Subscription Preferences:

Yes, it’s ridiculous there’s a new religion dedicated to AI….but here’s why it matters


 

Listen to the 10-min. audio:

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, “Evangelical Focus” is reporting on a new religion to worship artificial intelligence. Former Google and Uber engineer, Anthony Levandowski, founded the “Way of the Future,” which aims to create a deity based on artificial intelligence for the betterment of society. Levandowski filed paperwork in 2015 to establish “Way of the Future,” dedicated to worshipping artificial intelligence.

DR. REEDER: A lot of our fellow believers out there are saying, “Now, why are you all taking time on this program to talk about something so: 1.), infantile, 2.), insidious as this notion of a religion, whereby, artificial intelligence is now going to be worshipped by the people who have encoded the artificial intelligence so that it is accessible by technology?”

In the Old Testament, we are informed of the reality of idolatry. Idolatry is anything that you worship in front of, beside of, or above the God of Glory.

There are a lot of things I love, and appreciate, and, to some degree, adore and have my allegiance to, but it’s always under the Lordship of Christ and, if I can’t do it under the Lordship of Christ, then I don’t do it.

The word “idolatry” comes from the word “latria,” which means “to worship.” Idolatry is wrong worship, or misguided worship, or blasphemous worship. What we want to give to the Lord is latria. Latria is the worship of the Triune God of Glory.

However, here’s a fact – please jot it down from a Christian world and life view – that people are going to worship. Now, there are some people out there that look at what we’re just talking about today and saying, “How ridiculous is that?” Yet, if you look at their life carefully – their time, their talents, their treasure, their adoration, their allegiance, their conversation – they will reveal what, in their heart, they worship.

The other day, I flew to New Jersey and, as I try to be frugal, I got one of the cheap seats that they offer, which meant I was going to get a seat in between two people. I walked in and looked and saw that two of the largest human beings I’ve ever seen in my life were in those seats – one on the aisle and one next to the window.

Both of these guys were so big and one of the reasons is, by the way, they were both ex-football players. And we were on that flight and, from the moment we took off to the moment we landed, I heard about almost every college football game, its schedule, who was rated, the recruiting classes, who was doing what, the Heisman trophy – I’ve never heard such knowledgeable people in my life.

Well, you don’t get that information just by walking by a newsstand. These were guys that were utterly devoted. Do you remember the Bible says that the 3,000 were converted at Jerusalem and then it says they intentionally devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching? Why? Because they loved Jesus and they worshipped the God of Glory.

These guys had intentionally devoted themselves to what they worshipped, which was college football, and there was no doubt in my mind what consumed their life, their adulation, their adoration, their allegiance, their affection and, I’m sure, a lot of their resources.

People are going to worship. They’re going to worship something. In the Old Testament, it speaks of idolatry and Isaiah says isn’t it amazing: Here’s a piece of wood and you cut it in half, you use part of it to warm yourself, part of it to cook your food and, the other one, you set it up, and carve it and you worship it?

How stupid is that? Why do men and women love idolatry? Because, if I make the idol I worship, then who really am I worshipping? Me, the creator of the idol. That’s why we say no to the God who created us and we deny the doctrine of creation and we deny all that God has put in creation like marriage, and gender, and sex.

We’re going to worship, but what we want to do is worship false worship because to do false worship, you have to engage in idolatry and, whatever idol I make, now, ultimately, I’m worshipping myself because I am the idol maker.

Thus, the guy that invented the artificial intelligence and the technology to deliver it is now saying, “Let’s worship it.” Do you know why? He wants you to worship the artificial intelligence for the same reason he worships the artificial intelligence. Ultimately, you’re worshipping the one who put the intelligence into the technology. It is the exaltation of self.

That’s why we say constantly on this program that there are multiple world views and -isms out there – positivism, scientism, consumerism, materialism, humanism, secularism – but, in reality, they all fall under one category: the sovereign self as opposed to a world and life view affirming a sovereign, and true and living God.

The sovereign God or the sovereign self: The sovereign self gives you a whole menu of choices, while the sovereign God says, “Oh, no, your world and life view is focused upon the Triune God of Glory, it is defined by the Word of God, it is to the glory of the Father, it is secured through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and it is empowered by the Spirit of God when he indwells you.”

This is why Paul says, in Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world,” – this world and life view – “but be transformed.” How? “By the renewing of your mind so that you may prove that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.”

My dear brothers and sisters, when you come to Christ, you get a new heart, you get a new record, you get a new family, you get a new life and you get a new home. However, let me tell you don’t get: you don’t get a new mind, but you do have the Word of God and the Spirit of God and you can renew your mind and that will show up in worship – Lord’s Day worship and lifestyle worship.

It will show up in worship and, therefore, we say no to idolatria and yes to the latria of the God of Glory and the way we do it is by having God give us the Mind of Christ, by the Spirit of God, through the Word of God.

You either worship the God who has revealed Himself, or you invent a God that you can worship so that you can worship yourself, the inventor.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, for the Christian, I guess the silver lining might be that we can point to this story and perhaps, on the surface, it looks silly, but we can point to the fact that there is a part of us that God created that longs for worship.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, you were made for a relationship with God and that relationship is a relationship of worship: gathered worship with His people and lifestyle worship, whereby, you present your bodies as a living sacrifice. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, you do all to the glory of God.”

Yes, this story is so silly when we talked about doing it and I wanted to do it because it is no sillier than the silliness of the Old Testament when it talks about taking a piece of wood, cooking, and building the house and everything with it and then setting up the other half of the stump to worship.

What he’s doing is no sillier than to make football your god, to make sports your god, to make your grades in school your god or to make your athletic achievements your god. All the gods fail you. Sports are wonderful, but sports are a terrible god.

“Therefore, you cannot serve two masters; you’ll either love one or hate the other,” so the only Master we have is Jesus Christ and the only worship we want to give is to the Lord of Glory.

Artificial intelligence? That’s great but, by the way, it’s artificial and it’s only so good as what you put into it. The technology that delivers it, it’s all moral and it’s useful but, once you turn it into your object of worship, you’ve just engaged in blasphemy.

And the God of Glory, who alone should be worshipped, is a jealous God and, therefore, our idols will soon fall and, when they fall, they will consume the idolater.

However, the Lord of Glory is forever, so come to Him and know the joy of living with Him through Christ, who loved you and gave Himself for you on the cross. He’s risen and is worthy of our praise.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

7 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

476

First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

7 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

514

That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

118

“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

9 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

146

According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

410

To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.