Paul Scherz , assistant professor, moral theology, published commentary in Crux on Artificial Intelligence and Church teaching. See below.
From: Crux Date: Feb. 27, 2017Author: Paul Scherz
In a recent essay in The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt laments that theologians and Christian leaders, including Pope Francis, have not addressed what he claims will be the greatest challenge that Christianity has ever faced: Artificial Intelligence, or "AI."In his view, intelligent machines threaten to overturn many Christian beliefs, a trial that theologians seem blind to because "they're stuck rehashing old questions instead of focusing on the coming ones."Such a criticism would be devastating if true, but is it?A fuller reading of Pope Francis's work suggests that he is actually engaging the issues with AI that most directly affect the contemporary Church and society. Before I get to that, though, it's necessary to give Merritt's argument his due. Most theologians are indeed not addressing the specific aspects of AI that he considers essential, but this is a wise choice on their part.First, it's important to note that "rehashing old questions," or what Catholics like to call the development of tradition, provides many insights into these questions. For example, Merritt claims that "Christians have mostly understood the soul to be a uniquely human element, an internal and eternal component that animates our spiritual sides." ...
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