Statement

Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles

Apr 11, 2019

Preamble

As followers of Christ, we are called to engage the world around us with the unchanging gospel message of hope and reconciliation. Tools like technology are able to aid us in this pursuit. We know they can also be designed and used in ways that dishonor God and devalue our fellow image-bearers. Evangelical Christians hold fast to the inerrant and infallible Word of God, which states that every human being is made in God’s image and thus has infinite value and worth in the eyes of their Creator. This message dictates how we view God, ourselves, and the tools that God has given us the ability to create.

In light of existential questions posed anew by the emergent technology of artificial intelligence (AI), we affirm that God has given us wisdom to approach these issues in light of Scripture and the gospel message. Christians must not fear the future or any technological development because we know that God is, above all, sovereign over history, and that nothing will ever supplant the image of God in which human beings are created. We recognize that AI will allow us to achieve unprecendented possibilities, while acknowledging the potential risks posed by AI if used without wisdom and care.

We desire to equip the church to proactively engage the field of AI, rather than responding to these issues after they have already affected our communities. In light of this desire and hope, we offer the following affirmations and denials about the nature of humanity, the promise of technology, and the hope for the future.

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering. 

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being.

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Furthermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4​

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage. 

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4​

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone.

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

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*Please note that the title and institution listed for each signatory is used for identification purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an official endorsement by the institution.

Russell Moore
President
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Matthew Anderson
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion

Bruce Riley Ashford
Provost & Professor of Theology & Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Vincent Bacote
Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics
Wheaton College

Hunter Baker, J.D.
Dean of Arts and Sciences
Union University

Bart Barber
Pastor
First Baptist Church Farmersville, Texas

Phillip Bethancourt
Executive Vice President
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Darrell Bock
Executive Director for Cultural Engagement & 
Senior Research Professor of New Testament
Dallas Theological Seminary

Denny Burk
President
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Matt Chandler
Lead Pastor
The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas

Hee Yeal Cho
Executive Staff
Grace Covenant Church

Mike Cosper
Founder
Harbor Media

Michael A. Covington
Senior Research Scientist Emeritus (retired)
Institute for Artificial Intelligence
The University of Georgia

Daniel Darling
Vice-President of Communications
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Jim Daly
President
Focus on the Family

Dan DeWitt
Associate Professor of Apologetics
Cedarville University

David S. Dockery
President
Trinity International University & Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Erick Erickson
Editor
The Resurgent

Jason G. Duesing
Provost & Associate Professor of Historical Theology
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College

John Dyer
Dean of Enrollment Services and Educational Technology
Dallas Theological Seminary

Albert Erisman
President
Institute for Business, Technology, and Ethics

Nathan A. Finn
Provost & Dean of the University Faculty
North Greenville University

Ronnie Floyd
President & CEO
The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention

Micah Fries
Senior Pastor
Brainerd Baptist Church

Mark J. Galli
Editor in Chief
Christianity Today

J.D. Greear
Pastor, The Summit Church
President, The Southern Baptist Convention

Wayne Grudem
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Phoenix Seminary

Daniel R. Heimbach
Senior Professor of Christian Ethics
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Casey B. Hough
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Camden

Michael Horton
Professor
Westminster Seminary California

Johnny Hunt
Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock
Vice President, North American Mission Board

Dean Inserra
Lead Pastor
City Church, Tallahassee, Florida

Scott James, MD
Elder
The Church at Brook Hills

Richard Land
President
Southern Evangelical Seminary

Heath Lambert
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church Jacksonville

Mark Liederbach
Dean of Students & Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Fred Luter
Senior Pastor
Franklin Avenue Baptist Church

Ken Magnuson
Professor of Christian Ethics
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Katie McCoy
Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

James Merritt
Lead Pastor
Cross Pointe Church Duluth, Georgia

Paul Miller
Research Fellow
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Matthew C. Millsap
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

C. Ben Mitchell
Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy
Union University

Richard J. Mouw
Professor of Faith and Public Life
Fuller Theological Seminary

Philip Nation
Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches
Baptist World Alliance

Trillia Newbell
Director of Community Outreach
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Samuel W. Oliver
President
Union University

Esther O’Reilly
Writer

Ray Ortlund
Pastor
Immanuel Church

Tripp Parker
Senior Manager, Technical Program Management
Amazon

Jackie Hill Perry
Author & Speaker

Matthew Pinson
President
Welch College

Vance Pitman
Senior Pastor
Hope Church Las Vegas

Karen Swallow Prior
Professor of English
Liberty University

Rhyne Putman
Associate Professor of Theology & Culture
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Tony Reinke
Author

Jim Richards
Executive Director
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Jeffrey Riley
Professor of Ethics & Associate Dean of Research Doctoral Programs
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Rev. Gabriel Salguero 
President
National Latino Evangelical Coalition

Jimmy Scroggins
Pastor
Family Church, West Palm Beach, Florida

Jacob Shatzer
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies
Union University

Colin J. Smothers
Executive Director
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

John Stonestreet
President
Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Jason Thacker
Associate Research Fellow & Project Leader
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Mark Tooley
President
Institute on Religion and Democracy

AB Vines
First Vice President
Southern Baptist Convention

Todd Wagner
Senior Pastor
Watermark Community Church

Andrew T. Walker
Senior Fellow in Christian Ethics
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Keith S. Whitfield
Dean of Graduate Studies
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

K. Marshal Williams, Sr.
Senior Pastor, Nazarene Baptist Church
Past President, National African American Fellowship, SBC

Malcolm B. Yarnell, III
Research Professor
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Hershael W. York
Dean of the School of Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Christopher Yuan
Speaker, Author, Bible Professor
Bearer of Christ Ministries

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