Sunday, May 21, 2023


In the mid 1800’s, Charles Darwin published his controversial book on evolution, On the Origin of Species. It was controversial at the time, and it remains controversial today, at least in some circles. However, one of those circles where it is not controversial is in academia. In most educational institutions, the theory of evolution is taught, or at least heavily implied, as being not merely theoretical, but as scientific fact.

The implications of these teachings are many, but the end of it all is coming to the inevitable conclusion that there is nothing special about us as people—that we, as men and women and boys and girls have no exceptional place above any other part of our world. Evolutionary thinking will lead us to believe that we are not a special creation by God. We must come to the inescapable determination that we are actually no different than any animal. We may have had the fortune to evolve in certain ways that other animals did not, but we are not loved by a creator God. We are ruled merely by instinct and random chance.

With this thinking, our value as humans is diminished. This will eventually lead to and will be replaced by a certain despair. We are merely animals.

Diminished in the Womb

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute banning abortion, effectively legalizing the procedure across the United States. The effects of that ruling have been that almost 65,000,000 legal abortions have taken place in the United States.[1]

At the time that this ruling by the Supreme Court was passed fifty years ago, many people were somehow able to convince themselves that the baby in the womb was less than human—that it was merely a “blob of tissue,” and that by removing it, they were not taking a human life.

Since that time however, with the advancement of medical testing equipment, we are now able to peer into the very womb of the mother and observe these tiny children as they develop. We can watch them suck their thumbs and playfully tumble around in their little homes of their mother’s wombs.

Nonetheless, in the minds of many, the decision had already been made that the happiness and life goals of the mother are more important than those of the baby’s. If, for any reason, the mother decides to terminate the life of the baby, she should be allowed to do so.

Those who take this view refuse to “believe the science” of modern medical equipment. They still manage to convince themselves that they are not murdering a baby. And after all, it really does not matter anyway, since the baby’s life has become meaningless. The baby has no rights, including no right to life.

This type of thinking actually follows that pattern begun in the mid 1800’s with thoughts of evolution. We are merely animals.  Why is taking the life of a baby who is interrupting our happiness and goals any different than taking the life of a mouse that is getting into our cupboards and messing up our kitchens? They are all interrupting our lives.

Our worth as men and women and boys and girls has been yet further diminished. In the eyes of our society, not only are we mere animals, but we have now learned that our lives are of no special value over other animals.

Step-by-step, we have forgotten that God created us not mere animals. We are a special creation, made in the very “image of our Creator God.”

But for those who have come to accept that we are not individually designed by a creator God, and that our lives in the womb of our mothers are of no special value, then our existence has no real purpose above what we ourselves can give it. We may have been fortunate to have survived the “natural selection” of evolution, and we have survived the nine months of gestation without being killed, but all of this has been mere random chance. If all has happened by chance, there is no design or true meaning in it all. There is no purpose, no fulfillment in life.

We are left searching. If we have come to believe that we are not loved by God and that we have not been designed by a Creator, we then are left to look for our own type of fulfillment. Since we have come to disbelieve that we are a special creation by God, and that he created us “male and female,” we are left to make our own rules. Hence the rise of homosexuality and transgenderism in our society.

Diminished in our Sexuality

In the beginning, there was “M” and “F.” But our society has thrown off the old notion that we are created by God. We have concluded that sexuality is not something that has been designed in a very specific way, but it is something that is evolving. We learned in the mid 1800’s that everything is evolving. Then, in 1973, we also learned that we are left to create our own reality in a way that gives us fulfillment. If the baby in our collective womb is in the way of our own fulfillment, then we are free to eliminate it.

What the word of God says on these matters no longer is important. We have taken for ourselves the liberty of creating our own reality.

Thus, there is no longer only male and female, not only an “M” and an “F,” but an entire alphabet soup of genders. It began as only homosexuality, but now includes all types of behavior. Some people today even preferring to see themselves as not human, but rather choosing to identify as another species—a cat or a fox, for example.

We have forgotten that God first created the animals, but then in a separate act of creation, He created man and woman in His own image. Whatever else that phrase may mean, it certainly means that we as humans are a special creation, created to bring God glory.

Instead, through the years, and especially in these past years, we have continued to take away from the glory that we were meant to demonstrate. We have continued to debase our dignity and self-worth. It can be seen in the suicide rates and mindless mass murders. All of this “broad-minded thinking” and accepting of deviant behavior has not made us feel better about ourselves or about others. It has instead led to a society in rapid decline.

So far, in the three steps that I have mentioned—evolution, the murder of innocents, and aberrant sexual behavior, all of these have attacked the corporeal aspect of who we are as humans. Each has diminished who we are in our bodies. Each has cheapened us in a physical sense. As society at large has come to accept the thinking behind these three practices, our status as the unique creation of God has been progressively lessened.

All of these steps are those that have arisen out of our fallen state of mind. They are not of God’s original design. They are not a result of living in truth, but are instead artificial or counterfeit ideas that have been introduced into our society.

There are other steps other than these three, but these are the three that seem especially significant to me. Each in its own way, has degraded the meaning of what it means to be a person. And now, something new has come onto the scene.

The Most Recent Artificial Idea

We now have a fourth artificial and destructive idea. This has come into our lives especially in the past six months or so, although it has been in development for some years. The latest artificial idea that has come into our culture is that of the aptly named “artificial intelligence,” commonly known simply as AI.

Artificial Intelligence is more than an advanced computing device used to solve complex mathematical problems. It is being developed to “think” more like we do as humans. AI now has the capability to teach itself, use logic and reason, and to create literary works. These are all actions that were once considered unique only to humans, but they are now being done digitally by machine.

AI is only in its fourth generation of development, but it already can write books and poetry that are the equivalent to some of our best historical writers. University students can use it to compose their term papers. AI can also compose music, complete with lyrics.

The Rise of Technology

This fourth step in dehumanizing us is even more pernicious than the previous three. One cannot say that AI is evil, and I am not against technology. I drive a car. I use a computer.

And one cannot stop technological advances. Because we as humans have been created in the image of God, we also have the desire to create and to innovate. It is part of our nature.

But the effects of the rise of technology have a mixed history. Job elimination for workers is part of this history. One of the most famous and perhaps the most obvious example of this is the Luddites of 19th century England, about 200 years ago. With the innovation of more advanced machinery for making textiles, many textile workers lost their means of livelihood because the factories required fewer workers to weave their cloth.

The Luddites were a group of former textile workers who opposed the innovation of these new textile machines, and who thus destroyed many of them. The movement became very widespread in certain areas of England, and even became violent. The owners of some mills and factories began shooting protesters. Eventually however, the movement was put down with legal and military force. Some Luddites were even executed, and many others sent to Australia, which was the penal colony of England in that day.

With the rise of any new technology, the loss of jobs is indeed regrettable, but as we saw with the textile industry, society has a way of adjusting and creating new jobs. The loss of jobs is not the most unfortunate result of artificial intelligence.

AI as a Controlling Influence

Perhaps a greater concern with AI is its potential for social manipulation through the use of what is being called “deepfakes” and algorithms of users of social media sites. We already saw how social media sites like Facebook and Twitter used their power and influence in the 2022 elections. All that was done without AI.

But AI now has, or very soon will have, the ability to produce completely false videos, ones that are indistinguishable from the genuine, of politicians, and even normal Americans saying something or doing something that in reality, they did not say or do. Then, using the history whatever websites a computer user has visited, an algorithm is generated to create a profile of the user—his political preferences, his religious perspective, even his or her age and income. Then, the deepfake videos and other counterfeit sources can be fed to his or her social media sites to manipulate and change their thinking on important matters. Seeing will no longer be believing.

There are other potential dangers, such as giving new power to government surveillance and changing the cultural perspectives of individuals and even entire nations. China is already doing this to a large degree. And in the US, just this week, court documents have been unsealed revealing that in the past few years, the FBI has improperly used a digital surveillance tool more than 278,000 times to search for information on individuals.

Do we still think that this advance in technology of AI will not be used against us?

But since AI also can have many beneficial aspects to it, to many it may seem neutral. However, given our history of what we have done with digital technology, one does not need to look very far to see the degrading effect that it has already had on our society. But even though it should be obvious, we cannot see this since we all have our heads permanently looking down at our cellphones.

Is AI Spelled D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R?

In short, the potential for artificial intelligence is very great. It could bring some benefits to us, but if it begins to turn in a malicious direction, it will do great harm. Or as Sam Altman, the CEO of the company behind ChatGPT, put it this week when speaking to congress, it all could “go quite wrong…and could cause significant harm to the world if it is not regulated.”

Stephen Hawking, who also was no conservative spokesman, said in a BBC interview, “The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

That, I think, is an overstatement. AI will not spell the end of the human race. That end will indeed eventually come, but it will not come by AI. It will be done by a much higher intelligence. It has been done before in the history of mankind, at least it was for human civilization, and it will be done again—but that is the subject of another sermon.   

But at least you can see the path that we are on. Technologically speaking, AI is a huge leap forward, but I believe we are now coming very close to the point to where the people of Babel were when God said, “If they have begun to do this as one people speaking the same language, then nothing they devise will be beyond them.”

We know what God decided to do in that situation.

The Actual Worst Danger with AI

All of this is of real concern, but these are not the concerns that I want to speak to at this time. My concern is not the potential to the end of the human race, as Stephen Hawking warned. Rather, my concern is for what will inevitably happen with the advancement of artificial intelligence.

What I am concerned about is not a “what if” scenario. It is rather the unavoidable consequence that will come about with the advancement of AI. I know that it is inevitable, because it is the same as it has been for each artificial idea that we have allowed to become part of our culture.

Just as the other artificial ideas introduced to us, that is, the ideas that we as humans evolved out of bacteria-like ancestors, the idea that there is no value to the life of the baby in the womb of his or her mother, and the idea that our gender is based on whatever direction our emotions are leading us at the moment, artificial intelligence will also reduce who we are as humans as created by God.

We are made in the image of God, but this new artificial idea that is now coming to us will be another downward step in the series to reduce us in our own thinking to believe that there is nothing extraordinary about us at all. Now we are even less than the computer sitting on our table. In our own view of ourselves, that tiny laptop and even the phone in our hands has more potential than do we ourselves—we, who are made in the very likeness of God!

I call this step of AI especially destructive because it will very soon probably take away the next vestige of our uniqueness as humans. As I have explained, in the eyes of society, our physical bodies have now already been reduced to nothing higher than animals, but now artificial intelligence threatens to reduce our thinking of what it means to be human by also attacking our intellectual uniqueness among creation.

Our Descent into a Dismal and Dank Cellar

Oddly, AI has arisen out of our own creative mind. God has endowed our minds with such capacity that we, as humans, have now reached the point where we have the ability to create a mind even more powerful than our own.

But although artificial intelligence reaches into a new realm of who we are as humans, in regard to its development, it is actually no different than the other three degrading steps that I mentioned, for all have been the creation of our own minds. AI is also simply another artificial idea introduced into our society apart from God. All have been ideas that have arisen out of our fallen state. They are not ideas brought to us by God.

 With each downward step in the degrading what it means to be human, at the inception of each one, no one could have envisioned where they would eventually lead us. Evolution, abortion rights, homosexuality—what began as an idea has ended in dogma and have had consequences far beyond what anyone could have initially expected. In our present society, one hardly dares to express a contrary point of view to any of these out of fear of retribution.

And, similar to the other ideas that have arisen out of our own minds, no one who has been involved with the inception of artificial intelligence is able to envision where it will lead us if it is left unchecked, and simply allowed to develop on its own. But with AI, apart from the obvious harmful aspects, perhaps even a greater harm is that, like the previous artificial ideas brought to us, this will even further reduce the value of what it means to be human.

With each of these steps and many others, we are descending the staircase into a deep and dismal basement without a light to illumine our pathway. We cannot know what the final outcome will be on society.

With this latest artificial idea, we go down even further into that dismal and dank cellar has human beings. We will have lost who we are as people. AI has the wicked potential to be the single voice that will control us as a nation as our own minds will be subjected to it.

This is not a scare tactic, and it is not only the opinion of one inconsequential and insignificant pastor. It is based on what some of the most eminent technological scientists are saying about it. If AI goes wrong, we may all be marching to the single voice of AI.

True and Authentic Intelligence

But there are alternatives to each of these artificial ideas. The alternative is to hold on to what is true. Contrary to all of these pressures to diminish us as humans is the knowledge of what is true. Truth does not change with the shifts in culture. It does not depend upon what people will or will not accept.

“Test all things,” Paul writes, “and hold fast to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

We have lived so long with the artificial, we again need to be reminded of what is true, and the truth is, we as men and women and as boys and girls are highly valued by God. In fact, there is nothing that is more important to him than we are—each one of us. You as an individual are so important to God that he would die to save your life!

How do I know this? Of course, we know because He actually did die for us. That is the story of the gospel.

But in order to demonstrate our value to God as humans, I am going to begin at the beginning. In the beginning, God said this: “‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 BSB).

This is the very first truth in affirming our value as men and woman and as boys and girls. We are not animals, but we are a distinct creation of God. In some regards, our physical bodies may be similar to mammals in function, but that is because our Designer gave all of us a structure and a function that would work well with the environment which he also created.

Nonetheless, of no other creature does he say that they were created in His image. The topic of our origins has been the subject of much discussion over the past 150 years, and I do not intend to add to that discussion at this point. I am not going to enter into a debate between creation and evolution. We have heard plenty of debate already, but that is not the subject of this sermon. What I do wish to do is to speak to those who accept this point—that we are created in the image of God.

Of course, we are all free to accept this point or not. You may hold to a belief that our origins arose out of a process of evolution if you wish, but if you rather are one who does accept what God has told us, then no matter what culture tells you, no matter what you may read in your textbook at school, you can know that you are special in the eyes of God.

King David writes in the Psalms: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14 ESV).

There is something within each one of us that tells us this. The verse tells us that this truth is part of knowledge of our “souls.” This is our inner being, something within us that is apart from our mere physical being. It is that which gives us life. It is that which, at the creation, God breathed His breath of life into us, and we became living beings (Genesis 2:7).

And when did you and I as individuals become living beings? Were we living beings during our nine months of gestation in the wombs of our mothers, or were we merely inanimate fetuses, a “blob of flesh?” Completely apart from any artificial discussion among living adults about when a fetus in the womb is developed enough for them to decide that the fetus has the “right to live,” we have the truth.

In the same Psalm where David writes that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, he also writes this: “Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:15-16 BSB).

In fact, the truth of your humanity seems to be established even before our conception in the wombs of our mothers. Paul writes to us that, “God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms, because he even chose us before the foundation of the world!” (Ephesians 1:3-4).

You are free to believe these words or not, but if you believe them, you can know that you are of great value to God. Your mothers and your fathers may have had an important part of who you are as a person, but they were not the first motivators in giving you your life.

Our Nature as a Special Creation of God

And what of that life that God has given you? Once alive as a living being on this earth, what is our nature? Are we simply another species of animals among many other species? And if so, do we have the option to make our own changes to our nature?

In our day as never before in the known history of who we are as humans has there been such confusion over gender. As I mentioned earlier, the history of the Bible is clear: God created a man and a woman with the mandate to populate the earth. In the very first days of creation, it took that combination to populate: a human man and a human woman. It was true then and it is true now.

But today some have taken the opinion that there are more genders than male and female. Unfortunately, those who hold this opinion are very evangelistic in pushing this opinion on our young people. If at any moment, a young boy or a young girl who perhaps shows any slightest preference for anything that traditionally is some characteristic or some activity of the opposite sex, some school counselors pounce on them with “gender affirmations,” telling them that they must be of that sex.

I will not deny that certain individuals have a very difficult time with their personal gender in their lives, and perhaps they always will in this present life. But this difficulty is not lessened by denying what is true. God created two genders: male and female.

When we rebelled against the Lordship of God, many things about his creation became upset. The truth is, every one of us struggles with something in our lives that is not the way that God first intended. With some it is gender identity, with others it is a struggle with a debilitating physical deformity or disease. There are a host of others. With some people these effects of the rebellion of mankind against God are obvious and severely difficult, and with others they are not so evident. However, you can be sure, sin has affected each of us in some way.

It may seem unfair to us that some in this life seem to have everything so easy, but others so difficult. From our perspective, all of this is indeed unfair. But we are forgetting the truth of our existence. Remember that there was a sense that we were people even before the foundation of the world. Remember that God created us to exist not only in time, but also to exist in eternity.

These 80 or 90 years that you have on this earth is such a tiny fraction of who you are as a person, that it is actually unfair to judge who you are by how you appear at this moment. What we are now is not a fair indicator of what God is doing in eternity.

The apostle John tells us that if we are children of God, what we will be has not yet been revealed to us. But we do know “that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is” (1 John 1:2).

This is the truth that we must hold on to. If we bow to the artificial lie that this present life is all that there is, we are easily led astray into all sorts of lies. Indeed, we already are walking largely at the behest of a host of lies telling us how we must interpret life.

But to continue the thought of becoming like Christ, we need to be clear to emphasize that we become like Him, but not equal to Him. Nonetheless, when we recognize this truth, we begin to purify ourselves, just as He is pure. That means that our own remnants of sin and of mankind’s rebellion will be reduced in this life, and then, in eternity, they will be taken away completely. Physical deformities will cease, and gender confusion will cease. Men will no longer burn with desire for other men, and women will no longer burn with desire of other women.

We must learn to deny the lie of Satan and learn to live by the Spirit of God. Paul calls this “putting on the new self.”

“Do not lie to one another,” he writes, “Since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 2:10).

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 BSB).

No Artificial Ingredients Added

We must remember that AI is yet another artificial idea. It is in this regard no different than the previous artificial ideas that have affected out thinking. But the true idea is that God has made you and knew you even before the foundation of the world. The true idea is that He has invested everything in you as a person! The true idea is that God has endowed each one of us with dignity, excellence and nobility.

“Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,” God proposed to Himself. “Let Us make him to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”

This will never be said of any AI, even if it is developed into a thousand generations. It will never be said of any Chatbot.

You are of such value to God that even though we have been brought up and have lived in rebellion against Him, He has offered each one of us redemption. He did not reject us, but He Himself paid the death penalty for our rebellion by Himself dying in our place! He loves you so much that He has offered to walk with you every day and through every trial in this sin entrenched world full of its artificial and wicked ideas.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote long ago: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion’” (Jeremiah 31:4 BSB).

An artificial idea can never do any of these things. It cannot sympathize with our problems and seek to give us aid. And certainly, it will never allow you to live up to your potential as a creation of God.

Whatever way in which these artificial ideas affect the rest of the world, they do not have to affect you in the same way. You as a person are of infinite and eternal value to God. If you could only envision what He has in mind for you, you would see that He has made you with the amazing potential to become someone who would simply astound you!

The message of God to you in the face of all of these artificial ideas is this: Do not be debased by them. Do not allow your own opinion about yourself to be influenced by them. What the world thinks of you is not important, in fact, it should not even enter into your thinking about yourself.

You are special to God and you are loved by God!

[1] Between 1974-2000, the number is 64,443,118 Based on numbers reported by the Guttmacher Institute

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.