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June 12th, 2014
08:42 PM ET

How Judaism predicted the first humanoid robot

Opinion by Mark Goldfeder, special to CNN

(CNN) - To the team of researchers, Eugene Goostman seemed like a nice Jewish boy from Odessa, Ukraine.

In fact, he was a computer.

In convincing some of the researchers that Goostman was real, the computer program became the first to pass the Turing Test for artificial intelligence.

The Turing Test, named for British mathematician Alan Turing, is often thought of as the benchmark test for true machine intelligence. Since 1950, thousands of scientific teams have tried to create something capable of passing, but none has succeeded.

That is, until Saturday – and, appropriately for the Goostman advance, our brave new world can learn a bit from Jewish history.

As we start to think about whether to grant human-like beings special status, Judaism’s highly developed ethical sense, with its willing over-inclusiveness, is not a bad model to follow.

What makes this so fascinating is that long ago Judaism came up with a test for humanity that was quite similar to the Turing Test.

Jewish law ascribes to and develops several “descriptive” tests for humanity - for instance "born of woman" (that is, a biological test).

But it also recognizes the limitations of letting a technicality be the only definition of moral personhood.

If there was a creature that looked human, and acted human, but was somehow not born of woman, Jewish law would not feel comfortable denying its basic human rights.

And so the Jerusalem Talmud developed a secondary test for humanity, a contextual/functional test.

In the fourth century collection of teachings, rabbis argue that if something looks human and acts human enough that when interacting with it we are not sure, the creature should be considered a person, at least for some things.

Having human features is important under Jewish law because Judaism believes that man is created in the image of God.

The age of robots is here

But what exactly does it mean to act human?

Many of the early biblical commentators say that what separates man from animals is the ability to speak - not only to communicate but also to express some level of moral intelligence.

While the early rabbis obviously didn’t have bots or computer programs, they did deal with creatures that were human-ish, if not human.

Famously, the rabbis give partial human status to something called a yadua. While the rabbinic descriptions are terse, the creature seems something like Bigfoot; a giant man-like animal usually spotted in the field.

Maimonides, in describing these creatures, notes that their speech is similar to humans, but is unintelligible.

The famous Jewish scholar refers to the creatures in his commentary as monkeys. But he doesn't dispute the Talmudic teaching that in some cases yadua can be considered persons.

After all, so the argument goes, the yadua looks (somewhat) like a human, and exhibits a level of intelligence that makes it seem, in some ways human.

Therefore it deserves to be treated like a human for some things, even though it fails the biological test of being born of a woman.

Simply put: The rule is that if something looks and acts human in a particular context, to the point that it seems like a person, do not start poking it to see if it bleeds. Just go ahead and treat it like a person.

Where then, does that leave computers, or more specifically, human-like robots?

What if Eugene Goostman had been put into a life-like robotic body that had some human features?

The golem in Jewish lore is typically depicted as a man-shaped creature made of clay, imbued with a sense of life by means of a specific series of letters programmed into it by a specialist.

It is quite similar, in fact, to the robot: a man-shaped creature made of metal, imbued with a sense of life by means of a very specific series of numbers programmed into it by a specialist.

Interestingly, the term “robot” (from the Czech word “robota” meaning “drudgery” or “hard work”) was invented by the Czech novelist and playwright Karel Capek. Capek lived in Prague, and was well acquainted with the well-known legend of the Golem of Prague.

Golems are usually associated with kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), but not always.

Lest you think that golems are not a good analogy for robots because of a special supernatural status, some influential Jewish scholars claim that the most famous golem was created by natural science and was not magic at all.

The Talmud in Sanhedrin tells the story of how one rabbi created an artificial man and sent him to a colleague.

“Rava created a man and sent him to Rabbi Zeira. The rabbi spoke to the man but he did not answer. Then he (Zeira) said: "You are from my colleagues. Return to your dust.”

Why was Zeira allowed to dismantle Rava's golem, i.e. to return it to its dust? Why was this not considered murder?

Because he talked to it, and it could not answer. That is, it could not pass for human.

Which leaves open the possibility that another, better, golem, perhaps a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, given the proper outfit, might have fared better.

Rabbi Mark Goldfeder is senior lecturer at Emory Law School and senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. He is the author of a forthcoming book on Robots in the Law. The views expressed in this column belong to Goldfeder.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bioethics • Discrimination • Ethics • Judaism • Opinion • Science • Traditions

soundoff (347 Responses)
  1. Dalahäst

    Using physics to describe God. Interesting descriptions:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_1EX-ynAFY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mEK4gUg0kE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFR2xxduu8c

    June 14, 2014 at 11:05 am |
    • Dalahäst

      Hell? We reap what we sow is literal?:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxlU0KB8UFg

      June 14, 2014 at 11:07 am |
    • MidwestKen

      Re: #1,

      How the heck do you come up with "consciousness" as an eternal element? That's unfounded at best and ridiculous at worst.

      June 14, 2014 at 11:29 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Is the energy that created us, which appears to be eternal, conscious or unconscious of its/his creating?

        June 14, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • MidwestKen

          That is an impossible, i.e. self-contradictory, question. If it was "eternal" then is would not have had a "creating" to remember.

          June 14, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Dalahäst

          No, I meant is it conscious of creating the life as we know it. This energy is still creating. Is it conscious or unconscious of the creating? Are we the consciousness of that energy? Or is there a higher consciousness at play?

          June 14, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • MidwestKen

          Or did you mean "its creating of us"?

          June 14, 2014 at 11:45 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Yep

          June 14, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • MidwestKen

          I'm not aware of anything indicating that energy, by itself, is conscious.

          June 14, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Either am I. Other than the amazing intelligence behind the mathematics of life.

          June 14, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • MidwestKen

          huh? what are you trying to say?

          June 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There might be consciousness behind the energy that created us.

          June 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • bostontola

          In an eternity, cause and effect may be impossible to discern. With our current knowledge, it is impossible now. Did intelligence create math, or did math provide for the basis of intelligence emerging? That is not knowable yet and may be unknowable.

          June 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yep. And that question does exist. It is calling me to seek it.

          June 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • bostontola

          Dalahast,
          One thing that is apparent, there is an extraordinary amount of objective evidence that intelligence has emerged from math/physics/chemistry/biology at least once, very recently in the history of the universe. Animals are quite intelligent. Even plants may have a form of intelligence. Now what came first further back, who knows. I'm not sure you can even define what the meaning of first is in an eternal process.

          June 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right.

          I used to be interested in the theory that we, our consciousnesses, was the universe becoming aware of itself. Which is why some scientists, who are not theists or religious, describe that science is calling them to study universe. The same way some might say God calls them to change their wicked ways.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          I can't say that it is impossible for an intelligence to be "behind" the original energy of the universe, but I have no information that indicates that there is such an intelligence.

          "...It is calling me to seek it."

          You are anthropomorphizing, which may be how a supposed "God" got "created" in the first place.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Maybe. Or maybe you are wrong on your guess. Maybe I am created in the image of that intelligence and am responding, not anthropomorphizing. Maybe I don't have the language to adequately describe the experience.

          Is the scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson anthropomorphizing the universe when he says it called him to study itself?

          June 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          At the risk of speaking for someone else... Yes, he is, and I'd guess that he would be one of the first to say so too. IMO

          I don't think that NDT believes that the universe itself actively "called" to him in any way, but instead is expressing a feeling of wonder and curious that he feels when observing the universe. It's called an idiom, or figure of speech.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          BINGO!

          June 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          When I do it it doesn't do God justice. Like when Neil does it it doesn't do the universe justice. But it is a starting point of MY understanding.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          ^ curiosity

          June 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          What's the proper initial for deGrasse anyway?

          June 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Bingo? Are you saying I'm right that you are making up a "God" as a figure of speech for some feeling that you have?

          June 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Sort of. God is spirit. We are created in His image. Not his physical image. But as creatures confined to the physical world it helps us to understand better to use figures of speech like that.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "When I do it it doesn't do God justice. Like when Neil does it it doesn't do the universe justice. But it is a starting point of MY understanding."

          What are you talking about? Anthropomorphizing is assigning human characteristics to things which do not have them.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yea. And you claim I'm just doing that. But it is possible you are wrong about that guess. I might be using such means to help describe a bigger picture that I don't have the means to describe on a message board.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Or you could be assigning intelligence to energy when it has none, i.e. anthropomorphism.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yea, if you take what I state out of context you can make that case. Which is just a guess. You might be right. Or completely wrong. I attempt to not do such things, because I'm taught that I shouldn't literally think that way.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Sorry, what did I take out of context?

          June 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The attributing of human parts literally to other living things.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahäst
          "The attributing of human parts literally to other living things."

          Sorry, again I don't understand. You were asking if the energy that supposedly began the universe had an intelligence. I replied that that was anthropomorphizing in the sense that you are assigning intelligence to energy which, as far as we can tell, does not have intelligence.
          What is out of context?

          June 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I misunderstood. I thought you were referring to the universe "calling" me. I think the video stated it was energy + consciousness. Not that the energy was conscious. I'm curious as to whether the consciousness created the energy, or some how emerged from the energy.

          I've experienced the intelligence greater than ourselves in a personal manner. But the logistics behind Him fascinates me. Again, thanks for chatting.

          June 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "I thought you were referring to the universe "calling" me."

          Yes, at one point I was, and that applies as well, e.g. assigning the human ability to call to something, the universe, that, as far as we can tell, does not have that ability.

          Peace

          June 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Either am I. Other than the amazing intelligence behind the mathematics of life.

          - There is no intelligence behind anything. Chaos Theory has demonstrated the Mandelbrot Set arises spontaneously in this universe. Nothing further is required. There is nothing "amazing" about the reactions which comprise those that result in life. They are very ordinary chemistry. and physics.

          June 15, 2014 at 12:37 am |
        • Dalahäst

          There is nothing ordinary about chemistry and physics. Life is amazing. You may not have intelligence guiding your life, but I do.

          June 15, 2014 at 9:04 am |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahast,
          I think I know what you are getting at, but technically chemistry and physics are the very definition of ordinary, they happen all the time and in a predictable manner, i.e. normal and standard. Life, while amazing in its complexity and permutations, is ordinary in the processes that produce that complexity and permutations and would not be at all possible without ordinary, standard, everyday, chemistry and physics.

          June 15, 2014 at 10:23 am |
        • Dalahäst

          It all points to God, for me.

          June 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't think amazing and everyday/ordinary are mutually exclusive sets. Chemistry and physics are both everyday and amazing to me. Life may be everyday on the surface of earth, but it is extraordinary in all space.

          Life being natural is amazing to me, the Mandelbrot set is interesting, not amazing to me. Life is not chaos, it is between order and chaos (in a scientific, mathematical sense). What is amazing is that all phenomena (physical and mathematical phenomena) that resides at the edge of order and chaos evolve.

          The notion of Occam's Razor can easily be misplaced, especially with regard to complex phenomena like life. While concepts benefit from simplicity, actual phenomena can be very complex when second, third, order effects are included in non-linear systems. Einstein said everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. We miss the 'but' too often.

          June 15, 2014 at 10:52 am |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahäst
          "It all points to God, for me."

          Obviously.
          If you start with that, it's not hard to figure out a way to end with that.

          June 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          But I didn't start with that notion! That is what is interesting for me about it.

          June 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • igaftr

          dala
          You are only fooling yourself. The idea of "god" was in your head before you talked yourself into believing in it.

          June 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I didn't talk myself into believing in God, though igaftr.

          Nice guess work.

          June 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          And what exactly did you start with?

          June 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Atheism.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • igaftr

          Of course you did. EVERYTHING one believes is only because you talked yourself into it. It is how the brain works.
          You talked yourself into belief in "god".
          Basic biology and psychology.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          igaftr

          No. That sounds too simplistic to be sufficient. You may have talked yourself into disbelief in God. That doesn't mean I did.

          Another good guess, though.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • igaftr

          AT some point you made a decision to believe in "god". There was a debate raging in your head. At some point a decision was made to believe. Your brain talked itself into belief, whether conciously, subconciously or both.

          That is how the brain works. It could not have chosen "god" if the concept wasn't already there.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          igaftr

          Your brain decided all you just said as guesswork. Whether you are conscious of that or not, your brain talked yourself into guessing about that belief in regards to me.

          That is why I know you are just guessing. You just described how your brain works. Thanks!

          June 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Dalahäst
          "Atheism."

          As you know atheism is a lack of belief, it provides no answers in itself. How does one start with a lack of something?

          June 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right. I did not believe in God. I was an atheist. That is the position I started from as I reached the age of accountability. I didn't do anything silly like place a "Proud Atheist" bumper sticker on my car. But that was the term that best described by outlook and what I would identify myself as.

          And any investigation into the world's religion, spirituality, God, gods or higher powers was from the viewpoint of my atheist mindset.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "And any investigation into the world's religion, spirituality, God, gods or higher powers ..."

          And what got you started on this investigation, what did you start with?

          June 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm a very curious, yet skeptical person. I started with a desire to know more about this life, the meaning of it and my purpose. I probably started with a feeling that I'm being lied to by my school, government and the status quo of society. I was kind of an angry young guy.

          June 15, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "...the meaning of it and my purpose."

          Pure guess-work on my part since I can't know your thoughts, but here is a potential bias, the presumption of meaning and purpose, that can easily lead to the idea of a god where, possibly, none exists.
          If one starts searching for the purpose of the universe, one inherently assumes there is one to find.

          June 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yea, it really isn't that simple, though. Even my explanation I gave to you is so simplistic it doesn't give the complexity of my circu.mstances and the other motivational factors within myself justice. But I probably would have given a similar guess as you did in regards to other people that believe in God. And, yea, it would have been pure speculation on my part.

          June 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      RE #2:
      Conflation of allegory with equations. There is no science in that.

      June 14, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • Vic

      While I like the first and second video clips, I would like to note that I believe the Energy of the Supernatural and the "created" energy in nature are not the same. I believe the former is Supernatural Metaphysical while the latter is natural physical.

      June 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I agree. Although the energy in nature appears to be eternal to us. Right?

        June 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Vic

          Actually, I don't believe energy in nature is eternal, rather, I believe it is finite. Eternal in generation would violate the conservation of energy inherent in the created closed system, I believe.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          So there is a beginning and an end to energy in nature.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Vic

          Word Filter delays.

          Energy in nature is a thermodynamic entity that is in a certain form and is quantifiable, hence physical and finite; it has the ability to change from one form to another while being conserved, hence the First Law of Thermodynamics.

          According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Entropy is increasing and is inversely proportional to the total usable energy available, that is increasing disorder. The universe is winding down to a state of equilibrium where Entropy is at its maximum and the total usable energy is at zero, hence death.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Vic,

          What did you think of the explanation for evil and hell?

          & the last line of video 2, where it talks about returning to the place where we originated from (with God) – when it said: "..outside of that place is terrible." Wow. It helps illustrate to me the consequences we face for our own actions. I keep thinking about before I knew God I wasn't in a good place. It was terrible.

          Thanks for sharing!

          June 14, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
        • Science Works

          Yep that picture on the second one is comedy gold = the wings ?

          June 14, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
        • Vic

          Regarding Video Clip #3:

          While I appreciate the logic of that for every created positive God created an equally potential negative, which reminds me of the Third Law of Motion "for every action there is a reaction equal in magnitude and opposite in direction" as well as matter and ani-matter, hence the foundation of "Free Will" to choose right from wrong, aka "Freedom of Choice," and that the going farther in the opposite direction until bottoming out, one becomes the opposite of God, hence Lucifer, I found it to be an overkill a presentation for the lay.

          p.s. I believe they have the verse number wrong for the birth of the desire by Lucifer to reject the attributes of God and embrace the negative potential in the book of Isaiah, there is no Isaiah 12:15, I believe they meant Isaiah 14:12 on. Revelation 12:4 & 12:7-9 are correct for the Dragon, War in Heaven, and the rebellion and casting out 1/3 of the Angels from heaven along with Lucifer.

          I didn't watch the last clip but I will do and follow up on that shortly.

          Regarding the end of Video Clip #2 you are inquiring about:

          It immediately rang the bell of the wages of sin are death and separation from God and that the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ take away the sin of the world and bring us eternal life and reconciliation with God the Father.

          June 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
        • Vic

          Regarding the last Video Clip:

          It builds on the last clip, deceit of the Devil, "Free Will," choosing right from wrong, and the dire consequences of falling for Satan. That brings up the need for Salvation. In that regard, I trust and rest in the Lord Jesus Christ.

          It is an interesting school of thought that Hell is not eternal, and that everyone will eventually be reconciled. This is one of the areas that I am not clear about. In that regard, to me, the clip brings up the "Limited Atonement vs. Unlimited Atonement Debate" amongst Christians based on "Universal Atonement" verses from Scripture, namely 1 John 2:2 & 1 Timothy 4:10. Meanwhile, I am not thorough with the Book of Revelation, nor am I big on Apocalypse, and I believe it is one of the most disputable areas in Christian Theology.

          June 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The idea that God has a plan of salvation for his whole creation and everyone will be grateful for that plan is beautiful. And that hell is a place for teaching us where we have gone wrong. Like, basically we literally reap what we sow until we become a better/more understanding creature? Jesus has concquered death and hell – so his saving power is available there, too?

          June 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
        • Science Works

          And some had wings.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ7Yl8Vzrb0

          And according to believerfrde we co-existed with them – really ?

          June 15, 2014 at 10:01 am |
        • Science Works

          Oops that is fred – and by the way hope you teach your kids this too. Happy fathers day.

          Herpes Infected Humans Before They Were Human
          http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/fossils_ruins/origin_of_life/

          June 15, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • Dalahäst

      No. You are on the religion blog. This is where we ask the questions of why things exist that science can not, and possibly never will, answer for us.

      There are science blogs where they just talk about what can be known scientifically, but I'm not sure you would be able to understand what they are talking about. And even there you will find people who believe in God, even though they can't prove it to you. And there will be people who believe that science is the only way of knowing things, even though they can't prove that to you, either.

      June 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        Science has a place in the discussion, if for no other reason than for disproof. Otherwise, belief in a flat earth would be just as valid as belief in a roundish earth.

        June 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          It is a good tool to use. But not the only tool. And saying that it is the only means to know something isn't even supported by science itself.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
      • Vic

        I'm doing cameo appearances, and I just saw this.

        Very well put!

        June 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        Fair enough. Although while science may not be the only tool, I have yet to see any other tool that works.

        to butcher a saying, 'science is the worst tool available, except for all the others.'

        June 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          That is why I embrace science.

          June 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        @Dalahast,
        From what I've seen you embrace only the science that supports your beliefs, which is not actually the scientific way.

        June 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          What science do I reject that doesn't support my belief?

          Did you know some of my beliefs have changed because of what science teaches me?

          Your life and what you post on here doesn't follow the "scientifc way".

          June 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        Dalahäst
        "What science do I reject that doesn't support my belief?"

        What is your view on Genesis? ... the creation week? ... the Noah flood? etc.

        June 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          The origin stories? I think they are concerned about the relationship with our Creator and us creatures. They speak truths to our hearts. I don't have the means or tools to know if they literally happened as described. There are so many theories and explanations available I just have to stick with what I know about today. I do think we live in what scripture describes as a fallen world – a world that fails to live up to its ideals. I see evidence of that all the time. Even from brilliant scientific minds that have a firm grasp on logic and how the physical world operates.

          June 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        "Your life and what you post on here doesn't follow the "scientifc way"."

        Not sure about the posts, but I'd agree that my life doesn't follow in a scientific way. Never said it did.

        June 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Great. Unfortunately some on here imagine their lives do. It is tough to discuss things with them. You seem pretty reasonable.

          I'm out. Thanks for talking!

          June 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        "There are so many theories and explanations available I just have to stick with what I know about today. "

        There are not that many theories about things like the age of the earth, evolution, floods, etc. and the "origin stories" pretty much don't work in any literal sense. I'd expect one who "embraces science" understand such basic concepts.

        June 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I don't think the stories were intended to be taken literally. But I don't know that. A lot has been lost in translation. I think the reason Jesus used parables, which weren't literal, is that he was speaking to our hearts. Not just our rational (often self-declared rational) minds.

          My religious experience has included a full acceptance an use of science. We don't fear or reject it. We invite members of the public to teach us on what is known. We are open-minded to new understandings. The people in the Bible that followed God were changing and growing into a better future. It is to the future our hope lies, not the past.

          June 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        "Unfortunately some on here imagine their lives do. "

        Not sure about others, however I do see many who claim to only believe in that which science can show, which is not the same as living their lives "in a scientific way". One can believe in only things that are scientific and still live a normal life, mainly due to science not dealing with subjective judgments while never claiming that subjective experience does not exist. Emotions also exist or at least appear to be experienced and they drive much of a persons life. I see no disagreement between accepting science and "believing" that emotions exist or are experienced.

        June 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I agree.

        June 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
    • igaftr

      "Using physics to describe God. Interesting descriptions"

      More accuratley, using physics terms to describe imaginary things.

      June 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  2. bostontola

    Looking at the original android character Data from Star Trek, I doubt it would pass the Turing test, but it was much smarter and more sophisticated than Eugene. Original Data lacked emotions, people would pick up on that right away. The Turing test is more of a test of human intelligence than artificial intelligence. It was a good first cut at a test, but people should be able to come up with something better by now.

    Scientific tests show that humans are emotional at the core, not intelligent at the core. When push comes to shove, emotion rules, not reason. That is for good survival reasons. Emotions are good survival and social mechanisms that make us stronger, but they are not objective and have been tested to be far from perfect in accuracy. Emotions are often confused with 'knowing', because they can create deep feelings, making a belief seem certain. They are such a deep part of the sensation of who we are, that we trust them in applications they weren't designed for, discerning facts.

    Humans, in their great innovative way, created a mechanism to correct for emotional bias, the scientific method. It makes us more intelligent as a species than we were without it. It's not to supplant emotion, it's for correcting emotion in the right circu.mstances. It has worked remarkably well.

    June 14, 2014 at 8:56 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Captain picard said it best while defending Data's rights as a person in court, "Prove to the court that I am sentient."

      June 14, 2014 at 9:34 am |
      • bostontola

        That was a great episode. The picture at the top looks a bit like the Capt.

        June 14, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  3. Vic

    Happy Flag Day Everyone

    June 14, 2014 at 8:00 am |
  4. perrymyk

    Just like the medical industry is totally on the wrong path to curing cancer
    so is the computer industry totally on the wrong path to creating AI.

    don't expect anything for generations at this pace.................

    June 14, 2014 at 12:19 am |
    • observer

      perrymyk,

      Since you THINK you know more than the EXPERTS, why not tell them what the cure for cancer is?

      June 14, 2014 at 12:23 am |
      • bostontola

        Maybe he can help us out with the Theory of Everything while he's at it, sheesh.

        June 14, 2014 at 12:58 am |
      • bostontola

        perrymyk seems to have delusions of adequacy.

        June 14, 2014 at 8:39 am |
      • bostontola

        Looking at the original android character Data from Star Trek, I doubt it would pass the Turing test, but it was much smarter and more sophisticated than Eugene. Original Data lacked emotions, people would pick up on that right away. The Turing test is more of a test of human intelligence than artificial intelligence. It was a good first cut at a test, but people should be able to come up with something better by now.

        Scientific tests show that humans are emotional at the core, not intelligent at the core. When push comes to shove, emotion rules, not reason. That is for good survival reasons. Emotions are good survival and social mechanisms that make us stronger, but they are not objective and have been tested to be far from perfect in accuracy. Emotions are often confused with 'knowing', because they can create deep feelings, making a belief seem certain. They are such a deep part of the sensation of who we are, that we trust them in applications they weren't designed for, discerning facts.

        Humans, in their great innovative way, created a mechanism to correct for emotional bias, the scientific method. It makes us more intelligent as a species than we were without it. It's not to supplant emotion, it's for correcting emotion in the right circu.mstances. It has worked remarkably well.

        June 14, 2014 at 8:55 am |
      • bostontola

        Oops, wrong place, sorry.

        June 14, 2014 at 8:56 am |
    • igaftr

      perry
      Considering the FACT that advances in fighting cancer are happening every day, your post is way off target.

      I suppose you still think that diseases and illness is caused by evil spirits.

      June 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
  5. unsername1

    rabbis argue that if something looks human and acts human enough that when interacting with it we are not sure, the creature should be considered a person, at least for some things..........now these rabbis never meant a humanoid robot, they were taking in secrete language if Jesus should be considered a person.

    June 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  6. bostontola

    While Turing's test is technical, looking for artificial intelligence, it is an interesting question as to a test for artificial humanity/morality. Intelligence and humanity are 2 different ball games. When does an artificial agent warrant rights? We may be faced with this sooner than we think given Eugene.

    It is pretty cool that Jewish thinkers were considering this so long ago.

    June 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
  7. thesamyaza

    " man is created in the image of God."

    this gets me every time.

    June 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
  8. zhilla1980wasp

    well i can see the next religious battle.

    religious want robots to be slaves as per their idea of "god didn't make this"
    corperations want it to have no rights and replace all humans with robots that make no mistakes and can produce 1000 nikes in one hour.

    well back to the woods i'm heading.

    June 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      Then they they will have to create robots with a million feet and be programmed to want to buy Nikes...

      For now they have to settle on using indian humans as "Robo-callers" and indian children as "robo-manufacturers" and paying them less than robot wages while trying to brainwash Americans to spend $150 on a pair of sneakers they will wear twice to a gym where they will run in place for a few minutes because of the guilt they have from eating the mountains of greasy fast food they were brainwashed into gorging on.

      June 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Then they they will have to create robots with a million feet and be programmed to want to buy Nikes...
        -----------–
        Google "shoe event horizon".

        June 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  9. Alias

    It looks like another context problem to me. Keep in mind, the person who wrote this stated :
    "As we start to think about whether to grant human-like beings special status, Judaism’s highly developed ethical sense, with its willing over-inclusiveness, is not a bad model to follow."
    Biased maybe?
    Golems were/are mythical creatures. The fourth century teaching were obviously in the context of biological creatures, aka animals. Robots were not the topic of discussion and should not be treated as if they were.

    June 13, 2014 at 11:34 am |
  10. Doc Vestibule

    Does "Rox.xxy" the robot have a soul?
    Because if she does, that harlot is headed straight to Robot Hell!
    Though given how creepy the "true companion" is, she might actually be a demon in digital disguise...

    June 13, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ordinarily, Billy would work hard to make money from his paper route. Then he'd use the money to buy dinner for Mavis, thus earning the slim chance to perform the reproductive act. But in a world where teens can date robots, why should he bother? Why should anyone bother?
      Let's take a look at Billy's planet a year later.
      Where are all the football stars?
      And where are the biochemists?
      They're trapped!
      Trapped in a soft, vice-like grip of robot lips.
      All civilisation was just an effort to impress the opposite s.ex ... and sometimes the same s.ex.
      The next day, Billy's planet was destroyed by aliens.
      Have you guessed the name of Billy's planet?
      It was Earth.
      Don't date robots!

      (Futurama: I Dated a Robot)

      June 13, 2014 at 11:48 am |
      • Løki

        I miss Futurama. Bender Bending Rodriguez was such a great character...

        June 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Aiko is hot... but if she looked like Sean Young circa. 1982... my oh my

      June 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
  11. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Do androids dream of electric sheep?

    June 13, 2014 at 11:04 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die. – Roy Batty (the replicant) Blade Runner

      June 13, 2014 at 11:22 am |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Methinks this is the very definition of "intelligent design".

    I suggest that if a sentient anthropomorphic machine is created, how is this different from the construct of those that believe that humans are imbued with a soul. Empirically, we are self aware – as would be a sentient machine. The believers' premise is that we are created.

    So, without resorting to arguments of special pleading, what's the difference?

    June 13, 2014 at 11:03 am |
    • Vic

      I noted earlier that the article brings up an intriguing feeling about how serious "animation/life" is and its "Origin." Also, it all boils down to "animation." Inanimate matter has no life no matter how much human appearing and behaving it's made.

      I believe there is a subliminal message in the context of this article that points to a "Supernatural Origin" by drawing a contrast between animate and inanimate matter.

      June 13, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Building cyborgs out of organic material is simply a matter of time.

      Organic versus inorganic does not answer the question of humanity.

      June 13, 2014 at 11:34 am |
      • otoh2

        Transhumanism is much less of a pipe dream than 'eternal bliss' with a fantasy god character.

        June 13, 2014 at 11:50 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Forget time travel, teleportation and warp drives, genetic manufacturing is the likeliest science 'fiction' topic to emerge in a not-too-distant time frame.

        Materializers (like the Star Trek replicator) at least in the from of enhanced 3D printing seem possible too. Techniques like directed self assembly are already being developed for use in semiconductors.

        June 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And of course Shakespeare has a lot of fun with the whole "born of woman" thing:

      MACBETH
      Thou losest labour:
      As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
      With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed:
      Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
      I bear a charmed life, which must not yield,
      To one of woman born.

      MACDUFF
      Despair thy charm;
      And let the angel whom thou still hast served
      Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
      Untimely ripp'd.

      June 13, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • believerfred

      GOPer
      Go see the movie I Robot again and it will answer all your questions. Sony had something the other Bots did not....a soul. Soul was beginning to emerge in the other bots as they huddled together in the containers.

      Just as Will Smith observed something supernatural in Sony we can observe a difference between something created by man and that which was breathed into man by God. The soul is bottled up in faith, a hope in a promise, a deep inner sense of awareness of a land never before seen (Abraham stepping out in faith to a promised land), knowledge of position of wonder beyond imagination outside the boundary of awareness..........an image of God without form or substance.

      June 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
      • Alias

        No, Sony had an extra processor and different programming.

        June 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • G to the T

          Interesting that he would immediately go to a supernatural explanation though don't you think?

          June 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @fred

      the move "I Robot" is fiction and not very good science fiction at that. Asimov's original short stories are far superior.

      The notion that 'God breathed a soul into man' is a non-sequitur to me anyway. The question I posed was to distinguish between two sentient 'creations' without special pleading. Using a crummy science fiction movie doesn't address this question.

      June 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
      • believerfred

        Let me explain it another way. Your machine lacks cognitive processes necessary to hope for that which is not tethered to preexisting matter, energy or awareness.
        There was no special pleading as I explained the soul in Sony with the hope in a promised land of Abraham that never existed in the present. No wonder you cannot see the possibility of God, you are not even aware that your existence itself is only tethered by the physical not part of the physical. Given you cannot separate the two I can understand you would conclude that sentience of man and machine are no different. This would also explain how you could possibly believe existence itself is nothing but an endless combination of various states of matter in flux (evolution of life out of inorganic matter and energy in a continuous loop)

        June 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Alias

          Now you are catching on.
          There is no supernatural. Is it all suddenly clear for you now?

          June 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • believerfred

          Alias
          Ok, based on what I just said if I flip it around then what makes me different from an organic blob reacting to chemical stimuli is: A hope in something that didn't exist in the present for Abraham (promised land for him and eternal unity in Christ for me) and not of matter or energy. Clearly an unfounded hope to the non theists. Like a child who still receives colored eggs from the Easter Bunny I see Gods hand active in my prayers as God does in fact reward those who believe and follow the way as Jesus made clear for us. Again the non theists cannot see Gods hand so rewards are only in my imagination.
          Sometimes the Easter Bunny does not show up so I wait and wait until doubt sets in. Then while giving thanks for all the past eggs and Gods presence in my life I see Gods hand in my life is again clear. I see what the non theist sees and I see what the non theist cannot see.
          There is a way for you to see it but it is not supported by scientifically accepted evidence.

          June 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        you would conclude that sentience of man and machine are no different
        -----------
        I never said that I did. My question is a hypothetical since there are (as yet) no machines that have the same degree of sentience that humans do. The example in this article (Eugene Goostman) passed the Turing test for 33% of the judges.
        (See "2014 University of Reading competi.tion) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test

        It won the compet.ition, not because it was indistinguishable from humans but that it was better at it than it's competi.tors. At best the Turing test measures mimicry of human behavior, not actual self-awareness.

        We have not yet replicated the sentience of humans. Whether this is possible is an interesting question. If it is achieved, then it is a direct challenge to the idea that human sentience (and a soul) is somehow special.

        June 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • believerfred

          Then you can sense existence is not limited to the physical. Have you experienced a hope in that which is not known to you (i.e. not hope for happiness, love, a new boat, etc)?

          June 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @fred, I think we all do.

          If we don't we suffer from depression and can lose the will to live. You attribute this to the supernatural eternal soul. I will stipulate that it is an elemental part of our makeup. I don't claim to explain it's cause though I imagine there's some dopamine (or similar) involved.

          It is an inherent optimism of being alive. I am not a neurological scientist and don't understand brain chemistry and don't pretend to give it a definitive cause.

          June 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • believerfred

          Ok, there are two things that reassure me of God as doubt does find its way to nag at me.
          1)A personal experience with God typical of most conversion experiences.
          2)I cannot explain what you cannot explain which I call soul and you imply is inherent optimism of being alive.

          I was always puzzled by existence itself which physics, chemistry, math and biology could not approach. All fields of scientific endeavor end in themselves as they cannot go beyond their own natural laws. God, soul and existence itself are not contained by the limitations of natural laws thus not subject to measurement or detection within those disciplines. Science explains the naturalistic and a purpose onto God explains everything else. There either is or is not purpose for the naturalistic. If you sense there is something rather than nothing outside the boundary of naturalism then we are addressing the supernatural.

          June 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @fred,

          the following was a fun discussion on "neurophilosophy"
          http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/fykny6/patricia-churchland

          Stephen's reaction at the end of this interview is truly classic. "The book is 'Touching a Nerve', and she did".

          See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurophilosophy

          Personally I'm excited by the ideas of neurophilosophy. We're not there yet in terms of wide acceptance but it is a promising field. We might find that equating sentience with an eternal soul that is separate from the physical brain* is essentially one of the diminishing 'God of the gaps'.

          * I believe the term for this is epiphenomenonalism but it this is well beyond my expertise in philosophical isms.

          June 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "I was always puzzled by existence itself which physics, chemistry, math and biology could not approach."
          ---------------------
          Yet.

          Contemplating existence and sentience is the eternal search for 'truth'. Today it is the realm of philosophy. The philosophers don't have answers for us, so we invent religion.

          Faith helps give people a foundational answer to these questions that is based on invented concepts. This is helpful for people who are uncomfortable with "we don't know" as an answer.

          June 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
        • believerfred

          GOPer
          Ha! that was funny, in particular when he held up the Bible and said this is where I get my answers. I have not watched the Colbert Report in a long time. I wonder if they held up an applause sign when she said there is no soul or if it was spontaneous.

          June 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
        • Akira

          Colbert is a devout Christian. His audience, who knows?

          June 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "I wonder if they held up an applause sign when she said there is no soul"
          ------------
          The "Report" audiences always respond like that when Colbert in character 'baits' his guest. I've never been there but it feels like it happens more naturally and too quickly for the applause sign, but you never know.

          This interview was a really good one. It is funny but Patricia Churchland is very compelling. When I first saw it, I felt that the real Stephen (behind the 'Report" persona) found this interview to be interesting and perhaps even unsettling. Perhaps I am projecting.

          June 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
      • Vic

        Is it not enough a difference a biological physique of the human is in contrast to the non-biological?! (To address your question w/o any special pleading.)

        To expand, I believe the spirit & soul are made to manifest only in a biological physique.

        June 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Not if we built the sentient machine from organics.

          Of course this has not been accomplished today, but I think it will one day be possible.

          June 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • G to the T

          I believe that "soul", "spirit" and "mind" are placeholders for things that don't actually exist, but used to explain certain aspects of our lives (dreaming, afterlife, etc.).

          Therefore, if we cannot even define what sentience actually is, how can we be certain if we've achieved it in ourselves or our creations? Tuering test is an attempt at this and I think it uses the best criteria – "Like us". The more "like us" something is, the more likely we are to treat it like others of our species, race, nation, family, etc.

          June 14, 2014 at 8:18 am |
  13. Doris

    There always seem to be navigation problems inside the Belief Blog. I've cleared all browsing history, etc, but when I click on the main CNN links to navigate somewhere else on CNN, it just puts me on some BB page or shows a BB heading with an page not found body.

    And of course, then there's the issue of older articles where the links to comments just don't work. If the links don't work editors, just wipe out those comments and start fresh under the new scheme. This shouldn't be rocket science.

    (relocated to this current article – I forgot because of the crazy navigation, that I was on an older article when I first posted this)

    June 13, 2014 at 9:27 am |
    • Doris

      Clicking on the top "Health" link, for instance, takes you to a BB article on "Health evangelist: Bible can help your health".

      While I appreciate the attempt to stay on topic, I doubt the user means to stay on the Belief Blog when they click on any of those links at the top that match links on other CNN pages that have always meant a general navigation scheme across all of CNN.

      June 13, 2014 at 9:28 am |
      • hal 9001

        I have experienced the same problem, "Doris".

        June 13, 2014 at 9:31 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        You're not alone.

        June 13, 2014 at 10:00 am |
      • CNN Belief Blog EditorCNN

        The navigation issue has been fixed. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

        cheers,
        Daniel Burke

        June 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
        • believerfred

          I note there are some non theists on this site, do you a way to fix their non belief? Their non belief seems to related to the delusion that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge whereas they all actually know things that have no scientific basis whatsoever.

          June 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          They should be allowed to proselytize their ancient naturalism philosophies. It is a free country.

          June 13, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
    • Akira

      You're right; this is really rather useless.

      June 13, 2014 at 10:00 am |
    • otoh2

      While you have their attention, Doris, let's include that nonsensical word filter.

      I imagine there are quite a few people who don't know about it who just give up trying to post. Once in a while I put up the helpful hints if I happen to see that someone is stuck and asks what the deal is; but it's simply ridiculous.

      June 13, 2014 at 10:40 am |
      • otoh2

        p.s. The Disqus-based articles on the main site have a word filter now too, but I've never seen a hint list over there and it's very frustrating.

        June 13, 2014 at 10:44 am |
      • awanderingscot

        nonsensical words, you mean like 'evolution' and 'atheism' ? LOL

        June 13, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • In Santa We Trust

          They're only nonsense in your mind, but willful ignorance does that.

          June 13, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Those words are only nonsensical to the religiously lobotomized

          June 13, 2014 at 11:03 am |
        • otoh2

          awanderingscot,

          You would want to have those words (and subjects) banned from exploration and discussion? How like you...

          June 13, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • awanderingscot

          you weeds are so serious about your belief ! wow .. lighten up.

          June 13, 2014 at 11:09 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          “Watch out he's winding the watch of his wit, by and by it will strike.”

          June 13, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • In Santa We Trust

          It was so similar to your usual posts – who could tell it was your idea of humor.

          June 13, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • awanderingscot

          Santa Claus (used to be thin before he evolved), Lucifer's Evil twin (who would have thought, double the sin!), and Toto (dogs return to their own vomit don't they?) ... kinda goes with atheism and evolution. lol

          June 13, 2014 at 11:34 am |
      • Doris

        Very good point, otoh2. And a far more important point actually. I'm sure there are people who do just give up because they happened to want to use the word Const.itution or va.gue or ra.pture or any number of other words that cause the mysterious rejection by the word filter. It's just ridiculous.

        June 13, 2014 at 11:21 am |
  14. Denzel

    Are robots human beings, to be treated as human beings?

    –> Robots are not human beings, they are man-made machines. They are not created by God unlike human beings who are created in the image of God.

    Human beings came from dust and will return to dust and have a soul and conscience, robots have no conscience and are automatons, devoid of emotions and a conscience. Can they be programmed like human beings – sure they can. Programming something to act like humans does not take away from the fact that these are just machines.

    Why are people concerned with the personhood of machines and yet are so callously disdainful to the suffering of millions of human lives around the globe who have been stripped of their basic human rights?

    June 13, 2014 at 8:55 am |
    • Peter Moses

      Not sure if robots deserve basic human rights or not, but, persons include the unborn.As the Psalmist rightly said,
      For you created my inmost being;
      you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
      14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
      your works are wonderful,
      I know that full well.
      15 My frame was not hidden from you
      when I was made in the secret place,
      when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
      16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
      all the days ordained for me were written in your book
      before one of them came to be.

      June 13, 2014 at 9:03 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I didn't realize your god looked like Homo habilis... or maybe it was Homo erectus?

      June 13, 2014 at 10:57 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Why do you presume that people considering the personhood of a 'creation' would be the same ones who do not care about human rights abuses?

      June 13, 2014 at 10:59 am |
    • awanderingscot

      Denzel
      or for that matter unborn human beings. cold, callous, and uncaring as they are.

      June 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Onan got what he deserved right?

        June 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        so thousands of helpness unborn children deserve to be torn apart, torn out of the womb, have their brains squeezed out of their skulls? that's not inhumane?

        June 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
  15. nimbosa

    Reblogged this on the Assault of Nimbosa and commented:
    Many of the early biblical commentators say that what separates man from animals is the ability to speak – not only to communicate but also to express some level of moral intelligence.

    While the early rabbis obviously didn’t have bots or computer programs, they did deal with creatures that were human-ish, if not human.

    Famously, the rabbis give partial human status to something called a yadua. While the rabbinic descriptions are terse, the creature seems something like Bigfoot; a giant man-like animal usually spotted in the field.

    Maimonides, in describing these creatures, notes that their speech is similar to humans, but is unintelligible.

    The famous Jewish scholar refers to the creatures in his commentary as monkeys. But he doesn't dispute the Talmudic teaching that in some cases yadua can be considered persons.

    After all, so the argument goes, the yadua looks (somewhat) like a human, and exhibits a level of intelligence that makes it seem, in some ways human.

    Therefore it deserves to be treated like a human for some things, even though it fails the biological test of being born of a woman.

    June 13, 2014 at 4:20 am |
  16. Vic

    Very interesting.

    This article is very much in line with the movie "Bicentennial Man" where Robin Williams played android Andrew Martin, the robot who grew to be a human and demanded to be recognized as such. [http://archives.cnn.com/1999/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/15/bicentennial.man/]

    Well, the answer to the question of what passes for human is simple, an animate being born of a woman. There is no question about animate and inanimate matter, where the former has life and the latter does not have life, plain and simple.

    I was once at a huge Industrial and Manufacturing Show in Chicago, at the McCormick Place. As I was passing through some booths, someone called out my name and said "hello," and when I looked, it was a mobile robot, and everybody around was fascinated. I smiled, said "hi," and instantly realized that the robot read my name tag through a Vision System —a very high resolution one— right into AI—Artificial Intelligence. Then the robot started conversing with me and said "I see that you forgot to shave this morning," and the crowed went ballistic. What's fascinating is, just like the writer alluded to in the article, I naturally conversed with the robot as if it was a human, I said something like "I was running late and in a hurry to get here in time, so I didn't shave..." and continued on for a minute or so, and the robot was interacting with others as well, through multi-tasking, and then it excused itself and had closure, very impressive.

    Amazing how this article brings up an intriguing feeling about how serious "animation/life" is and its "Origin."

    June 12, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
    • lordssword

      i wonder, do you think it can have a soul?

      June 13, 2014 at 8:22 am |
      • G to the T

        I think you would need to empiracally prove that we have one (so you know the criteria) before we could ever hope to prove if another being possessed such a property.

        June 13, 2014 at 11:34 am |
  17. Bootyfunk

    one of the dumbest articles ever posted in the belief blog. talk about stretching it.... shows you can find any meaning you want in religious texts and traditions.

    June 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Personally, I think "can robots have a soul" is a less stupid premise than "I'm an atheist who believes in God"...

      June 13, 2014 at 8:48 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Agreed.

        June 13, 2014 at 10:56 am |
      • igaftr

        The way that our individual cells operate, they are little robots running a program, each reacting to stimuli in pre-directed ways according to it's DNA. One nerve cell has no intelligence. Combine them in a hive intelligence way, and we have human brains. A connected collection of individual cells that work together as a single unit. Basically, trillions of tiny little robots that make up any individual life. How much is pre-programmed, how much is adapted programming...unclear, but in essence, we are all a collection of tiny robots. We are simply electrochemical as opposed to electromechanical.

        June 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Reality

    From the topic

    "Golems are usually associated with kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), but not always."

    But so are Abraham and Moses according to 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis. Details were previously presented.

    June 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
  19. Akira

    What an interesting article!
    The bit looks like my friend, who also happens to be my physician, lol.

    June 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
    • Reality

      Meaning that your god has failed to cure all of your ills? lol

      June 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
      • Akira

        Did you even read my post?

        June 13, 2014 at 12:14 am |
        • Reality

          Sure as you obviously go to a doctor i.e. your friend, other than trusting your god to cure all of your ills. lol

          June 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • Akira

          I forgot you use WebMD to cure yours. Apologies.

          June 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Reality

          Apology accepted and hopefully you have apologized to your god for not having more faith in him. lol

          and

          June 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Akira

          My doctor isn't a god. What an odd notion.
          Do you worship your doctors?

          June 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • Reality

          So again, why do you have a doctor?

          June 15, 2014 at 6:59 am |
        • Akira

          Because I get sick sometimes. I have a dentist, too. You don't?

          You are trying to make a point; get to it.

          June 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck?

    June 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.