The world in which we live today is so different in many ways to the world that the authors of the Christian Scriptures inhabited. This being so, Christians must continually reinterpret the moral lessons of the Bible so that we can heed their guidance in the 21st Century.
One area that presents a problem in this respect is our growing reliance on technology and artificial intelligence. The inventions of the digital age present us with scenarios that are unprecedented in human history, and pastors and theologians need to respond. In this short post I will reflect a little on some of the new moral problems Christians will face in the coming years.
It may make Christians feel deeply uncomfortable, but it’s likely that robots capable of sexual intercourse will be widely available before long. Some people might regard these as elaborate sex toys, but the question arises: If a married person engages in intercourse with a robot, have they committed adultery?
It would seem obvious to me that such an activity would be adulterous, but such a perspective is necessarily subjective as there is no guidance on this issue in the Bible. Perhaps the Catholic Church could score a few points here, as they could argue that the magisterium exists precisely to provide clarity on issues such as this where guidance is not explicitly found in Scripture.
This is one example of a wider issue which is that new inventions are increasingly blurring the line between what is biological and what is technological. We see this in the area of genetics and genome editing, one issue being whether or not it’s morally acceptable to tamper with genes if such tampering will lead to the eradication of certain diseases, for instance.
In the coming years, every Christian is going to face difficult moral decisions concerning the extent to which they allow technology to infiltrate their biology. Electronic implants are already widely available for a variety of purposes, and it might not be long before we find ourselves under pressure to yield to invasive technologies that compromise those aspects of our lives where we currently enjoy biological freedom.
What do you think? Is the church ready to deal with such issues? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. My new single entitled ‘Machines Taking Over the World’ will be released on 10th March 2018.