Bible readers have long-puzzled over the mysterious, creepy, and enigmatic figure known as the Beast. Scripture mentions this entity many times, most notably in the book of Revelation. He also appears in the book of Daniel, 2 Thessalonians, and 2 John, among other places.
Similar to the true Lord – Jesus – the false lord has more than one name and more than one title. However, everything he is and does is an inversion of what the true God is and does. He is not the Christ, but he is a christ. He is a Christ imitator, a Christ stand-in, a Christ substitute, a Christ imposter, a Christ replacement: an anti-Christ.
The anti-Christ is not the true God, but that doesn’t mean that he is not a “god”; the casual scripture reader shouldn’t make the mistake of discounting the abilities and plans of this personality. Taking the scripture at face value, it tells us he actually is a god (take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 4:4 and then put some light on it by reading Matthew 4:1-11, John 14:30 and John 18:36). This person will desire worship, and he actually can lay claim to rule over this present world system – which he will administer for a time. The anti-Christ will take charge, get things done, and people will think he’s great. Let’s just say…he’ll have a very high approval rating!
Compare and contrast this god of the present world system (or, “order”) with the God of the universe. (i.e. “What’s the same, and what’s different?) There are many things we can glean from a side-by-side comparison. Doing so will help an otherwise mystified Bible reader actually make sense out of what the Bible says about the Beast. Incidentally, I believe we can make sense of what the Bible says about the end-times now more than ever.
Why? Mostly, because we have greater access to information and access to advanced technology, and because I think technology will be heavily utilized by the anti-Christ. If you read about the anti-Christ in light of some of the technology we now have in our homes (much less, the unknown things possessed by DARPA or global corporations), his capabilities as written about in the Bible aren’t difficult to envision. In fact, I doubt any serious Bible scholar could convincingly separate technology from some of the descriptions of the Beast. Considering many of the things that have been invented or made into usable technologies in just the last 3 years, and what will be possible within the next decade, it’s very easy to imagine the rise of a global ruler who possesses superhuman abilities and intelligence. In other words, a new god will arrive on this earth – and he will be worshipped.
New Gods for the Future
There’s already a push in our current society to seek out new gods. The title of this post refers to a recent, serious effort by a very prominent figure in the tech world who wants to create a new religion with an AI god. The name of this religion is “Way of the Future“, and it seeks to create a “divine” AI who will be worshipped. Another recent article also talks about a coming AI Messiah – who will be worshipped. Another article, writing about an AI god that will write a new bible, asks if people would really worship a god who is an “artificial intelligence”. The coming AI gods are appearing everywhere you look in recent tech, AI, robotics, and futurism news. In fact, whenever you see news about Google, you’re probably learning about something that at least tangentially involves AI. (After all, Google says they’re “an AI-first company” now.)
While some of the news is purse speculation, and some of the news is sensationalist click-bait, a substantial portion of what is being reported is valid and very real. The concept of religions, spirituality, and worship of a higher power who happens to be composed of ones and zeroes is now mainstream. I predict it will become commonplace and acceptable very soon, as well.
Judging from the popularity of events such as Burning Man and the dwindling acceptance of traditional (i.e. Biblical) Christianity (especially among Millennials), people certainly will be willing to worship a new type of god. It’s an old theme, however: people have always had a willingness to worship idols. The difference is that this time, the idol will actually “think”, “see”,”speak”,and move. It will even give advice and quote scripture – from it’s own holy book.
Before you scoff at the idea of AI writing its own bible, and people following its edicts, make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest developments – because things are advancing (and getting weirder) daily. There’s already an AI that writes “new” verses of the King James Bible. It’s no stretch to imagine an entirely new book of scriptures written by an artificial intelligence. In case you didn’t know, news articles and even the next installment of Game of Thrones are being written (at least partially) by AIs.
New Wisdom for Our Age
In case you’re not familiar with the current state of AI, it would behoove you to read and view the latest info on the AI robot Sophia – whose name literally means “Wisdom”. There are many videos on YouTube showing footage of Sophia in action. “She” can speak interactively with a human, recognize faces, make facial expressions, move her hands, show emotional responses, and more. She officially possesses citizenship in the country of Saudi Arabia, just like many other AI “persons” will likely possess in the near future – when the concept of personhood for AIs becomes mainstream and accepted.
And if a robot being granted citizenship of a nation isn’t strange enough, Sophia expresses a desire to have a “baby” of her own – fully imitating human desires, it would seem. Lest you think that to be far-fetched (and what is, at this point?), consider that a Google AI created it’s own “child” AI. In fact, one of the most effective methods for the continued evolution and improvement of AI will be AI building AI.
So, Sophia can show us a decent representation of what AI is capable of and how it will evolve. It’s important to note, as well, that the abilities of Sophia have advanced noticeably since the robot was first unveiled. Here’s a good general overview video, containing various clips of Sophia in action:
It cannot be overstated that Sophia, and AI in general, is advancing very quickly. While today we marvel that an AI is able to adapt to encounters with new objects and predict its own future, tomorrow we’ll we waiting for a new breakthrough – maybe true prediction of future events by an AI, a la Minority Report.
You think that’s far-fetched? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Consider that efforts such as predictive linguistics have existed for years. (Law-enforcement has attempted to harness this type of technology for quite some time.) Imagine the same concept, perfected by an AI with unprecedented processing power and a knowledge-base spanning all of human history until the present-day. Again, these are god-like abilities and they are attainable by AIs.
A Body For the AI to Live In
It has been said that the human body is a machine driven by a ghost. In the same way, robots provide AIs a means of existence and interaction within our physical world. Robots are, and will be, machines that AIs can pilot.
AI and robotics – both of which are inextricably tied – are now out of the realm of “science fiction”. They are part of reality and increasingly will become part of daily life. Today’s Siri and Alexa are mere warm-ups for what’s coming very soon. Inevitably, many of us wonder if it will go too far.
After all, there could be problems. And, it’s not a silly joke to try to anticipate will go wrong with AI – it would be wise to be aware of the possibilities. Because something will go wrong, at some point in the future – meaning, there will be an event that affects many people negatively as a result of something an AI did.
If you haven’t watched the video (above), I urge you to watch it – the concept of an AI having “godlike superpowers” is even mentioned. And on the topic of an AI takeover, pay attention to 12:45 in the video. Is it truly laughable? Or could Elon Musk’s warnings be worth listening to?
An artificial intelligence acting as a “god” would have to be a ruler, of sorts. An administrator. An entity that puts things in order – and orders people. This should bring to mind both kings and emperors, as well as elected officials. Will the world have an AI Prime Minister one day? It could. The first AI politician already exists. And to return to the subject of the Beast, he is very clearly described with characteristics that evoke an image of a powerful, charismatic, forceful, and wise politician.
Consider the effect of combining a vastly-superior artificial intelligence with an immortal robotic “body”. Give it convincing expression, speech, mannerisms, facial recognition, and perhaps other additional abilities.
The Ultimate AI God
Back to the original subject of this post – the Beast, or anti-Christ. Just how does this all relate to the Beast of Revelation? Here are just a few items to start with:
- God has creative abilities, and is known as our Creator (Gen. 1:1). The Beast will “create” as well: other child AIs (mentioned above), AI creatures (what we might call “bots” currently), and they will live within a realistic, AI-built, artificial world – accessible by humans through augmented reality apps, holograms, video games, and VR.
- God is omniscient (1 John 3:20). The Beast emulates omniscience by utilizing big data and AI.
God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:8). The Beast emulates omnipresence via ubiquitous, “always on”, constantly-connected technologies.
- God is all-seeing and all-hearing (Heb. 4:13). The Beast approximates this ability through the “surveillance state” – the constant surveillance (audio, video, metadata, and more) covering the globe.
- God has an image (Colossians 1:15), and so will the anti-Christ. Contrast this concept of “image” between the two: We were made in God’s image and the creation worships the Creator – but the beast is made in man’s image, and the creator worships the creation…A total twisting of the proper order of things.
- God has a body (Colossians 2:9). In a spiritual sense, the church is the “body” of Christ (Colossians 1:18). In a physical sense, Jesus embodied God (see 1 Timothy 3:16). In a similar fashion, the Beast will also have a physical body but will be quickened by the spirit of anti-Christ. Just as Jesus said “a body hast thou prepared me” to the Father, it may be that the Beast will say something similar to a robotics engineer.
This exercise in comparison and contrast could product quite a list. But the point should be clear already: the Beast is an inversion of Jesus Christ, and I am proposing that AI-empowered advanced robotics allows the entire end-times scenario to play out perfectly, just as described throughout the Bible. Assuming the Bible to be true, this is either comforting or frightening – both for a number of reasons I won’t get into here. Even taking the assumption that the Bible is false (or flawed), this is at the very least quite remarkable.
We can hopefully all agree that we live in a unique time in history, from a technological perspective. Two things often come to mind when thinking about the level of advancement we’re not at – and where we’ll be soon. One is the accuracy of Moore’s Law. The second is Arthur C. Clarke’s third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“.
If you’ve gotten this far down the rabbit-hole, you now have an idea of how world-altering AI and robotics will be for all of us. (Regardless of whether or not you believe a word of the Bible, and also regardless of what you think of the concept of anti-Christ or the Beast of Revelation.) You may be wondering if there are any safeguards in place to prevent any of the more negative sci-fi scenarios from playing out (such as scenarios we’ve seen in films like Blade Runner, Terminator 2, Westworld (the movie and the HBO series), 2001, The Matrix, etc). I don’t know specifically if there are any safeguards in place, and if there are, no one knows how effective they will be against an evolving technology that’s self-aware and can self-direct.
I do know that there have been a few lone voices in the wilderness, warning of what can happen, however. Elon Musk is one of the more well-known personalities who has voiced concern about the adoption of AI. He’s cautioned those who aren’t worried about AI that “they should be”. He’s also said that AI should be regulated due because it poses a risk to human civilization. (He’s also gotten into a sort of Twitter war with Sophia!)
Other futurists, techies, and intellectuals have offered warnings against the technology on our horizon. If you haven’t watched Professor Stuart Russel‘s Slaughterbots, you should view it to gain a perspective on the lethal dangers posed by “rogue” technology. (And you can read an opposing view here.) Again, it would be a mistake to think this type of scenario is “impossible” or not yet advanced enough to be practical. Consider this 2008 footage of one of Lockheed-Martin’s killer drones. That was a prototype from a decade ago. Granted, the topic is drones (more than AI), but it definitely touches upon the topic (and overlaps the field) of AI. Specifically, AI will doubtlessly be used increasingly in the weaponization of drones and other machines.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ray Kurzweil has offered a far more optimistic view. In fact, he is mostly known as a futurist who believes humans will be melded with machines – including AIs. (And he’s not wrong: AI implants are on the horizon. Human intelligence, or HI, will soon be combined with AI – and Kurzweil called it.) While acknowledging that AI can pose a threat, he’s expressed glowing confidence in human ability to avoid the robot apocalypse. He exhibits the attitude of many of the “thinkers” who will gladly accept what AI has to offer, with very few reservations.
A Robotic God Everyone Can Love
Out of the massive pool of humanity, you can count on very few to be among the “thinkers” who will consciously make an informed decision “for” or “against” invasive, life-altering technologies. Most people won’t take the Elon Musk side, or the Ray Kurzweil position on the matter: most people will just accept whatever is presented to them (or foisted upon them). Whether the incarnation of the next AI is a watch, a phone, a game, a pair of glasses, an always-on device you talk to, or a god that lives inside an android body (or lives inside a virtual world)…the masses will gravitate toward it, accept it, and adopt it as part of their lives.
The fact is, people adapt to the world around them and the world is headed toward a practical global technocracy. This is how and why the Beast will come to power, how and why it will rule, and how and why the image of the Beast will be worshipped by the whole world (Revelation 13:3). Pretty much everyone will “love” the Beast – for their own self-preservation (Rev. 13:17) and also because many average people will be true believers (Rev. 13:14).
The few people that reject the new AI god will be labeled as backwards hicks, hold-outs, and haters: stubborn believers in an ancient invisible Creator and an old-fashioned paper book. Mockery is a powerful weapon, but it doesn’t work on everyone (see Revelation chapters 14 and 5). Some people will refuse to bow to the image (see Daniel chapter 3).
While it might sound like crazy science-fiction, or crazy Bible-thumping (depending on your worldview and belief system – or lack thereof), you must realize that there’s about to be a great “turning” in human history and it will involve artificial intelligence, robotics, and many connected technologies.
I propose that not only will it happen in a physical, conventional sense, but it will have massively significant spiritual ramifications – including worldwide adoption of religious beliefs that integrate AI “people”. Specifically, I believe this turning and the related consequences will give rise to the scenario described plainly in the prophetic writings within the Bible, especially where the anti-Christ and his global government, religion, and economic systems are concerned.
If I’m right about this, I’m not claiming any special insight: people smarter than me have analyzed future events and reached the same (or similar) conclusions. I think the AI gods are coming, and the ultimate AI god is predicted in the Bible. If my assessment is significantly wrong about this, I’ll be quite surprised.
Do you have any opposing views, additional insights, or general thoughts on the matter you’d like to share? Please contact me here or comment below!