Confession time: I watched an episode of a TV show yesterday, on the web. (My TV is only for watching movies.) It was the first episode of Battlestar Galactica (the remake), which I only watched because my roommate raved about it so much. “The greatest TV show ever made.” Hm.
The premise of the show (in case any of you have not seen it yet) is similar to The Matrix and Terminator: Man makes Machines; Machines get so smart they become self-aware and decide to take over; Machines get a hate-on for humanity and try to kill us all.
This idea works only if you live in a world where self-awareness and emotions originate entirely from intelligent molecules linked together in complex systems (such as our brains). So, if our humanity (emotion, desire, fear, faith, creativity etc.) is purely a product of brain matter communicating with chemicals and electricity, then, we are basically just complex computers. And if any complex computer (like us) can learn to love, hate, and bake cookies, then surely any robot can do the same.
Now, all the materialists out there are probably thinking, This guy finally gets it, and the possibilities are endless! Yay!
Except that I believe we humans are far more than just bags of molecules bumping into each other. I believe that the matter we see around us is only a small part of what makes up the universe. I believe we have souls, spirits, the breath of God – whatever you want to call it – and that our souls are the only reason we have self-awareness, faith, fear and the ability to bake cookies. And if robots do not have souls, then they cannot ever come close to having the real emotions (and cookies, etc, etc) that we have.
Simple difference of opinion between spiritual people and materialists? I feel like it’s more than that.
Materialists have been making movies and telling stories for centuries on the basis that we have no souls, and that all our humanity originates in the grey matter between our ears. The stories can be very compelling. Religion, on the other hand, which used to be the sole bastion of spirituality, has become a lot less compelling. In fact, Religion has all but made itself irrelevant to our society. And now, materialism has taken over and given us a world devoid of spirit.
Do I want religion? No. But I do greatly value the gifts of the spirit: creativity, joy, faith, imagination, desire, learning and growth. And to reduce these to a bunch of electrons and chemicals is to devalue humanity to the same level as last year’s laptop.
So I am a very spiritual person – not religious, and not materialistic – and I see that a lot of people out there are waking up and realizing the strength of their spirits as well (despite the best efforts of the robotic script-writers out there). If enough people wake up, then we can have a world where we do not have to enslave ourselves to the robots (or to our bank accounts) – we can be fully creative and fully human.