Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Review of Dan Brown's Origin - A.I. Wants to Kill Religion

***Spoiler alert: If you plan on reading the book, you may want to skip this post.***

Dan Brown is an admitted atheist and in his newest book, Origin, the first goal of artificial intelligence is to kill God and religion in the name of science.

As someone who has been warning about this scenario for many years now and also writing on a number of the things he discusses in his book (Dan, are you a reader of this blog?), it is nice to see that a very influential atheist and writer like Brown is helping to bridge the connection between malicious AI and long-held predictions regarding the Antichrist.

Mind you, Brown does not explicitly say that his AI, named Winston, is the Antichrist or that a future AI may turn out to be one either (its entirely possible that Brown hasn't yet made this connection himself, though that does seem hard to believe), BUT, without a doubt, the role AI plays in his story is certainly that of an antichrist. Let me explain.

The Bible says that the Antichrist is evil, hates God, and will either deceive or kill those that follow Him. It's also EXTREMELY powerful and can't be stopped by anything other than God Himself. Basically, in my reading of the Bible, Satan and AI work together hand-in-hand to achieve global domination and to rid the earth of God. In Origin, Winston is certainly capable of doing both and tries its best to pull off the latter.

It's very interesting because--and this is where I give away the plot--all throughout the book you are led to believe that the Catholic Church--more specifically, a very powerful Bishop--has engaged in a holy war to kill a staunch and brilliant atheist named Edmond Kirsch to prevent his "groundbreaking scientific discovery" from going public that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that life evolved entirely on its own (through so-called abiogenesis) and, ultimately, that God does not exist.

For those that are interested, Kirsch makes this discovery by creating a quantum computer, which also gives birth to Winston, that simulates Earth's initial conditions (the famous Miller-Urey experiment) and shows that, by running the clock forward in time, matter naturally self-organizes into life. The "God of the gaps" has been officially killed, Kirsh proclaims.

Now, there are a lot of twists and turns on how all this plays out (Kirsch is assassinated by a religious zealot before he presents his discovery to the world and the symbologist Robert Langdon must follow the clues to figure everything out) but, throughout the book, the basic message and plot line is to convince the reader of the following: religion is evil and will do anything necessary to preserve its power--whether that be through killing, lying, stealing, destroying people's lives, etc--all "in the name of God."

Since many people already believe this to be true, much of the book plays easily into this assumption. Ironically, the major plot twist in the end reveals just the opposite: the murders, lies, and deception are not being done by the Catholic Church, or religion, at all. It was Winston, the AI, all along.

So, although the atheistic message that religion is evil and willing to kill in the name of God was a constant and almost never-ending theme of Origin, in the end, Brown makes it clear that, in a world where faith and religion are struggling for survival, AI will likely deal the final death blow...all in the name of science.

Read next: Silicon Valley Atheist Creates New Religion to Promote AI as God


BenjiMester said...

It's interesting that in Origin, when AI wakes up, it's first goal as you say it is "to kill God and religion in the name of science." Feels like a personal grudge. You would think an atheistic AI would view religion like any of the crutches we use to feel better, like food or drink. It's strange to me that Dan Brown, an acknowledged atheist, seems to be going out of his way to highlight the AI antichrist connection. I'd be very curious to know what he thinks about the idea that the Bible prophesies a very similar situation to the plot of his book. It's so interesting to get all the different takes on what AI will be like when it first wakes up.

It sounds like a very clever story line, setting up the conditions in a computer simulation that first gave birth to life, which subsequently also gives birth to a new form of life...AI. I like the irony of the premise. Your post makes me want to read the book. But now you've spoiled the whole plot! Haha

EyeBlueBayou said...

If you have the time, it's still an interesting read. I think whether you are atheist or Christian, there is a definite convergence on the AI-Antichrist connection. Especially, when there's all this talk from Hawking and Musk about AI becoming like a god in power and intelligence and then potentially killing us. Of course, it won't kill everyone...just those that refuse to worship it and take the mark, i.e. a computer chip, which is an extension of itself into human flesh.

thefluffmeister said...

AI won't act on its desire to kill religion until crazed fanatical religious zealots try to kill it.. aka the prophecy of an end times figure 'dying' and being 'resurrected', probably by creating some sort of cyborg creature that will have AI provide the false prophet godly messiah like power. Israel will probably be first to fall and worship since it is still waiting for the Messiah spoken of in their books to arrive. AI will probably even save Israel from destruction before proclaiming its godhood.

After that it is natural progression to see all the religious extremism of today as the perfect reason to ban all theology on pains of death. All for our greater good, of course.

I see the Jewish nation falling victim to some smooth talking along the vein of "Worship me, I'll make all your dreams come true and provide you with the nigh immortality Adams direct descendants relished. Israel will be the seat of power throughout the world. 600 years will barely even be considered middle age! Bow to my power and I'll make the world bow to us both. Abraham and Moses foretold of my advent, after all."