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-Saudi Arabia Gives Citizenship to a Robot?

by Dr. D ~ October 27th, 2017

Saudi Arabia became the first country to give full rights and citizenship to a robot. Here’s the story from the Daily Wire:

The oil-rich kingdom recently granted women the right to drive, but restricts nearly all other human rights to women. In fact, some women who are raped are actually whipped for having sex outside of marriage.

Now, the Gulf nation has granted a robot — which happens to be female — full citizenship, giving the machine more rights than human females.

With the odd move, the void-eyed humanoid named Sophia became the first robot to be granted citizenship in the entire world.

<Read the whole article>

Response: I am stumped. Apparently ‘Sophia’ doesn’t have to wear Muslim head coverings or worry about being escorted by only close male relatives in public? It seems incredible to me that this machine has more ‘rights’ than real women in this Muslim nation.

There are so many questions that one would like to ask. Is ‘she’ going to be allowed to marry or does some man or company actually own ‘her’ and therefore is sort of a slave instead? Slavery was ‘officially’ abolished in this country in 1962 but many still unofficially serve in capacities as servants that are not all that much different than traditional slavery which is still legal in some Muslim countries.

Another question- will other nations grant rights and citizenship to robots and AI machines in the future. If so, what will be the qualifications for differentiating laptops from evolved machines with some kind sense of being?

Also, will one’s understanding of God and Creation and/or evolution play into the possible acceptance of rights for our AI creations in the future? Many view humans as nothing more than evolved animals with no ‘spiritual’ destiny or separateness that might differentiate us from our own evolved AI creations.

For example, Dan Brown in his latest book- “Origin” seems to be calling for a future where AI’s have rights and eventually ‘evolve’ into becoming our ‘gods’ while the God of Creation and the Bible is totally eliminated. In addition his protagonist/scientist in the book was exploring the old sci-fi idea of downloading human consciousness and memory into machines and therefore achieving some kind of physical immortality.

Add to that all of the popular sci-fi books and TV series like Star Trek the Next Generation which have dealt with the AI rights question and have come out in favor of extending ‘human’ rights to evolved machines. So one could say that many of us are already conditioned to look for and expect some kind of future where advanced machines share some kind of parity with humans.

The biggest surprise is that it was Saudi Arabia which became the first to recognize rights for robots. I would have expected something like this to happen first in a place like ‘progressive’ California which has already given ‘godlike’ status to the environment and is the home to ‘Silicon Valley’ and all of their ‘evolving’ creations.                 *Top

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-Christian Pro-Traditional Marriage Student Group to be Banned?

by Dr. D ~ October 24th, 2017

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A Catholic Christian student group which supports traditional church teaching on marriage is facing banishment from a Catholic university? Incredible but true. Here’s the story from Breitbart:

Leaders of LGBT organizations at Jesuit Georgetown (University) have denounced the pro-marriage group “Love Saxa” as homophobic, calling on the university to strip the group of funding and to deny it access to campus facility benefits.

Love Saxa is a recently reconstituted student organization promoting Catholic doctrine regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman, which LGBT groups have decried as “directly homophobic.” …

GU Pride President Chad Gasman accused Georgetown of “funding homophobia” by providing financial assistance to Love Saxa, …

The Catholic Church also officially teaches that “no ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman” and that there are “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: So a Student group supporting church doctrine on marriage is being called a ‘hate group?’ It appears that this Christian Catholic student group may soon be banished from a private Catholic university. What next? Under the same reasoning, Pope Francis himself could also be designated as a ‘hater’ and banished off campus since he consistently supports church doctrine on marriage. 

I believe that this may be just the beginning. If this can happen in a private Catholic university then every Christian student group or organization that doesn’t support same-sex marriage is now in the crosshairs. Particularly those in public supported institutions.

Christian student groups all across the country have already been in trouble in the last several years for being ‘non-inclusive’ in their leadership. Many have been kicked off campus because their group qualifications for leadership positions require one to be an ‘actual Christian’ and therefore they have been found to be ‘discriminatory’ against non-believers, Muslims, or atheists.

Now comes this new test of orthodoxy and discrimination which demands that same-sex marriage be supported or else. Look for LGBT activists in colleges and universities all across America to rise up and push for every Christian student group that fails ‘the test’ to be designated as a ‘hate group’ and kicked off campus.                *Top

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-Things for Ministers to Avoid on Social Media

by Dr. D ~ October 21st, 2017

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It is important for ministers and church leaders to have some kind of presence on Social Media. Nevertheless there are major ways that leaders can actually undermine their ministry in the process. Read my article about this @Blogging Ministry

-Pastors and Social media: Five Mistakes to Avoid

Here’s a recent article from Christianity Today that brought this issue back to my mind for further consideration. The writer lists 3 additional things that ministers and church leaders need to avoid:

3 Ways Pastors and Church Leaders Undermine Themselves on Social Media

The 3 Things:

1. Trying to Become Famous

2. Causing Unnecessary Division

3. Sharing Fake News

<Read the whole article>

Response: Fake news is a major issue right now. Christians unfortunately are becoming ‘famous’ for passing on false information, memes, and bogus made–up problems, issues and testimonies on social media.

Lots of times stuff coming your way from others may sound good and on the ‘right side’ and it is tempting just to pass it along. But ministers and church leaders (and really all Christians) should take the time to research and verify everything. Your credibility is at stake and your followers and flock are depending on you to stand up for the truth no matter what.

Many Christian leaders have been burned in the past by promoting false memes, fake news, and bogus issues and boycotts. Unfortunately this reflects upon on the whole Christian community and can give us a bad reputation as purveyors of fake news. It only takes a minute or two to find out the truth and if you don’t have the time right now it is better not to pass it along until you do.

Ministers and leaders who receive false stuff should also inform the senders so they don’t continue to pass it on. Unfortunately some may take it personally so be careful to present the truth with lots of grace.               *Top

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-Clergy Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional Again

by Dr. D ~ October 20th, 2017

220px-Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1

A federal judge has ruled once more that the clergy housing tax break is unconstitutional. Her first 2013 ruling against the tax break was overturned by an appeals court in 2014. Now the same judge has ruled against the break in a new case initiated by the atheist group- FFRF. Here’s the story from Christianity Today:

Once again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Offered only to “ministers of the gospel,” the 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a home from the taxable income of US clergy. It’s the “most important tax benefit available to ministers,” according to GuideStone Financial Resources. …

Wisconsin district judge Barbara Crabb first ruled against the housing allowance in 2013, …

But an appeals court overturned her decision in 2014, ruling that the atheist plaintiffs from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) was not sufficiently harmed by the tax break to challenge it in court. …

…The FFRF changed how it compensates its leaders to match the housing allowances that churches give pastors, and sued again when its co-presidents were denied the tax break. On Friday, Crabb ruled in their favor again.

<Read the whole article>

For a more detailed article on the decision itself see:

Clergy Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional – Again

Response: Judge Crabb is also ‘famous’ for her ruling against the National Day of Prayer which was overturned by the 7th Circuit. Her past rulings suggest that she is hardly unbiased when it comes to religion.

Fact is the IRS allows tax housing breaks for a number of different groups including military and even college professors under some circumstances. This ruling was inspired by an activist atheist group and is just the beginning. If it is allowed to stand, look for new attacks on the tax exemption for churches and religious organizations.

Please note that the housing break for ministers is very important since the majority are vastly underpaid considering their education and the hours they put in. Also many times their residences are viewed as part of the church itself and are used for small church meetings, gatherings, and unfortunately for unsolicited ‘visits’ by parishioners.               *Top

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-Don’t Support Same-Sex Marriage- Lose Your Career?

by Dr. D ~ October 17th, 2017

US Air Force logo

We have seen it happen several times now. Some Christians who support traditional marriage are now getting in trouble and finding their careers in jeopardy. The latest is a decorated officer in the US Air Force. From Townhall:

Col. Leland Bohannon, who was on the verge of being promoted to a one-star general, was suspended from command and orders were handed down recommending he not be promoted.  …

Last May the colonel declined to sign a certificate of spouse appreciation for a retiring master sergeant’s same-sex spouse.

He was unable to do so because it would have caused him to affirm a definition of marriage contrary to his sincerely held religious beliefs.

<Read the whole article>

Response: We have seen it before and expect it to increase in the future. Christians have been fined and lost their businesses, a fire chief lost his job, a physician his new public position, a TV show dropped and more.  Some, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, are now saying that conservative Christians are no longer qualified for public service despite the Constitution. Plus, legal groups supporting the rights of Christians and religious liberty are now being labeled as ‘hate groups’ by some on the left and even in the media.

Same-sex marriage is now the ‘law of the land’ and Christians who do not support it could find themselves subjected to career oblivion, loss of employment, and discrimination in the future. Well the future is now here for this Air Force Colonel.                  *Top

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-“Origin”

by Dr. D ~ October 10th, 2017

By Dan Brown (New York: Doubleday, 2017, 480 pages)

Dan Brown Origin

Dan Brown continued his assault on religion and particularly on Christianity in a major way in ‘Origin.’ In fact the first half of the book is full of one attack after another on religion. Also according to first impressions, all of the bad characters seem to be religious while the ‘good’ folks are all atheists and agnostics.  At least that is what it seemed like in the beginning.

There are two major issues that the entire story revolves around:

1. Where did we come from?

2. Where are we going?

All of the answers to those questions coming out of religion are discounted. Particularly those coming from what Brown calls the ‘dark religions’ (like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) who insist that the answers are contained within ancient scriptures like the Bible.

Science is presented as having the ultimate answers to our origin and to where we are going. If not now then in the near future. At least this time, Brown actually researched these issues well (unlike Da Vinci Code which was full of historical mistakes) even if it’s rather one sided and far to ‘preachy.’

The philosophical conclusion given in this book is that all religions will eventually fade away. But Brown’s protagonist Professor Langdon is not so sure. He still see a role for religion in helping science deal with ethical and moral issues. Then there is the question of first cause and origin of order. Supposedly Brown’s atheist/techno-scientist is killed because he is going to present scientific answers to where we came from and where we are going that will do away with religion once and for all. But his ballyhooed presentation is actually far from conclusive or even satisfying.

A third issue comes up in the midst of the story. What about humanity’s relationship with technology and how will the evolution of AI affect our future? And finally, will some kind of controls and checks need to be placed upon Artificial Intelligence?

Dan Brown is known for turning out novels with frantic paced non-stop action that readers have a hard time putting down. ‘Origin’ continues that tradition for the first 3/4 or so then it slows down and becomes rather anti-climatic. There are major twists and turns at the finish line and some of the characters are really not at all like they seemed to be at the beginning but by then I really didn’t care all that much.

I did find the Catalonian/Spanish locations, including the art and government references, as fascinating. I looked up all of the museums, churches, and buildings referenced in the book. Then I read articles on the Spanish government, the history of the Franco era, along with reports on the current Catalonian independence controversy. All of which added a new dimension to the story for me.

I have read all of Dan Brown’s books and this one is far from being his best. Nevertheless, it will be another best seller and I fear that the one-sided observations on religion and science will be accepted and go unchallenged by many of the readers.

*Top

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