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Author Topic: Lt. Commander Data  (Read 2806 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: April 30, 2003, 12:26:05 PM »

Let's suppose that there is a "Data" some day (in fact, let's use the ST:TNG character as a base). Will he be human? This is an issue that was dealt with in the series itself, but I found their "answers" to be of no help (e.g., in the episode where they were deciding if Data was the property of star fleet, the judge's final answer was "I don't know"; when they did attempt answers, they usually focused on the naturalistic abilities/attributes of humans)

I would take the position that Data is not "human". To be human, one must have the image of God within them (even if it is a very blurred image). The ability to love, the ability to think, self-consciousness, etc. are usually the qualities brought up when speaking of what makes humanity unique. Yet these are only the ends and final result of something much more vital: being made in the image of God.

Human beings become human at conception because this is when they receive their soul (human life is not a matter of biological maturity). Such an android would be the product of a man building with his hands, and nothing more. I cannot see how it could be thought that such a machine would have a soul (and while it might be technically correct that human beings are machines as well, Data would certainly be a machine of a completely different kind and content).

All of this, of course, doesn't mean that we could always treat Data's like slaves. One need not be human to be protected or be worthy of justice, making one's own choice, etc. We protect animals, and surely we would treat something as remarkable as a Data with much more respect. Whether Data could be the property of someone, IMO, is not a question we in America are ready to answer--or certainly I am not ready to--so I won't delve into that part of it.
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2003, 07:52:48 PM »

What an interesting topic!

I enjoy ST:TNG when I get the chance to watch it.

The existence of Data-like androids would be disturbing, but I agree that they would not be human.

It seems to me, though, that this question is analogous to the issue of the Apostolic Succession. The Church is the Church in large part because she has direct historical continuity, and therefore identity, with the Church founded by Jesus and the Apostles. There is, so to speak, a genetic relationship.

Christian groups calling themselves "churches" that do not have this continuity are like androids: they are the products of an idea, the idea that Christianity can be recreated from the pages of a book apart from the legitimate succession of bishops.

Androids are (or will be) the products of a similar idea: the idea that human beings are mechanisms that can be reproduced in factories and perhaps even "perfected."

Along these lines, I suppose everyone has seen the film, Blade Runner, with Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer?

That film focuses on some androids who are angry with their creator because he made them mortal and gave them only a few years of "life" - a theme with very obvious theological overtones.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2003, 07:56:28 PM »

Woh! I never saw that coming Smiley   ...I'm gonna sleep on this while I think about it Wink
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2003, 08:19:05 PM »

What about in the movies where they give Data an emotion chip and he feels emotions?

I'd say that if someday man creates a thing that can make moral decisions and that can reproduce itself, that God will endow it with a soul ipso facto--moral abilities implies rational soul and vice versa.

It's the same thing as when we clone human embryos--the new creation has a soul regardless of origin.

The person creating such a mutant or android would be the subject of God's justice, however.

anastasios
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2003, 08:29:52 PM »

What about in the movies where they give Data an emotion chip and he feels emotions?

I'd say that if someday man creates a thing that can make moral decisions and that can reproduce itself, that God will endow it with a soul ipso facto--moral abilities implies rational soul and vice versa.

It's the same thing as when we clone human embryos--the new creation has a soul regardless of origin.

The person creating such a mutant or android would be the subject of God's justice, however.

anastasios

Interesting thoughts.

Human clones are produced from actual human material, however.

Androids are machines.

I am not saying I disagree necessarily; I am just not sure I am willing to obligate God to endowing a purely mechanical creation with a soul.

Of course, all of this is purely speculative. Perhaps the absence of a soul will make endowing such a mechanism with real emotions an impossibility.

Then again, some of the higher animals display emotion . . .

Do they have souls?
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2003, 09:37:22 PM »

Linus,

Animals have souls but the Church Fathers taught that animals do not have rational souls, or in Greek a "nous".

I *personally* believe that animals have some moral sense and I believe that all life is restored in heaven (you can read a kernal of that in St. Paul where he talks about the restoration of all creation, but I am interpreting that personally), but you bring up the issue of created things...

Sure an android is a machine, but what if they are made out of human tissues like Frankenstein or something?

anastasios
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2003, 09:56:01 PM »

Anastasios -

Interesting.

You have certainly given me something to think about.

I think Paradosis has authored a pretty mind-bending and fascinating topic here.

What about my Apostolic Succession analogy?

If rational androids could become imbued with human souls, can Protestant congregations become churches
because they reproduce (in a non-genetic and artificial fashion) some of the same activities the Church engages in?

Are only those who created them (e.g., Luther) held accountable?
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2003, 10:08:03 PM »

And taking it to another level (With apologies to the OP who must be cringing by now ) are Protestant churches analogous to the fall of man, in that most of them have some image of the Church in them, but have not attained her likeness or communion with her.
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2003, 10:10:51 PM »

And taking it to another level (With apologies to the OP who must be cringing by now ) are Protestant churches analogous to the fall of man, in that most of them have some image of the Church in them, but have not attained her likeness or communion with her.

Ooh, man! I like that!

That is good!

I'll have to think about that one.
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2003, 10:33:57 PM »

In a way I don't think whether or not it is human is the question.  If it is pursuing humanity(and by that I mean real human truth which is revealed definatively by Christ) I think that God will honor that honest search in ways we would not know(as this would not be a part of the revealed tradition of the Church to date).  After all, it is often said that the journey is the destination.  

Side question - what is the greek/hebrew literal meaning behind the word man?  In a sense a created android would also be made of the dust of the earth, and while a very bioethically liberal person could argue that God was using the hands of the cyberneticist to construct the artificial man, perhaps it could be classified a just the same as in the cloning example above.
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2003, 01:08:52 AM »

I am not sure on this, so please correct me if I am wrong. I believe Adam means Earth/dirt in Hebrew.  A related word to that is Adamah which means read. The dirt part I believe refers to the general redness of soil, and this reference to soil refers to how on the inside of all humans the color is red. I know this is not the best explanation, but I hope that it helps.
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2003, 07:11:36 AM »

In my [limited] studies of Old Testament Hebrew, Adam means 'man' or 'mankind.'

The word Adamah actually refers to a form of clay. In Hebrew, the 'ah' at the end of a word makes it feminine, so if you remove the 'ah' from Adamah, you are left with Adam.

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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2003, 01:46:24 AM »

Christos Anesti

IIRC the greek word "anthropos" has a couple of differing etymologies one of which can be summarised as "able to raise his eyes", meaning able to look to the heavens.
The thought behind this is that "anthropos" is unique amongst all of creation in that only he can lift his eyes from the dirt and contemplate God and the heavens.

Getting back to the OT, wasn't this question looked at (rather poorly if I remember) in the movie Bicentennial Man?

John.
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2003, 07:11:18 AM »

I haven't seen Bicentennial Man, but this topic has been covered recently in the film Artificial Intelligence(A.I.).  I very much enjoyed that film, and reccomend it.
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2003, 06:55:46 PM »

Have been thinking about this, and have a few thoughts on humanity,a soul, and the android.

First, there's obviously nothing that would prevent an omnipotent God from doing whatsoever he wished. If he wished the android to be ensouled, it would be. No argument there.

Second, before the fall I believe (based on certain patristic passages) that offspring were going to be produced through means other than sexual relations. So, not only is it admitted that God could ensoul an android, but we can even speculate that something akin to that might have happened in the past had Adam and Eve not sinned.

However, they did fall. And because of this, God decided that the species (and the gifting of a soul) would come through sexual relations. Not that the sexual relations, in itself, is exactly what makes the person; but what happens biologically during sexual relations (the cause) sets in motion a certain effect: the beginnings of a human child which is given a soul. God could have given us our souls in a multitude of ways : but after the fall, the way that the birth of life and being ensouled would happen became clear.

So can an android, something that can be made by one human being, have a soul? Would God grant it a soul even though it would be against the standard method for creating "life"? And when would He grant it if he granted a soul? For human beings, we are granted a soul even as infants: would androids also be granted a soul while they were but archaic prototypes?

Or are we seeing an evolutionary theory involved here? Are some thinking that once the android attains to a certain point, that they will be granted a soul? This is perhaps fitting if you also hold to the position that humanity evolved; it is perhaps untenable if you believe that Adam was created in the blink of an eye and did not evolve.

I, for my part, maintain that the android would not have a soul. If he would, I would trust that God would make this clear to us (since, if it were true, they would be every bit as precious and wonderful as any other human being).
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2003, 09:32:02 PM »

Quote
I, for my part, maintain that the android would not have a soul. If he would, I would trust that God would make this clear to us (since, if it were true, they would be every bit as precious and wonderful as any other human being).

I agree with you.

If the possession of a certain level of intelligence = the possession of a human soul, then what is that level? Where is the cut-off?

Are the severely retarded soul-less?

There is only one human being who is God. The rest of us cannot create beings with souls or obligate God to "ensoul" our creations merely because they mimic human intelligence or even human emotion.
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2003, 02:37:59 AM »

This is really a good question.  While it might be tempting to say this is an irrelevent line of speculation (in the same vein as "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"), given the acceleration technology is taking in our day, it may become very relevent, very soon.

Here are some considerations that came to mind right away...

1) We already have people begotten by natural generation, who are genetically abnormal (people with down's syndrome, for example.)  Given that it is genes which biologically separate us from "animals", a strictly genetic argument could also say that these people are also not truly "human" either.

2) We are fast approaching the day (and perhaps have already arrived at it, since scientists are already doing this with animals and plants) where it will be possible to insert the genetic qualities of animals into humans.  From the time in high school, I spoke of the horrifying possibility of the military sponsoring the invention of "monkey-men"... perhaps sticking gorilla DNA into a human embryo, so that it will have a human mind, but the strength and agility of donkey-kong.  I was often laughed at for suggesting something like this, but now I think it's a very real possibility.  Even if we don't see something as controversial as this in the near future, how about more subtle alterations of man's genetic make-up (for example, giving a man the eyes of an eagle, so he can see incredibly long distances)?  Does he cease to be human?  Would these hypothetical "monkey-men" be humans with souls? (right away I see horrible possibilities for skirting human rights norms were such an unfortunate breed to be created by Godless scientists.)

3) One possible resolution can be found in the scholastic/thomist idea of the human soul being the "substance" of a man (which from their p.o.v., explains why when the soul departs at death, the physical integrity of the body immediatly begins to deteriorate into simpler elements.)  If we were to create an android (or some kind of genetic concoction) which manifested the qualities of a rational soul, would it not be fair to say that it actually has to have one?  Would it not be the case of simply calling a spade a spade?  In the same way, we can say of severely retarded children, "we know they have a soul" (based on their being begotten of human parents, and their lack of ability to manifest the qualities of humanity, says nothing of their lacking the potential to do such - that is to say, they have a soul, but because of their infirmity it has no opportunity to exercise it's powers.)

In connection with the notion of calling "a spade a spade", I think Justin brings up a valuable point, one that has been born out by modern medical meddling.  Though sexual commerce is the ordinary means that men reproduce, the Fathers seem to indicate this is not how it had to be, or how it would have been had our first parents not fallen from grace.  We see this ordinary rule violated all the time in modern medicine.  It is entirely possible, to remove a sperm sample from a man, remove an egg from a woman, and combine the two in a laboratory (and soon, it may be entirely possible to not even have to place the newly conceived child into a woman's womb - there's no reason to believe an artificial womb would be impossible).  Obviously, the result of such artificial means is human, no less in possession of a soul than you or I.

Given that the lack of natural generation does not equal "inhumanity", nor does some genetic abnormality or meddling, could it not be that a highly advanced android is simply an act of human procreation by another means?

Or is there in fact a clear line in the sand on this matter?  Would the android then be an entirely new type of rationally souled life (perhaps like the angels, save it would also be corporeal like us)?

Quite an ethical can of worms.

Seraphim
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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2003, 10:46:15 PM »

All of this, of course, doesn't mean that we could always treat Data's like slaves. One need not be human to be protected or be worthy of justice, making one's own choice, etc. We protect animals, and surely we would treat something as remarkable as a Data with much more respect. Whether Data could be the property of someone, IMO, is not a question we in America are ready to answer--or certainly I am not ready to--so I won't delve into that part of it.

I'm trying to catch up and this is an interesting topic.  I doubt though that "Surely we would treat something as remarkable as Data with much more respect."  Asimov's "Robot" stories and "Friday" by Heinlein are just two Science Fiction works that come to mind that address that topic.  People have often seen other human beings as things, as property and as objects for using.  It seems quite likely that robots/androids could be looked on the same way.  

In some of the Asimov stories, robots are machines to be used and abused at will.  "The Caves of Steel" has  R. Daneel Olivah who for all intents looks human and can think independently.  The human main character has to come to terms with that.  This is further explored in "The Naked Sun", I think the title is.

 "Friday" herself is a created "test tube" sort of human who is treated as property iirc, (it's been some time since I read the book.)  

Years ago, when the first human concieved in vitro was born, a person I worked with said that the baby was not a Human Being due to her method of conception.  So this is a whole field of ethical questions and considerations.

Ebor
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« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2003, 10:52:00 PM »

What about in the movies where they give Data an emotion chip and he feels emotions?

I'd say that if someday man creates a thing that can make moral decisions and that can reproduce itself, that God will endow it with a soul ipso facto--moral abilities implies rational soul and vice versa.

It's the same thing as when we clone human embryos--the new creation has a soul regardless of origin.

The person creating such a mutant or android would be the subject of God's justice, however.

anastasios

Interesting thoughts.

Human clones are produced from actual human material, however.


This is true, but in the discussions about cloning there is the idea of cloning a person and "Harvesting" the clone for transplant organs.  The idea seems to be that the clone is not human but property to be used.  Considering that there are clones in nature with identical twins, I find this idea disturbing and unethical. Likewise the theory of saving tissue from a child that dies and cloning a new one.  It would not be the same person, I don't think though he/she had the same genetic structure.  The experiences, the mind, and the soul would, I think be different.  Just a thought.

Ebor
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2003, 11:10:07 PM »

This is really a good question.  While it might be tempting to say this is an irrelevent line of speculation (in the same vein as "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"), given the acceleration technology is taking in our day, it may become very relevent, very soon.

Here are some considerations that came to mind right away...

1) We already have people begotten by natural generation, who are genetically abnormal (people with down's syndrome, for example.)  Given that it is genes which biologically separate us from "animals", a strictly genetic argument could also say that these people are also not truly "human" either.


Considering the great variety of humanity, what would be the Definitive "Normal" genetic structure?  Is nearsightedness abnormal?  Or red hair? Being born with a small correctable-by-surgery deformity?  Would this be a case of the ones making the definition the base line?  I am quite reluctant to give people that kind of power.  It is subject to fearful abuse.  I have read Science Fiction for over 30 years and there are a number of works that address this sort of question.  

Quote
2) We are fast approaching the day (and perhaps have already arrived at it, since scientists are already doing this with animals and plants) where it will be possible to insert the genetic qualities of animals into humans.  From the time in high school, I spoke of the horrifying possibility of the military sponsoring the invention of "monkey-men"... perhaps sticking gorilla DNA into a human embryo, so that it will have a human mind, but the strength and agility of donkey-kong.  I was often laughed at for suggesting something like this, but now I think it's a very real possibility.  Even if we don't see something as controversial as this in the near future, how about more subtle alterations of man's genetic make-up (for example, giving a man the eyes of an eagle, so he can see incredibly long distances)?  Does he cease to be human?  Would these hypothetical "monkey-men" be humans with souls? (right away I see horrible possibilities for skirting human rights norms were such an unfortunate breed to be created by Godless scientists.)

"What is the Law? Not to spill blood. That is the Law. Are we not men?"

From "The Island of Dr. Moreau"  H. G. Wells

Quote

Some interesting thoughts snipped to save crunchons...

Or is there in fact a clear line in the sand on this matter?  Would the android then be an entirely new type of rationally souled life (perhaps like the angels, save it would also be corporeal like us)?

Quite an ethical can of worms.

Seraphim

Indeed it is.  

Ebor
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