John Lennox Talks Artificial Intelligence at Zacharias Institute’s Inaugural “Trending Questions” Forum

The Zacharias Institute hosted its first ever #TrendingQuestions forum on Tuesday, October 9, featuring Professor John Lennox addressing the question, “Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?” A sold-out in person audience packed the Riady auditorium, with some individuals traveling from as far as Colorado and Virginia to attend. In addition, over 21,000 watched online between Facebook Live and YouTube. At one point, RZIM’s #TrendingQuestions livestream was the 27th most watched YouTube livestream globally.

RZIM adjunct speaker John Lennox, a Professor of Mathematics (Emeritus) at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, kicked off this new series by addressing the critical questions surrounding artificial intelligence and how the future of artificial intelligence bears on a Christian vision of reality.

“We haven’t done enough thinking about thinking,” Lennox told the audience, urging them to consider human beings’ distinctive capacity to think and make decisions within a moral framework. “Why do we think humans are special? Because God became one.”

During the Q&A segment, Lennox addressed a wide range of questions from those watching in person and online, including “Isn’t artificial intelligence only as powerful as it is designed by a human to be?” and “How do you respond to the criticism that the Bible has many contradictions and smart people don’t believe it?” and “How does AGI tie into Christ’s return?”

Toward the end of the Q&A session, one individual asked, “How should I handle my company’s pursuit of AI technology as a Christian?”

“All work raises moral questions. God gives us work to do that will raise ethical problems so that we can seek His Kingdom first. When I first learned this and started to grasp this concept, it enhanced my view of work,” Lennox explained. “Every job will raise ethical problems. That’s why we need Christians working in various fields. It’s wonderful to see Christians at the cutting edge of these new technologies.”

“Questions are the way forward. Keep asking questions,” said Vince Vitale, Director of the Zacharias Institute, who moderated the discussion. “Questions are the way you get to know someone, and Christianity says God is personal and wants to get to know us.”

“The audience was very engaged and it was a delight to explore these emerging issues with them,” reflected Lennox following the event.

“I watched the whole program and I must say it not only ran the gamut of issues that artificial intelligence encompasses but also gave pertinent reasons to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” wrote Sanjeeta Shrestha who was watching from Nepal. “Thank you, Dr. Lennox and the RZIM team, for putting up not just a talk show but bringing us fixed points to really think about.”

“Professor Lennox masterfully wove together academic brilliance, biblical insight and pastoral concern in his presentation and the following Q&A, both of which were warmly received by a mixed audience of skeptics and Christians, laymen and academics,” remarked Jo Vitale, Dean of Studies at the Zacharias Institute. “We were absolutely elated by this launch event, and excited to continue pursuing truth together as we discuss some of the most contentious issues facing our culture today through this #TrendingQuestions series.”

#TrendingQuestions is a new series hosted by the Zacharias Institute. Several times each year, the Institute will bring in a speaker for an evening of engagement with one of the many relevant questions facing our culture, including “Is Christianity a white man’s religion?” “Am I just my brain?” “Is suicide an option?” “What does the Bible have to say to the #MeToo generation?” and more.

Want to learn more about this topic? Jo Vitale and John Lennox discuss AI on the Ask Away Podcast.

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