CONTRA ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

“Artificial intelligence” is an oxymoron
Because it doesn’t take into account
The fact that human intelligence encompasses both the material and the spiritual.

Soulless “things” like computer programs, no matter how cleverly designed,
Will never achieve freedom, by definition –
And this is why the “singularity” cannot occur –
Relying, as it does, solely on material evolution.

Since God (and the “true self”) are free
This scientific/technological project to create “artificial intelligence” –
Inevitably has to end up as a complete waste of time.

Inherent in religion is the acknowledgement of God’s freedom –
Along with that same potential in human beings –
But this traditional understanding,
Unfortunately, long ago, got entangled up with various ideas of materiality.

Artificial intelligence is merely the “last gasp”
Of all the myriad materialistic conceptions of the Holy put forward over the ages
Until human beings finally come to understand that there’s actually no serious alternative
To engaging in a path of “spiritual” evolution.

HOW QUICKLY CAN CHANGE COME – IN INSTITUTIONAL RELIGION?

Are religious institutions subject to evolution? And, if so, how quickly can change come within them?

In species evolution, it can take millions of years for a significant change to occur, but, sometimes, it can come much more quickly, e.g., in just a few generations for bird beaks that can no longer effectively open naturally-available seeds. (See, The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Wiener, Knopf, 1994).

But religions seem to roll along for millennia without much change even though, today, if humanity doesn’t soon begin experiencing a world-wide democratic spiritual transformation, the earth may be in serious danger from the collective grave military, environmental, and health threats currently confronting us.

Today, though, priests still find themselves standing behind their sacramental tables holding up what they believe is holy.  Or reciting age-old stories, with a bit of effort to make them fresh. However, only once in a very long while, does an individual person come into the world and propose major spiritual changes. But, unfortunately, soon after they die, they’re replaced by previous ancient spiritual mechanisms that have been re-formulated by the kind of people who want to earn a living and gain respect from the management of religion.

Because so few people have ever seriously attempted a major revision of religion – and they have usually arrived so far apart in time – there’s always been plenty of room for the managers of religion to manipulate the new spiritual ideas and images into something else entirely.

That’s why we need to have a lot more of these people – a really lot! And they need to keep coming.

If that happened, perhaps in just a few generations, like the finches, human beings as a species might start experiencing profound and permanent spiritual change. And later, looking back, people might wonder what took so long.

So, are we ready to take a peek outside our seemingly unchangeable false selves and religious institutions to begin a fresh search for a true God, as well as for our true selves?

Wait a minute, you mean now?

Yes, now – why not now?!

THE NECESSITY OF FREEDOM IN ACHIEVING SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION

The more I think about what’s required for us to evolve spiritually, the more I have ended up thinking about freedom.  In Diner Mystic, I included a Zen quote by Lin-Chi, that says:

“O you followers of Truth! If you wish to obtain an orthodox understanding of Zen, do not be deceived by others.  Inwardly or outwardly, if you encounter any obstacles kill them right away.  If you encounter the Buddha, kill him; if you encounter the Patriarch, kill him; … kill them all without hesitation, for this is the only way to deliverance.  Do not get yourselves entangled with any object, but stand alone, pass on, and be free!”

At the time, I thought he was right, but hadn’t yet thought all the way through just why he’s right.  Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that the essential nature of God is freedom – that it’s impossible for God to exist without absolute freedom.  Any ideas that we have of God that are less than this, or that restrict God’s freedom in any way, are just plain wrong. It’s difficult, however, for human beings to think clearly about a God who has this kind of absolute freedom – because it’s difficult to think about what possessing that kind of freedom would mean for human beings themselves.  Without this freedom, God is not God and, equally so, without it, it would never be possible for human beings to discover their true selves.  It’s that important!

I intend to address this issue of spiritual freedom more fully in my next post.

SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION

Isn’t it becoming clear that evolution in the material world has taken us just about as far as we’re going to go – and that this obviously will not be enough?  Sadly, our prospects as a species are probably going to be pretty dim if that’s all we’re ever going to have.

Only by humanity evolving spiritually gives us a good chance of surviving “over the long haul”.

If that’s true, the main issue is how to do it – how can we evolve spiritually? We’ve had the benefit of some pretty amazing spiritual teachers, long ago, who arrived in the world and dedicated themselves to helping us – and this certainly has had a largely positive effect – but now, spiritually, we seem to be stalled – just drifting.

So what’s the next step?

Most of us believe that the only real path available is that of material evolution – i.e., we need to become even more intelligent and harder working – which, after all, gets us into a top universities and, ultimately, allows us the best chance of entering on important and prosperous careers.  Yet this path, if continued over an extended period of time, could actually lead to the separation of humanity into different “species,” distinguished by high IQs and broad cultural knowledge, on the one hand, so that only highly intelligent, hardworking manipulators, and, ultimately, maybe even self-programmable computers, as opposed to spontaneous, loving, truthful, and just human beings, will eventually end up inheriting the earth.

I think it’s time that we make a conscious choice as to which evolutionary path we should take. For example, in Diner Mystic, I wrote: “Spiritual evolution … enable[s] humanity to escape the hard steel rails of material evolution.  Spirituality won’t necessarily increase our intelligence, or our ability to manipulate the material world, but it could eventually evolve us into an entirely different type of humanity – the kind envisioned by Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed.”

Let’s take that path and relinquish a materialistic one that ultimately ends up in a non-human, non-God kind of world!