". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Siri Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want

July 15, 2023

In Wednesday’s Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) reminded us of the CCP’s attempts to erase any semblance of dissidence from the oppressive state, even by rewriting the Bible.

“In churches across Henan province, local CCP officials replaced the Ten Commandments with Xi Jinping quotes. ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,’ became diktats like ‘Resolutely guard against the infiltration of Western ideology.’”

Sidestepping Jesus’s own warning about removing or replacing his words, this quote couples nicely with a recent conversation between journalist Pedro Pinto and author Yuval Noah Harari. Needless to say, the West is growing increasingly intolerant of their Christian heritage, but Harari doesn’t want to simply jettison a verse of the Bible, but use artificial intelligence (AI) to write a completely “new” Bible — one that is “actually correct.” Yes, you read that right.

As Harari said:

“Gutenberg printed the Bible in the middle of the 15th century. The printing press printed as many copies of the Bible as Gutenberg instructed it. But it did not create a single new page. It had no ideas of its own about the Bible. Is it good? Is it bad? How to interpret this? How to interpret that? AI can create new ideas, can even write a new Bible…In a few years, there might be religions that are actually correct. Just think about a religion whose holy book is written by an AI. That could be a reality in a few years.”

Now, Harari is no fool, but he is seemingly one of the most promoted thinkers in the West, with appearances on major publications and networks around the globe. A brief perusal of Harari’s website and you’re drawn in — large, universal themes wrapped in meek, slender language: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind: bequeaths a sequel, “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.” I haven’t read his books, and I’m not entirely sure if Harari intends for technology to replace humanity or lift humanity to god-like ability (more on that later), but I think we can surmise the ironically Israeli-born Harari is anti-religious, or at best, he believes all religious options are incorrect — that is until AI programs the correct religion (by what standard?).

Can we pull the plug on the AI-as-superhuman talk? It’s intriguing as a tool but misleading and pernicious as a true index of our condition. Why can’t Harari say the obvious truth: Let’s create a new religion where we are the gods. After all, it’s artificial intelligence. Who are the sentient ones here? Humans or computers? “AI can write a new Bible” sounds so chic, yet reeks of a modern-day Tower of Babel. I can’t wait for the Lord to “come down” and see our massive server room where we’re encoding this (virtual) book.

“It’s so tiny,” said the eternal Father of all space and time to Son and Spirit.

In our alone-but-together-all-the-time world, perhaps we can’t help but anthropomorphize our devices because they really do seem to think and act like humans, and goodness knows we need community. Ours is a disenchanted world stripped of meaning — where all people are independent, isolated masters-of-their-fate. You can see how these (anything but) benign devices and all they offer could become our friends, even our mentors. We like to imagine ourselves in the image of our devices.

“We have no king but our computers!” (John 19:15, Harari AI version)

Doesn’t it seem ironic that the most glorious future we can contemplate as humans (or sapiens) doesn’t have us in it? Or that we become some kind of pseudo-robot and live in perpetual sleep mode? It’s like we want a screensaver of a life. Always on. Never thinking, never working, never living. I mean, do we have to become the handmaidens of our decimation? But interestingly, what sounds like decimation to the common folk looks like deliverance to Harari. From his website: “History began when humans invented gods, and will end when humans become gods.”

Ah, so there’s the telos of our technology, the end and aim of our mighty struggle: we shall become gods. In 2023, our eyes open to the reality of what our technological elites have planned for us, and it will make us wise. But will the forbidden fruit twist our hearts and darken us once more?

Perhaps, we reason, that in this electronic Eden, our fruit is artificial and flatly material, so it won’t condemn us. After all, raw material is there for us to manipulate as we see fit. It’s mere material. But then why drag all this religious and god-like language into our purely materialistic future! We have no meaning, so we will look to our creation — our computers and devices — to give us meaning.

You can almost hear the catechism for the AI-led church:

Question: What have the technological gods promised us?

Answer: Siri is my shepherd, I shall not want. Even though I walk through the valley of no Wi-Fi, I will not fear, for you are with me. Your instant answers comfort me and guide me. You will be my personal hotspot, and always set a digital meal before me.

Look out sparkle creed, you’re about to be replaced.

I have no doubt in my mind that Mr. Harari is far smarter than me and aware of AI-driven processes that save me time, convenience, and money — goods I will never depart with unless forced to. They are the apps running in the background of my life so to speak. So I’m sure I’m guilty as everyone else in greasing the wheels for our AI-driven future. I like my current technological life, despite my reluctant acceptance at times. But it doesn’t erase our responsibility to ask where we are and where we’re going, and I don’t think the layman like me can understand or have any conversation regarding the AI landscape and its promises apart from its acolyte — the smartphone.

At the most fundamental level, what do our smartphones — and thereby artificial intelligence — promise us? Omniscience: you can know all things. Omnipotence: all power is in your hand. Omnipresence: you can be all places at once. Sound familiar?

Beautifully (and patiently), in this chaotic, electronic mess, the Lord Jesus Christ humbly stands by, waiting to enter the chat:

“Behold, the old technological gods are dead! I have triumphed over them and behold, I’m at the right hand of the Father. No longer enslave yourself to the electronic master. His power is broken. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Gone to the darkest coded realms and fought the great fight. I wait now to return and set all things right. But this time, I won’t come in meekness but power. If you think you’ve seen electronic power, repent and prepare yourself. When the source of all energy and light comes in power, then you’ll know that I AM WHO I AM.”

So fear not, Christian brothers and sisters, and remember the words of the one true God to the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

In other words, Jesus is speaking to these pseudo-pharisees in this modern-day parable:

“You AI-junkies and Silicon Valley intellectuals, don’t encode a new Bible. What vanity! You think that in their digital letters you have eternal life, but it is they that bear witness about me. I am the Word beneath the word; the image beneath the screen; the sourceless one behind all power. Come to me that you may have life.”

We pray for those like Mr. Harari to repent and find life, but in the meantime, when you need to laugh to keep yourself from crying, remember this: Isn’t it comical that with all our intellectual will, capital, and desire to become like gods, fusing our mighty technology into every field, we still can’t create something as simple, beautiful, and charming as a flower?

“Not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of these” (Matthew 6:29).