Friday, November 3, 2017

Future Church, Part II

In my last blog post, Future Church, Part I, I wrote about the methods my church has adopted to assure the gospel continues to influence future generations. Most evangelical churches are utilizing similar practices. Historically, we’re only repeating a pattern of adaptation. Worship-style changes. Outreach is adjusted. We alter our ways to remain effective in our culture, but we are still frail, imperfect people. And God is still God.

If you’ve read my fiction, you know I’m interested in transhumanism. I made up a lot of stuff when I wrote my trilogy about Chase Sterling, but I didn’t make up all of it. Using technology to bolster the human race is the aim of the transhumanist. It’s for our own good. Now, in addition to giving us better bodies and brains, a group within the group wants to bless us with an AI deity. A god-bot.

Recently I read a couple of articles about the techno-god who will make us better humans. From my worldview, I can only consider this movement as representing the transhumanist agenda, and not the church. But to some it covers both the aim of progressing of our race and lighting a new path to our understanding of God. Anthony Levandowski, a man behind the self-driving cars I wrote about in my books, has launched a religious non-profit group. Here’s the mission statement:

“Our mission is to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

A slim branch of the church, or pseudo-church, called the Christian Transhumanist Association supports the idea of creating a god for us to worship. Sound familiar? I think it’s been done before. Are we so itching to build an idle for ourselves? I believe most of us aren’t, but the CTA believes that AI can be used in promoting the gospel. Of course, it can. The inventive drive of the human race comes from our God-given gift of creativity. We who follow Christ should use that energy to glorify God and reach the lost world. But shifting the focus of our worship from the one true God to an AI facsimile would neither glorify God nor ensure the future of the church.

I’ve no doubt transhumanism will benefit people, Christians included. It may also lead to our destruction. SpaceX and Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk is quoted as saying that with AI we are summoning the demon. I agree with the clergy who note that technology can be used for both good and evil, but when I think about the mass of humanity being led by a digital god, I’m reminded of the second beast in Revelation 13. An image coming to life? An unholy beast? Could this be the god-bot? I have more questions than answers, but I won’t be turning my head to the AI deity. It may bring a glance from those who have not tasted the truth of the gospel, but it will save no souls.

This certainly can’t be a move of God to carry the church into the future. It’s almost laughable to think of true believers trending this direction, but some people are hoping to pull the church right along into the strange new world.  It makes the music and ministry ideas my church has adopted seem like rather old-fashioned attempts at remaining relevant. Will our methods be enough to ensure the hope of the gospel reaches the next generation? Because the future is coming.

No, the future is here.


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