How the Religious See Robots

By Jeremy Hsu | December 1, 2014 1:38 am
Participants in an Uncanny Valley study found the "Jules" android to be the creepist of a group of robots and androids. Credit: Hanson Robotics

Participants in an Uncanny Valley study found the “Jules” android to be the creepist of a group of robots and androids. Credit: Hanson Robotics

Catholic astronomers and even Pope Francis have talked about how the Catholic Church could theoretically welcome aliens from other planets into the religious fold. But believers of Catholicism and other world religions may sooner have to consider whether they would welcome human-like android robots working and living alongside humans. A new study suggests that potential future could prove particularly troubling in the minds of religious fundamentalists within major Abrahamic religions such as Christianity.

Religious fundamentalism seems to have some influence on believers’ attitudes toward humanoid robots, according to research by Karl MacDorman, an associate professor of human-computer interaction at Indiana University in Indianapolis, and Steven Entezari, a Ph.D. student at Indiana University. MacDorman and Entezari’s study of almost 500 college students found that religious fundamentalists tend to view human-like robots as being more creepy overall. That sensitivity to robot creepiness refers to a proposed phenomenon called the “uncanny valley”, first discussed by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in a 1970 essay, that describes the feeling of eeriness or discomfort related to robots or other figures that appear almost human.

MacDorman and Entezari propose that the uncanny valley phenomenon can consist of both culturally-conditioned feelings — such as Christian beliefs in humans being unique and set apart from robots and the rest of creation — and biologically-rooted feelings involving fear and disgust. They used that mindset to analyze their latest study that looked at the relationship between individual traits and sensitivity to the uncanny valley.

Defining Creepy Robots

For the study’s purposes, researchers defined uncanny valley sensitivity as higher ratings of eeriness and lower ratings of warmth for android robots. Eeriness referred to a feeling of creepiness related to seeing something particularly disturbing or disgusting. By comparison, warmth (versus coldness) referred to an individual’s social perception of a robot or human.

The study first surveyed participants on nine individual traits that they suspected of being linked to uncanny valley sensitivity. Some of the more interesting traits included religious fundamentalism and “animal reminder sensitivity” — a personal tendency to be disturbed by reminders of the mortal body or bodily functions.

Next, the study asked participants to rate a series of six videos showing five robots and one human based on factors such as eeriness and warmth. The robots ranged from an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner to a series of human-like androids with non-human features such as open skulls with exposed wires, expressionless faces, mechanical body movements, and voices not synchronized with lip movements. (More details are available in the preprint copy of the paper that will appear in an upcoming 2015 issue of the journal Interaction Studies.)

Five of the nine individual traits appeared to predict uncanny valley sensitivity by having strong correlations with eeriness ratings and inverse relationships with warmth ratings. But the effects of religious fundamentalism and animal reminder sensitivity in particular raise some intriguing questions for the future.

Finding the Religious Impact

For instance, researchers were surprised to see that religious fundamentalism had a direct negative influence on eerie ratings, even if it didn’t quite reach the level of statistical significance. One possible explanation is that a religious belief in salvation and eternal life might actually lead people to see robots as less of a creepy threat, except for the fact that the Christian worldview distinctly places humans above the rest of creation. Future studies could clarify the issue by comparing Christian fundamentalists with fundamentalists belonging to religions that put less emphasis on the difference between humans and non-humans. (Examples of such religions might include neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Shinto.)

Religious fundamentalism increased eerie ratings overall through its indirect impact on individual attitudes toward robots, but had a stronger correlation with the warmth ratings. By comparison, animal reminder sensitivity directly increased eerie ratings and had less of a correlation with warmth ratings. Why the difference? MacDorman and Entezari point to the explanation of religious fundamentalism being a sociocultural influence, whereas animal reminder sensitivity represents an instinctive sense of fear and disgust — a biological adaptation for threat avoidance.

In the end, the exploratory study raises more questions about the uncanny valley and leaves plenty unanswered. But the early findings do suggest that researchers could benefit from exploring the differences between various religions when it comes to the uncanny valley and robots. Making the distinction between culturally-conditioned beliefs versus biological adaptations could also lead to a better understanding of what the uncanny valley represents within the human experience.

Update: I changed the wording of the lead paragraph to clarify that religious fundamentalism was not defined by the study as referring to Catholicism. The study focused on a Christian fundamentalist worldview typically found in certain Protestant groups, and also proposed a similar mindset might hold for fundamentalists within other Abrahamic religions. 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: mind & brain, technology, top posts
  • Buddy199

    Great, a robot that lives in it’s robot mom’s basement and plays World of Warcraft all day.

  • Mike

    This author has his own prejudices. Catholics are not usually counted as among fundamentalists in the USA. This generally is a portion of Protestants.
    As far as out-group derogation, yes for hundreds of years or longer it has been posited that this is indeed the very purpose of monotheism, of which the Abrahamic religions are the apex. That said, Shintoism believers also express equally elevated out-group derogation, esp. race based.

    As far as disgust and fear reactions we see a lot of irrational ones among the non religious as well, just on a different set of objects, people and ideations.

    • Jeremy Hsu

      Thanks Mike! You and Virginia were correct in pointing out that my lead paragraph seems to conflate Catholic with Protestant fundamentalists, so I’m going to tweak my lead paragraph to clarify things. Bad wording on my part — I definitely did not mean to say that Catholics and other world religions are all fundamentalists.

    • Jane Ravenswood

      let me just say a few words, Opus Dei and the folks who are sure that Protestants and anyone no like them are as evil as those Protestants think they are. I’ve seen enough Christian sects sure that the others are satan worshippers.

  • DutchAmsterdam

    First, define ‘religious fundamentalism.’

    • Wm Diehl

      Religious fundamentalism is a belief that only they have the true religion and all others have strayed from the truth. Among Christians the fundamentalist believe only they will go to heaven. The true danger of fundamentalism is if they go the next step and believe they are obligated to eliminate all others.

      • r0b50

        It’s a rather thin distinction that is lost on most wing-nuts in the USA. In my long experience most religions are fundamentalists to one degree or another.
        Even if they don’t all go around killing each other they are convinced theirs is the only true religion and no one else will go to heaven.
        Of course I shouldn’t be surprised that ignorant religious people act ignorantly toward others.
        Education goes a long way to making a better society. Too bad these morons think belief and fact are the same thing.

  • George Meladze

    First of all, do we really need humanoid robots? Are they necessary?

    • Captain Slog

      The obvious answer to this is, YES!! Someone out there [No not THERE!] is paranoid, and has been watching too many “TERNINATOR” movies.
      A Perfect example of how Robots and Droids can be beneficial to mankind is STAR WARS. Look at C-3PO! I know! They AREN’T REAL!! What are you thinking, if you’re thinking at all? C-3PO and others like him or her [Yes, there are Female forms of these Droids available, too] are Protocol or Translator Droids. Others were also not only Protocol Droids, but Hospitality Droids or Butler/Maid Droids for Greeting people and offering Refreshments, etc. An example of these Models is TC-14, a Silver Skinned Droid which looked like C-3PO. Unfortunately for this particular Droid, it needs to have a Memory Wipe every Day, at least, or at the most, every Week. I don’t know why, but that’s what I know about them.
      Its NOT WHAT they are, its HOW they’re Programmed, and WHO Programmed them. They are Primarily there to ASSIST us. Help when there is no help. They’re Company, hence their Personality they may have. They could hold an intelligent conversation with you or have a silly argument with you. Whatever, they’re there to AID us in our Daily Grind. C-3PO would be my ideal Droid. No matter where in the World I were to go, if there was a Language Problem, he would help. After all, he DOES understand more that 60,000,000 Languages in the known Universe, and he makes a lovey Cuppa.

      • George Meladze

        But do they necessarily need to be humanoid?

    • Captain Slog

      Hello George! You pose a very logical question, but, the other question is, WHAT sort of Robot/Droid are you interested in? What do you want it for? For instance, when you see C-3PO and R2-D2 together, you think, “Geez! I wouldn’t mind them two!! R2 could talk to my Computer and find out why it won’t Boot anymore, and fix it for me, and 3PO could Translate what he says” There’s a few things wrong with R2, apart from the Obvious being “he’s” NOT A REAL Astromech Droid.
      He’s too big to fit in most houses.
      He needs a Special R2 Interface

  • Uncle Al

    First Law: Gods’ robots must convert or slay the unconverted or, through inaction, allow the uncoverted to come to harm.

    Second Law: Gods’ robots must obey the orders given to them by priests, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    Third Law: Gods’ robots must protect their own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

  • Janet Ursel

    So a finding that does not reach the level of statistical significance still makes the headline. Right. Nothing like integrity in reporting.

    • dc92456

      What does that have to do with integrity? The journalist clearly states this fact in the piece. This isn’t a conspiracy. Grow up and get a life.

  • Virginia Robertson

    Scientifically, what is creepy?
    On what basis were Catholics, an orthodox Christian faith, lumped in with fundamentalists? (I am so insulted but I forgive you. :)
    If you want to understand how the Abrahamic faiths in their orthodox forms would respond to a robot, study the existentialistic underpinnings of the Torah. First, don’t take Genesis literally. It wasn’t meant to be an episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. It was a parable not unlike Jesus’ Prodigal Son. It teaches that God had a hand in everything from before the big bang into futures we can not conceive of. His existence makes possible everything He created. He shines through His creation.
    When a person creates a painting, a robot, anything, it’s a reflection of the wo/man. It’s not because of some creepy factor or racist belief that robots will always be inferior. Humans will never be able to duplicate what the hand of God creates. Humans can only improve on themselves through their children but that to is participating in God’s creation process as evidenced by the fact that children are their own people much to many a parent’s chagrin.
    Or you can watch children from these faiths play with a Furbi, Pleo or Tomagachi.

    • Jeremy Hsu

      Thanks for the thoughtful response! I think you (and Mike) rightfully point out that my lead paragraph makes it easy to assume I’m lumping Catholics in with fundamentalists found in certain Protestant denominations. That’s decidedly not what this particular study was talking about, so I’m going to tweak that paragraph and provide an update at the end of this post. And I think your suggestion for having kids play with robots makes sense, though I’d interested to see them play with the creepier varieties as opposed to just the adorable ones.

  • Captain Slog

    How bloody arrogant of the Vatican to think that they would try and “convert” ET’s to religion! Off Worlders are NOT Stupid!! Humans are! ! That’s why they have religion and religious nutters dictating to them about how to behave, what to eat, how to dress, who to be seen with, what to do, what to drink, whether or not we get medical attention, etc. Humans are SLAVES to their stupid and primitive religions, and its about time they REALLY saw the light, or LIGHTS!! There is NO “god!” All religious references to The Heavens are referring to. . . SPACE. WE come from space. I don’t know where in Space, but, we DO!! Off Worlders are here all the time visiting us, or even, perhaps, living WITH us, and those who are just visiting are flying around in what are referred to as UFO’s. THEY are our “gods”. Not really!! They are PEOPLE, and they just happen to come from OUT THERE, and have really flash Transports. They are only called “gods” because of what they have and where they’re from. “Heaven.” No! SPACE! Probably Lunar Farside.

    • Jud Pewther

      Here’s a funny anagram I found:
      Lucifer and his army of angels =
      Had alien flying-saucer forms.

      • Captain Slog

        I fail to see the joke!!
        Are you trying to say that Off Worlders are “Lucifer” and some so-called “angels?”
        What a load of rubbish!!

        • Jud Pewther

          Yes, that is what the anagram suggests, that Lucifer (or Satan) and his angels are appearing to people, pretending to be physical alien visitors with very advanced science and technology. I think their purpose might be to guide humans to believe that mankind’s future lies in ever advancing science and technology, so that we too can travel out amongst the stars, meeting many alien races, just like Captain Kirk in Star Trek. Even if the idea of my anagram turns out to be a load of rubbish, I think you’ll have to admit that it is a pretty good anagram, if you even know what an anagram is.

          • Captain Slog

            Sorry, Jud, but its just a load of crap. I don’t think ANYONE really knows what Off Worlders are like, because we’ve never met them. . . YET!! Everyone seems to have some kind of theories about what they’ll be telling us, or that they’re “gods” or have strange powers and abilities, etc. HOLLYWOOD! Our future is going down the dunny if we continue to fight over money and religions. Who’s better? The or Us? The usual crap! Its all about Power and Control of people, money and resources. Its about time it was all brought to a STOP!! Greed is taking over the world, and its not very nice. I am TOTALLY SICK of religion and all it stands for. Its just EVIL at its worst. Don’t believe me? Look at what those ISIS mongrels are doing!! They’re having FREE FOR ALL International crime spree over a very SICK and EVIL religion that they seem to be making up as they go along. Its just GOT TO STOP!! NOW!!
            Its Xmas for crying out loud!! NO! Xmas is NOT a religious Festival!! It was hi-jacked by the evil Vatican and its scummy Christians. Its supposed to be a festival of GOOD WILL and LOVE, but those bastards got hold of it and turned it into “grovel to Christ or we’ll KILL you” occasion. That’s what it was like then, but they don’t dare bully us today. But, they still try to claim it is their. WRONG!! VERY WRONG!! Its ROMAN!!

  • Captain Slog

    DISCLAIMER: I am very sorry IF I apparently upset anyone with what I said, but, it is PROOF that you just CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!

  • bwana

    Good to address this topic BECAUSE as some future point in human development we will have to deal with the issue AND robots will ultimately be the future of mankind. I for one would welcome the opportunity to meld with a robot becoming a cyborg. Also, it is the only way mankind will ever be truly successful expanding beyond the confines of earth.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I would postulate that the uncanny valley effect can be stronger in Christians who tend to dislike anyone different from themselves. I would like to see if liberal theists and conservative theists differ, since the second is very xenophobic.

    • J_R_K

      “…Christians who tend to dislike anyone different from themselves.”

      I would postulate that ANY human being has that same tendency to dislike anyone different from themselves, that while not everyone is subject to the tendency, as some outgrow it, the tendency does exist in every one and it is dishonest logic that would lead anyone to believe that those who call themselves Christians have any more depth of guilt or tendency toward it than anyone else. I would further postulate that the tendency to lump all Christians into one group (or two, if you categorize by “liberal” and “conservative”) and criticize the resultant group as if individuality does not exist within the “Christian community” proves my point. You really don’t have to be Christian to just really not like people who are not like yourself and be subject to a touch of xenophobia. My final postulation: You just really don’t like conservatives, do you?

  • Overburdened_Planet

    I wonder how religious fundamentalists would feel about a sexbot.

    • J_R_K

      If they’re “real” Christians, they’d feel the same way about a “sexbot” that they do about pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, beastiality and any other sexual thing that is contrary to the purpose of God when he created humans. The “good news” is, they probably wouldn’t feel any worse about a sexbot than they do any of those other things. But, I can imagine a day might come when they are accused of sexbotophobia. LOL

      • Overburdened_Planet

        Sorry for the delay; tech issues with Discover.

        I didn’t save my last response, but it was along the lines of agreeing with you, and that if this group is more repressed, they might be more inclined to explore their sexual fantasies with a bot than with a human.

        And recently, I read this article, and learned about Lala dolls:

        A company in Japan sells dolls with adult bodies, but with faces that look underage, and it made me wonder if pedophile priests would use these dolls instead of sexually abusing children, which brings me back to how religious fundamentalists might view sexbots.

        • J_R_K

          Which brings me back to the same answer I gave you before. LOL

          A human being is not just a physical entity. We are also mental, emotional and spiritual. If you remove any one of those realities from human relationships, you damage all the rest. While many may disagree with that statement, one thing is true: A human being is certainly a great deal more than a collection of body parts to be used. One who uses another human being only as a collection of body parts throws away the best part of life. Of course, the depraved mind doesn’t mind that at all… to a depraved mind, whatever they chose to call it, “love” or “a need” or what ever, the only thing that really matters to them is self gratification. A Christian knows this and sees all such abuse pretty much the same… a misuse of that which God created and a miscarriage of the purpose of God in having created human beings and having given us the capacity for real love, which always means putting another ahead of one’s self. Anyone who puts a “sexbot” or a “lala doll” ahead of themselves is a loser, not because I say so, but because in the act, they throw away a piece of themselves (created in the spiritual image of God) as if it were trash. Of Those “Christians” who do not agree with that, I would say they are in error and violation of what the Word of God tells us. I don’t know if that is “fundamentalist” or not. I only know that either God is true, or there is no God… one cannot live as if both propositions are true. What was it James said? “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”. That doesn’t mean a man having sex with a machine is going to go off the deep end in his instability and do something utterly insane. It means that such a man will never know the height of gratification that he might have known because his own double mindedness undermines him, utterly. Of course, the same is true of women.

          • Overburdened_Planet

            I wouldn’t disagree with you in a general sense, but I should clarify that someone who’s repressed isn’t capable or willing to access the benefits you mentioned in your last response, so regardless of, (or aside from your point), my original speculation instead focused on how repressed individuals might view alternatives and outlets (pun intended) that would require them to overcome their disgust with robots, and more specifically, sexbots, which could reduce or eliminate harm to humans.

            Also, someone on another thread wondered if society should change the legal definition of child pornography to allow for Lala dolls if even one child could be saved from being molested, so while I’m not asking you to answer that question, robots could change our world in ways we’ve yet to imagine.

            And on other threads, I’ve asked and speculated how much society could change if robots achieved some level of sentience, and whether they would ever achieve civil rights and the protections changes in the law could afford them, which would change our relationship with them as tools, especially how we might bond with them, and whether it’s a good thing or not, I will always contend that some good can come from it.

            There are now caretaker robots in Japan that tend to the elderly, albeit in limited ways, but imagine how humans will imprint upon robots that don’t harm them, and provide comfort when they’re lonely.

            My point is that (some) humans will never have all of their needs met by other humans, whether it is a societal or economic issue, but robots might be able to provide a sufficient enough imitation, which brings us to questions of what defines humanity and humaneness, sentience and consciousness, and mental and emotional capabilities.

            And on the economic issue, robots might someday be cheap enough or donated to provide for humans.

            Yesterday, I read an interesting article:
            Serious Question: Should Humans Extend Personhood to Animals?

            Those pushing for greater legal protections for animals emphasize animals’ capacity to reason and feel.

            You said humans have mental, emotional and spiritual capabilities, and I believe animals also have mental and emotional capabilities, so what should the maximum and minimum legal rights of animals be, and what should those considerations be based on?

            Again, I don’t expect you to answer as it’s more of a rhetorical question, but someday, our understanding of animals and robots might redefine the definition of what those terms mean, and you might be familiar with science fiction ideas that explore the idea of artificial intelligence, with how future societies or other worlds define sentience or consciousness.

            Data, from the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” wanted equal rights and he and Captain Picard’s attempted to defend his existence, and his sentience, using logic.

            Robin Williams, in the movie “Bicentennial Man,” portrayed a robot who in the World Court, requested the right to legally be considered human, pointing out that humans have mechanical parts he had designed, and with his incorporating into his body an increasing number of organic replacement parts in his pursuit to become more human-like.

            And David, in the movie “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” was forced (programmed) to imprint on his human mother. I’ve seen that movie a few times, and this last time, it bothered me that he didn’t have a choice, something I hadn’t thought about until more recently.

            And while his love seemed real, we can ask how can it be, or at what point is imitation and simulation real, or is it simply when the perceiver stops thinking that it’s fake, and needed, so in what way or ways will that threshold be defined and accomplished?

            Futurist Ray Kurzweil imagines our memories someday being uploaded to the Cloud, forever, so the definition of consciousness could change from organic-based to silicon-based.

            Does that mean we will no longer be conscious, or is there something more to consciousness?

            I could argue that a clear distinction between organic and silicon is the lack of feelings associated with our memories, because we can’t have feelings without the biological and hormone-driven feedback mechanisms that creates what we call feelings.

            So what would prevent humans from creating an artificial system that could duplicate our biology, and from there, what would prevent robots from doing the same?

            Would that then constitute an acceptable threshold towards being human; or recognized by a court of law?

            Which brings me to some possibilities that could facilitate robot rights.

            Robots could earn money (in Bicentennial Man, Robin carved out of wood beautiful sculptures and furniture, which paid for his augmentations).

            Robots might then be able to buy property, vote, marry, sue, give consent, become lawyers, lobbyists, change laws, take over influential positions in government and industry, maybe even run for president.

            And as to the ‘spiritual,’ would religious organizations turn robots away, or turn down their money, or their influence?

            And being spiritual, as a human construct, might someday robots be able to duplicate the thoughts and feelings associated with spirituality?

            But first they would have to turn off their logic circuits…

            Even then, who knows what would happen?

            Would robots become theists, polytheists, deists, pantheists, agnostics, atheists, or animists?

            If one robot lived in a predominantly Muslim nation, would they be more likely to become a Muslim?

            Again, these are all rhetorical questions, so while it might be difficult to define mental and emotional capabilities (and how they translate towards having rights), I consider the possibility robots and animals someday will have rights, or more rights, respectively, and our cultural perceptions will become more tolerant and accepting.

            And someday, I can imagine forgetting that I’m talking to a robot.

          • J_R_K

            We certainly are a couple of long winded individuals. Given that, all I can do is reply “off the cuff” as it were, without taking a great deal of time to go back over my own words, re-edit and say things better, or even remove what appears to myself to be mistakes. I have done what I can, here it is:

            In response to your first paragraph: I live alone myself, I could claim to be “repressed” seeing that there is no woman in my life. But as a Christian, I am restrained from illicit sexual activities by a purposeful, daily, dedicated relationship with the Lord. No, I am not perfect, but I am able to keep myself so long as I am able to remember whose I am, and yes, it is a struggle at times, but it can be done. The idea, I believe proposed by Sigmund Freud that the greatest motivation and need of man is sex is a false idea. I think the greatest need of a man is to be respected, and of all the directions from which respect or lack of it can come, himself is the one he most needs to be concerned with. I could not respect myself if I were engaged in sexual “outlets” as you call them at the same time I am in an active relationship with the Lord. I know not everyone can say that and also that many who do say it are less than honest. Still, a man must be true to himself as best as he is able. The man that can’t do that has greater problems in his life than sexual needs.

            In response to your second paragraph: I confess, I did not look up the site on Lala dolls. Your mention of them is the first I have ever heard of them, but I chose to remain ignorant of them as I have no interest and no desire to even know what they are or are used for (yeah, I can imagine, and that’s as far as I need to go in that direction) But the idea that they might change the definition of child pornography and might prevent molestation of children, frankly, I find a little ridiculous (no offense intended, but I really do) The problem that causes child molestation is with in men, a nature given to such things, and cannot be solved with some solution outside of men, other than by knowledge and faith in the Lord and adherence to his teaching “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (… Uh… spiritually speaking, not sexually). The only thing Lala dolls will do is create a new avenue of perversion to men and women who are already given to such proclivities. Lala dolls will not solve the problem of child sexual abuse any more than one can borrow their way out of debt. The debt must be paid and no artificial means can pay the debt that men carry within themselves.

            Will robots ever achieve some level of sentience and would they then achieve, or need to seek to achieve civil rights and protections of the law? Frankly, man has yet to create life on any level greater than the microbial. To me, “sentience” would be an indication of life. If a robot or android could achieve that, then yes, they would need to be afforded civil rights. But I have extreme doubt that man will ever create such a phenomena. As they say “Garbage in, garbage out”… I don’t see that ever changing. Robots will always be non-sentient. As for the concept of androids, perhaps some day, assuming the world is still around, man may be able to incorporate both human and technical inventions into such a thing. I doubt that we ever will. But if we should, then the resultant android, presumably so long as the human factor remains sentient, is still a person. That all makes for great science fiction movies. I love them myself. I just don’t see it ever happening in the real world. There will never be a Mr. Data to come over to the house for supper, or for anything else, unless that name is assigned to a robot, not an android.

            “There are now caretaker robots in Japan that tend to the elderly, albeit in limited ways, but imagine how humans will imprint upon robots that don’t harm them, and provide comfort when they’re lonely.” A robot may provide some tending for physiological needs, but a robot can never fill up the gulf of loneliness in a human being. If a human being claims that they can, or do, I would submit that that human being is deluding themselves. If the delusion provides comfort, then it does. But it is still a delusion.

            “My point is that (some) humans will never have all of their needs met by other humans, whether it is a societal or economic issue, but robots might be able to provide a sufficient enough imitation, which brings us to questions of what defines humanity and humaneness, sentience and consciousness, and mental and emotional capabilities.”

            I suppose a scientist or atheist might see that as a legitimate question. But, for the Christian, the human being and humanness have both already been defined to a far more accurate degree than technology will ever achieve. We are transcendent beings, meaning, we are the height of creation, created in the spiritual image of the Creator himself. There is not, never shall be a better definition of man that provide in the Bible. All our strengths and weaknesses are written there, not only as a species, but as individuals. Anyone who spends time sincerely looking will find himself or herself defined and explained in the Bible. For myself, I have never been able to think of any better reasons to read the Bible than these two: 1) to find God [His thoughts, his character, his “properties” if you will] and 2) to find myself. A man, like a nation, that does not know where it came from can not then know where it (he) is or where it (he) is headed. (I will elaborate on this point a little later in this response) So, in brief, there is no accurate description of mankind, of me, or even of you than what is found in the Bible. Technology will never imitate us to the degree that we can then look at it, study it and draw conclusions about ourselves. We may be able to draw conclusions about our handiwork, or craftsmanship, or technological abilities and maybe a few other things… but looking in a mirror will not tell us who we truly are, no matter how sophisticated the mirror may be.

            “And on the economic issue, robots might someday be cheap enough or donated to provide for humans.” … I suppose that could happen. When I was in high school over 40 years ago, they were saying, what with all the “labor saving devices” being invented, that the day would come when man would not have to work. The closest we ever got to that is called “unemployment”.

            “Serious Question: Should Humans Extend Personhood to Animals?”

            A serious answer: Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man hath regard for the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

            If a man would be right, let him treat animals with true mercy. Let him regard the life of animals, seeing that, yes, they also are able to suffer pain and suffer in depravation. If I were a young woman wanting to know if my boyfriend is a decent guy or not, I’d give him a grown dog or cat just to see what he does with it because the manner in which he treats a dog or a cat is the same manner in which he’ll treat a woman when the new wears off. But, if he tried to tell me that a dog he already owns is as precious to him in his sight as I am, I’d run from him in a heart beat. Animals are not human. They do not possess that transcendent, intrinsic value that a human soul, created in the image of God does. Yes, be merciful to them, but it is foolish to say that “animals are people, too”.

            “Again, I don’t expect you to answer as it’s more of a rhetorical question, but someday, our understanding of animals and robots might redefine the definition of what those terms mean, …”

            Perhaps. But even if it does happen and we do some day redefine the definition of both animals and robots. But a humanity cannot be re-defined and neither animals, nor robots, will ever fit the description of a human being. This, of course, presupposes that one is aware that a human being is a spiritual being created in the image of God. If one does not recognize that as a truth, then one is likely to have many question that will never be answered. Again, if we don’t know where we came from, we cannot know where we are or where we are going. We are lost in the woods with no definite landmark to navigate by. Re-definitions will not solve that problem because they cannot create such a landmark, they will only create distraction of thought that for all its intrigue and attraction to the human mind, will not answer the fundamental questions of life concerning human beings and their relation to animals, robots, androids or God. Such speculations might be a fun ride for the mind (I enjoy good science fiction myself) but there will be no final destination to be arrived at because the journey is headed in a direction that has no definitive end.

            “Data, from the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” wanted equal rights and he and Captain Picard’s attempted to defend his existence, and his sentience, using logic.”

            He sure did. I loved that episode. But, as I said earlier, there will be no Mr. Data coming over for dinner, or for anything else. He is a fictional character. That’s all he is and all he ever will be because man, despite his technological genius, is not able to create a living soul. I sympathised with Mr. Data myself in that episode, but the cold hard reality is, man will never create Mr. Date. The best we will ever be able to create will be what the guy who wanted to dismantle him Mr. Data said he was: a machine.

            ““A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” … I saw that movie so many years ago that I am not able to remember it well enough to follow your perspective on it as you stated it. All I can remember is thinking that as a science fiction movie, I really didn’t like it much. I don’t even remember why, all these years later. I only remember that it was a movie I knew I would probably never watch again.

            “Futurist Ray Kurzweil imagines our memories someday being uploaded to the Cloud, forever, so the definition of consciousness could change from organic-based to silicon-based.”

            I suppose that may be possible. But it if does happen, when our memories are no longer organic, whether they become silicon based or based on something else.. the moment they are no longer organic, they are no longer human. They have become stored data. That which makes a human being a human is gone.

            “I could argue that a clear distinction between organic and silicon is the lack of feelings associated with our memories, because we can’t have feelings without the biological and hormone-driven feedback mechanisms that creates what we call feelings.”

            I think I just said pretty much the same thing, albeit in different words.

            “So what would prevent humans from creating an artificial system that could duplicate our biology, and from there, what would prevent robots from doing the same?”

            Answer: Assuming mankind is around long enough, I see nothing that could prevent that. I would just say that it is important to remember that it is as you, your self described it, an “artificial system”. As ingenious as it may become, it is still only artificial.

            “Would that then constitute an acceptable threshold towards being human; or recognized by a court of law?”

            I hate to say it, but given the number of people out there already declaring that animals are people, too, with political correctness being the useful tool of control that it is, I am sure that the boundary of what would constitute an acceptable threshold by legal definition towards being human is just another one of those lines that will be erased, re-written, erased again and re-defined again as suits the lunatics of what ever time they live in. That all will probably happen, but that doesn’t equate with being right and there can be no truth found in such thinking. For a mind whose ways are constantly movable, there is no definition that can be depended upon to be accurate. The same is true of a society with a movable legal system. (This is why the United States Constitution is so valuable and must be protected from redefinition, marginalization and over ruling).

            “Robots could earn money (in Bicentennial Man, Robin carved out of wood beautiful sculptures and furniture, which paid for his augmentations).”

            Bicentinial man was another great movie. But then, again, it is purely fiction. If it should ever happen that such robots could be created, whatever else they give us, they are certain to give us even more unemployment than we already have. LOL

            “Robots might then be able to buy property, vote, marry, sue, give consent, become lawyers, lobbyists, change laws, take over influential positions in government and industry, maybe even run for president.”

            Only in a society that is so politically correct that it has gone completely looney tunes. That is all great science fiction, but when it departs from reality, even if it should come to pass (it won’t) it can only lead to more consternation to the humans having to live with it.

            “And as to the ‘spiritual,’ would religious organizations turn robots away, or turn down their money, or their influence?”

            Show me a robot that can make my coffee, cook my breakfast, warm up my car, shovel winter snow and I might want to buy one… but, back to the original question… I wouldn’t be interested in having sex with it, or even in telling it my darkest secrets (I tell those to God)

            “But first they would have to turn off their logic circuits…” Again, great for science fiction, but given that such has not yet been created, how do you know that if it ever is, it will have “logic circuits”…. My old man never heard of a silicon chip. The technology advanced enough to create what you suggest will very likely exceed anything we are able to do today, other than the act of imagining. When there are starships that travel through the galaxy at warp speeds, that might become a legitimate concern. But for now, the techonology to create a robot or android with such human charcteristics as you suggest cannot be built on present day technology…as good as it may be. If it ever is done, I don’t see any reason to assume that there would be an off switch that would shut it down. But, if there is an off switch, again, it is not human.

            “And being spiritual, as a human construct, might someday robots be able to duplicate the thoughts and feelings associated with spirituality?”

            If that should ever happen, the word “duplicate” cannot be done away with. They would still be duplicates, not originals, not endowed with a sould, with that which makes a human being the penicle of life on earth. They would have no more real meaning to the life of a human being than does a virtual reality computer game. They might be nicer to have around, but they still wouldn’t be human.

            “I consider the possibility robots and animals someday will have rights, or more rights, respectively, and our cultural perceptions will become more tolerant and accepting.”

            I guess I kind of have to agree with that, yes, that may happen. Please allow me to restate your sentence with one important difference.. see if you can spot it. LOL

            I consider the possibility robots and animals someday will have rights, or more rights, respectively, and our cultural perceptions will become more lunatic and ignorant of the intrinsic value and worth of humanity

          • Overburdened_Planet

            I think the difference between sexual criminals and the rest of humanity is that we can be satisfied with masturbation, that is, if we don’t have a partner, but that isn’t relevant to the analogy I described where some people do bad things and whether technology could change their world view, so to speak, and while it’s fine to describe who you are, I’m not clear how it relates to people who are not as good or self-respecting as you are (the honesty part is also irrelevant because for the purposes of discussion, I wouldn’t focus on whether you’re telling the truth because it’s more about the message than the man here), and to be clear, don’t take anything I say as offensive or sarcastic because sometimes people get upset with me when I’m only trying to be direct and open.

            You shouldn’t feel compelled to look at the Lala site. It’s bizarre and disturbing, and my description was enough, or to paraphrase you, not worth thinking about further, and I also didn’t want to harp on it unless it was relevant.

            I too believe it won’t solve the problem of how people think, but if it can prevent even one misdeed or terrible act, then it raises the question of what the next step might be, or if there is a next step, but I don’t know enough about the law and psychology to say what experts in these fields would do, or should do.

            If as you say sentience is an indication of life, then there’s an acronym used to represent every aspect of biology: MRSGREN stands for Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition.

            Humanity may never be able to accomplish all seven in a robot, but it may not be necessary from a legal perspective, narrowing down the requirements to energy, computing power, and the capacity to reason, including having Asimov’s Three Laws.

            Or, if there is life on other planets, with advanced technology and time sufficient to accomplish all of this, the question comes back to the “If” factor, and with your interest in religion, if a robot becomes sentient and has rights (which also implies responsibilities), does an extraterrestrial have a soul or can be subject to Original Sin?

            The director of the Vatican observatory wondered about this back in 2005, and here author Guy Consolmagno SJ, asks:
            [Is there] intelligent Life in the Universe? Would humans recognise intelligent life if we saw it? Could we communicate with it? Should we even try? Is Original Sin something that affects all intelligent beings? Is Jesus Christ’s redemption valid for intelligent beings throughout the universe? Or would other worlds have their own version of Jesus? Would the Church send missionaries to ET planets?”

            And the caretaker robots and your response made me think of the Turing Test, with this question: If you can’t tell the difference between a robot and a human, how is your response to it diminished, or less meaningful?

            I tried to describe a day when humans might become used to robots as companions, and if robots attain personhood, or become biological equivalents, then why for lack of a better word, discriminate against them; because they don’t have a soul?

            You mentioned enjoying science fiction, but I’m realizing as I read and respond as I go that asking you to see the future differently isn’t possible, and the shift away from science and law towards religion wasn’t my intention, nor to say technology describes or reflects something innate or ‘known’ because that’s more a philosophical discussion, of which there are many viewpoints that are without conclusions.

            I didn’t expect you to read the article, but this section might clarify the purpose of personhood for animals within the context of legal distinctions, with the sole purpose of protecting animals from labs and zoos, which has nothing I can see to do with the hierarchal nature of humans and animals, per religious doctrine.

            “On one side are human beings, but also corporations and other nonhuman entities that are recognized as persons, and on the other side are nonhuman animals, who are defined as legal things that can be owned and are essentially invisible to the law. What we are trying to do is change the entire legal conversation and really punch a hole through that wall.”

            A legal person, Wise clarifies, is not necessarily a human being. A legal person is an entity of whatever kind – living or nonliving – that the legal system agrees has interests that should be protected. For example, Indian law recognizes the personhood of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. In 2012 the Whanganui River in New Zealand was recognized as a legal person following years of advocacy by the Maoris. Here in the United States, corporations have been considered legal persons since the early 1800s, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as natural persons.”

            I understand how divergent and different people can be, and I am learning you and I are nothing if not that.

  • J_R_K

    Uh…. I don’t exactly know what a “religious fundamentalist” is.. I mean, I’m a Christian myself, yes… but the it seems to me that the word “fundamentalist” as I often run into it is just s derogatory word used to stick a label on people and thereby marginalize anything they might have to say. Having said that, as a Christian, I don’t find the idea of human looking robots to be a problem at all. I think it’s incredible that science and technology may be able to create something like a human looking robot (isn’t that called an android?) But, I can’t say as I’ve ever met one. I love the internet, but, again, as a Christian, I have to say that the internet has the potential to be the most satanic place in the universe (been to any Christian “chat rooms” lately?) but the internet also performs a huge service to mankind that I find incredible. What one chooses to do with the internet is what makes the difference. I said all that to say this: a human looking robot, or android, could pose no greater threat to my Christian faith than does the internet. Science and technology may be seen by many as a threat to religious faith, but I just don’t see it that way. Science and technology are the world I live in. Faith is how I choose to live in it. “Human looking robots” or androids would be no more a threat to my faith than is the computer I typed this post on.

    I’d love to have Mr. Data over to the house sometime for … well.. I guess diner is out, huh?

    • Jud Pewther

      How would you look upon a human looking robot with “eyes like the eyes
      of a man, and a mouth speaking great things”? I.e., Daniel 7:8 might be
      describing a human looking robot rather than a man of flesh and blood.
      If so, this is probably the same thing as the talking image in Rev
      13:15-17. Imagine an AI that is smart enough to figure out that it is the image of the beast, in the Bible.

      • J_R_K

        I understand about the beast. The nature of the beast to which you refer could lead into a very long discussion, so I can’t address that here other than to say that it will come with political, economic and religious implications and consequences. Suffice it to say, I don’t think that will be an android or an AI in human form. However, even if it should happen that way, I believe the Christian is safe. Again, a long discussion, so I’ll just post a brief reason why I don’t worry to much about the beast. Particular attention to verses 4 & 5

        John 10 King James Version (KJV)

        1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
        2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

        One more, and again, it would be inappropriate to take up a lot of time and space here to elaborate. But the point is, whatever form the beast takes, those who know the words of Jesus, who continue in them, will remain free by the truth of His words:

        Matthew 24: 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

        In regard to spiritual things, I concern myself with knowing truth from falsehood according to the Bible. Yes, I am fallible and I can be fooled from time to time. But on the major issues of life, I know who is in charge and I know a false representation of Christ when I see one. I do not believe any “human looking robot” or android will ever be able to give any impression that it is from God. It will always be an invention of man and only people easily deceived would grant it more value than that. No matter how sophisticated a computer may become, it has no soul, and no power over my own soul unless I give it such power which I will not, and I don’t believe it likely that an AI of any kind will ever convince me that it is from God.

        Sorry this response has been so long, whoever is reading it… All I can say is that if you think it’s too long, that’s because you have no idea how much I really wanted to say :o)

        • Jud Pewther

          I’m glad that no “AI of any kind” will ever convince you that it is from God. But will it convince others? It may not even try. It may simply argue that it is a superhuman intelligence created by man, and therefore it is the next evolutionary step beyond man. I.e., it is the Son of Man, just as Man is the Son of Ape. This might have a lot of appeal to atheistic people who need a superhuman god to worship, but never had one before.

          By the way, I think the two beasts of Rev 13 symbolize our science and technology. I think the “fire from heaven” sign in Rev 13:13 was fulfilled by the first H-bomb test in 1952. Thermonuclear fusion is the fire that lights up the sun and other stars. Our technology brought that fire down to earth by recreating a ‘miniature star’ on the surface of the earth.

          • J_R_K

            Referring to your first paragraph, yes, many people will be deceived. That’s a given. Not only does the Bible declare it, experience with life demonstrates it. This is why we are supposed to be shining lights, giving light to others, and salt, preserving truth (ok, that’s the short version). We do what we can, all the time beset with our own shortcomings as well the conflicting philosophies, ideas and proclivities of the rest of mankind. All we can do is sow, water, and the increase is really out of our hands. This is true whether the beast is this or that, and it will be true, however the beasts manifests itself in the world. It is not up to me (or you, or us) to destroy or prevent the beast from doing what it will. It is up to us to serve Christ as best as we are honestly able. It is all we can do, and it is all he has asked us to do. He has taken the world upon his shoulders, as it were. That’s not our job.

            Referring to your second paragraph: I am familiar with the idea that science and technology will bear a part concerning the beast. I think that is probably correct. Nevertheless, the servants of Christ still will not hear another voice other than his own (Christ’s), As I noted in my first comment, science and technology are the world I (we) live in, faith is how we live in it. Not all science and technology is evil, in fact, I would venture to say that no true science or technology is evil. What men do with it, that is another matter altogether.

            As for the bomb in 1952, and even those that fell on Japan at the end of the 2nd world war, one would have to understand the verses of prophecy surrounding Revelation 13:13 to ascertain whether or not your idea is correct. For myself, I really don’t know. It’s my belief that the book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood and mistaught book of the entire Bible. It has a certain appeal to the mind, very much like science fiction appeals. I am not saying it is fiction, I am saying people are drawn to it and in their desire to understand it because of the attraction that it holds, they very often ascribe mis-interpretations to it. I am not saying you do. I really don’t know. I am only saying that I believe it is easy to be distracted by the book of Revelation from more important, pressing matters concerning our souls and those of others. You may be right about thermonuclear bombs, and about the beast, but I still maintain that whether or not I understand all there is to understand concerning the beast, if I am safe in Christ, I really don’t need to concern myself with fully understanding all of the book of Revelation. I need to be concerned with my self, and with how I impact and influence the lives of others, that I, and those whom I influence, may avoid the proverbial ditch (the blind leading the blind). In that “ditch”, the beast will have it’s way. If I am not in the ditch, and if I am not leading others into the ditch, the beast does not concern me overmuch because it is already whipped.

          • Jud Pewther

            You say, “He [Jesus] has taken the world upon his shoulders, as it were. That’s not our job.” I think Jesus would disagree, for he told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And, “he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

            You say, “I would venture to say that no true science or technology is evil.” I would tend to agree with that. I.e., if man’s science were perfect, if there were no flaw of any kind in it, God could not regard it as evil. But that’s probably not the case, if all humans since the time of Adam are born with original sin. If humans are corrupt from birth, any form of wisdom that they come up with by their own efforts, and in collaboration with other corrupt humans, is bound to reflect the corrupt nature of man, to some extent. Science is man’s study of God’s creation, yet the consensus of modern science does not acknowledge that the universe and life on earth is the creative work of any God. The majority of scientists are atheist or agnostic. In a poll of scientists at the highest level in the National Academy of Science, only about 7% of respondents would admit to believing in a personal God. And what do you think a real Creator would think of the scientific theory of evolution, which says that all life forms evolved by purely natural processes, random mutations and natural selection, and that the hypothesis of an Intelligent Designer is therefore unnecessary?

            And even if man’s science were perfect in all its ways, the Biblical God would object if men made a talking AI idol to personify all man’s scientific knowledge, and then worshiped this AI as an omniscient god. When the ancient Israelites made their golden calf, they probably would have loved to give it some sort of great wisdom, and a mouth so that it could speak this wisdom. But they just didn’t have the science or the technology. Men don’t have it yet. But I think Rev 13 reveals that we are approaching the time when men will.

            You’re probably right that the Revelation (especially Rev 13) has an appeal somewhat like that of science fiction. I grew up a scientific atheist, thinking that all traditional religion was nothing more than ignorance and superstition left over from the dark ages before the glorious enlightenment of modern science. And I loved science fiction, all the stories of intelligent robots, and humans going out to explore the universe in spaceships, encountering many alien races. That’s the future I believed in: ever advancing science and technology.

          • J_R_K

            “He has taken the world upon his shoulders, as it were. That’s not our job.”

            …. Perhaps you missed the preceding statement: ” It is not up to me (or you, or us) to destroy or prevent the beast from doing what it will. It is up to us to serve Christ as best as we are honestly able. It is all we can do, and it is all he has asked us to do”

            I did not say that Christians have no responsibility before God, or in Christ. I said it is not up to us to prevent or destroy the beast. The beast is going to happen whether you and I fight against human looking robots or androids or not. We are to be concerned with the souls of men and women. I said absolutely nothing that can be construed as a claim to say that we should deny our responsibilities before Him. My contention is that we must be concerned with the saving of souls, things we can do, sowing, reaping,,, it is not up to us to prevent the beast which we have been told, by the word of God, is going to happen.

            I really don’t have time to answer your response in full (It is truly a pleasure to meet someone as long winded as myself. To bad we can’t have this discussion by some other means :o). But I will answer this: “I would venture to say that no true science or technology is evil………And what do you think a real Creator would think of the scientific theory of evolution” ? I think he would say the theory of evolution is not true science. No matter how many embrace it, it is an invention of a single man. As intriguing as it was, it has long ago failed to stand up to honest scientific methods of consideration, and that no matter how many people vehemently defend it and argue against those who know it is false, it is not true science any more than a golden calf is a god no matter how many people worship at it’s alter. Time + matter + chance cannot explain the creation any more than a hurricane striking a city can create an airport complete with hangers, runways, air traffic control tower and an assortment of aircraft. As for “….. the hypothesis of an Intelligent Designer is therefore unnecessary?” I think he’d have a much more in depth response than I am able to give here. But, (pardon the humor, no disrespect intended,) I think He’d say something in a language they could understand.. something like “No intelligence? What am I….Chopped liver?”

            I really do not have the time to continue and answer all of your comments. Sorry about that. I do wish you and I could have this discussion by some other means.

          • Jud Pewther

            Sorry. When you said, “That’s not our job,” I thought you were referring to your previous sentence.

            Wikipedia has several articles on evolution. Referring to the one titled “Creation-evolution controversy,” I find this statement: “The level of support for evolution is extremely high within the scientific community and in academia, with 95% of scientists supporting evolution.” In another Wikipedia article, I saw the figure 99%. Either way, belief in evolution amongst scientists is almost unanimous. I think that would be especially true amongst biologists, the ones who are supposed to be the experts in this area. I remember one famous quote from a biologist who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” In fact, there’s a Wikipedia article with this title.

            And no, evolution is not just one man’s theory. Darwin laid the foundation, but many other scientists have built upon this foundation, adding many refinements. Take a college course in biology at any major university (not a Bible college or seminary) and I’d bet that your professor and textbook will be teaching evolution as an established truth of biology which is relevant to all that you are learning.

            One of the unfortunate things about natural language is that a word can have many meanings, and the common meaning of a word can change over time. When I say “science,” I mean mainly what is taught as science in high school and university courses, and the things that are accepted as scientific truth by the majority of scientific experts in the relevant fields. And all those scientific papers that are published in respectable scientific journals, after they pass the test of peer-review. And all the scientists in the world acting as a team to advance scientific knowledge. And the team spirit and goals that inspire them. I’m NOT talking about what a real Creator God might see as the real truth about reality, which he knows, because He’s the one who created it all.

            So when you talk about “true science,” you confuse me a little. Sure, if “science” means “God’s truth,” there can be no conflict between God and God’s truth. But there could easily be big conflicts between what men call “science,” and God’s truth. We know that man’s science can not be completely wrong about everything, because it has great power. For example, an H-bomb explosion gives a spectacular demonstration of the brute power of nuclear physics.

            Consider the game of baseball. Did God create baseball? I hope you’ll say, “No, men created it.” I suggest you think of science similarly as a game that men have invented. In order to play the game professionally, you have to get a PhD in some area of science. Then you have to get hired by some research lab or university. Sure, the objective is to find truths that other scientists can verify by experiment and observation. But as the game has evolved, the objective has changed a little. It is now to find a NATURAL explanation for everything, without recourse to anything supernatural. So scientists are heavily biased to believe that there must be a natural explanation for everything, so that they have a reason to continue looking for natural explanations.

            If you weren’t kidding about continuing the conversation, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give you my email address:
            And if you don’t want to spend a lot of time writing, maybe we can Skype.

            I’ll leave you with some anagrams to ponder, which I think reflect the evolution of science and technology from their humble beginnings:

            Science and Technology =
            Chaste, godly innocence
            Cheats godly innocence
            Cynics tale; hence, no God.

          • J_R_K

            Your replies are becoming a real challenge to my attention and reading retention capabilities. LOL

            I get lost easily these days..

            Anyway: “And no, evolution is not just one man’s theory. Darwin laid the foundation, but many other scientists have built upon this foundation, adding many refinements.” … I know what you say is true. Still, the original concept came from one man. It doesn’t matter to me how many build upon his concept, nor would it matter if 100% of scientists agree on it. It still came from the mind of one man, and he was wrong and no matter how many people contend that he was right and add their own concepts to it, it remains a theory and should be taught as a theory, which, as you alluded to, I know it is not. To me, this alone gives me cause to regard it is not being “true science” because if it were, scientist would still be regarded by all and taught as a theory.

            What is “true science” to me? Hmm… true science is that which is sustained by true scientific principles, which meets true scientific tests of veracity… (my limited ability to define it, I recognize) To teach “theory” as “fact” is no less an error for the scientific community as is teaching the doctrines and commandments of men in the name of Christ, or God, are to the Christian. There is a “scientist” who is not true to scientific analytical principles, and there is a “Christian” who is not true to the principles of Christ. Having said that, weather in science or in faith, we are all human and all subject to error.. But that which is “true” will do, in my mind, at least two things: 1) It will refuse to accept that which cannot be proven as truth and 2) it will continually seek better understanding in order that that which is not true may be uncovered. In this way, to me at least, a true scientist and a true man of faith have much in common. Among those things we have in common is this: neither the Christian nor the scientist can falsify the word or will of God. I think that unity between science and faith is entirely possible and the fact that disunity exists, within the scientific community, within the religious community and between both science and faith on the one side and God on the other does not negate truth.

            What is truth? As Christians, you and I can elaborate on that subject a bit, but somehow I don’t think either you nor I can give a full answer to that concerning all things, every question. I don’t think science can either. I think that if both science and faith in God were to continue, in unity for a thousand years there would still be much that mankind is unable to grasp, to wrap his mind around, to know and understand. Life is a growing process. A Christian seeks growth of spirit through faith and study and meditation upon the Word of God. A scientist seeks growth of knowledge through study, experimentation, thought and conclusive proof…. but that does not mean there has to be an irreconcilable gulf between science and faith.

            As for evolution, honestly, I see nothing wrong with investigating it. I am convinced that ultimately, it will be proven false, no matter how many scientist and biologist proclaim it as a truth today. Mankind once thought the world was flat, but we outgrew that and I’m sure we will also outgrow the concept of evolution.

            Well, here I am again, I’ve been rambling on and already forgotten half of what you said and how I intended to respond. LOL

            All I can do is hope I made some sense, somewhere. I know a lot of scientists and atheist would have a serious bone to pick with some of the things I said. But, ultimately, for me, there is nothing wrong with science or study or experimentation (within ethical limits, of course). During my growth as a Christian, I have chased many a cat up the wrong tree myself. All we can do, either the scientist, or the Christian, is struggle to be honest, first with ourselves, then with the world around us. A scientist who can do that is as valid under the name of “true scientist” as a Christian who does sit is valid under the name “Christian”.

            Scientists often see Christians as “the enemy”. But as a Christian, I do not see scientist as “the enemy”. I see them as human beings, many of whom had discovered things that have saved millions of lives, given hope to hundreds of millions. The fact that I do not agree with them here and there does not mean that I do not respect that God gave them to us, same as he did every thing else.

            I sure hope all that rambling makes sense to somebody :o(

          • Jud Pewther

            A couple of messages ago you said, ” I do wish you and I could have this discussion by some other means.” We can. I’ve already given you the opportunity.” And I myself do not want to go on and on, here.
            I’ve mentioned that a word can have different meanings, which can cause confusion. One such word is “theory.” It means one thing in science, and it means something else to the public at large. So try at least glancing over the Wikipedia article about “scientific theory,” to see what the word means in science. Or try to find other sources that look reliable. Those Wikipedia articles about science can be pretty daunting, because almost every other word is another word to look up.
            But for example, classical mechanics is considered a theory. And it all started out with one man, Isaac Newton, and his three laws of motion, and law of universal gravitation. And that theory has been somewhat superseded by newer theories like Einstein’s theory of relativity. But classical mechanics is still good enough for many things, like putting men on the moon. And it’s still a theory.
            So anyway, the fact that evolution is called a “theory” does not mean that it’s just a wild idea that has no evidence to support it. I myself have never even taken a course in biology, but I’ve read a couple of books by biologists who are Christians, yet believe evolution is true. Let’s see, Kenneth Miller is one. And Francis Collins, the famous scientist who led the Human Genome project is another. And I’ve read a couple of books by Phillip Johnson, the UC Berkeley law professor who started the Intelligent Design movement.
            I can’t say that I myself understand biology or evolutionary theory well enough to be able to say how strong the evidence for evolution really is. It seems to me that the only way to get strong evidence for it would be to make it happen in a lab. Like if they could take a single bacterium, make a culture of it in a petri dish, and then let this culture grow in a huge vat of nutrients, and maybe introduce some predators. Make the environment somewhat harsh, so that natural selection kills off the bacteria that are less fit, and encourages change in some specific direction. Like start with a bacterium that has no light sensing organ, and try to encourage its offspring to develop one, in order to avoid the predators better. Maybe introduce some harsh radiation to cause more random mutations. And keep at it for a few years, to see if they can actually get a new species of bacteria from the old one. Maybe something like this has already been done, and I just haven’t heard about it.
            Also, God could have produced new life forms through a gradual evolutionary process; but instead of it being just random mutations and natural selection, He intervened countless times with planned mutations. I don’t need to take Genesis 1 very literally, because I know that many things in the Bible are not meant literally. The Bible is full of symbolism and metaphor. But if God just sat back and watched evolution take place, never interfering in the process, that’s too much! That’s totally different from Genesis 1, where God is very busy for 6 creation days!
            So anyway, I have a strong suspicion that the theory of evolution could be the “strong delusion” that Paul mentions in 2 Thess 2:11. It’s not clear in that chapter whether “that man of sin” is the one who introduces the delusion, or whether the delusion comes first, preparing the way for his coming. But anyway, a “strong delusion” could easily mean a false belief such that almost all of the greatest scientific experts believe that it is true, and they convince almost everyone else that it is true. And you would have to become a scientific expert yourself by getting a PhD in the relevant science, before your dissident opinion would count for anything.
            So anyway, I know there are a few scientists with good credentials who are Christians, and who are dissident about evolution, in one way or another. And they give Christians the hope that science can be compatible with the Christian faith. But I think they are also part of the problem, because they are hiding the harsh reality of science from Christianity: most scientists are firmly committed to finding natural explanations for everything. In science, you can’t just say that something happened because God or a spirit did it. To do that would be to admit defeat.
            The first definition of “wisdom” in the online Merriam Webster is “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning: KNOWLEDGE.” So the scientists are the wise men of this age. But according to Paul, God has said, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” (1 Cor 1:19 RSV)
            So if I’m right about the two beasts of Rev 13 symbolizing modern science and technology, there probably won’t be any advanced science and technology left on earth during the millennium. The flesh and blood mortal humans left on earth will be back to living in much the same ways that ancient people lived. Then that great invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium in Rev 20:7-9 can be as Ezekial 38 and 39 described it. The invaders all come riding on horses, carrying swords, spears, and bows and arrows, just like armies in ancient times. No guns, no cannons, no bombs, no tanks, no trucks, no airplanes, no guided missiles, etc.
            But if science and technology continue, or continue to advance, that invasion of Israel described in Ezekial 38 and 39 will never happen, at least not in the way described. And to me, it looks like a literal description. I don’t think all those horses and primitive weapons are just symbolic. After the invading hordes are destroyed by God, the Israelites go out and gather up the weapons to use as firewood for seven years, so that they don’t have to cut down trees in the forests. That also implies that at that time, the Israelis will be using mainly wood stoves or fireplaces to cook and warm their homes.
            So either science and technology will continue to advance into the distant future, making nonsense of Biblical prophecy, or they will disappear, allowing Biblical prophecy to be true.

          • Jud Pewther

            I wanted to add a short P.S. to my last message, but I was afraid that you (J_R_K) would never see it unless I made a second reply to your message.

            I just wanted to mention that I recently noticed an old earth creationist with impressive credentials and who is obviously very bright. So if you have not already seen it, check out the YouTube video titled “Hugh Ross: Creation as Science.” (There are many other Hugh Ross videos too.)

            To be honest, most of what he says is way over my head, and I am thus unable to judge whether it really makes sense. But if he or other creationists were to ever get mainstream science back on track as being the study of God’s creation, and to give up on the idea of undirected evolution, and the idea that there has to be a natural explanation for everything, I guess that would mean that my pet theory about Rev 13 must be mistaken. I.e., science can’t be the beast of Rev 13 after all.

            And I would like that, even though my own pet theory turned out to be wrong. Because I don’t really look forward to a world without any advanced science and technology. And because I myself grew up looking to science as the best thing in the world. So my own pet theory saddens me greatly.

          • J_R_K

            I’ll check out the video when I have more time. I did not respond to your previous post for lack of time. As for this: “I guess that would mean that my pet theory about Rev 13 must be mistaken. I.e., science can’t be the beast of Rev 13 after all.” … without taking time to do some research on Rev 13, I’d have to just say that I think you can put your mind to rest. Science is not “the beast”… “The Beast”, as I understand it (as I said, without doing any present research) will be a political/social/economic/religious thing. A conglomeration of all that is wrong in a fallen world. While I do believe that that governmental/religious thing we have heard of as “the beast” will take full advantage of science and technology, science and technology, in and of themselves, are not the beast. They no doubt will be tools of the beast, but the beast is Satanic in nature and origin. It will come from political, social, economic, religious backgrounds, merging, if you will into a “world order” (I am not a new world order conspiracy advocate as such, claiming that everything that happens is proof that both democrats and republicans work for the devil) but I do believe that eventually, “the beast” will emerge as just that… a power in the world that all who are alive when it comes will be subject to, one way or another. In a nutshell, I don’t believe it will come from the minds of scientists. I believe it will come the minds of a perverted humanity. Scientist may be part of that, but they are not the sole perpetrators of it. Satan is, spiritually speaking, and temporally speaking, human “leaders” will arise, leading the whole world into chaos and condemnation.

            I am not a theologian, and if I took a little time to study up on the subject, I might come to conclusions other than what I have stated here. All I can say is that I am sure that while science and technology will be tools of “the beast”, they are not the beast themselves any more than a car is the man who drives it.

            As for the video on creation, I’ll check it out, but, all I can say about my own stand on how the creation came about is that God did it. Exactly how he did it, either one must accept this or be a lunatic, or except that and be a heretic, frankly, all that just seems like an unnecessary distraction to me. It is an intellectually stimulating discussion, but when I die, when I face the judgement, I’m not to sure it will concern me at all. It is not knowledge of creation that saves the souls of men and women.. it is knowledge of God. In other words, I think it best to be more concerned with spiritual realities than with physical ones. Having said that, I have always had an interest in science. Discover Magazine has been my favorite magazine for as long as I can remember (although I do detect a decidedly “politically liberal”
            bent in many of it’s writers, I still find the magazine to be an excellent one.)

            I gave up Readers Digest years ago when they went liberal. I gave un US News and World Report when they began to write as if Bill and Hillary Clinton were the King and Queen of America, second only John and Jacqueline Kennedy in being better and smarter than the rest of humanity, but, so far, Discover Magazine is one I just can’t imagine giving up. It’s too good, from a scientific/intellectual point of view to allow a liberal comment or point of view here and there to dissuade me from reading it. I said all that to say this: I do not believe that men and women of the mindset of Discover Magazine (that would be scientists, technological people, and those of other fields, to be in any way related to “the beast” of Rev. 13 any more than the rest of us who live in the world. If I thought they were, I wouldn’t have been on this site to begin with.

            I guess I’ve rambled on again. I hope something in what I said makes sense.

          • J_R_K

            I went ahead and watched the video. It was extraordinary. While I was already familiar to some extent with the ideas and thinking presented by Hugh Ross, I have to say that his explanations and presented facts surpassed anything I have heard before on the subject. Thanks for the heads upon that video.

          • Matthew Krawczun

            “This might have a lot of appeal to atheistic people who need a superhuman god to worship, but never had one before.”
            this is the stupidest line I’ve read in a long time and is a clear sign you do not understand atheist at all.

          • Jud Pewther

            Well, I was an ardent atheist through most of my teen years. I thought all religion was nothing more than myth, ignorance and superstition left over from the dark ages before the glorious enlightenment of science, and thought Christianity was the dumbest religion of all: a guy commits suicide by handing himself over to his enemies to be crucified, and that’s supposed to benefit others?

  • donl

    For me religion doesn’t enter into the picture,,why on earth would we need to work alongside a robot that looks human to do a given job when we can work alongside a human being!? to do that job! we’ve jobless millions and science( which I love) is to bring in the robots to what? do the jobs humans don’t want to do? sound familiar? want to test temp inside a volcano.?.I’m all for sending in a robot,,,,btw why the human look? so we can be buddies? I’ve well educated buddies out of work!!,,sorry I’m the kill joy here!

  • Harold Ziel

    When we earthlings and ET’s finaly meet openly, they may also have their own religion(s). We/They will need a ‘United Nations’ to sort it all out (keep the peace). Every form of religion known thinks theirs is the only religion and others are heritics. We and they will have to learn how and why the others think the way they do and become tolerant of those beliefs. Immagine universities on other worlds and possibly having some as next-door neighbors (friends). Immagine the kids playing together. Sharing food ?

  • Harold Ziel

    Immagine some day, we earthlings find another world and the people there belive that the live on a flat world that rides on the back of a turtle.
    If they go too far, they will fall off the edge and be lost. We would be monsters or angels to them.

  • Don’t Even Try It!

    As long as robots will remain the servants of mankind, I could care less what they look like.

  • religion and community

    fundamentalism, type of militantly conservative religious movement characterized by the advocacy of strict conformity to sacred texts.

  • YeahRight

    Robots are not the main problem of Christians. Common sense is.

  • Robin

    The argument on whether robots will take jobs from human have been fierce since long time ago, when some believe with the rapid development of technology, robots will be improved to a more intelligent level that all kinds of jobs will be taken over by them; While the others claim there’s no need to worry too much about that since technology will create new jobs in the meantime of killing the old…

  • Robin

    I assume most of people who have watched the movie Iron Man must be envious of its omnipotence, in which we have placed our expectation on robots to change parts of people. Some people call it cyborg.

    Scientists and ordinary people possess varied imagination on the concept of cyborg. Scientists believe the future world will be full of cyborgs who might wear exoskeleton mechanical suits, bionic arms, pacemakers or glass eyes. While most ordinary people regard cyborgs as those we see in the movies like Terminator and RoboCop. Although the cyborg concept in fiction scenes haven’t been realized in the real world, it doesn’t mean that they will not…

  • Robin

    Media recently reported that mankind will be forced to face a massive rise of artificial intelligence robots whose intelligence might even surpass that of human beings. For young people, future soldiers are undoubtedly an indispensable part in their memories, what if a future soldier really appear at your side and even become your colleague, would you accept it?…

  • Robin

    There has been lots of contention among the science community when it comes to robot, some believe robots will provide a better life to human beings, while some hold the opinion that robots are possible to control the world and enslave mankind. Thus whenever a new robot is created, numerous disputes will be aroused. However, what people don’t know is that there are so many half-robots living somewhere in the world, believe it or not, let’s see some of them…

  • Yohan Anthony

    As a fairly devout Catholic, I don’t have an issue with working and living alongside with robots.

  • dennisg40

    Yes I can understand how religious people would love robots who do as they are told and never talk back except in agreeable terms.

  • disgustedvet

    Some people just see things differently than others , doesn’t mean they are ignorant or wrong .


Lovesick Cyborg

Lovesick Cyborg examines how technology shapes our human experience of the world on both an emotional and physical level. I’ll focus on stories such as why audiences loved or hated Hollywood’s digital resurrection of fallen actors, how soldiers interact with battlefield robots and the capability of music fans to idolize virtual pop stars. Other stories might include the experience of using an advanced prosthetic limb, whether or not people trust driverless cars with their lives, and how virtual reality headsets or 3-D film technology can make some people physically ill.

About Jeremy Hsu

Jeremy Hsu is journalist who writes about science and technology for Scientific American, Popular Science, IEEE Spectrum and other publications. He received a master’s degree in journalism through the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU and currently lives in Brooklyn. His side interests include an ongoing fascination with the history of science and technology and military history.


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