That’s right, you heard me… *drops the keyboard*
There has been a recent obsession in films (see link) over the following questions: in the future, will human beings be able to create a robot with consciousness? If so, would the robot be any less valuable than the humans who created it? The answer to those questions I don’t know but…
For the existence of God and truth of Christianity, it doesn’t matter
Wouldn’t Robot Consciousness mean humans are as powerful as God?
Isn’t creating and destroying life supposed to be something that only God can do? Wouldn’t it show that there is no God if we could do things that God alone is supposed to be able to do? Actually, the bible seems to suggest otherwise. In the book of Genesis, when mankind attempts to build the “tower of Babel,” God responds,
“…if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6-7, NIV)
The bible actually seems to confirm that humans have the ability to pretty much do anything if God doesn’t stop them. According to the bible, something highly significant happened when Adam ate the apple (or more likely, the fig). It wasn’t just the serpent that promised that this act would make us “like God,” God actually confirmed that this happened, “…the man has now become like one of us…” Jesus also seems to agree—see John 10:33-35 (link).
I am not saying human beings are God. However, according to the bible, there is some sense in which we are like God and theoretically have the power to do pretty much anything (see the quote in bold above). So the bible actually seems to confirm that, yes, we could create life. We could even create robot life. That we could do this doesn’t in any way disprove Christianity for it is the Christian bible itself that says mankind can theoretically do anything.
But doesn’t that mean God is not all-powerful? (Philosophical objection)
No, because God can stop us. It is one thing to be capable of anything, it is another thing to be able to use that capability. The inhabitants of Babel who tried to build a tower to the heavens were able to do this if God didn’t intervene. But God did intervene. While we may be theoretically capable of making a conscious robot, God may still orchestrate events to see that this capability is never realized. There are all sorts of things God could do to distract us from the task of making conscious robots (end the world, end our desire to make a conscious robot, or get all mankind to become so obsessed with the Westminster Dog Show that they just plain don’t have the time). God could stop it if He wanted. And even if He allowed it, this wouldn’t show He was forced to allow it.
Would Robots be as valuable as humans?
I don’t know, though regarding the truth of Christianity it doesn’t matter. On Christianity human beings are made in the image of God and are therefore inherently valuable. This would be true whether or not your toaster was alive and wrote you sincere love-poetry.
Though if atheism is true it is a far different situation. If atheism is true there doesn’t seem to be a real reason to think that humans are more valuable than any other animal (click link) let alone robots that could feel emotion, fall in love, and join all rational human beings in hating Justin Bieber. And if your computer’s massive memory is any indication—I think it is measured in, “giga-humongo-gladiator-bytes” now—robots could be much smarter than you and I. So while on atheism there doesn’t seem to be a reason to consider humans more valuable than a conscious toaster, on Christianity it could still be argued that mankind was special as they are the only beings mentioned in the bible as being made, “in the image of God.”
So despite first-impressions, the possibility of a conscious Robot doesn’t touch the existence of God or truth of Christianity. Even if your nose-hair trimmer was more sincerely and madly in love with you than Juliet was for Romeo, it wouldn’t make Christianity any less likely. And if Christianity is indeed true it is far from clear that God would allow humans to create conscious robots. After all what would happen if this machine had to endure becoming aware of what it was?