When the articles summing up the “buzz words” of 2023 begin to emerge by year’s end, there’s a good chance “artificial intelligence” or “A.I.” will score high in the popular lexicon.

Yet A.I. – the science of machines “thinking” like humans, supposedly only faster and far more efficiently – isn’t a new phenomenon. The term dates to a technology conference at Dartmouth College in 1956. Back then, a small group of scientists gathered in Hanover, New Hampshire, in the summer for a research-oriented retreat spearheaded by John McCarthy, a mathematics professor at the school.

Professor McCarthy, who would go on to be credited with pioneering the industry, envisioned a future where “computing may someday be organized as a public utility, just as the telephone system is a public utility.” He didn’t envision the explosion of the home computer, but he did predict and propose computer-driven sales, i.e., e-commerce, of sorts.

Whether we recognize it or not, every American has benefited from versions of A.I., be it while interacting with an online company when making a purchase, checking a bank balance, or driving cars manufactured with the technology through intersections managed and monitored by cameras and sensors that affect the flow of traffic.

Like it or not and ready or not, artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the ways we all live.

And experts predict we’ve only scratched the surface of its use – and abuse.

There’s no question machines and computers can and are being put to good use, and we’ll inevitably see more evidence of the technology in the months and years to come. However advanced and widespread it may become, it’ll never match nor surpass God’s gift of our mind and our imagination.

The imagination is a crucial and critical component of our ability to have and nurture faith in God. It allows us to see the unseen. It enables us with the ability to envision Jesus by our side and God the Father on His throne in Heaven.

A.I. can write a movie script or even a novel, but it takes the imagination of an actor to play the part and a reader to paint pictures on their mind of the printed story.

Pastors can dial up Chat GPT to help write a sermon, but only a real-life preacher can share experiences and convictions from the heart. The late pastor Adrian Rogers famously said he had no problem with fellow ministers utilizing his material.

“You can use my powder,” he said. “Just make sure you shoot it from your own gun.”

The best, most beautiful and meaningful creative work comes from the heart and an inspired mind, not the mainframe of a computer.

A.I. can talk about a gorgeous fall day, but they can’t share a mother’s unique and true story of walking amid the leaves for the final time with her dying son.

A report from the World Economic Forum in 2020 predicted that by 2025 A.I would replace 85 million jobs – and create 97 million new ones. That’s because there’s a big difference between automation, efficiency – and judgment and discernment. Mankind is irreplaceable.

It was Albert Einstein who once observed, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” The famous Princeton-based physicist wasn’t trying to counter the emerging A.I. science, but he was confirming that artificial intelligence can’t give you a dream born of your mind and your experiences. And as Christians, we know it will never reflect the Holy Spirit’s influence or direction.


Original image from Shutterstock.