Christians shouldn’t fear AI, they should partner with it

Since the launch of ChatGPT 3 in the fall of 2022, panic over artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the air and it’s easy to succumb to the negative hype. Renowned inventors, business leaders and AI experts are signing letters and penning op-eds about how this spells doomsday for humanity. Governments are joining the fray by calling for new regulations.

However, Christians don’t need to join this frenzy of worry. In fact, they should feel just the opposite and have more reason than others to be hopeful about AI.

Christians should know AI has been around for a long time, that AI has a long way to go before it reaches anything close to a general, human-like intelligence, and no matter what, their faith gives them a foundation of hope and security.

AI has been a term since the 1950s and AI tools have been deployed ever since. We use them in our daily lives now with voice assistants, email spam filters, TV show recommendations, and so much more.

What’s new now are these large language models, or LLMs, made famous and accessible by OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022. The capabilities of ChatGPT caught many analysts by surprise and prompted the panicked discourse about what could come next.

However, what will likely come next is what has come before: achieving human-level intelligence in a computer proves more difficult than imagined. With each milestone surpassed by computers from early chatbots like ELIZA in 1964 to Deep Blue’s chess victory in 1997 and AlphaGo in 2017, there has been dialogue that this is the moment that ushers in the dawn of human-level computing intelligence. Yet that remained elusive then and will remain the case for a while.

For the Christian who believes in God-designed intelligence, this should provide a good reason for worship and awe. Despite all our advances in designing silicon-based “intelligence,” the architecture and capabilities of human and animal nervous systems reflects the amazing detail

God has infused into us as human beings. As we learn more about intelligence through our own God-inspired creativity, we learn how complex it really is.

This is an opportunity to continually be surprised and awestruck by God’s creativity in designing humanity.

From this posture of awe can then come a posture of hope.

And a great place to look for a Christian to look for inspiration on AI comes from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

It flew under the radar, but this summer the largest Protestant American denomination, The SBC, adopted a resolution on AI. The resolution outlines the fundamental truths Christians believe about God and humanity, the benefits and drawbacks of AI, and a series of statements about how the SBC will approach thinking about AI.

Importantly, it strikes a great balance between the positive and negative use cases: “WHEREAS, AI and other emerging technologies afford us unprecedented opportunities for advancement across industries and throughout our societies, but may also have dangerous and dehumanizing outcomes if not utilized with godly wisdom and discernment.”

Often lost in the panicked discourse are the benefits that advances in AI can provide to all. LLMs are already being deployed by writers, analysts, and even fast-food drive-thrus. A future where we all have access to competent administrative assistants is basically here.

For understaffed churches, such systems will make administration far less costly and free up pastors and staff to focus on what only Christian humans can do: minister God’s love to other people.

Christians have a rich history of adopting new technologies and using them to spread God’s love. Writing things down from the Hebrew commandments and scriptures to the gospels and Paul’s letters and then sending those writings to others was all cutting-edge tech.

In more recent times, Christians have effectively used radio, television, the internet and smartphone apps to blanket the globe in the Good News. New iterations of AI have the same potential.

Finally, despite the benefits afforded by AI, Christians should have a default attitude of hope. As the SBC resolution says so well: “to engage them from a place of eschatological hope rather than uncritical embrace or fearful rejection.” And “That we affirm that God’s unchanging Word is more than sufficient for whatever ethical challenges, questions, and opportunities we may face today or in the future…”

Whether with current AI or the more advanced AI yet to come, Christians have the opportunity to present biblical and experiential truths to society in new profound ways.

They also have the opportunity to adopt these new technologies in their ministries, using them for building up Christ’s church on earth. No matter what happens though, the cosmic framework of God’s supremacy is the ultimate comfort.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.