The emergence of artificial intelligence and its profound impact on humanity will be one of the most confounding dangers of our time, according to world-renowned Catholic theologian Dr Christopher West.
Speaking with Sydney’s Bishop Richard Umbers on the Episcopal Podcast ahead of his January tour to Sydney, West warned that the emergence of AI and the perceived ability that we will one day be able to “download” echoes of ourselves into an artificial vessel, tears at the very fabric of Catholic belief.
“To put it in theological terms, it’s a new Gnosticism, a neo-Gnosticism meaning an age-old heresy that reduces the human person to the mind and sees the body as an appendage.”
West, founder of the Theology of the Body Institute, which enlightens Catholics on the spiritual teachings of St Pope John Paul II, says that the modern misunderstanding that the body and mind are separate is the root cause of many social culture wars to date.
“When we take that for granted in anthropology, that I am really a thinking thing, housed in human flesh, the body becomes something I think about, something I dissect, something I manipulate, but I no longer identify the body as myself,” he said.
“When we rupture identity from the body, ‘I think, therefore I am’ eventually becomes, “I think, therefore I am whatever I think I am.”
West will expand on his teachings at a one-night presentation of “Male and Female He Created Them: Rediscovering Authentic Masculinity and Femininity” on 20 January at All Saints Liverpool parish.
That will be followed by a week-long seminar held on the Australia Day week this January where he will discuss St Pope John Paul II’s seminal work Love and Responsibility along with other key Catholic beliefs to allow participants to better understand their relationship with God.
“The Gospel call by Christ to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ was chiseled into us by God right in the sexual difference.
“A man’s body makes no sense by itself, a woman’s body makes no sense by itself, but seen in light of each other, our eyes get opened and we come to see a call to holy communion,” West explains.
With less Catholics receiving proper spiritual formation, West is concerned that even Catholics are misunderstanding the holy relationship between mind and body, causing our understanding of the human being to be Gnostic rather than Christian.
“We are riddled with a new dualism, call it what you will, call it the Albigensian era, the Gnostic era, call it the Manichean era, call it modern rationalism, we are a culture of death, because death by very definition is the separation of the body and the soul,” West said.
West says that by understanding ourselves and our capacity to love we can have a better understanding of our beliefs and our relationship to God.
Watch the full episode of the Episcopal Podcast, A conversation with Dr Christopher West at this link
For more information on Dr Christopher West’s upcoming talks see tobi.sydneycatholic.org