We come now to the final part of our special series about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Bible. You can find previous posts beginning here or download the free eBook we’ll link to at the end of this article.
In the last part of our series we looked at the Book of Revelation to see how AI might play a role in “the time of the end.” Our focus was on two “beasts” who will rise up during the Tribulation period to control the world. We looked at:
- Empire of the Beast
- Rise of the Beasts
- AI and the Beast
We also looked at dozens of specific references concerning the “beasts” wondering whether those situations concerned human intelligence (H), supernatural intelligence (S) or artificial intelligence (AI). What do you think?
The Metaverse Lie?
We are witnessing the rise of the ‘metaverse.’ The idea has been around for decades, but it is now impacting enough people and showing enough promise for a new type of AI society that people around the world are seriously taking notice.
Author Neal Stephenson coined the term ‘meta verse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Stephenson described “the Metaverse” as an imaginary place generated by a computer. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined the word this way:
In its current meaning, metaverse generally refers to the concept of a highly immersive virtual world where people gather to socialize, play, and work. Awareness of this term surged on October 29, 2021, when Facebook rebranded itself ‘Meta’ and released a video in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, ‘I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet.
The idea of a “Metaverse” has grown far beyond the early days of computer gaming and virtual reality because of its business and economic possibilities.
…some proponents believe that blockchain technology and decentralized apps will be the keys to unlocking the next big leap forward for the Web: the metaverse, a place where augmented and virtual reality, next-generation data networks, and decentralized financing and payment systems contribute to a more realistic and immersive digital world where people can socialize, work, and trade digital goods. —Ian Bremmer, Foreign Affairs, Nov.-Dec. 2021
This is one of the main explanations people seem to provide for crypto-enthusiasts’ sudden turn to cubes: maybe they simply want something physical as a counterweight to crypto. “We deal with this immaterial virtual world—the metaverse, as we like to say,” Carter said. —Sophie Haigney, GQ, 28 Oct. 2021
The fact that Facebook (Meta) and other tech giants are involved in developing and promoting the “Metaverse” may propel its acceptance by billions of ‘users’ around the world. According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg:
The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. Our company’s vision is to help bring the metaverse to life, so we are changing our name to reflect our commitment to this future. 3D spaces in the metaverse will let you socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine. Meta
Zuckerburg and other futurists see a world where people would spend most of their time living in an imaginary world where they can do things people can only imagine now. Virtual reality, Augmented reality and Smart glasses are some of the current ways people can experience this new method of living inside a computerized world.
However, the problem with this computerized world is that it’s not ‘real.’ It’s ‘virtual reality,’ ‘augmented reality,’ not ‘real reality.’ Think about that. If you live inside a world that is not ‘real,’ then anything could be real. Right?
That brings us to ‘the lie’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12
If billions of people live inside a lie (imaginary world), how hard would it be for a powerful person (the lawless one) to tell them a lie they would believe? Add to that the Almighty God sending a strong delusion on those people “that they should believe the lie,” it’s easy to see how billions of people would believe ‘the lie.’ So, what’s the lie?
The key, I think, is that “He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” Based on years of study and prayer, I believe “He” is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who restrains evil. Why would the Holy Spirit be “taken out of the way?” The first reason, I think, is to make way for Satan to finish his end-time work on earth. The second reason, I believe, is to remove hundreds of millions of Christians (dead and alive) from the earth to Heaven (see 1 Thessalonians 4; 1 Corinthians 15).
The lie the ‘lawless one’ will tell, I believe, is how millions of people living on earth disappeared in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’ If billions of people live in or are influenced by a virtual, augmented ‘Metaverse,’ an imaginary computerized world, believing the lie of how those people disappeared would seem easier than we might imagine. Add to that God’s sending a ‘strong delusion’ so they would believe the lie and how it could happen. What will happen is what God says in His Word. The ‘lawless one’ (Antichrist) will lie and the world will believe him.
Christians and Revelation
Jesus Christ revealed information about “the time of the end” to the Apostle John at the end of the 1st century AD. Jesus had spoken with John decades earlier when John and the other apostles asked the Lord:
Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? Matthew 24:3
Jesus gave His closest disciples some information about the end of the age, but not everything. The Holy Spirit revealed more information to the Apostle Paul in the middle of the 1st century (e.g. 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians), but Jesus personally met with the Apostle John at the end of the 1st century and laid out the end times in great detail. That’s what we have in Revelation.
John wrote what he heard Jesus say, what he heard angels say, and what he saw and heard others do and say in Heaven. The letter was delivered to seven churches in Asia Minor and later shared among other churches and eventually added to the Canon of Scripture.
Christians have been talking about the meaning of words and visions shared in Revelation for centuries. Since AI is primarily a 20th century invention, most Christians prior to that time have viewed the descriptions in Revelation as either coming from human intelligence or supernatural intelligence. However, Christians living in the second half of the 20th century and current 21st century could also consider whether some of the descriptions might be artificial intelligence. I believe it does.
AI in Revelation
We should not be surprised to find AI in Revelation. The vision John saw concerns the battle between God and Satan that has been waged since the beginning of time or even before time began. Revelation shows us the culmination of that war.
Satan has always used whatever has been at his disposal. What did he have in the Garden of Eden? A tree. Think about that. Satan used a tree to bring about human rebellion against God. If Satan can use a tree, don’t you think he can use Artificial Intelligence? Of course he can.
Here are some of the questions we asked in the last part of our study. We asked if AI could be an answer to some of them. I think the answer is yes. AI as we understand it now and what AI could become in the future is definitely a possibility. Keep in mind that we’re viewing AI from the perspective of its use in global communications, surveillance, population control and warfare.
- How could one person rule the entire world?
- How could one person have authority over every tribe, tongue and nation?
- How could a world leader be mortally wounded then have his deadly wound healed?
- Why would the entire world worship that leader?
- Why would the world question “who is able to make war with him”?
- How would the world’s population know they were worshipping the “dragon who gave authority to the beast”?
- Why would the world worship a leader who blasphemed God’s name, His “tabernacle” and “those who dwell in heaven”?
- How will the beast “make war with the saints” and “overcome them”?
- How will the second beast exercise all of the authority of the first beast “in his presence”?
- How will the second beast cause all who dwell on the earth to worship the first beast “whose deadly wound was healed”?
- How will the second beast make fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men?
- What other signs will the second beast use to deceive “those who dwell on the earth”?
- How will the second beast deceive the people of earth to make “an image to to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived”?
- What kind of image would people make of the first beast and how will the second beast “give breath to the image of the beast” so that the image “should the image would “speak”?
- How would the image of the first beast “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed”?
- How would the image of the first beast cause everyone in the world, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive “a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads” so that no one could buy or sell unless they had the mark or name of the beast “or the number of his name”?
- Why is the “number of the beast” 666? What will that mean during the second half of the Tribulation?
- How will “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit” make war against the witnesses,” overcome them, and kill them”?
- How will “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” see the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying in the streets of Jerusalem for three-and-half days?
- How will those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them, make merry, “and send gifts to one another”?
- Who is “the great harlot who sits on many waters” in Revelation 17?
- Where is “Babylon the great”? (Revelation 18)
- How does “Babylon the great” fall in a day – “in one hour your judgment has come”? (Revelation 18)
- How will the “kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously” with Babylon the great “see the smoke of her burning”? (Revelation 18)
Let’s look at some of the questions and see what we can learn about AI in Revelation.
Global Power Vacuum
How could one or two people develop enough power that the entire world would obey them? I think it begins with a global power vacuum when hundreds of millions of people disappear in an instant, “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Some of those people will be alive when Jesus returns for His Church. Others will be Christians who are resurrected from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15). Some of the Christians who are “caught up” to meet Jesus in the air will be leaders of local, regional and national governments. Some will be leaders of corporations. Some will be in the military, law enforcement and judicial branches of government. The “rapture” will cause an enormous “power vacuum” in many countries and regions of the world.
Look through history and you’ll find that power vacuums are usually filled by someone or some group. Thanks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we know who that person will be – the beast, also known as the Antichrist. This “man of sin” will be in a position to tell a lie that the world will believe. Why? Because God will send “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
How could the Antichrist tell the world “the lie” with today’s technology? Easily. We’ve already looked at the ‘Metaverse.’ Let’s look at some other aspects of AI that might be used.
We have real-time voice and visual communications with people all over the world. Some live in cities. Some live in small villages. How do we do that? With a personal computer, smart phone and phone apps. Based on the software or apps we use, we can speak live with dozens or even hundreds of people at the same time. We can communicate through mass texts, tweets, and “break-in” live broadcasts to people all over the world. One person who has access to the right communication tools or access to a team of people who have the right communication tools (including mass satellite coordination) could reach a vast majority of the world’s population live and then repeat specific propaganda messages every hour of every day until everyone on the planet had heard “the lie.” They could communicate to the world through television, social media, computers, smart phones, even virtual assistants. When we bring in government supercomputers that can run or override most information and communication in the world, we begin to understand how one man or one team could promote a “lie” to the entire world. God’s sending a strong delusion that the world would “believe” the lie means the world will believe “the lie” of the Antichrist. Satan and God’s purposes would be vastly different, however. Satan will get worship and power. God will get JUSTICE.
Why do we have personal computers, smart phones, phone apps, software, algorithms, social media, mass texting, “break-in” live broadcast capabilities and supercomputers? Artificial Intelligence – Machine Learning. As we mentioned in the second part of this series, there are four types of AI:
- Reactive machines
- Limited memory machines
- Theory of mind
- Self-aware AI
We currently use the first two: reactive and limited memory machines. Scientists are working on the next level for AI innovation, Theory of Mind. That’s where AI would be able to discern human thought processes, emotions, beliefs and needs. Researchers are working on ways for AI machines to “understand” human beings. The fourth level, Self-aware AI, is a type of “self consciousness” where a machine would be “aware” of itself and be able to form a representation of itself. This level is also known as Artificial General intelligence (AGI) where the intelligence would be like human intelligence. Though AI research has not accomplished that level yet, might that be what we see in Revelation 13 concerning the “image of the beast?”
Image of the Beast
The “beast” we first meet in Revelation 11 receives a “deadly wound” in Revelation 13. The beast’s deadly wound is healed and that will cause “all the world” to marvel and follow “the beast” and say “who is able to make war with him?” The second beast will exercise all the authority of the first beast “in his presence” and cause everyone on earth to “worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” The second beast will “give breath to the image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” That probably means the first beast will be killed in a battle, but the second beast will breathe life into an “image” (eikoni – likeness, representation, statute) of the beast and the “healed” beast will perform great signs “so that even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
While this could be a supernatural event, I wonder if it might also be Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Scientists are currently working on the future of humanoid robotics. It may be that AGI will be a reality by the time of the Tribulation period described in Revelation. The second beast will give the “image” of the beast the ability to perform great signs and “speak.” What will the the image of the first beast say? He will “blaspheme” God and demand worship.
And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:5-8
That’s to be expected when we consider the “power” behind the beasts: Satan. “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” (Revelation 13:2)
Mark of the Beast
So far we’ve seen how AI could explain how the “beasts” could establish a global government that could demand obedience and worship. Another possible use of AI is in what many call the “mark of the beast.”
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. Revelation 13:16-18
A global government would have enormous power and authority, but how would they be able to “cause” (poieó – make, manufacture, construct, cause) billions of people to “receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads” that includes the “number” of the beast’s name? Simple. People can’t earn or spend money without receiving the “mark.”
Could that really happen? Absolutely. All we have to do is consider what’s happened around the world during the past couple of years. We’ve already seen what billions of people have done during the recent pandemic to be able to continue earning and spending money. We’ve also seen how AI played a role in governments communicating to and controlling people (e.g. smart televisions, computers, smart phones, phone apps, facial recognition, electronic passports, electronic surveillance, satellite surveillance and mapping, mass texting, etc).
The technology already exists to “cause” people to do whatever a government tells them to do. If people don’t receive the “mark” of the beast, they won’t be able to work, earn money or buy anything. Take away those kinds of rights from people and they’ll do what they’re told. A global government would have the technology to make people get the “mark,” keep an eye on whether they obey or not, and the military/police power to enforce the requirement.
Headquarters of the Beast
The global government of the beasts will be headquartered at a place called “Babylon the Great.” We read about this city in Revelation chapters 14, 16, 17 and 18. How might AI play a part in that city?
I wrote a series last year called “The Happiest City On Earth.” It was about the “smart cities” that governments and billionaires are building around the world. It would make sense that the capitol city of the Antichrist would be a “smart city” with the latest technology for controlling people in and around the city. Many cities in the world may be smart cities by the time of the Tribulation. Those cities could be tied into the capital city of Babylon through supercomputers, satellites, etc. so that the “beasts” could control the world through its AI network of cities around the globe. Here’s the reason I mention other cities being involved with the capital city of Babylon:
And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Revelation 14:8
Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Revelation 16:19
The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ Revelation 18:9-10
We see in these references to Babylon the Great that there are many cities, nations and kings on the earth during the rule of the Antichrist (the beast). The leaders of the nations will participate in all the evil and wickedness of the Antichrist and will be devastated when God destroys Babylon in just one day (Revelation 18:15-19). While the world mourns for Babylon, Heaven rejoices:
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.’ Again they said, ‘Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen! Alleluia!’ Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great! Revelation 19:1-5
Witnesses and the Beast
How will “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” see the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying in the streets of Jerusalem for three-and-half days? How will those who dwell on the earth rejoice over them, make merry, “and send gifts to one another”?
Social media is certainly one answer to this question. People with computer and phone apps can connect people visually in real time around the world through a variety of social platforms. Video conferencing is another option. We’ve learned a lot about how to connect to work and school during the pandemic. Families have been able to see each other through software applications even when they can’t see each other in person.
As for people sending “gifts” to others, it’s easy to use a credit card or other payment method to buy gifts for friends and family online. They can also send cash that others can pick up at a variety of locations. People who have cryptocurrency accounts can easily send gifts to other people with crypto account through transfers and tipping to their digital “wallets”.
Given the current state of communications and financial options, it’s easy to see how AI might be used to see the dead bodies of the two witnesses and send gifts to others.
War and the Beast
We see in Revelation that the beast will “make war” against his enemies. AI will most likely play an important role in those wars because of the nature of modern war technology. We can look at the development of war machines in use today and we’ll find that researchers and designers used AI in some way.
What about the future of warfare? That is of such interest to governments that many have set up AI centers for their national defense. Here’s one example:
The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center of Excellence that provides a critical mass of expertise to help the Department harness the game-changing power of AI. To help operationally prepare the Department for AI, the JAIC integrates technology development, with the requisite policies, knowledge, processes and relationships to ensure long term success and scalability.
The mission of the JAIC is to transform the DoD by accelerating the delivery and adoption of AI to achieve mission impact at scale. The goal is to use AI to solve large and complex problem sets that span multiple services; then, ensure the Services and Components have real-time access to ever-improving libraries of data sets and tools.
As the JAIC’s Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Lieutenant General Michael S. Groen leads the JAIC’s progress in support of transforming of U.S. Joint warfighting and departmental processes through the integration of Artificial Intelligence, and enabling the empowerment and unification of bottom-up AI development by innovators across the Defense Department. In support of this, he ensures the JAIC is able to provide the foundational elements of AI and AI-enabling technical services and infrastructure, acquisition support, expertise, and best practices to the Department’s AI ecosystem. Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DoD) established the JAIC in 2018 and began operations in 2019. Here’s what the JAIC believes about the future of warfare:
Algorithmic warfare is inevitable. Wars of the future will employ force across all domains in heavily contested and degraded environments. Those armed with AI-enabled advantages (decision, speed, agility, and strategy) will have a distinct operational advantage. JAIC
The United States is not the only country developing AI for the future of warfare. China has been working on AI in warfare for many years and intends to be the global leader in AI by 2030 (more about the importance of the year 2030 here). The chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence said China is within a year or two of matching the U.S. He said that in 2020. The director of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit said the U.S. is in a “superpower marathon with China” to acquire advanced technology. (China Threatens U.S. Primacy in Artificial Intelligence)
Other nations involved in developing AI for warfare include India, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and Africa. Every populated continent on earth is involved in a race to use AI for future warfare.
Technological development has become a rat race. In the competition to lead the emerging technology race and the futuristic warfare battleground, artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming the center of the global power play. As seen across many nations, the development in autonomous weapons system (AWS) is progressing rapidly, and this increase in the weaponization of artificial intelligence seems to have become a highly destabilizing development. It brings complex security challenges for not only each nation’s decision makers but also for the future of humanity. Forbes
The U.S. Department of Defense defines Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) as “a weapon system(s) that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” This kind of warfare means a future where AI warriors would fight battles in addition to human soldiers. Concerns about AWS brought the terms “killer robot” and “slaughter bots” into debates about the ethics of this kind of AI warfare.
As we look at the “beast” waging war in Revelation, we may be looking through the eyes of the 1st century Apostle John the type of Artificial Intelligence warfare we will see in the 21st century. China’s goal of global dominance by 2030 is only eight years from now.
Interestingly, some experts believe that AI will reach human-level intelligence by the year 2030. Ray Kurzweil is Director of Engineering for Google and a futurist I quoted in my book A History of Man’s Quest for Immortality (published 15 years ago). He spoke to a conference about the future of AI in 2015. He predicted that the brains of humans will be able to connect directly to the “cloud” through tiny robots made from DNA strands. Kurzweil predicted that would happen in the 2030s.
Kurzweil also said this about the 21st century. Read it carefully in view of how this might impact AI in the Bible.
We won’t experience one hundred years of technological advance in the twenty-first century; we will witness on the order of twenty thousand years of progress (again, when measured by today’s rate of progress), or about one thousand times greater than what was achieved in the twentieth century. Ray Kurzweil
That is hard to fathom, yet it’s happening all around us. We are living through an explosion of artificial intelligence that will have profound effects on the lives of everyone living on earth.
Supernatural and AI
I hope this series has been helpful to you in your study of how the Artificial Intelligence that plays such a significant role in our lives today may be a part of how the Antichrist will rule the world in the future. We don’t know when Jesus will return to earth, but we can see how the events in the Revelation of Jesus Christ could easily be a combination of Supernatural and Artificial intelligences.
We did not have the space in this last part of the series to look at every possible use of Artificial Intelligence in Revelation, but we hope you will think about each one and consider how AI might be involved in the future global government of the Antichrist.
Satan will use whatever he has available to him in his ongoing battle with God. He started by using a tree and a lie. Satan is a supernatural intelligence and can also use human and artificial intelligence to bring about his greatest desire: worldwide worship and obedience. The dragon will have that for a short time, but then his end and the end of the “beasts” will come swiftly as God pours out His great “wrath” on them.
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:19-21
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10
Click here for a free eBook about Artificial Intelligence in the Bible.
Separating Fact from Fiction about Artificial Intelligence
Can Christians Prosper In The New Normal? In The Year 2030
Does Revelation Talk About Artificial Intelligence? Dr. John Knox
For AI to Be Creative, Here’s What It Would Take
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, WORSHIPPED AS GOD, IS NO ORDINARY DEITY!
AI: The Potential and the Problems
What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence: Will Machines Take Over?
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
GraceLife © 1990-2022
Great series, Mark!
Thank you, Ron!