Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryReligion

refreshing-summer-cocktails-with-a-slice-of-lime-alcoholic-drink-garnished-with-a-sprig-of-mint-citrus-and-ice-cubes-in-the-bar-stockpack-adobe-stock
Refreshing summer cocktails with a slice of lime. Alcoholic drink. Garnished with a sprig of mint, citrus and ice cubes. In the bar.

Are the New Atheists Losing Their “Cool” Quotient?

And taking Darwinism with them? A look at what’s happened in the last two decades would seem to suggest that
The Four Horsemen of the atheist apocalypse no longer ride at full gallop and a close observer has noted that their cause has devolved to social justice issues. Read More ›
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A space alien sits on a golden throne Ai generated art

William Dembski: Destroy the AI Idol Before It Destroys Us

Design theorist Dembski points to the way that chess adapted to computers to become better than ever as a way forward in the age of AI
Dembski warns that the promoters of AI as “taking over” have a vested interest in claims that keep them at the top of society’s intellectual and social order. Read More ›
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Flame of Evolution: Unveiling the Neanderthal's Discovery of Fire - A Surprising and Transformative Moment for Homo Sapiens, Marking an Astonishing Breakthrough in Ancient Culture.

Asked at Psychology Today: Were Neanderthals Religious?

We can’t poll long-dead Neanderthals on life, death, and the hereafter but the evidence we’ve dug up suggests they were thinking about that kind of thing
We must mentally step outside nature to consider things like how the world was created or what lies beyond death. Immaterial minds can do that. Read More ›
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Ancient city of Babylon with the tower of Babel, bible and religion. AI generated, human enhanced

Dembski: Does the Squawk Around AI Sound Like the Tower of Babel?

Well then, maybe that’s just what it is, he argues, in a new series of short essays
Dembski sees the breathless and implausible claims for computers that think like people as the modern equivalent of ancient idols. Here are some highlights. Read More ›
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Faith written on rural road

Science vs Religion Debate: Uselessness Cubed

Science no longer means anything like what Dr. Pierre hopes that it does
In reality, faith means that you can’t be absolutely sure that something will work but it is a reasonable belief. Read More ›
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Chinese flags on barbed wire wall in Kashgar (Kashi), Xinjiang, China.

China: An inside look at Neo-Totalitarianism

Writing in the journal Dignitas, Heather Zeiger outlines the Chinese government’s attempt at total control of the everyday life of residents of XinJiang province
This approach to government — a hybrid of totalitarian aspirations and advanced AI surveillance techniques — has been called neo-totalitarianism. Read More ›
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New Book Looks at Design in Nature From a Catholic Viewpoint

Catholic thinkers who reject Darwinism don’t focus so much on its claims about universal common descent as on its utter inability to account coherently for the human mind
n Chapter 10, Scott Ventureyra points out that, paradoxically, our weakness and capacity for sin makes us nobler than the countless life forms that cannot sin. Read More ›
real-robots-hand-with-ancient-bible-concepts-of-artificial-intelligence-development-and-machine-learning-stockpack-adobe-stock
Real robot's hand with ancient Bible. Concepts of artificial intelligence development and machine learning

“Bible GPT” For All Your Big Religious Questions

Is it a tool or a big crossing of the line?
For big questions about God, meaning, and religion, AI might not be the best listener or pastor. Read More ›
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An image of a robot meditating. Generative AI

Study: Robotic Preachers Reduce Interest in Religious Faith

They are certainly not the answer to declining attendance and involvement that some have hoped they would be
It’s not just that the robot/AI doesn’t have spiritual experiences. It can’t, and there was no thought of the matter when it was developed. Read More ›
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A green sprout sprouts from the microprocessor. A symbol of a new startup or business in the IT field of green technologies or biotechnologies. A living beginning in computers and artificial ai

“Emergence”: The College Level Version of “We Don’t Know How”

The word often permits the improbable to be considered probable for the purposes of sounding like science without providing any
No day that we can’t provide materialist explanations for everything can even be contemplated and that is where “emergence” stands bravely in the gap. Read More ›
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colorful stained glass

Consider Laying Your Phone at the Altar

What if we actually did start eliminating smartphone use in our most important social institutions?

If you’re a churchgoing person, do you check your phone during the sermon? Do you even bring it with you? Or when you’re having dinner with your spouse or a group of friends, is the draw to glance at the smartphone an almost irresistible temptation? It is for me. I’ve struggled with phone addiction since I was first introduced to my first smartphone at the age of seventeen, which I realize is way older than the average age kids get online today. But what would it look like to have social spaces totally free of these persistently distracting and disruptive technologies? A new article by Jake Meador at the online journal Mere Orthodoxy asked this question. He poses it hypothetically, Read More ›

scientist faith in platform
Scientist standing on sunny platform against building

Can Science Escape Faith-Based Beliefs? Maybe It Needs Them!

Marcelo Gleiser insists, for better or worse, science is a faith-based enterprise

Physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser (pictured) offered some thoughts recently on faith and science, noting that the scientific revolution has hardly changed the picture of faith much: “the great scientific advances of the past four centuries have not radically diminished the number of believers” in transcendent realities: If science is to help us, in the words of the late Carl Sagan, by providing a “candle in the dark,” it will have to be seen in a new light. The first step in this direction is to admit that science has fundamental limitations as a way of knowing, and that it is not the only method of approaching the unattainable truth about reality. Science should be seen as the practice of Read More ›

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The beam of light in the path of the magic forest

The Rational Magicians

Can real meaning be experienced in a godless world? The postrationalists are trying

In the era of scientific enlightenment, progress, and technological sophistication, “magic” might be the last word one might use to describe the activity of modern Western culture. We live in an age of reason, not superstition. Right? The old world of myth, mystery, and religion is holed away in museums and cathedrals; these are relics of an admirable but outdated generation. After Reason In a fascinating new article from The New Atlantis, writer Tara Isabella Burton writes about the “postrationalists,” an Internet subculture disillusioned with the technocratic rationalism of Silicon Valley and in search of a sense of the mystical and divine. “Reason,” or the modern conception of it, has left the postrationalists disappointed. Neither, however, are they flocking to Read More ›

transcranial magnetic stimulation
Female doctor does transcranial magnetic stimulation the man with a broken spine. Physiotherapy. Electrotherapeutic treatment of the back.

Recalling the Hype Around Magnets That “End Belief in God”…

The 2015 claim that transcranial magnetic stimulation reduced religious belief in research subjects received wide publicity via a then-active New Atheist movement

Researcher Joel Furches, whose area of specialty is religious deconversion, recalls the 2015 hype around magnets and God: In 2015, religious and atheist forums exploded with news of an experiment performed out at the University of California. Social media feeds were splashed with headlines like “Directing Magnetic Energy Into The Brian Can Reduce Belief In God,” “Scientists reduce belief in God by shutting down the brain’s medial frontal cortex,” and the far more on-the-nose “Scientists Claim Zapping Brains with Magnets Can Treat Belief in God”. Joel Furches, “Magnets, the Human Brain, and God” at Patheos (December 19, 2022) The New Atheist movement was pretty strong at that time (it did not become the godlessness that failed until a few years Read More ›

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Elements of Infinity

Mathematics Can Prove the Existence of God

Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne finds that difficult to believe but it’s really a matter of logic

This story was #3 in 2022 at Mind Matters News in terms of reader numbers. As we approach the New Year, we are rerunning the top ten stories of 2022, based on reader interest. In “Mathematics can prove the existence of God” (July 31, 2022), neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offers this thought: Because mathematics can show infinity, eternity, and omnipotence, it can only have proceeded from a mind with those characteristics. That’s God. In a recent post, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne takes issue with a commenter who asserts that God exists in the same sort of way mathematics exists. Here’s the analogy the commenter offered, as quoted by Coyne: Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, Read More ›

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Ritual circle in the oldest temple of world - Gobeklitepe. October 2019.

Philosophers: Religion, Not Nature, Made Us Human

Victor Kumar and Richmond Campbell argue that many very ancient human types had human minds; religion is the missing ingredient

The philosophers who make this claim are not evangelists. Victor Kumar is director of the Mind and Morality Lab at Boston University and Richmond Campbell is the George Munro professor of philosophy emeritus at Dalhousie University. In an essay at IAI News, adapted from their book, A Better Ape: The Evolution of the Moral Mind and How it Made Us Human (Oxford University Press 2022), they argue that “it was the cultural institution of religion, and its ability to create large tribes, that made us into modern humans.” Sometimes there is a story in titles. The official title of this piece is “Nature didn’t make us human, culture did.” The subtitle is “How religion made us a successful species.” But Read More ›

silver paper clips
An extreme close up image of metal paper clips

Santa Fe Prof Dissects End-of-World Super-AI Claims

There seems to be little communication, she notes, between people concerned about sci-fi AI risks and people concerned about predictable everyday risks

Santa Fe Institute professor of complexity Melanie Mitchell takes issue — in a gentle way — with those who warn about the dangers of superintelligent machines (AI alignment) destroying us all: In one scenario, for example, Oxford Future of Humanity Institute’s Nick Bostrom developed a scenario by which a super AI, told to make paper clips, might use up the world’s resources in doing so. Her comment: To many outside these specific communities, AI alignment looks something like a religion — one with revered leaders, unquestioned doctrine and devoted disciples fighting a potentially all-powerful enemy (unaligned superintelligent AI). Indeed, the computer scientist and blogger Scott Aaronson recently noted that there are now “Orthodox” and “Reform” branches of the AI alignment Read More ›

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from hypothesis to results:research & experiments on repeat

Is God Just a “Hypothesis” Like the Big Bang?

Our friend and interlocutor Edward Feser takes exception to the title of Stephen Meyer ’s recent book, The Return of the God Hypothesis. Dr. Feser writes: With all due respect, the phrase “the God hypothesis” gets my hackles up. If X is something on which the world might merely “hypothetically” depend then X isn’t God. An argument gets to God only if it establishes the reality of an X on which the world couldn’t fail to depend. Hence arguments that present theism as a “hypothesis” are – qua arguments for theism – time-wasters at best and indeed cause positive harm insofar as they yield a distorted conception of God and his relation to the world. That is not to rule Read More ›

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Intelligence artificielle

John Lennox: Transhumanism Versus Traditional Humans

In the second part of his bonus feature for Science Uprising, Oxford mathematician Lennox compares transhumanism with traditional claims to transcend humanity

In the second part of Oxford mathematician John Lennox’s bonus interview for the Science Uprising series, “John Lennox on the Transhumanist Claim AI Will Turn Humans into Gods” (October 17, 2022), Lennox talks about claims that we will merge with computers (artificial intelligence) to achieve immortality. How plausible is that? Lennox is the author of 2084:: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). A partial transcript and notes for the second half follow (the first half is here): The AI concept of transhumanism? (13:45) John Lennox: The origin of the word “transhumanism,” interestingly enough, is not secular at all. It wasn’t first used by a scientist but it was used in a translation of one of the books of Read More ›

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Blockchain blocks and their hexadecimal hash values conceptual vizualization 3D render

Modern Bitcoin’s Surprising Lesson About Ancient Scripture

It turns out there’s a striking parallel between the historical record of scripture and the blockchain ledger

This article was published in The Stream (September 13, 2022) and is republished with permission. Can we trust the authenticity of the New Testament scriptures? Trust is foundational in the acceptance of scripture. There’s an interesting lesson to learn from a very modern system of trust: money. Even Bitcoin, believe it or not. An Exchange of Trust We’ll start with old-fashioned familiar money. Why is a twenty dollar bill worth $20? It’s just a small sheet of paper, after all. The answer is trust. We trust the piece of paper has value because its worth is backed by the United States government. We also trust that Walmart will give us $20 worth of Doritos if we give them a twenty Read More ›