Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 25 October 2023

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The Gospel according to Brian and Gaby or GS 2328 – you choose

Evan McWilliams ViaMedia.News Doing A New Thing? The Ordination of Women and Same-Sex Love

John Seymour ViaMedia.News ‘That Which He Has Not Assumed Is Not Redeemed’: Jesus, Sexuality and GS2328

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Barbara Andrew
Barbara Andrew
5 months ago

That is a description of the Church I remember loosely described as South Bank Religion in the days of Mervyn Stockwood. I’m afraid the Anglican Umbrella is no longer wide enough and I believe , sadly, that we must part company with those who cannot cope with a truly inclusive church.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Barbara Andrew
5 months ago

Interestingly, the evangelical Anglicans in the C of E in the 1960s tell us that they did not find this broad-minded church to be a welcoming place – witness the very small number of them who were in leadership positions at the time, and the way they tended to create their own networks for support, as their views and contributions were not generally welcomed in the wider church.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
5 months ago

I can concur with that, Tim. There were angry articles in ‘Renewal’ magazine in which charismatic/evangelical hopefuls complained of being sidelined or even refused ordination because they would not shift from their very narrow views. Indeed, having struggled to learn the spirit’s message of tolerance from more broad minded Christians, it came as something of a shock when a local house church leader told me they didn’t regard tolerance as a fruit of the spirit!

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Barbara Andrew
5 months ago

It was indeed known as South Bank Religion, Barbara, and it was what inspired me as a Christian and led me, despite my awareness of what the wider church seemed to expect of gay people, to ordination and parish ministry. I left parish ministry in 1996, just before the fateful Kuala Lumpur Conference, Lambeth 1.10 and the blocking of Jeffrey John’s appointment as Bishop of Reading. The self-proclaimed homophobic, anti-gay bill supporting “true Christian” majority now rule. The flame of South Bank lives on in the few who are still inspired to a radical new inclusion..

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
5 months ago

|If I can just say, Colin, I relly enjoyed your article (OK, I’m a Brian Cox fan as well) and it made a lot of sense for me. Thanks. And, whether CEEC, Peter, Gafcon and co accept it or not, I still believe that God’s love is inclusive.

Peter
Peter
5 months ago

Colin Coward’s piece promulgates an absolute travesty of what is being recognised by CEEC as a possible solution to the current deadlock.

Nobody thinks that possible solution is likely. Absolutely nobody thinks it is anything other than the least worst available option for the future.

Can we at least talk about it in calm and factually correct terms.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
5 months ago

It is astonishing that a 32 year old Evan McWilliams could be ordained deacon whilst believing God made the earth in six days. Happily his preposterous view of Scripture has developed to the extent that he believes Genesis is a myth. He deduces from this women can be ordained and gay people allowed to marry because the Bible isn’t an eternal recipe book. The fact that he could be ordained in the CofE believing such evangelical nonsense speaks volumes. There are still clergy who haven’t experienced Mr McWilliams’ belated damascene conversion. They are still spouting nonsense from which others pay… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

He is probably not to blame, but it does make one question courses in preparation for ordination. Candidates must be exposed to the latest scholarship, including scholarship that they may find uncomfortable and challenging. I wonder whether this is happening at some colleges/courses, naming no names.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Shamus
5 months ago

Theological college as I experienced it was more of a smorgasbord of theological views presented on a loose spectrum of ‘traditional/orthodox’ to ‘progressive/less orthodox.’ Often controversial topics were addressed indirectly or not at all. There was no sense that we were collectively striving for the truth, but rather that we were attempting to ‘present and understand the range of opinion within the Church’.

Incidentally, my changing views happened ‘from the ground up’, so to speak. Genesis was the last thing to shift, not the first.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

I still fail to see how anyone can live in a post-darwinian society and persevere with pre-scientific views, have them upheld as acceptable by a theological college, and then present them as a “range of opinion” to be commended to unsuspecting congregations.

Wm Arthurs
Wm Arthurs
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

I should have thought the timeline was more like this. Biblical literalism is the modern (post-invention-of-printing) viewpoint, while all commentators had always understood prior to this, that the deeper meanings of Bible stories were expressed as complex allegories. As a “traditionalist”, I do wish to follow in that tradition.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

I can’t say I recall the topic of 6-day creation ever coming up during my training, at least not in such a way that would have prompted a discussion about ‘pre-scientific views’. In depth examination of biblical hermeneutics was not a strong point. That said, I also don’t think it’s safe to assume we live in a society that thinks along post-darwinian or scientific lines. The predominance of astrology, crystals for healing, and ‘thoughts and prayers’ suggests we are just as superstitious as we ever were. The only difference is that the ecclesiastical focus that used to hold society together… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

I cannot accept that astrology is a majority pursuit or that most people use crystals rather than the NHS when they are ill. You seem to suggest England is inhabited by hippies and Creationists who have never heard of evolution and are scientifically ignorant. Surely many people have rejected religion because of their mistaken view that Christians hold views like biblical inerrancy and other superstitious nonsense. When I was at theological college, many years ago, we were never told the earth wasn’t flat. We just assumed it wasn’t. And it never entered our minds that the age of the Universe… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

Clearly not enough time has been spent on Instagram or TikTok. Superstition of one form or another (like conspiracy theories) is rife! And having worked in the NHS myself, I can confirm that those who use it are no more or less ‘scientific’ in their worldview than anyone else.

The idea that the 20th century ushered in an age of rationality is nonsense. At best it’s a veneer.

Last edited 5 months ago by Evan McWilliams
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

It’s frightening that someone who has worked in the NHS has such a tenuous belief in science. Conspiracy theories on TIkTok are no reason to become irrational and embrace religious nonsense like Creationism.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

I hope I’ve been sufficiently clear that I’m speaking of my experience of patients, not my own views! Humans are not rational creatures by nature, and the continuing state of the world should be sufficient evidence of this for anyone with eyes to see.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

I don’t believe the majority of NHS patients are superstitious, believing in horoscopes and crystals above the medical and scientific skill of clinicians. Most people are willing to put their faith in our caring NHS staff rather than conspiracy theories on TIkTok. You seem to have encountered a rather unusual set of patients with outlandish beliefs.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

FrDavidH, you seem to be living in an Enlightenment time-warp. I’m turning 65 in a week, and I’ve been ministering for decades in a post-Enlightenment world. Forty years ago, there might still have been a common belief that science can provide all the answers. I rarely encounter anyone today who believes that. Hence, post-modernism. Hence, in another direction, populism and Trumpism. Hence, in the 1990s, the enormous popularity of people like Jo-Jo the Psychic.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
5 months ago

I’m not saying science has all the answers. I don’t think most people believe in magic, crystals or astrology , none of which lead to human advancement

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
5 months ago

It would be interesting if someone could do a survey to ascertain the percentage of people who read the Bible daily and compare it with the percentage who check their horoscope daily.

Hearing someone say, “I’m a pisces, therefore…’ is not an uncommon experience for me. (A more respectable variant in Christian circles is to hear people explain their behaviour in terms of of their Enneagram number!).

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

G .K.Chesterton’s remarks ” When people stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything”?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Perry Butler
5 months ago

It is more worrying when people, who believe in God, come out of theological college and “believe in anything” – including a six-day timeline for Creation.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

I have a Masters of Arts degree in mathematics. I like to think I am logical.

My personal assessment is that a six day creation by Almighty God is more likely than a universe appearing out of nothing (which breaks entropy laws and creates energy from nothing) and then the creation of life which science still can’t explain. Take a look – there are so many impossible steps that life as we know it is literally impossible.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate Keates
5 months ago

What did the authors of Genesis know that we don’t?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

How to milk a camel? And other useful information.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate Keates
5 months ago

It is true that the cause of the creation of the universe is something that is outside scientific study. The creation of life from non-life though is definitely within the realm of science, and it is possible to sketch out a plausible path by which it might have occurred (though that is a long way from establishing a scientifically-proven path). But while the actual moment of creation might lie outside scientific explanation the sequence of events after that point is reasonably well explained, even if there are gaps (I almost said “black holes”) and there is not a single unified… Read more »

Kyle Johansen
Kyle Johansen
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

@Simon You are absolutely correct that there is no Earthly way for the author of Genesis to know how the universe began. But you need to come up with some explanation for why when the rest of the world had a creation by warring gods or by the repurposing of existent material or divine essences that the author of Genesis managed to write: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Now when a Christian came up with the Big Bang theory thousands of years after Genesis was written – I presume you acknowledge that Genesis was… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Kate Keates
5 months ago

I would suggest then that, despite your MA in maths, you really do not understand quantum physics (hence your confusion about entropy, etc.) or biochemistry (hence your confusion on the creation of life).

This is not to say that I have any deep understanding of them, either, but I accept the explanations of those who hold PhDs in those subjects (some of whom are friends or acquaintances).

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
5 months ago

I take issue with Kate Keates on plenty, but she clearly does understand the second law of thermodynamics – order cannot appear ahead in time of disorder across the span of space.

Your PhD acquaintance will quibble over the definition of time, space and disorder – fair enough. Your one-line dismissal of Kate’s point is just a personal swipe.

Likewise, Kate is correct on the issue of abiogenesis. Your comment fails to differentiate between biochemistry and chemistry which is Kate’s essential point.

Nobody has come even close to producing a pathway from chemistry to biochemistry.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

“Nobody has come even close to producing a pathway from chemistry to biochemistry.” My reading is that there are now plausible hypotheses for this, hypotheses that can be tested in the lab. The ideas espoused by biochemists such as Nick Lane and others around deep sea hydrothermal vents, which have a micro-environment not unlike that of living cells, seem quite possible to me (who is not a biochemist at all, so not claiming any expertise). The Wikipedia article on abiogenesis gives an overview of this and other ideas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

You put your finger on the fault in the claims being made which can be “tested in the lab”.

They can cook up bits of stuff in the lab. That proves literally nothing. Life did not start in a laboratory

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Indeed, life was (probably) not created in a lab. That does not mean that laboratory testing does not prove anything. Laboratory testing can show that something is possible. Obviously that does not prove that it actually did happen that way, but it shows that it is plausible that it could have done so.

But your statement was that “Nobody has come even close to producing a pathway from chemistry to biochemistry”. My contention is that perhaps they have, and that lab experiments can indeed help prove that.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

Nick Lane has drawn some pictures on pieces of paper. That is all.

He, like everybody else, has not come even close to producing a pathway from chemistry to biochemistry.

Life is stuff. If you have not made stuff, you have not shown anything at all.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Er, Nick Lane is a professor at University College London. Have you actually read anything he (or other actual practitioners in this area, e.g. Franklin Harold) have written? Have you read about any of the experiments he and others are undertaking? There are scientific papers as well as accounts for the more general reader. Or are you just being dogmatic?

(And by the way, I wrote about ideas which are “plausible”. And about “hypotheses”. These are not proven scientific facts.)

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

I have a degree in Biochemistry from King’s College London. I can assure you that there has not been a single instance – not one – in which the synthesis of a chain of amino acids comparable to even the simplest relevant protein has been achieved under circumstances that are meaningful. (For the avoidance of doubt, the habit of abiogenesis researchers of buying pre-manufactured compounds from industrial suppliers and just building on “another bit of stuff” is a problem). Two words which would be worth putting in google if the field of study interests you are “half-life” and “chirality” There… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Thank you. I am glad to know that your statements are not just throw-away — it is very hard to know from just reading comments! I have admitted my amateur status in this field (my background is in physics), but I have read some of the literature. I guess actually we are arguing over the meaning of the word “plausible”. I was using it to mean that an idea might work and is not incompatible with what we do already know. Something which is close to an initial scientific hypothesis. You seem to be using the word to mean something… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

You will know better than I do, the extent to which quantum reality has taken us into the world of Alice in Wonderland. Except it is real not fiction.

Biochemistry has something of that to it also. Each discovery shows that life is more not less mysterious.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

“I still fail to see how anyone can live in a post-darwinian society and persevere with pre-scientific views…” Surely that just depends on where one draws the ‘plausibility line’? Miracles, bodily resurrection, and ascension – at least, a literal belief in them – are not provable by scientific means. In fact, it could be argued that science proves that they are all impossible and, therefore, unbelievable. Why is a literal belief in the creation story in Genesis ‘preposterous’ and ‘spouting nonsense’ but a literal belief in bodily resurrection not preposterous and not nonsensical? As someone outside the Christian belief system… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
5 months ago

I might venture a number of suggestions (some of which would be very close to the position you have yourself expressed). But there is a difference between the resurrection and the creation, even within their narratives. In the resurrection narrative there are witnesses to the risen Christ. There are no human witnesses to the creation story. Even if one thinks of them as myths, they are different types of myth.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Laurence Cunnington
5 months ago

There is a qualitative difference between the Genesis narrative, which requires large tracts of scientific evidence to be wrong, and the Resurrection, which alleges a one-time violation of the “rules” took place. Believing the Resurrection only(!) requires that you believe God capable of breaking the rules; believing the Genesis account of creation requires either that God faked the evidence of the deep past of this world and the wider universe or that science is utterly inept (or, worse, deliberately falsifying information).

Kyle Johansen
Kyle Johansen
Reply to  Jo B
5 months ago

No, it doesn’t. Adam was made a man. If you looked at him fresh from the dust you wouldn’t have thought he was a few seconds old. Would that have been God faking the evidence, or science being utterly inept?

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
5 months ago

“There was no sense that we were collectively striving for the truth, but rather that we were attempting to ‘present and understand the range of opinion within the Church’.” Isn’t that the problem at all levels in the C of E at present?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
5 months ago

Rather longer Fr D. The 1938 Report “Doctrine IN the Church of England”.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  FrDavid H
5 months ago

You are astonished that someone could be ordained and hold such views, I am equally astonished that two ordained clergy in my diocese actually believe and teach that Jesus was not divine and had to repent of his sins before God could use him. I find that much more troublesome. Their churches both belong to the inclusive church network too.

Francis James
Francis James
5 months ago

In the armed forces the classic response to “why do you make that report/paper/tactic so complicated?” was to say “Sorry, I did not have time to make it simple”. After some 5 years those behind LLF & GS 2328 have no such excuse. I almost lost the will to live trying to read through GS 2328. It is a truly dreadful example what happens when you have no clear aim, and everyone in the committee wants to have an input.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Francis James
5 months ago

“It is a truly dreadful example what happens when you have no clear aim, and everyone in the committee wants to have an input.”

Which brings to mind the following: “God so loved the world….that he didn’t send a commttee….”

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
5 months ago

I am in my sixties. It’s easy to reminisce about how good things used to be. I know that. And yet, even allowing for that, I think Colin Coward is absolutely right when he talks about diminishment. The rate of decline is increasing. I fear where we are headed.

Mark
5 months ago

The point that Colin Coward makes about the way religion can sometimes diminish our humanity, rather than enhancing it, reminded me of the famous line written by the great Danish churchman of the 19th century, Gruntvig: “Menneske først og kristen så,” or “firstly human, and then Christian.”

The humane approach to Christianity promoted by Nordic Lutherans such as Gruntvig has enabled those churches to deal much better with the whole area of human sexuality, compared to the frankly inhuman (as well as illogical, unpastoral and mean-spirited) line taken by the C of E’s recent and current bench of bishops.

Peter
Peter
5 months ago

Quite the most extraodinary claims are made on the basis that “science /scientific evidence has….”

Darwinism is a secular creation story. The title of his most important book was not “On the origins of life”. The title was “On the origins of the species”.

By the time we get to abiogenesis, we are in the realm of pure fiction. Fair enough. People want to believe in something. That is all they are doing.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Darwin indeed had no evidence for discussing the origin of life (though his book does speculate on the subject). 150 years later we do have evidence, and investigating abiogenesis is a reasonable are of scientific investigation. There are some things which are outside the realm of scientific investigation, but I see no reason to think that the origin of life is one of them. To consider that it requires some “outside” intervention is tantamount to believing in a “God of the gaps”, gaps which become ever smaller as scientific knowledge advances.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

I quite agree that abiogenesis is a valid field of study ! It’s current status resembles that of the equally valid search for extraterrestrial life.

Both endeavours have found nothing.

I am a bit mystified by your difficulty with “outside” intervention. Anglican convictions include a recognition of the transcendent and supernatural.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

These are rather different fields of study. One of them is a survey and cannot be lab-tested, and it has few hypotheses and theories. The other is a fertile area for thinking and experimenting. The advances in biochemistry over the last 60 or 70 years have very much changed the landscape — our understanding of how cells work and of biochemical processes and the catalysts they use (and which are continuously occurring on factory-scale within all the cells of our own bodies) has developed enormously: we pretty much know what living is and how it works. That enables us to… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

I am afraid you misunderstand the field of biochemistry.

The developments over the last sixty years have allowed us to appreciate how little we understand the cell – not how well we understand it.

You say “we pretty much know what living is and how it works”. Forgive me, Simon, but this assertion could not be more wrong.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

I don’t claim to understand the complexity of biochemistry! I was paraphrasing Franklin Harold, Professor emeritus of biochemistry who wrote in his book “On Life” (OUP, 2022, page 166) “The science of biology graduated from the 20th century with … a cler sense of ‘what life is’. He then goes on to critique this somewhat and to summarize what we don’t know, but my experience is always that the more you know the more you realize you don’t know!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Actually, the title was not ‘On the origins of the species’ but ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. The word ‘species’ refers mainly to animals. If memory serves me correctly, the human species is rarely mentioned in the book.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
5 months ago

The distinction I was making, Tim, was between “species” and “life”.

The additional part of the title which you quote is redundant in relation to the distinction which was the subject of my comment.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Actually, the title is “On the origins of species” (no second “the”). Darwin was describing the manner in which one species develops out of another. Watson and Crick, some 100 years later, discovered the precise method by which this occurs.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
5 months ago

Good for you, picking up my typo via a google search. I am afraid your grasp of biochemistry and evolutionary biology is a little less secure. Watson and Crick discovered a means by which information is transmitted from one generation to the next. Darwin was describing the impact of the environment on species adaptation. You are “joining up the dots” in a way which no biochemist would regard as remotely convincing. You want to tell a story and are fitting bits of ideas together to make the story. Plenty of people do that – it has nothing whatsoever to do… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

(And in correcting a typo he added another, as is the aw [typo noticed but left in!] of the internet!) As for Watson and Crick’s discovery, the means by which information is transmitted is one strand, but the other is that imperfections in the copying of the genetic material can lead to heritable traits that might be beneficial or otherwise to the next or a subsequent generation in a particular environment, and therefore lead to the variation upon which Darwinian selection can act. I take Pat’s words to be a shorthand for something along those lines. Genes, though, are not… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

Simon, There is no such thing as a “long neck gene” in the giraffe. There really is no such thing ! Nevertheless, lets enter into the spirit of the idea. Suppose there was a gene that had a marginal impact on vascular efficiency. Perhaps that would be a step in the right direction. However, there is actually a lot going on in the top half of a giraffe apart from its veins. So genes are needed for all those things. All of them. They all need to have arisen in the right chronological order. They all need to have been… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

“Long neck gene” — whose strawman is that? Not mine. There is no requirement for variations to arise in the “right” chronological order, and there is no requirement for them or their “gradual accumulated impact” to be “benign immediately and continually”. Any variation which is sufficiently deleterious will likely be eliminated because the body in which it lives will not survive to reproduce, or will reproduce less. A variation might be neutral or nearly-neutral in a given environment, so that it (the genes that cause it) survives; but it might be that many generations later the environment changes and that… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

Biochemistry works forward in time. The chronology matters.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

sorry, pressed submit to quickly.

Your second point about neutral variations just sitting in the background and maybe becoming useful eventually is on odd idea

A neutral mutation is really not a central feature of genetics.

The vast majority of mutations are bad or catastrophically bad. Very very occasionally one happens that is beneficial. The neutral middle is not really a thing.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

The evolution debate is essentially twofold: whether the complexity we see can arise through random natural processes and whether at some point sufficient complexity gives rise to life and sentience. As AI develops, within the next generation or so we will approach an answer to the second limb of the question as to whether life and sentience is a consequence of complexity or whether it is something entirely different. I think that’s far more profound than the debate in the preceding comments which has been about what complexity can develop by chance. The impact on Abrahamic faith will be monumental.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate Keates
5 months ago

I think there is a further level in this reflection beyond simply biological development, and that is consciousness. Does consciousness just operate on a biological platform (clearly it does in one way)? Or is there an as yet unproven, and extra-dimensional, aspect to deep consciousness? Is consciousness beyond our biological platforms something we can open up to? Call it supernatural, call it God, call it divine community. After all, there is historic supposition in our faith that there’s more to existence than what we can physically locate. God does not live on some distant planet in a far off galaxy.… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
5 months ago

AI is a very elaborate form of predictive texting.

It is certainly going to have a monumental impact in terms of delegated control from humans. However, it has no ontological content to it at all.

I could mash up all the comments on Thinking Anglicans over the last decade and produce a response algorithm called “Fred” who would dazzle everybody with his brilliance. (Maybe not everybody).

“Fred” would still be just a string of zeros and ones.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

Whether AI is conscious or sentient is very much a subject of scientific study. https://www.science.org/content/article/if-ai-becomes-conscious-how-will-we-know At the moment, almost certainly it is not but I remember the awe I once felt playing Moon Lander on a Commodore Pet (because my previous interaction with a computer was through punch cards). Now I carry vastly more computing power in my handbag. AI, perhaps AI on quantum computers, is going to develop exponentially over the next 30 to 40 years. Indeed, at some point some will exceed the computational capacity of the human brain. So will they become conscious, sentient or alive in… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

That may apply to AI bots as they generally operate today perhaps. But in due course it is perfectly likely that advanced intelligence will develop sentience and sapience, and potentially even a conscious self-awareness and self-identity. At that point will we have the right to claim that only biological intelligence is ‘real’ and the digital version still “just a string of zeros and ones”? We may or may not be some years off that scenario, but I suspect it is coming. Once advanced intelligence can programme and develop itself, or themselves, the high possibility is that such development will advance… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
5 months ago

Simon. The overall muddied waters of science and religion categories of this thread did not appeal to me. However, I liked your link which is also a link with reality. Strictly from a science perspective, I’d like to recommend an author, Robert E. Ulanowicz ( see Link: you may already know about him). A friend of mine, a research biologist, recommended his book A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin I found it fascinating. One of his observations is that Darwin’s survival of the fittest is not only about competition, it is also about mutuality at work in… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
5 months ago

BTW, I didn’t need a Google search; I have known the correct title of Darwin’s work since high school (which was in 1969).

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
5 months ago

I had to go upstairs to my bookshelf to find my copy and check the title, although I did know, without thinking too hard, which bookshelf it was on.

Peter
Peter
5 months ago

“Post Darwinism” is a form scientific populism that mostly rests on the contemporary conviction that if we are contradicted the only rebuttal required is to declare “who are you to say I am wrong”. It is a form infantile thinking that leads to absurdities such as the widely held belief that one of our ancestors climbed out of the “primordial soup” in the aftermath of a lightning strike on a pool of mud. The passage of time and the rules of probability are then cited as the necessary operating principles that complete the job. It is complete gibberish, of course,… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter
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