Today the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) released a statement entitled, Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles. As the technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to develop and progress, a whole host of ethical questions and considerations will arise as well. As is often the case when there is rapid advance, we are already behind in asking these questions and thinking hard on this subject.
The preamble to the statement from the ERLC states why it’s vital for us as Christians to think well on the issue of AI. It reads:
As followers of Christ, we are called to engage the world around us with the unchanging gospel message of hope and reconciliation. Tools like technology are able to aid us in this pursuit. We know they can also be designed and used in ways that dishonor God and devalue our fellow image-bearers. Evangelical Christians hold fast to the inerrant and infallible Word of God, which states that every human being is made in God’s image and thus has infinite value and worth in the eyes of their Creator. This message dictates how we view God, ourselves, and the tools that God has given us the ability to create.
In light of existential questions posed anew by the emergent technology of artificial intelligence (AI), we affirm that God has given us wisdom to approach these issues in light of Scripture and the gospel message. Christians must not fear the future or any technological development because we know that God is, above all, sovereign over history, and that nothing will ever supplant the image of God in which human beings are created. We recognize that AI will allow us to achieve unprecendented possibilities, while acknowledging the potential risks posed by AI if used without wisdom and care.
Give special attention to the call of these final words of the preamble:
We desire to equip the church to proactively engage the field of AI, rather than responding to these issues after they have already affected our communities. In light of this desire and hope, we offer the following affirmations and denials about the nature of humanity, the promise of technology, and the hope for the future. (emphasis mine)
Yes, we must proactively engage now instead of being reactive later. I would encourage you to read the whole of the statement’s affirmations and denials as a launching pad to thinking through this issue biblically.
I began reading on AI about this time last year. I have to admit, I was concerned, if not troubled, by some of the predictions thinkers in the field were (are) making. Yet, as the statement above makes clear, my comfort was (is) the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things, including AI. Several weeks ago, I came across a lecture hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in which Professor John Lennox discussed AI. I was very much encouraged by Dr. Lennox’s ability to show how the hope some people place in AI can only be found in Christ. Here is the video for those who are interested (note: AI is a broad field and here Dr. Lennox addresses some specific areas of the field. Just be aware that AI is broader than what is addressed here.).