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    cleireac

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    Advice sought

    Post  cleireac on January 6th 2012, 6:42 pm

    As I indicated in my introductory post (in the What's on your brain? forum), I mentioned that I've recently become fascinated by the first Cyberpunk television show on US network television. I am speaking of course ab out Max Headroom.

    I have some thoughts about a series of essays regarding some of the spiritual implications of the various episodes and the world presented in the series, and I'd like to hash some of those thoughts out here. Hopefully, I'll have some takers.

    First up, I'd love to pick some brains regarding a good theology of humanity, i.e., as in what does it mean to be human ("What is man...."). The series deals with humanity vs. personhood vs. machine. How do you see what address those basic questions?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  WhiteBoy on January 7th 2012, 2:43 am

    M-M-Max Headroom! Man, there's a flash from the past! (Made me search it on Netflix to see if they have it streaming...no luck, tho. Sad )

    I have kind of wondered about this to a degree, mostly with regards to cloning. A little different than how your question was posed, but I think it's ultimately asking the same thing. The conclusion I decided on is that:

    1. All life comes from God.
    2. When God creates a human life, he also creates a spirit/soul that is placed in that physical body. I think this is what is referred to in Genesis 2:7 when it talks about God breathing life into Adam.
    3. A cloned person would not be just an animal, but would have a spirit/soul. This is the difference between man and every other created thing. God did not breathe life into the animals, but rather only man.

    So, there is obviously much more that could be said and perhaps little proof in what I just said. A lot of that is based on principles and not much hard evidence that I could present to you in Scripture off the top of my head. But there's my (small) thoughts on it so far.

    I'm interested to hear your and others' thoughts about it.


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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  Drew.Rub on January 7th 2012, 12:26 pm

    I'll consider posting some of my theological thoughts on this later. In the meantime, try here for the Max HEadroom videos....

    http://www.tubeplus.me/player/1134731/Max_Headroom/

    Warning, you'll need VLC Player.

    cleireac

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  cleireac on January 9th 2012, 10:48 am

    Soemthing I'm drawing on for additional inspiration (?) is the Star Trek TNG episode "The Measure of a Man" in which there is a Starfleet hearing on whether Data is SF property or a unique life. Riker has to 'prove' the android is a 'thing' while Picard assumes the responsibility of taking the counter argument.

    I am in tune with the doctrine of man as God's imago Dei, but I'm finding it difficult to answer a basic homiletical question that will surely arise when presenting it to an audience of geeks or other non-believers: "So What?"

    If we can accept Data, real-world AI, and Max Headroom as at the very least potential 'life-forms,' then how does that reflect on mankind? Are we being 'speciest?'

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  Paeter on January 9th 2012, 9:00 pm

    cleireac wrote: Are we being 'speciest?'

    Cool topic!

    Can you clarify what you mean by "speciest"?


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    cleireac

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  cleireac on January 9th 2012, 10:18 pm

    I put 'speciest' in single quotes as I wanted to indicate that it is NOT my view. I used the word as meaning 'favoring one species over another. In this case, if we recognize constructed beings as life, what justification do we have to favor humans over machines? Is there a way to appeal to the imago Dei of Genesis 1 in such a way as to satisfy the 'so what' question I mentioned above?

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  Paeter on January 9th 2012, 10:38 pm


    I think there are two separate issues here: What constitutes life and what constitutes personhood.

    I'll have to think more about the "life" part, but I don't see how humans can have the capacity to create "persons" from raw materials outside of themselves. (In other words, "machine life", like Data and the Cylons.) The reason is that a key, unique component to persons is free will. Choice. But we don't even understand, ultimately, where our own choices come from, and so at best could only program a simulation of choice into machines, not choices as they truly manifest from within us.

    (In the new BSG they work around this idea by suggesting that God gave the Cylons true personhood, even though it was humans who first constructed their physical forms.)

    Because we don't truly understand the nature of choice, at best machine life could only be like animals. So we are at least justified in that sense to treat machines no better than animals.

    But the further difference would be that we didn't make animals. Animals were made by the same God that made us, putting us somewhat on the same ground they are on in terms of the "pecking order" on planet earth and who is justified in doing what. But we make machines. They wouldn't be here if we didn't. So we're justified in treating them however we want... until God decides to implant them with personhood. ;-)

    That would be my take on it.


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    cleireac

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    Re: Advice sought

    Post  cleireac on January 10th 2012, 9:53 am

    YES! That's it! Free will and choices! That's what I was looking for. I know some will argue that those are no more than chemical processes in the brain, but I think that there is still enough mystery as to how those happen as to be able to point to them and say that this is what differentiates us from animals and so called AI.

    • Animals work off of instinct, and their actions are compelled to follow that;
      AI, no matter how complex, still involves programming and is still a simulation, at best;
      Humans make choices, sometimes in spite of instinct.


    Perfect!

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