The Important New Book Helping Christians Make Sense of AI

18 June 2024

7.2 MINS

Few things keep me awake at night like Artificial Intelligence.

No, I’m not worried about Terminator-like robots taking over our world (at least not yet). But I am worried about the disruption AI will bring to every area of our lives – and very, very soon.

According to the CEO of AI company Anthropic, Dario Amodei, AI technology is accelerating faster than anyone imagined. He says it’s accelerating at an exponential rate. How could we even hope to keep up with a technology that’s advancing so fast – faster than any technology in human history? And what disruption might that bring?

To further fan this picture of the AI revolution, former OpenAI researcher and genius Leopold Aschenbrenner released a 150-page essay that has been making waves in the AI community, and no doubt among many governments. He writes:

“The AGI [i.e. Skynet level intelligence] race has begun. We are building machines that can think and reason. By 2025/26, these machines will outpace college graduates. By the end of the decade, they will be smarter than you or I; we will have superintelligence, in the true sense of the word. Along the way, national security forces not seen in half a century will be unleashed… If we’re lucky, we’ll be in an all-out race with the CCP; if we’re unlucky, an all-out war.”

Superintelligent ‘Skynet ’-level AI by the end of the decade, leading to possible war?

If those words don’t keep you up at night, I don’t know what will.

Of course, it’s not all bad news: researchers have published a new study detailing the use of AI to predict close to one million new antibiotics hidden within tiny microbes all over the world, uncovering new potential treatments against bacteria and superbugs. One entrepreneur I know is using AI to help teachers do their job better. And AI will open new industries we can only begin to imagine.

Either way, after much thought and research I’m convinced that what this cultural and historical moment needs are people who have ‘AI literacy’ – coupled with Biblical literacy – and an understanding of how the two relate. We need people who can think Christianly about what AI is, how we should approach it, and the sorts of ethical issues we need to discuss – if we’re to use AI wisely instead of being used and misused by AI.

To help fill that urgent need, Australian pastor and author Stephen Driscoll has written a masterful new book about AI, Made in Our Image – God, Artificial Intelligence and You. Driscoll aims to give Christians a grounding of AI in the unchanging principles of the Bible and allow that to shape our understanding of AI.

And he does an excellent job.

The Shape of the Book

Like increasing numbers of us, Driscoll believes that AI is a technology that matters and will last. It won’t be gone in a few years but will be transformative: ‘more like the wheel than the typewriter’.[1] And so, Driscoll begins by outlining his aim: he’s not into making hard and fast predictions about how AI will change our lives (although he does make a few sobering predictions), but rather his goal is twofold:

First, to make AI understandable – which is no small feat considering how new and intricate it is. Large Language Models, Machine Learning, Neural Networks – he explains all this in a way that would make sense to your great-aunt (chapter 2).

But his second and more important goal is to ‘figure out how the Bible might speak into our topic’ so that we have ‘a clear sense of what matters to us, and our place in God’s world, so we can make sense of the future. We won’t be able to predict the future in exact detail, so we need to know what matters most’.[2]  The unchanging principles of the Bible will help us navigate the changing space of AI.

He applies the Bible by exploring what the Bible has to say at its key turning points: Creation, Sin, The Cross of Jesus, and the New Creation (chapters 3-6, respectively).

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In Chapter 2, Driscoll explains Artificial Intelligence. The big difference between your run-of-the-mill computer programs and AI, is AI’s ability to learn and be creative.[3] They’re not just ‘programmable calculators’, but are good at ‘the very things – creativity, intuition, pattern recognition, strategic thinking – that are some of our greatest [human] strengths.’[4]

Of course, if AI can do things that we thought only humans could do – and do it millions of times better than us – what does that mean for our human identity?[5]

AI and Human Identity

In Chapter 3, ‘Identity Implosion: Creation and Artificial Intelligence’, Driscoll argues that AI will cause us to ask the question of ‘What does it mean to be human?’ with increasing urgency.[6] Of course, identity is an urgent topic already in the West ‘even before the robots came for our title.’[7]

Like Darwinism, AI will cause many people many people to re-evaluate who they are, and where their dignity comes from. The common secular God-less view of life ‘cannot carry the weight of our search for identity’. So, we look elsewhere:  work, intelligence, our clothing brands. But these fail miserably as well.

Driscoll then contrasts these thin views of identity with the amazing news of Christianity: while the secular world is in danger of losing human identity to machines, the Christian knows that ‘our identity doesn’t just flow from our intelligence, or from our moral performance… our identity is anchored’ to Christ in many ways.[8]

For me, this chapter speaks to the biggest challenge that AI will bring to humanity: not job loss or technological redundancy, but the perennial question such disruption raises about our identity. Without a rock-solid answer to ‘Who are we?’, people will find AI disruption terrifying. The Gospel, however,  gives us the anchor that will allow us to weather the storms of disruption, come what may.

Sin and Artificial Intelligence

In Chapter 4, Driscoll explores the impact that human sinfulness has on AI technology: ‘AI increases the power of the human race both to create and to destroy. Because of sin, we know in advance that AI will be used in evil ways. So, here’s our next principle: because of our doctrine of sin, Christians should be wary and cautious where others might be naïve.’[9]

What does this caution look like in practice? It’s worth quoting Driscoll at length on this question:

‘Society as a whole will need to figure out how to move forward into the AI era as wisely as possible. We will need to anticipate and minimize harms. Christians — at individual, family and church levels — may decide to act counterculturally, restricting AI or perhaps even excluding AI from our lives. We won’t be able to impose the latter option on society, but we need to make sure that AI doesn’t harmfully impose itself on us.

He continues:

At best, we can be a voice for wisdom, arguing against the worst excesses of society. Our voice might be heard or ignored, but in a democracy we have the right to speak, to organize, and to vote. Importantly, then, we need to live out what we are suggesting for our respective nations. We might not make our nations godly, but that’s all the more reason to be salt and light within them.[10]

 In other words, Christians need to be part of the cultural conversation about AI. And we begin by using it wisely ourselves.

The Cross and Artificial Intelligence

Chapter 5 is a fascinating exploration of whether ‘we have to fear artificial intelligence’.

Does it pose an existential risk, whether embodied as a robot, or just as a program on the internet?[11] This chapter is the most confronting. While it deals with technology that has yet to arrive (if it ever will), namely Superintelligent AI, companies like OpenAI, Meta, and others are openly working toward Superintelligence.

Driscoll’s big question is what happens if/when Superintelligent Skynet-level AI arises: how could we ensure it doesn’t do something at odds with human flourishing, such as destroy us?

It would need to have goals that are moral and aligned with human good.[12] But here’s the problem: as humanity, we don’t have a universally accepted morality, or vision for the good life.[13] On the flip side, what if we did have a super AI that really was holy and just? What could we expect from it? Driscoll’s answer: judgement. Think Marvel’s Destroyer AI, Ultron.[14]

And so, we’re left with a problem: what does true morality look like? Driscoll takes us to the foot of the cross, where true justice and true mercy meet. The cross provides what AI – made in the image of human beings – never could.

The New Creation and AI

In chapter 6, Driscoll explores just how far technology has brought us, even in the last few hundred years, so that we might have an idea of what the future might bring, and where our culture is tempted to place its hope. [15] Despite our enormous advances in material well-being, to the point of overabundance for so many, Westerners are still sad. Thus, increased productivity and wealth — and even lifespan — brought about by AI will not deliver the happiness and contentment people desire.[16]

However, Christians do have real hope:

“The deepest hope of a Christian isn’t the wealth, health and freedom that artificial intelligence offers. It isn’t the unbundled life, the life of individual freedom. You aren’t hoping to go your own way. Our hope is God — God without separation, God without end.” [17]

The Real Coming Change

Driscoll finishes by noting that while AI has been developed and is being unleased, changing our world in ways we can only begin to imagine, a far greater world-transforming event has already happened:

Jesus has died and been raised from the dead. Sin and death are defeated. The kingdom has arrived, and we must share that news. The future isn’t individual unbundled freedom. It’s us and the Lord Jesus, a bride and a groom, a people and their King.

We can’t predict the middle, but we know the end. God will be with his people, and hispeople will be with him.[18]

That is excellent news for people like me (and possibly you?) who find themselves overwhelmed by what AI might bring in the next few years.

‘Made in Our Image’: AI Literacy for Christians

In his book, Driscoll has given us the beginnings of AI literacy: a framework and principles through which to think about AI Biblically.

If AI is confusing or scary to you, then this book will give you the perspective not only to understand AI, but to see it through a Biblical lens: a lens that says AI is good, but fallen. It is made in our fallen image, and will not bring heaven to earth, even as we can and should use it for good things.

This perspective is vital as we begin navigating our increasingly AI-saturated world.

Made In Our Image’  by Stephen Driscoll is available now from Matthias Media.


[1] Stephen Driscoll, Made In Our Image – God, Artificial Intelligence and You (Matthia Media, Sydney, 2024), 5.

[2] Driscoll, 19.

[3] Driscoll, 31.

[4] Driscoll, 31.

[5] Driscoll, 42.

[6] Driscoll, 45.

[7] Driscoll, 46.

[8] Driscoll, 59-60.

[9] Driscoll, 74.

[10] Driscoll, 92.

[11] Driscoll, 96.

[12] Driscoll, 99.

[13] Driscoll, 99-101.

[14] Driscoll, 109.

[15] Driscoll, 116-117.

[16] Driscoll, 128.

[17] Driscoll, 141.

[18] Driscoll, 142.


Republished with thanks to Akos Balogh.

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  1. Warwick Marsh 18 June 2024 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Akos Balogh was born in Communist Hungary so he well knows the sin of making Government or technology God. Akos is not naive about the dangers of A1 technology but he rightly points to Christian Values found in the Holy Bible as the only way to cope with the new challenges that AI is bringing to us all! Akos Balogh is brilliant Gospel thinker and writer. This article shows it!!!!!!

  2. Alyse Anderson 21 June 2024 at 7:29 am - Reply

    A great article, i went to sleep pondering what AI could mean for the future. Before bed I happened to see the TV, hubby was watching weather events, mud slides, volcanoes, twisters, ice shifts, floods, raging rivers, all a bit too intense for me. This morning, contemplating and worshiping, I found that i was thinking about the Flood from Genesis, what that would have been like, What the tower of Babel, would have been like. The I remembered that we are Saints, Priests, Intercessors, Ambassadors, Cooee Warriors for the Most High God who is over, through and in every molecule of the universe and in control. Then i remembered we must continue to be circumspect, diligent and make wise choices inline with his revealed will. All wisdom is from Him and He is a giver of good things. So to put AI in perspective I think I will continue to seek His wisdom and have a healthy reverential fear of Him and all else Papa God will handle.

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