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I'm writing a science fiction thriller about an android who has a an enhanced human brain (The Jesus Road III).  I'm debating about whether the android will die in the end. But I have a thorny issue as to whether or not the android could be saved before death or whether the android could be saved at all.  Does the fact that he has a partially human brain count him as salvageable or no? I'd really like your opinion on this one.

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Oof. This is a tough one, because to answer you have to first define what makes humans, well, human.    Honestly (and unfortunately), I would say no. Animals also have brains, but that doesn

Serves you right for creating the situation that requires the question to be answered! 😆

OK, here's my take as a software developer.  It's a long one.   Android / artificial "brains" are not like human brains.  They are not sentient.  In fact, when you start breaking down sentie

Oof. This is a tough one, because to answer you have to first define what makes humans, well, human. 

 

Honestly (and unfortunately), I would say no. Animals also have brains, but that doesn't give them free will and the ability to choose between good and evil. I think that what separates mankind from the rest of creation is the presence of a spirit, first breathed into Adam by God Himself. We're told that mankind is created in the image of God in Genesis, and Jesus tells us in John's Gospel that God is a Spirit. So unless the android can be given a soul by the Almighty, I would say that it's impossible for him to be saved. 

 

Interesting question. 

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Hate say it but I agree with Claire.

 

However, that does not mean you can't portray your android as 'good i.e illustrating many of the good traits God wishes us as humans to show and which we often fall short off. 

 

That might be A powerful message to tour reader. 

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You might leave it as an ongoing question presented to the reader. (I would find this a far more engaging and thought provoking issue than The Lady, or the Tiger?, and that seems to have caught enough traction...)

 

Seriously, no matter what you do if you take a stand, there will be highly opinionated Christians who will get mad at you. Why not take the automatic drama that comes from your character not knowing where he stands? It pretty much drops into your lap.

 

Not sure if you're familiar with the old scifi series Babylon 5, but it had an amazingly dramatic episode called Passing Through Gethsemane, where a reformed murderer whose memory had been erased agonized over whether he could find spiritual forgiveness if he couldn't remember his past sins, so to be sorry for them. That one's ending still gives me chills, and it's a standalone episode, if you're not familiar with the storyline. It might be worthwhile to check out...

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John 6:44  - "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."

 

This verse came to mind. There is some pursuing of the soul by God that must occur for someone to be saved (though the degree of which can and has been argued in the predestination debate). I do not think an android would have a soul to pursue. 

 

The only loophole would be - was he a human before he became an android, and that is where his human brain comes from? Then there could be a soul in the mix.

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3 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Does the fact that he has a partially human brain count him as salvageable or no? 

 

But does a "partial" brain really make it human? Not to come off as snarky, but the last time I studied biology, it takes an entire (or most of a) human brain to cognitively function as a human.

 

Now if an entire human brain was somehow transplanted into an android body, that would be different. But it probably wouldn't be considered a true android anymore (a robot with a human appearance). It would be a human with a robotic appearance.

 

I think this debate boils down into one question: Can humans create something that God would consider as redeemable (bearing a soul) as humans? If we think so, wouldn't that in essence elevate us to God's level? I think that would be highly problematic. 

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If an android has any human or organic part then it starts to lean towards a cyborg, a mixture of mechanical and biology/organic matter.

 

I agree with what has already been said. The soul is the third part of the human image made by God, Body, Mind and Soul and the spirit is the breath of life that gives us being. Having only the brain or part of it would be only a 1/3 of the equation or image that God created and I would wonder where the soul would inhabit and without the breath of God, is it truly alive or an imitation of life.

 

An interesting idea that has often been looked at is the drive of a sentient AI to be human such as Data from Star Trek Next Generation. Maybe his search for humanity and discovery of God and salvation could be a beacon for humans and although he could never achieve this himself, his effort in the journey of an unanswerable question, would put humans to shame.

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3 hours ago, Accord64 said:

I think this debate boils down into one question: Can humans create something that God would consider as redeemable (bearing a soul) as humans? If we think so, wouldn't that in essence elevate us to God's level? I think that would be highly problematic. 

 

That's a good question, @Accord64.  To @lynnmosher point--- I don't know!!  What great answers from @PenName, @Amosathar, @Ky_GirlatHeart. @Wes B, @Shamrock and @Claire Tucker.

 

You all have really made me think about how to write it, though!

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My first thought was that i want to know what "die" means for the android. 
Secondly, Genesis 2:7 and Mat 10:28 indicates that a human body cannot live without a soul.
Your story convinced me that the android is alive, which is to say, you convinced me he is salvageable:) 

How will i be convinced he is dead?

 

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18 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

free will and the ability to choose between good and evil.

He frequently exercises free will and the ability to choose between good and evil. But he is human created.

 

Follow Wes B's suggestion and find this.

18 hours ago, Wes B said:

an amazingly dramatic episode called Passing Through Gethsemane, where a reformed murderer whose memory had been erased agonized over whether he could find spiritual forgiveness if he couldn't remember his past sins, so to be sorry for them.

We can debate this for years, like theologians trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 

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My 1.5 cents.

 

To accomplish your goal you first have to establish Joshua as a cyborg. Meaning Joshua would have to come to the realization of what he truly is. Based on the previous books, not a far reach. He already questions this.

 

Then you could start down the path of could he be redeemed. As already stated elsewhere on this site, a machine does not have a soul. 

 

So, Joshua has already, in previous books, demonstrated the ability to question what he is. And make decisions in, (dare I say it), faith that a machine would not necessarily make based on data alone. And become attached to his human companions.

 

Then the question is, does half a human brain, supported by a machine, contain enough human to be considered by God to have a soul?

 

Joshua has already demonstrated a solid understanding of the Bible. So, if Joshua realized what he was the question is an easy presentation. 

 

I would agree with the idea of leaving that as an unresolved question in the end for the reader. Make them consider the God/human relationship.

 

My 1.5 cents worth. 

Edited by zx1ninja
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54 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

Follow Wes B's suggestion and find this.

 

Well... how could I disagree with this? (Thanks, Carolina!) Seriously, it's a completely standalone episode, so you need no understanding of the main storyline to follow it. I suspect the writer/producer knew he had something really special and wanted it accessible to posterity. The actual problem, and the way the story unwinds, are sufficiently different from yours that you needn't worry it will somehow "contaminate" your own creative solution.

 

What's there is a treatment that accepts that there's not likely to be a "final" answer to the question to please everybody, so it only takes the question as far as it can go, and (successfully!!!!) finds other ways to be memorable. It's all the more interesting in that the writer & producer was an atheist, but produced some of the most remarkably sensitive handling of religious subjects I've ever seen. Go figure...

 

54 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

We can debate this for years, like theologians trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 

 

This is something we should consider often. Perhaps something like it could be carved in a small stone and used as a paperweight or something. I'd buy one...

 

Seriously, we could take an absolute stand and guarantee we'll alienate some of our audience, or come up with a strategic handling that can satisfy everyone. (WARNING: Philosophy ahead!) I've noticed some things over my lifetime:

 

  1. Over time, my opinions have changed on some matters, yet for each of those opinions, I was always totally convinced I was right. That didn't prevent my very-same brain from later deciding I had been completely wrong, later on.
  2. There is no humility at all in presuming that somehow, I've got it all completely right, this time. Therefore, it would be wise to keep lots of my current opinions suspect, and subject to change again.
  3. There are plenty of theologians who are good, solid Christians, who can disagree on such matters, even after they've made whole careers out of studying such matters. There is doubly no humility (it's convenient speaking as writers instead of mathematicians; we can take nothing, double it, and come up with even more nothingness...😀) to presume that the opinion of an amateur like myself will carry any weight here...

So once I got over thinking that my opinion actually mattered, i discovered this enormous sense of wonder in instead contemplating the vastness of some of the questions. There's some great strategy in presenting such vastness, and diverting your ending in some other satisfying direction (the TV episode mentioned above is a stellar example...)

 

  1. Those in the audience with a fixed, immutable opinion will still see it as fact in the end, yet will find your ending satisfying because it did not disagree with them. You win.
  2. Those in the audience willing to see the vastness in the subject will find you thought-provoking, and will remember you in online forums as I've done here. You won't be forgotten. You win big. Yet you completely sidestepped the answer, cuz you haven't a freakin' clue, as to what the answer is. That's some magic trick...

 

 

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Great set up!

 

I've been researching soul vs. spirit. Here's what I find is most often accepted based on original Hebrew and Greek definitions of the two words for mainstream Christianity. (Naturally there is disagreement despite the definitions.)

 

The King James Dictionary’s first definition of soul is: the spiritual, rational, and immortal substance in man. The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament (referred to as NT after this) adds that soul relates to the ability to put facts together, intellect, feelings, “that which strictly belongs to the person himself.” 

 

That's for Old Testament. For the New Testament:

 

The Greek word for soul is psuches (code 5590 Dictionary NT). Psuches refers to the immortal part of man. It includes our mind and feelings. It is the non-physical part of who we are; our personality.  

 

The Greek word for spirit is pneumatos (code 4151 Dictionary NT). It is defined by its attribute. The spirit is what gives man “the ability to communicate with God who is also spirit.”

 

The interpretation then of scholars who are smarter than I am, is that every human has a soul--it is who we are as an individual. It's our personality, our thinking, our quirkiness. It is the soul which never dies even when our physical bodies die. Because we sin as individuals, that sin becomes part of our soul. When we accept Jesus' forgiveness, that stain is no longer on our souls and thus we can receive the gift of salvation and eternal life.

 

The human spirit is separate from the soul, sort of an impersonal link. Our impersonal spirit (force, ability, pathway) starts out unconnected to God. When we make a choice for Jesus, our soul (who we are as an individual) turns toward good and we receive the Holy Spirit. Our impersonal spirit can then connect and communicate with the Holy Spirit in us. This new connection between our spirit and the Holy Spirit helps us attune ourselves to the Holy Spirit in us for teaching, leading, reminding. It is through our spirit and the Holy Spirit in us that we are able to communicate with God (in us).

 

I will never attempt to have an opinion on whether animals have a soul and spirit. They do have personalities, so maybe they have souls. But if they do not have a spirit, then they can not communicate with God and presumably do not receive salvation. But that's my personal opinion. God may have created a different way to address animals. After all, Jesus and angels return in Revelation riding on horses, so there's that.

 

In answer to your question, you would first need to address whether our soul (personality, individuality) resides in our brains. If yes, then you can argue that an android with a human brain could receive salvation. There are of course many theories that claim our personality, thoughts, etc. do not happen in the brain. So you would want to specify your choice and explain how the android would be affected by that.

 

Whew. Sorry for being long winded. Hope that helps.

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I wrote a story which was published in the now-defunct Wayfarer's Journal called THE RECONSTRUCTED MAN, and it deals with this very theme. In the story, if only human souls can pray, when an android's prayers are being answered, he wants to know how that works.

I wrote this story 20 years ago in the style of Roger Zelazny. I wanted to see if I could tell a gripping Sci-Fi story for a Christian audience. I like how it turned out. Here's an excerpt where Francisco Dardenelle, Android maker to the stars, learns just who he's talking to over dinner, and what the android wants from him. In this scene, the android Alfred Bester asks Frank the age-old question, 'what makes a man.' This is a fascinating question coming from an android to an android maker, but even more interesting when the android is doing something he shouldn't technically be able to do - pray to God. The answer I came up with at the conclusion... well, you'll have to read the story. There's a link to the .PDF on my website. 😉
https://silentvanitye.com/the-stories/the-reconstructed-man-2/

 

Quote

“His thoughts, perhaps,” I mused, returning to his question. “His memories. His preferences. His aspirations.”

“Ah!” he said, “But those are byproducts of living. What gives us life itself? What inspires us, what makes us different than animals? There are two outlooks, the theological, and the practical.”

I worked on my steak, knowing a rhetorical question when I heard one.

“According to many religious traditions and holy scripture, the soul is what makes the 'you.' The soul is made up of two parts, body and spirit. The body, by itself, is not 'you,' and the spirit, by itself, is not 'you.' The soul cannot exist without both components. “These same traditions hold that the soul is 'a self-aware ethereal substance particular to a unique living being.' The soul incorporates the inner essence of each living being, and is the true basis for sentience. In distinction to spirits, which are not eternal, souls are usually considered to be immortal. That's the theological.”

Warming to his theme, he pushed the salad aside. He dispensed with pretense and tossed back the warmed bulb of Glop, draining the thing with the ease of long practice.

He continued. “Joshua Ziller claimed it was his soul that served as the critical linchpin for his success. He claimed the soul was the mechanism for communing with his ethereal God.” 

He replaced the bulb on the tray. I kept eating. Digesting things, as it were.

“But Joshua Ziller maintained that his God heard his prayers through the communication link provided by his soul. How does that work?” Alfred picked up the cloth napkin and delicately dabbed at the corner of his synthetic mouth.
 
“It was an amusing theological debate that should, by all rights, have ended right there. The problem was that whether his enemies believed in God or not, they believed he did, and they set aside all theological quibbling and simply took him at his word.”

I pushed away my plate. I didn't like where this was going.

“If his business was booming because of his fervent prayer, and prayer was made possible by means of communication from one man's soul to an ethereal being of ultimate power, their solution was to deprive the soul of one of the two prerequisite elements.”

“Let me guess,” I said. “They had no line on the disposition of his soul but they knew exactly where his body was.”

Alfred looked at me and blinked once, languidly.

My gaze dropped to my Moleskine where I doodled, pretending to take notes.

“Exactly. They snatched him from his office and he was never seen alive again. That was five years ago.”

Five years. That figure rang in my head like an alarm. My eyes snapped up to meet his and I suddenly knew where I knew him from.

“Oddly enough, it was five years ago when I appeared on the doorstep of O/C Enterprises as a new android.”

 

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And then, to further whet your appetite...

 

Quote

“We'll have to talk at some other time about what would prompt you to do such a thing. For now, what I'm about to do is very big, and will affect a great many people.”

I didn't like the sound of that one little bit. “Alfred, what did you do?!”

“I need your help, Frank. I need to smoke out and expose the Coterie, and I need your promise. If Humpty Dumpty should fall today, I need you alive to put him back together again.”

Again again, you mean,” I said dully, knowing exactly what he had done. “You didn't just tell the Coterie about you, you told them you were here, now. Didn't you?”

At that, the so-and-so smiled, eyes twinkling expensively.

He heard the men coming down the fast-ropes out of the chopper before I did. He immediately rose and, I swear, he cracked his fingers. My knuckle guy is second to none.

We both heard the cocking of weapons, the powering up of laser cells. “Time's up,” he said. “Stay here.”

“Where are you going,” I asked, my voice a trifle higher than I liked. 

I never would get used to his unblinking eyes. “I'm going to get your future back,” he said.

 

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For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever will believe shall not perish but have eternal life... except for androids.

 

Does your Bible version have that one, or the one that doesn't exclude androids?

 

(BTW, thanks for the question, since now it dawns on me he didn't excluded any particular species. This answered the question I've been debating with myself for a couple of years now.)

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I'm startled. Does everyone thing "free will" has some bearing in salvation?

 

To finish off what I wrote a few minutes ago. 

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21)

 

Jesus said what we would do. We hide in our darkness to do our wicked things. Then what changed? Jesus didn't condemn us. He saved us from the darkness with His light. And how was this "carried out?" In God!

 

Not in our choice. Not in our will. Not in our soul. Not in our thoughts. So can an android be born again? Only by God through God. The same way God saves all of whosoever will believe.

 

As it stands now, there is only one reason an android has never been saved. There has never been an android. To say the android has to choose or will, has to have a soul or think it out, is to demand the same be true for an unborn baby or a severally impaired person. Salvation and belief come from God alone. We believe because God gave us belief.

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1 hour ago, Spaulding said:

I'm startled. Does everyone thing "free will" has some bearing in salvation?


Really not interested in going down this path. I've seen communities divided before by this topic. I really don't want to see that here.

Faith is a spectrum based on the interpretation of scripture, and free will is one prominent interpretation of how salvation works.

I've heard it said that Justin Martyr once constructed an argument based on his interpretation of scripture, one that he knew other learned scholars took issue with. He finished his remarks with a phrase that went something like "Many good and Godly men disagree with me on this matter," which is fine. (And, I think, wise.)

 

1 hour ago, Spaulding said:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


Agreed, taken at face value.

 

1 hour ago, Spaulding said:

As it stands now, there is only one reason an android has never been saved. There has never been an android.


In my story, Joseph Ziller was a believer when his body was destroyed, and his brain and brain stem were recovered and implanted in an android shell. For the purpose of Science Fiction, this is adequate. In fact, the question of 'who is or isn't saved' is one of the reasons I wrote my story. I'm as satisfied with the conclusion in 2021 as I was in 2007.

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1 hour ago, Spaulding said:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever will believe shall not perish but have eternal life... except for androids.

 

Does your Bible version have that one, or the one that doesn't exclude androids?

 

Heh.

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