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.

13 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

13 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

15 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL