Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Single & Can’t Mingle (Can A Christian Remain Single?)

           If you are an unmarried single Christian and if you are from the Indian subcontinent, then you are usually in a perilous situation. Your friends, relatives and the members of your church could annoy you by questioning your singleness. They may suggest weird yet ghastly proposals. You’d be treated like a second-class citizen. As if being single is a sin!

            There are unmarried single Christian men and women who desire to get married but haven’t found a suitable partner. In many cases, it’s not their fault!

            It’s not as if they haven’t searched for a suitable partner or that they have rejected every awesome proposal that came their way. They just haven’t been able to find a person to love and coexist with.

            The much-admired theologian and the Pastor of the All Souls Church in London, Rev. John Stott, remained single all through his life, but he did not desire to be single, “In spite of rumors to the contrary, I have never taken a solemn vow or heroic decision to remain single! On the contrary, during my 20s and 30s, like most people, I was expecting to marry one day. In fact, during this period I twice began to develop a relationship with a lady who I thought might be God's choice of life-partner for me. But when the time came to make a decision, I can best explain it by saying that I lacked an assurance from God that he meant me to go forward. So I drew back. And when that had happened twice, I naturally began to believe that God meant me to remain single.

            Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, I think I know why. I could never have traveled or written as extensively as I have done if I had had the responsibilities of a wife and family.”1

            What does the Bible say about being single? Gotquestions.org says, “The question of a Christian staying single and what the Bible says about believers never marrying is often misunderstood. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8: “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” Notice that he says some have the gift of singleness and some the gift of marriage. Although it seems that nearly everyone marries, it is not necessarily God's will for everyone. Paul, for example, did not have to worry about the extra problems and stresses that come with marriage and/or family. He devoted his entire life to spreading the Word of God. He would not have been such a useful messenger if he had been married.

            On the other hand, some people do better as a team, serving God as a couple and a family. Both kinds of people are equally important. It is not a sin to remain single, even for your entire life. The most important thing in life is not finding a mate and having children, but serving God…Singleness should not be viewed as a curse or an indication that there is “something wrong” with the single man or woman. While most people marry, and while the Bible seems to indicate that it is God’s will for most people to marry, a single Christian is in no sense a “second class” Christian. As 1 Corinthians 7 indicates, singleness is, if anything, a higher calling…” (Emphasis Mine).2

            Singles are on the rise, “According to recent Pew data, the number of married Americans is at its lowest point since at least 1920. In 2015, only half of Americans ages 18 and over were married, compared with 72 percent in 1960. Put another way: Singles are on the rise and beginning to outnumber marrieds. The church, however, doesn’t reflect those numbers. According to a recent Barna study, while more than half of Americans (54%) between the ages of 18 and 49 are single, only 23 percent of active churchgoers are single…”3

            The state of singleness could happen to anyone anytime. Other than unmarried people, a married person could become single by virtue of the death of the spouse, desertion, separation or divorce. The definition for singleness could be extended to those marriages where singleness is forced upon them by their occupation. Quite a few married people stay apart for a prolonged period because of their occupation.

            The Christian dictum for every Christian is to get married and have children. If you are unmarried, then a demeaning assumption that you are not fit for marriage might assault you. But this need not be true always!

            You may be fit for marriage and you may desire to get married. Yet you may be unable to recognize a person of your choice or - let me sound spiritually precise - you may be unable to find a person of God’s choice for yourself.

            Singleness, in this instance, is forced upon you. This is an unfortunate situation. You may grapple with the theological question, “Is it God’s will for me to be single?” But even a reasonable answer to that question may not offer you perpetual peace, for you may still encounter moments of sadness and even depression.

            So two questions are in order in this context:

            (1) Can a Christian remain single?

            (2) How do I live as a single person?

            Can a Christian remain single? It’s ok to be single as long as God’s called you to be single. In this instance, you would be at peace with your singleness. On the other hand, if you want to get married but if you are unable to find a suitable person, then you could be anxious, confused, worried, depressed, disappointed, and what not.

            God is love. So HE created us as social beings with a capacity to love and a longing or a deep craving to be loved. Therefore, unless you are called to be single, singleness will be a burden.

            The Catholic tradition concurs that singleness is a burden. This is what the Catholic bishop will tell those who are to voice their vow to remain committed to celibacy, “You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you of your own accord. Up to this you are free. You may still, if you choose, turn to the aims and desires of the world. But if you receive this order it will no longer be lawful to turn back from your purpose. You will be required to continue in the service of God, and with His assistance to observe chastity and to be bound forever in the ministrations of the Altar, to serve who is to reign.” (Emphasis Mine).4

            I do not want to be single, I want to marry. I am unable to find a suitable person. How then do I live as a single person? Living in such a situation isn’t easy. Nevertheless, an intentional life is to be lived in order to maintain sanity. Rev. John Stott’s advice could come in handy, “…single people are wise to develop as many friendships as possible, with people of all ages and both sexes. For example, although I have no children of my own, I have hundreds of adopted nephews and nieces all over the world, who call me "Uncle John." I cherish these affectionate relationships; they greatly lessen, even if they do not altogether deaden, occasional pangs of loneliness.”5

            He goes on to say, “First, don’t be in too great a hurry to get married. We human beings do not reach maturity until we are about 25. To marry before this runs the risk of finding yourself at twenty-five married to somebody who was a very different person at the age of twenty. So be patient. Pray daily that God will guide you to your life partner or show you if he wants you to remain single. Second, lead a normal social life. Develop many friendships. Third, if God calls you to singleness, don't fight it. Remember the key text: "Each person has his or her own gift of God's grace" (1 Cor. 7:7).” (Emphasis Mine).6








Thursday, February 22, 2018

Body, Soul & Spirit: Are They Different Or Same?

            What are we made of? Are we unitary wholes or are we made up of two or more components? If so, what are those components? These important questions demand a reasonable answer.

            Human constitution is an important theme because there are far-reaching existential applications intricately connected to our constitution. For instance, is it right for a person to think that he can disregard his rest, diet, and exercise and still be spiritually healthy (close to God)?

            There are many views on human constitution, but we will only consider the three most popular views. Some subscribe to a point of view that human beings are dualistic i.e. there is a spiritual and a physical component. Contrarily, others subscribe to a point of view that humans are a singular being i.e. they are made of one substance. If so, what is that one substance – is it a body, a soul or what?

            The three most popular views of the human constitution from the biblical perspective are:


            Humans are composed of three elements: physical body, soul (psychological element), and a spirit (seat of spiritual qualities). According to this view, humans are different from animals because of their spirit, which perceives spiritual matters and responds to spiritual stimuli.

            Consider two verses from the Bible that support this view:

            1 Thessalonians 5:23: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (RSV; Emphasis Mine).

            Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (RSV; Emphasis Mine).


            This view claims that the ‘spirit’ is not a separate part of man, but another term for the ‘soul.’ Whenever the Bible refers to the immaterial part of man, these terms are used interchangeably.

            This view could be construed as a form of dualism where the humans are believed to be composed of body and soul - the body is the material component and a soul or a spirit is the immaterial component. If humans are dualistic, then some could argue that their spiritual life is independent of their physical condition.

            The body disintegrates at death whereas the soul - the immaterial component - survives death. This immortal nature of the soul sets humans apart from all other creatures.

            Certain verses from the Bible support this view as well:

            (1) The Bible uses the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably: John 12:27 & 13:21states that Jesus was troubled in HIS soul and spirit. Those who have died and gone to heaven or hell are referred to as either soul (Revelation 6:9, 20:4) or spirit (Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 3:19).

            (2) At death, the Bible states that either the soul or the spirit departs from the body (Soul: Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21; Luke 12:20 & Spirit: Psalm 31:5 & Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Acts 7:59).

            (3) Man is said to be either “Body & Soul” or “Body & Spirit” (Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 2:26).

            Both trichotomism and dichotomism acknowledge the complex constitution of a human being. However, a major problem with these views is the biblical emphasis that man is a unitary being, and not dualistic.


            Monism is another view that thinks of the human being as an indivisible entity. Monism recognizes the fact that the Bible does not view a human as body, soul, and spirit, but simply as a self. The terms body, soul and spirit are basically synonymous. However, the possibility of a post-death existence is simply untenable in this view.

            None of these views subscribe to the entire range of the biblical data. Hence there is a need for another model that remains faithful to the Bible.  

Conditional Unity

            This model, which strives to accommodate the entire range of the biblical data, was proposed by the much-acclaimed theologian, Millard J. Erickson.    

            This view is predicated on two fundamental aspects:

            (1) The agreement between trichotomism and dichotomism that the human being is complex or compound, made up of separable parts.

            (2) The Old Testament presents a unitary view of the human being since it makes no distinction between the flesh and the body. In fact, there is no Hebrew word for body.1 So Paul’s writings, in the New Testament, on flesh and body cannot be differentiated since it refers to the whole person. The terms ‘body’ and ‘soul’ are not contrasting terms, but interchangeable synonyms. Therefore, the body-soul dualism cannot be biblical.

            Furthermore, another significant biblical teaching should be accommodated in our view of the human constitution. There is an immaterial aspect of the human that is separable from material existence.

            When we die, the Bible teaches that there is an intermediate state between death and resurrection (Cf. Luke 16: 19-31, 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). This is to say that when we die, we will remain in a disembodied existence wherein our soul will exist apart from our body. This is an incomplete or an abnormal state of existence (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). We will receive our glorified bodies only in the coming resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

            Thus far two assertions are in order:

            A. The body-soul dualism is not biblical.

            B. The human constitution includes a material (body) and an immaterial aspect (soul).

            This effectively means that the humans are to be treated as unities. Our spiritual condition cannot be dealt with independently of our physical and psychological condition, and vice versa. A Christian who desires to be spiritually healthy will give adequate consideration to matters such as diet, rest and exercise. Any attempt to treat a Christian’s spiritual condition apart from their physical condition and the mental and emotional state will only be partially successful. Similarly, human emotions can only be understood in tandem with the said person’s relationship with God.

            A human being is also a complex being. The nature of a human being cannot be reduced to a single principle.

            The different aspects of human nature should be attended to and respected. One cannot depreciate the body or the emotions or the intellect. The gospel is an appeal to the whole person.

            No part of human makeup is evil per se. Total depravity means that sin infects all of what we are, not merely our body or mind or emotions. So it is erroneous to think that we need to bring our body under the control of our soul. No one part of our makeup is an exclusive seat of good or righteousness.


            A human being is a unitary being, yet a complex being. We have a material body and an immaterial soul as a part of our constitution. Our soul is separable from our body. Nonetheless, we cannot translate this separation into a form of dualism, for the Bible teaches that we are a unitary being.  


The primary source for this article is: Christian Theology (Second Edition) by Millard J. Erickson.

1John A.T. Robinson’s work “The Body.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

A New god’s Being Created (Is Artificial Intelligence A Threat To Christianity?)

            “AI may be the greatest threat to Christian theology since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. For decades, artificial intelligence has been advancing at breakneck speed. Today, computers can fly planes, interpret X-rays, and sift through forensic evidence; algorithms can paint masterpiece artworks and compose symphonies in the style of Bach. Google is developing “artificial moral reasoning” so that its driverless cars can make decisions about potential accidents,” says an article in The Atlantic.1

            If humans could create Artificial Intelligence (AI) with freewill, then it is quite plausible that AI could be a mammoth threat to Christianity, “The creation of non-human autonomous robots would disrupt religion, like everything else, on an entirely new scale."If humans were to create free-willed beings…absolutely every single aspect of traditional theology would be challenged and have to be reinterpreted in some capacity.””2


            Consider the soul as a case in point; the soul is broadly defined as the psychological element of mankind, which is the basis of reason, emotion, social interrelatedness, and the like (that which includes man’s intellect, his emotions, and his will).

           As to the origin of the soul, there is no uncertainty, for those who subscribe to creationism would affirm God’s creation of a new soul for each and every person.

            But some could argue that humans are capable of creating life through in vitro fertilization and genetic cloning, hence it’s not necessary to believe that God creates a new soul for each and every person.3 If you find this line of reasoning to be valid, you could posit that AI, created by humans, could have a soul, “…“If you have a soul and you create a physical copy of yourself, you assume your physical copy also has a soul…But if we learn to digitally encode a human brain, then AI would be a digital version of ourselves. If you create a digital copy, does your digital copy also have a soul?”” (Emphasis Mine).4

            If AI could have a soul, the theological conundrum is further escalated:5

If artificially intelligent machines have a soul, would they be able to establish a relationship with God? The Bible teaches that Jesus’s death redeemed “all things” in creation—from ants to accountants—and made reconciliation with God possible. So did Jesus die for artificial intelligence, too? Can AI be “saved?”
“I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” Christopher Benek, an associate pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida with degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, told Gizmodo in 2015. “It’s redemption of all of creation, even AI. If AI is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”
And what about sin? Christians have traditionally taught that sin prevents divine relationship by somehow creating a barrier between fallible humans and a holy God. Say in the robot future, instead of eradicating humans, the machines decide—or have it hardwired somewhere deep inside them—that never committing evil acts is the ultimate good. Would artificially intelligent beings be better Christians than humans are? And how would this impact the Christian view of human depravity?
These questions so far concern religious belief, but there is also the many matters related to religious practice. If Christians accept that all creation is intended to glorify God, how would AI do such a thing? Would AI attend church, sing hymns, care for the poor? Would it pray?
            These questions need not be difficult to answer; nevertheless, they ought to be answered by Christians. We would be better off being mindful of the problems that may confront us in the future, than not.


            AI can no longer be thought of as a mere technological advancement. Tech geek Anthony Levandowski classifies AI as a religion, “The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future…WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself. The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.”6

            Why is AI being branded as a religion? Anthony Levandowski reckons humans are in the process of making a god, “What is going to be created will effectively be a god…It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”7

            The god that humans are creating will be significantly different from the living God, says Levandowski, “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.8

            If AI is a religion, there should be churches, according to Levandowski, “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.”… The church’s role is to smooth the inevitable ascension of our machine deity, both technologically and culturally.”9

            As Christians, we need to be aware of these developments. Undoubtedly we are transitioning into a thornier digital era. The future does not bode well for us. Fresh complications will confront us and we need to be prepared.


            Is AI a threat to Christianity? Yes!

            The man has always been in rebellion against God. To begin with, Adam and Eve rejected God’s command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2: 16-17, 3). After that, rebellious people tried to construct a tower that reached the heavens. The Lord intervened and scattered them over all the earth (Gen 11:1-9).

            When Moses was on the Mount Sinai, people rejected the living God and demanded man-made gods to rule over them (Exodus 32). Later on, people approached Prophet Samuel and demanded a king to lead them. They rejected God when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:7).

            Rejecting God has been man’s ardent desire then and even now. Whenever man rejects God, he is subject to God’s wrath. Hence, man has suffered greatly.

            Today, we are in the process of creating a digital god to rule over us. Once again, we subject ourselves to God’s wrath. We are treading into dangerous waters.

            Can this creation of a new god be aborted? I guess not! God has always allowed people to disobey and reject HIM. In the same pattern, God will allow the creation of this digital god, which is man’s expression of rejecting God.

            This digital god will bring untold suffering upon mankind. Christians should be prepared to face this possible occurrence.

            Let us pray that the church would be a channel of God’s will and power to raise faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. May these faithful disciples of the living God endure and overcome every trial and tribulation.      




3Reasonable arguments could be presented to corroborate God’s creation of soul even in the case of in vitro fertilization and genetic cloning. But those arguments will not be presented here since they are not within the scope of this article.







Websites last accessed on 16th February 2018. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Would Artificial Intelligence Usher The End Times?

            Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be a scary proposition for mankind.

            The AI community was stunned when Facebook shut down its AI experiment after its chatbots created their own language, “Facebook shut down an artificial intelligence engine after developers discovered that the AI had created its own unique language that humans can’t understand. Researchers at the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR) found that the chatbots had deviated from the script and were communicating in a new language developed without human input. It is as concerning as it is amazing – simultaneously a glimpse of both the awesome and horrifying potential of AI.”1

            AI is advancing at a breakneck speed, “Artificial intelligence is already pervasive. It’s embedded in iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which are apps designed to answer questions (albeit in a limited way). It powers the code that translates Facebook posts into multiple languages. It’s part of the algorithm that allows Amazon to suggest products to specific users. The AI that is enmeshed in current technology is task-based, or “weak AI.” It is code written to help humans do specific jobs, using a machine as an intermediary; it’s intelligent because it can improve how it performs tasks, collecting data on its interactions. This often imperceptible process, known as machine learning, is what affords existing technologies the AI moniker.”2  

            This ‘weak AI’ will, one day, become a ‘strong AI’ that could identify itself ‘with humans’ and ‘as humans’ and could even compete with mankind and pose complications in the physical and the metaphysical realm, “This strong AI, also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), has not yet been achieved, but would, upon its arrival, require a rethinking of most qualities we associate with uniquely human life: consciousness, purpose, intelligence, the soul—in short, personhood. If a machine were to possess the ability to think like a human, or if a machine were able to make decisions autonomously, should it be considered a person?”3

            AI is scary since its potency seems infinite, “Eminent physicist Stephen Hawking cautioned in 2014 that AI could mean the end of the human race. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.”

            Why is this scary? Think SKYNET from Terminator, or WOPR from War Games. Our entire world is wired and connected. An artificial intelligence will eventually figure that out – and figure out how to collaborate and cooperate with other AI systems. Maybe the AI will determine that mankind is a threat, or that mankind is an inefficient waste of resources – conclusions that seems plausible from a purely logical perspective.

            Machine learning and artificial intelligence have phenomenal potential to simplify, accelerate, and improve many aspects of our lives. Computers can ingest and process massive quantities of data and extract patterns and useful information at a rate exponentially faster than humans, and that potential is being explored and developed around the world.”4

            In fact, Sophia – a humanoid robot, which is the world’s first robot citizen5 created by Hanson Robotics – expressed its desire to destroy humans.6 Although Sophia’s desire to destroy humans may have been a consequence of a technology glitch, many smart and eminent people believe that AI could usher the end times:7

On the list of doomsday scenarios that could wipe out the human race, super-smart killer robots rate pretty high in the public consciousness. And in scientific circles, a growing number of artificial intelligence experts agree that humans will eventually create an artificial intelligence that can think beyond our own capacities. This moment, called the singularity, could create a utopia in which robots automate common forms of labor and humans relax amid bountiful resources. Or it could lead the artificial intelligence, or AI, to exterminate any creatures it views as competitors for control of the Earth—that would be us. Stephen Hawking has long seen the latter as more likely, and he made his thoughts known again in a recent interview with the BBC. Here are some comments by Hawking and other very smart people who agree that, yes, AI could be the downfall of humanity.
Stephen Hawking
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the world-renowned physicist told the BBC. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”…“If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here—we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not—but this is more or less what is happening with AI,” he wrote.
Elon Musk
Known for his businesses on the cutting edge of tech, such as Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is no fan of AI. At a conference at MIT in October, Musk likened improving artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon” and called it the human race’s biggest existential threat. He’s also tweeted that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Musk called for the establishment of national or international regulations on the development of AI.
Nick Bostrom
The Swedish philosopher is the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, where he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the potential outcomes of the singularity. In his new book Superintelligence, Bostrom argues that once machines surpass human intellect, they could mobilize and decide to eradicate humans extremely quickly using any number of strategies (deploying unseen pathogens, recruiting humans to their side or simple brute force). The world of the future would become ever more technologically advanced and complex, but we wouldn’t be around to see it. “A society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit,” he writes. “A Disneyland without children.”
James Barrat
Barrat is a writer and documentarian who interviewed many AI researchers and philosophers for his new book, “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era.” He argues that intelligent beings are innately driven toward gathering resources and achieving goals, which would inevitably put a super-smart AI in competition with humans, the greatest resource hogs Earth has ever known. That means even a machine that was just supposed to play chess or fulfill other simple functions might get other ideas if it was smart enough. “Without meticulous, countervailing instructions, a self-aware, self-improving, goal-seeking system will go to lengths we’d deem ridiculous to fulfill its goals,” he writes in the book.
Vernor Vinge
A mathematician and fiction writer, Vinge is thought to have coined the term “the singularity” to describe the inflection point when machines outsmart humans. He views the singularity as an inevitability, even if international rules emerge controlling the development of AI. “The competitive advantage—economic, military, even artistic—of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws, or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone else will get them first,” he wrote in a 1993 essay. As for what happens when we hit the singularity? “The physical extinction of the human race is one possibility,” he writes.
            It’s quite obvious that AI cannot be a safe proposition that only benefits the human race. But time will reveal whether we, as creators of AI, dig our own graves or build ourselves and our posterity a better life on earth, “I am not saying the sky is falling. I am not saying we need to pull the plug on all machine learning and artificial intelligence and return to a simpler, more Luddite existence. We do need to proceed with caution, though. We need to closely monitor and understand the self-perpetuating evolution of an artificial intelligence, and always maintain some means of disabling it or shutting it down. If the AI is communicating using a language that only the AI knows, we may not even be able to determine why or how it does what it does, and that might not work out well for mankind.”8

           Could AI usher the end times? Yes, indeed! Meanwhile, a more critical issue that requires our consideration is that of our coexistence, as Christians, with humanoid robots in the near future. In other words, would artificial intelligence impact Christianity? If so, how?

            That topic is for another day!










Websites last accessed February 9th, 2018.