, both in its nature and what it produces, or potentially may produce. 

A dear brother in the field has written this concise but thorough article that gives an outline of what AI is and where it is likely to go. More importantly, it should help Christians have a better understanding what are the impacts of AI on the people of our world and on the body of Christ. We hope any pray you find it useful, encouraging, and helps clear up any misunderstanding regarding AI. 

The author, a Christian with experience in emerging technologies, including AI, believes it is appropriate at this time for him to remain anonymous. Notwithstanding, please do not just copy and paste parts of this article on other platforms or media without acknowledging this website as the source.  

 



Neither Shadow of Turning


As we stand on the precipice of the digital age, new questions emerge about what God’s word says about the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications in society.


John 16:13 – New Living Translation:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

The everlasting truth of God’s word remains steadfast and unwavering in a world marked by rapid technological advancement and societal transformation. Across the ages, the Holy Scriptures have provided guidance, wisdom, and insight into the wonders of God’s creation.

As we stand on the precipice of the digital age, new questions emerge about what God’s word says about the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications in society. This is becoming more and more pressing, since, especially in recent years, there has been a proliferation of voices and perspectives on the subject, each offering their interpretation of what the role of AI is playing in society, with some perspectives more optimistic than others. The focus of this article is to have a look at what the Bible says about AI and its implications for our lives. This is important because amidst the cacophony of opinions, it is essential to ground our understanding in the unchanging truth of God’s word.

This article does not seek to provide an exhaustive description of AI or delve into the myriad theological interpretations offered by various perspectives. Instead, it aims to look at this technology through the lens of Scripture, exploring the relevance of God’s word in the context of our digital world. I would like to state from the beginning that there are currently people who are developing and using AI technologies for meritorious and commendable purposes, such as better mobility for disabled passengers, health tracking of the elderly, personalised medical treatment, etc. There are certainly good (and necessary) applications in our communities.

However, here I would like to focus on the aspects that we need to consider as Christians living in a world surrounded by technological changes, and approach it in a broader sense. It is important to acknowledge that while my perspective is informed by my experience as a born-again Christian and my background in the field, it is not presented as authoritative or the only view. Rather, it is offered as a humble exploration guided by prayer and study.

Furthermore, I will deliberately refrain from citing specific individuals or theological views, choosing instead to focus on the Scriptures and the inherent complexities of AI as relevant to this discourse. In undertaking this endeavour, I have asked our Heavenly Father for guidance and wisdom, recognizing the limitations of my human understanding in grappling with such profound questions. Moreover, I express gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing dialogue within the Christian community and acknowledge that my views are my own.

As we embark on this journey of exploration, may we approach the subject with humility, discernment, and a deep reverence for the eternal truth found within the pages of the Bible. May God’s word illuminate our path and guide our hearts as we seek to navigate the complexities of the digital age with faith, wisdom, and integrity, and remembering Philippians 4:6, which says:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Berean/Majority Standard Bible)

As we contemplate the role of AI within the Christian community, we must exercise discernment and wisdom, guided by Biblical principles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. Rather than passively accepting the allure of technological progress, we are called to critically evaluate its impact on our faith, our relationships, and our understanding of what it means to have been created in the image of God, as stated in the historical book of Genesis.

The Scriptures and Technological Advances


Since antiquity, humanity has harnessed the intelligence bestowed upon us by our Creator to forge tools and technologies aimed at improving our lives and shaping our world.


In order for us to know what the Scriptures say about Artificial Intelligence, we need first to define what it is so we know what we are dealing with. In our contemporary age, the term “artificial intelligence” (AI) permeates various fields of study, each offering its own nuanced definition. These diverse perspectives reflect the multifaceted nature of AI and the intricate interplay between philosophy, technology, neuroscience, and ultimately, society.

From a computational standpoint, AI is often conceptualized as the theory and development of computer systems capable of mimicking human intelligence. This definition underscores the emphasis on programming algorithms to learn from data, recognize patterns, and make decisions, which are tasks traditionally associated with human cognition. This is in line with the Oxford dictionary’s definition, which defines AI as…

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. [emphasis mine]

In fewer words, AI is a computer system (technology) that mimics human intelligence.

From the earliest pages of Genesis, we see God endowing us with intelligence and intellect (Genesis 1:27), and due to man’s disobedience, we can use this intelligence for good and bad purposes. We can see then that after the Fall, the trajectory of human history is punctuated by a relentless pursuit of human knowledge and innovation, a theme echoed throughout history, as presented in the Bible, and witnessed by all societies around the world. In the book of Daniel, we find a prophetic declaration of the inexorable advance of knowledge, a phenomenon that transcends epochs and civilizations (Daniel 12:4).

Since antiquity, humanity has harnessed the intelligence bestowed upon us by our Creator to forge tools and technologies aimed at improving our lives and shaping our world. Biblical accounts abound with examples of ingenious craftsmanship and technological ingenuity, from the construction of intricate instruments and implements to the erection of majestic structures that stand as testaments to human achievement. We encounter passages of skilled artisans and craftsmen who, inspired by divine wisdom, crafted machines and devices to aid in various tasks. King Solomon’s temple, a marvel of architectural magnificence, stands as a testament to our capacity to bring divine inspiration into tangible creations (2 Chronicles 3:1-17).

However, we also see, as the biblical narrative itself bears witness to, the duality of human nature, wherein technological advancements are sometimes used for good but can also be perverted for selfish gain, or wielded as instruments of control and domination. And AI is no different.

One major difference we see in AI, which makes it light years farther from other innovations, is that it represents the culmination of millennia of technological progress, a modern-day marvel that stands at the forefront of human ingenuity. Like the tools and machines crafted by skilled individuals in ancient times, AI serves as a contemporary tool to assist in a variety of endeavours, spanning from medical applications to educational pursuits.

One of the strongest reasons why AI has been so successful, is that, by its very design, it seeks to replicate and augment the cognitive abilities of human beings. While this may appear simple on the surface, delving deeper reveals a profound interplay between technology and human nature. The cognitive functions emulated by AI, i.e. problem-solving, and decision-making, are inseparable from the complexities of human purpose, emotions, and morality. As Christians, we are keenly aware of the inherent deceitfulness of the human heart, a truth reiterated in God’s word (Jeremiah 17:9). Left unchecked, our fallen nature inclines us towards selfishness, pride, and moral compromise. In the context of AI, this raises critical questions about the alignment of technological advancements with Christian values and principles.

AI-powered Technologies and the Church


In an era dominated by online platforms and digital content, churches and believers alike are grappling with the allure of convenience and efficiency at the expense of meaningful human interaction.


Unlike previous technological advances in human history, the use of AI is unprecedentedly interwoven in our everyday lives, from when we wake up till we lay down (or even during sleep for some people). This integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the fabric of modern society poses profound questions for the Christian community, challenging us to consider not only the capabilities of this technology but also its implications for our faith and values.

At the heart of the debate lies the question of purpose: for what ends do we employ AI within the Christian community? Some proponents argue that, like any other tool, AI is morally neutral, its inherent value derived from the intentions and actions of its users. Yet, this line of reasoning fails to fully grasp the complex nature of AI use and its potential impact on human society.

One pressing concern revolves around the pervasive influence of AI-powered digital technologies on the body of Christ. In an era dominated by online platforms and digital content, churches and believers alike are grappling with the allure of convenience and efficiency at the expense of meaningful human interaction. The proliferation of online services, church applications, and digital resources has reshaped the landscape of Christian worship, often at the cost of authentic community and fellowship. Churches, in their earnest efforts to adapt to the digital age, risk sacrificing the sacred bonds forged through physical gatherings and shared experiences. The intimate fellowships once cherished within the confines of homes—where believers gathered to share meals, offer prayers, and lift their voices in song—are increasingly supplanted by virtual interactions mediated by screens and devices.

Moreover, the shift towards digital formats has profound implications for the way we engage with scripture. While digital Bibles in personal devices offer unparalleled convenience and accessibility, they also introduce distractions and temptations that undermine the depth of our engagement with God’s word. The constant barrage of notifications, messages, and alerts vying for our attention fragments our focus and diminishes the sanctity of our time spent in study and prayer. Research has further underscored the cognitive differences between reading in print versus digital formats, with studies suggesting that print reading fosters deeper comprehension and retention of information. While digital tools undoubtedly offer valuable resources for Christian growth and study, their overreliance risks diluting the transformative power of scripture in our lives.

It is not a call to abandon digital technologies altogether, but rather a plea for discernment and balance in our approach. As stewards of our faith, we must resist the call for convenience and critically evaluate the impact of technology on our spiritual lives. By nurturing authentic community, prioritizing meaningful engagement with scripture, and preserving the sacred traditions that bind us together, we can safeguard the integrity of our faith amidst the digital deluge.

Self-centred Use of Technologies


In a world that constantly bombards us with messages of self-worth tied to online validation and social media metrics, we are called to find our identity and worth in Christ alone.


The cautionary tale of the Tower of Babel serves as a poignant reminder of humanity’s perennial struggle with pride and rebellion against God’s design (Genesis 11:1-9). Just as the ancient builders of Babel sought to defy God’s authority and assert their own greatness, so too does the modern-day pursuit of self-gratification through digital mediums risk distorting fundamental Christian principles. The parallels between the Tower of Babel and our contemporary digital landscape are striking. At the heart of both lies the insidious temptation to exalt the self above all else, to build monuments to our own glory rather than humbly submit to God’s sovereign will. Social media, amplified by AI capability, has emerged as a potent tool for self-gratification—a virtual echo chamber where our desires and preferences are constantly reinforced.

As we know, in the age of AI-powered algorithms, our digital experiences are increasingly tailored to cater to our individual preferences. These sophisticated systems learn our behavioral patterns, curate our newsfeeds, and recommend content that aligns with our personal notions and desires. The result is a curated reality: a personalized virtual world that shields us from dissenting opinions or uncomfortable views. To those wanting to look only into themselves as the source of meaning, the Bible has an important warning:

Jeremiah 17:9 – New Living Translation

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

In this digital dystopia, God becomes increasingly irrelevant, relegated to the margins of our virtual lives as we become the architects of our own reality. The temptation of constant affirmation and validation breeds complacency, encouraging us to retreat further into ourselves and insulate ourselves from the challenges of dissent.

Yet, beneath the veneer of self-gratification lies a deeper spiritual emptiness: a hollow void that cannot be filled by algorithms or artificial affirmations. The pursuit of self at the expense of God’s design leads only to disillusionment and despair, for true fulfilment can only be found in surrendering our egos and aligning our lives with God’s purposes.

In a world where AI algorithms seek to shape our perceptions and preferences, may we remain steadfast in our faith, fastened to the truth of God’s word. Let us learn from the lessons of Babel and strive to build communities that honor God’s design, reject falling into the trap of self-gratification, and embrace the transformative power of a genuine relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Also, God’s word reminds us that we need not fear, for Jesus has already won the ultimate victory. In the face of automation and the relentless pursuit of self-gratification, let us heed God’s call to renew our minds daily (Romans 12:2), resisting the conformity of this world and fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Just as we are exhorted to cast off the burdens that hinder our race in God (Hebrews 12:1), let us rid ourselves of the distractions and temptations that threaten to ensnare us. While technology, including AI, can serve as valuable tools in our daily lives, let us use them wisely and discerningly, seeking God’s guidance in their use and refusing to become enslaved by them.

For some, this may entail seeking God’s wisdom and discernment to navigate the complexities of AI without succumbing to its pitfalls. For others, it may mean taking practical steps to limit the influence of social media and digital distractions, laying all burdens of validation and gratification at the feet of Jesus. Above all, let us live lives of surrender before Christ, trusting in His promise to be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20) and finding solace in His surpassing peace (John 14:27), finding hope and strength in His unfailing love and grace.

On the other hand, for many, the struggle lies not in the realm of AI itself but in the pervasive influence of social media and digital distractions on their lives. In this digital age, the constant barrage of notifications, messages, and updates can easily consume our time and attention, diverting our focus away from what truly matters. For these individuals, taking practical steps to limit the influence of social media may involve setting boundaries, such as establishing designated times for digital detoxes, disabling notifications, or even deleting certain apps altogether.

Ultimately, regardless of the specific challenges we face, the solution remains the same: laying all burdens of validation and gratification at the feet of Jesus (Matthew 11:28). In a world that constantly bombards us with messages of self-worth tied to online validation and social media metrics, we are called to find our identity and worth in Christ alone. By surrendering our desires for approval and affirmation to Him, we can live in the freedom and peace that comes from knowing that we are deeply loved and accepted by our Creator through the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. In the midst of the complexities and distractions of the digital age, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. May we seek His wisdom, follow His example, and find our ultimate satisfaction in Him alone.

Above all, let us live lives of surrender before Christ, recognizing that He is the source of our strength and the anchor of our souls. May His steadfast Word remain our constant assurance, guiding us through the storms and uncertainties of life. As we yield our wills to His divine purpose, we find refuge in His promise to never leave us nor forsake us, even until the end of the age.

AI and Revelation 13


When Revelation speaks of giving breath to the image of the beast, it evokes imagery reminiscent of the divine act of breathing life into Adam in the book of Genesis.


The potential of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) has sparked intense discussion and debate, prompting parallels between this concept and the prophetic imagery depicted in the book of Revelation. Specifically, Revelation 13:15 describes a scenario in which an image of a beast is endowed with breath, enabling it to speak and exert control over those who refuse to worship it.

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
(English Standard Version)

To know the significance of this passage in relation to AI, it’s essential to understand the distinction between specific AI (often referred to as weak AI) and AGI (or strong artificial intelligence). While specific AI systems excel at narrow, task-specific functions, such as playing chess or identifying cancerous lumps in patient x-rays, AGI represents a theoretical form of intelligence capable of generalizing across a wide range of tasks, akin to human cognitive abilities.

When Revelation speaks of giving breath to the image of the beast, it evokes imagery reminiscent of the divine act of breathing life into Adam in the book of Genesis. This metaphorical language may suggest the potential endowment of consciousness to AI systems—a notion that fuels intense debate across various sectors of society. Furthermore, the mention of the image of the beast speaking implies a level of sentience and self-expression characteristic of sentient beings. While current AI technologies lack these attributes, the prospect of AGI raises profound ethical and societal questions about the nature of consciousness and the boundaries between human and artificial intelligence.

It’s thus crucial to note that the specific AI technologies prevalent today do not fully align with the characteristics described in this part of the book of Revelation. However, the advancements in AI we witness today lay the groundwork for future developments in AGI, which may carry implications for this Biblical prophecy. 

Ultimately, the interpretation of these biblical passages in light of contemporary technological advancements remains a deeply personal endeavor, subject to diverse perspectives and interpretations. While some may view AGI as a fulfiller of divine order, others may see it as a potential challenge to the established order of creation. But one thing we can see is that the use of AI, if it continues in its trajectory, can be one, if not the most, powerful tool for world domination as described in the Scriptures.

Keep Steadfast in Christ


Ultimately, the intersection of Christianity and AI prompts us to reflect on our priorities and values … Our eternal destiny hinges not on fleeting technological trends but on the steadfastness of our faith and the integrity of our witness in this world.


In the face of advancing technology, we must remain vigilant, guarding our hearts against the seductive appeal of AI’s promises, which raises profound moral questions. Ultimately, our response to AI must be rooted in a deep commitment to God’s truth and a steadfast reliance on His guidance in the middle of the complexities of the digital age. In an age where the siren call of technology grows ever louder, may we remain walking under the timeless truth of scripture, Jesus, the Rock of Ages, and the continuous fellowship that binds us with other believers as the body of Christ. Let us not forsake the treasures of our faith for the fleeting comforts of the digital realm, but rather seek a life that honors Christ in all we do.

As stewards of both faith and technology, Christians must tread carefully, recognizing the potential for both advancement and moral compromise. The urgency of the times calls for steadfastness in holding fast to the truths we’ve been entrusted with, guarding against the subtle snares that threaten to erode our spiritual foundations (Revelation 3:11). Ultimately, the intersection of Christianity and AI prompts us to reflect on our priorities and values. Let us hear the Apostle Paul’s admonition to stand firm, avoiding the pitfalls of self-indulgence and worldly enticements (2 Timothy 3:1-17). Our eternal destiny hinges not on fleeting technological trends but on the steadfastness of our faith and the integrity of our witness in this world.

Finally, in the midst of life’s challenges and trials, we are reminded of the surpassing peace that Christ offers, which is a peace that transcends understanding and sustains us in the midst of adversity. This peace is not contingent upon our circumstances but flows from our intimate relationship with the Prince of Peace Himself. As we rest in His unfailing love and grace, we are filled with a sense of calm assurance, knowing that He holds us securely in the palm of His hand.

As we journey through this life, let us cling tenaciously to our hope, the God who does not change. In the face of shifting cultural norms and moral relativism, the timeless principles found within Scripture serve as our moral compass, guiding us along the path of righteousness and truth. In God’s word, we find peace in times of despair, strength in times of weakness, and wisdom in times of uncertainty.

May we walk in the light of His truth, in communion with the Holy Spirit, and anchored in His love, until the day we behold Him face to face in all His glory.



Looking Beyond Discouragement

(by Ps. Bill Broekema, May 2024)

The greatest challenge we face at any given moment may be negotiating discouragement in our lives. People can easily feel overwhelmed with negativity. A broken heart persuades some people to quit or serve God half heatedly. Attempts to reach out for long term support are not always successful.

What determines the direction a person will go to reach victory? It is not social status or the ability to think quickly, or a high IQ.

Dr. Angela Duckworth spent thousands of hours testing children and adults to determine who would overcome adversity. She found one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. It was ‘GRIT’. This means having ‘PASSION’ and ‘PERSEVERANCE’ for long-term goals; and sticking with the purpose that God had called them to. Discouragement does not have to leave a person paralyzed.

Genesis 37:5-11 recounts the story of a man called Joseph, who did have GRIT. God assured Joseph that he would rise to a position of leadership over his parents and brothers. The siblings were jealous of their father’s favoritism towards Joseph. Consequently, they plotted to kill him.

However, they sold him instead to some Ishmaelites who were passing through to Egypt. Joseph was taken to Egypt and eventually became a steward to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. Potiphar’s wife wanted to lay with Joseph, but he refused. He remained faithful to God and the calling on his life. Unfortunately, the spurned wife falsely accused of rape and had him thrown in jail for 7 years.

One of Joseph’s former fellow inmate, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer remembered that Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams. He was released from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In doing so, he was promoted to the rank of being a prince of Egypt. In this role he successfully navigated Egypt to prepare for a future famine.

It is important to remember that God secured Joseph’s calling and he honoured his perseverance, one who sustained his passion and perseverance to press on. God has also secured our purpose in life. God has gifted all of us in multiple ways to accomplish HIS will in us and through us by serving HIM in line with our PASSION, gifts and personality.

PASSION is a God-given desire that compels us to make a difference in some one’s life.

PERSEVERANCE is to persist, withstand, and patiently bear all things.

James also exhorts us to “persevere under trials” because those who do will be blessed and will receive the “crown of life” which God has promised (James 1:12).

Paul also said … “I have finished the race“ (2 Timothy 4:6-8). 

Blessings,
Pastor Bill Broekema



Reflection and Prayer 

(by Bjorn Schmid) 

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”” (Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV) 

All people seek something to fill the void inside them that only God can fill. Addiction to AI self-affirmation and self-gratification is just the latest ‘thing’ and many will be caught up in this new layer of the old web of deceit that was woven by the enemy in the Garden of Eden. 

I particularly like this line in this month’s article on AI: “…laying all burdens of validation and gratification at the feet of Jesus.” This where we win. This where we defeat the enemy of God. We win when we “live lives of surrender before Christ” because when we acknowledge Him who did everything to get us back and let Him be our one and only King and Lord, we get everything – everything that matters, forever. 

Give unending thanks to God our Creator for all He has done for you – He doesn’t need thanks – you need to be thankful. Apologise to Him and ask for His forgiveness for ignoring Him and His laws and principles for healthy living – He doesn’t need your apology – you need His forgiveness. Ask Him to fill every part of you with His Holy Spirit – He doesn’t need you – you need Him. 

Do we even matter to God then? Yes we matter to Him, He doesn’t need us, but He wants us, each of us, all of us, and we need the utterly (super)natural God and His genuine, uncontaminated love for each one of us humans, nothing artificial (i.e. man-made) added. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV) 

You probably know all this, but I’m ‘reposting’ what you already know so that you pray fervently for those who do not know. AI has the potential to trap and manipulate billions of people who do not know Christ, who do not know Scripture, who are not part of a supportive Christian fellowship, at the push of a button. If you know the secular movie ‘Time Bandits’, the Evil one wanted to know everything about technology – because people are easily mass-controlled through technology. 

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (Matthew 25:35-36 ESV) 

Is Jesus talking here about physical or spiritual needs?
Both. 

Love in action needs to be both in prayer and in giving

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 ESV) 

Reach out to those who are around you (real and virtual) – they need both. Give them whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to give, but above all lift them in prayer and earnestly intercede for them before His throne.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27 ESV) 

I want you to be with us in Heaven.
Love you heaps, 
Bjorn.

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