The Gospel Observer (November 13, 2016)

Contents:

1) Marionettes, Robots, and the Human Being (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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puppet_robot_human
-1-

Marionettes, Robots, and the Human Being
Tom Edwards

00100010 01001001 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100010 01100101 01100111 01101001 01101110 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01000111 01101111 01100100 00100000 01100011 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110100 01100101 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101000 01100101 01100001 01110110 01100101 01101110 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100101 01100001 01110010 01110100 01101000 00100010 00100000 00101000 01000111 01100101 01101110 01100101 01110011 01101001 01110011 00100000 00110001 00111010 00110001 00101001 00101110

As I imagine you know, the previous paragraph is in the binary code, which a computer uses.  But what you might not know is that the above contains only 11 words, along with punctuation marks and numbers, which declare the following:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Even though the binary code uses only two different digits, what are the odds of each one being the right one in its own place to write this simple, short sentence from Genesis 1:1, if each of those 568 digits had to be selected from a vast number of them and then put in the right places while blindfolded?  Would we not think of that as an impossibility?

Similarly, in thinking of the wooden marionette in the above picture, would I be able to convince you that given enough time — such as billions or trillions of years — that such a puppet could simply evolve on its own to form all the right parts with all the right shapes in all the right places, including the strings and the necessary bendable joints with their needful pins to allow movement?  I imagine you would think me to have no more mind than a marionette when it comes to even suggesting such a thought.

But why is that so seemingly impossible for a lifeless and mindless piece of wood to develop into a marionette without an intelligent source to design it, but not so in the thinking of many people today towards the existence of every different living creature, with its own brain and needful parts, that inhabits our planet on land or in water?

We, of course, are far more advanced than any simple, inanimate marionette, and regardless of how skillfully it has been made. For it exists without knowing, without experiencing, with no sense of being, as if it never was.

While we, on the other hand, have been designed with wondrous complexity of exactly what is needed – the many parts with their individualized and special functions which all work together to make one body.

And think, too, of not only the five senses we have been given of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste; but also of the senses of balance, of hunger, of thirst, of physical attraction, of motion, etc.  So much we can experience, and we have also been provided with a free will “to pull our own strings.”

But have you ever imagined yourself as being some type of advanced robot — or, more precisely, instead of being some kind of cybernetic organism, you were simply developed as just an organism with only biological parts and without any mechanical or man-made substance? Is that rather far-fetched?

When we think of all in which man has been able to invent, why should we think it so strange that there is a Superior Being much greater than man who also has the ability to have ideas and bring them to reality?  But unlike man, God can even give life to that which He makes!

Recently, I watched an interesting 60-Minutes documentary, hosted by Charlie Rose, that originally aired October 9, 2016, on the subject of Artificial Intelligence and focused on “Watson,” a super-computer built about 5 years ago, which actually, unlike other computers, has been reading and learning on its own and has even been used to diagnose cancer patients and suggest proper treatments.  Watson can read the equivalent of 1 million books in 1 second, which makes it easy for it to keep up with the 8,000 medical research papers that are published every day; and, therefore, able to base cases on the latest findings, rather than using that which might be a year or two old.  In 1,000 patient-cases, Watson suggested the same treatment for 99% of the patients as the physicians had.  But, in addition to that, it also suggested treatment, which the physicians had not known about, for 30% of the other patients, thus helping 300 more.  After spending a week in initially being taught to read medical literature, Watson then read 25 million papers in a following week, plus scanned the web for more clinical information.  Watson also reads medical charts and can spot abnormalities (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-artificial-intelligence-charlie-rose-robot-sophia/).

How helpful Watson can be!  But there are those with some reservations: Perhaps Watson will become too smart – and without caring for mankind.  He was still in just his “infancy” when winning on Jeopardy a few years ago and has advanced since then.

In some futuristic movies, robots, which of course, had to initially be made by man, had evolved into being able to build themselves.   Unfortunately, some of these ended up turning against man, viewed him as a threat, so sought to destroy all human kind.

I wonder where the sci-fi writers got an idea like that?

How many people today, who owe their very existence to God, are actually in rebellion toward Him, their Creator?  How many have closed their ears to His beckoning?  How many are running away from Him?  Ignoring Him?  How many of His prophets, who came to declare God’s message, were persecuted and killed for doing so? How many today try to destroy even the thought of God from the thinking of others, to strive to turn them away from Him, too?  And how can we ever forget what man had done to God’s Son, Jesus Christ (through whom we have been made – – John 1:1-3), whom they severely scourged and torturously put to death by nailing Him to a cross — thus killing their Creator!

Perhaps why it is easy to liken our body to some type of machine is because of all the intricate and interrelated parts that make our bodies what they are –- nerves, arteries, veins, all running where they need to go; heart, lungs, brain, stomach, kidneys, intestines, liver, etc., needful organs with their own special functions for our very existence; eyes, ears, mouth, nose, fingers, toes, hands, feet, legs, arms, skin, etc.  You truly are a marvel when you take the time to ponder these things!

Though it can be interesting to imagine ourselves as some type of advanced biological robot that has been given a mind that can be developed, still we find the most meaning of all in our existence when facing the reality of it and realizing that we are what we are because “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). So man is not an animal, nor a machine, nor just some meaningless entity; but, rather, a human being who has been given dominion over all that God has made on earth (v. 26).  And even more wondrous than our physical body is our eternal soul, for that is the part of us that has been created in God’s image.  For “God is Spirit…” (Jn. 4:24), but “…a spirit does not have flesh and bones…” (Luke 24:39).

Yes, we are each truly marvels when we take the time to really consider all that makes us what we are, as David did when he declared, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13,14).

And as we think of the contrast between us and a marionette, will there not be even more of a contrast between the earthly body of man and that which the redeemed will have in heaven?  For as Paul writes, “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. ‘O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O  DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:50-57).

In view of this wonderful change that is coming for the faithful child of God, let us take heed to what Paul goes on to say: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (v. 57).

The apostle John also writes of this, by saying, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).

If a mindless puppet required someone with intelligence to make it, how much more should we realize the need for our Creator in making us what we are?

In creating man, God also provided us with a free will and the ability to develop intellectually, socially, and spiritually.  He made it possible that we can strive to fulfill our primary purpose for being here, which Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: For this is the whole duty of man.”

Yes, God could have made various puppets and pulled their strings to do whatever He chose; but those puppets would never be able to show love to God, commune with Him in prayer, have spiritual fellowship with Him and enjoy and be thankful for His blessings.

But we, who have been created in God’s image, can.  By our faith and obedience to the Lord we can honor, submit to, worship, and love God, thus also enjoying and being grateful for the blessings He has made possible for us in His Son Jesus Christ! (cf. Jn. 14:21; Jn.15:10; 1 Jn. 5:3).

Though there are those who believe that humans have descended from a single-celled organism that had first come into being in some mud pond more than 3.6 billion years ago and went through many evolutionary changes, over long periods of time to become what we are today, that is not the account that our Creator gives in His Divinely Inspired word, the Bible.  And how much more comforting God’s truth is — to know that we are a part of His doing!  Our bodies, as well as our eternal souls, were made possible by Him!  And those who have been redeemed, through that wonderful atonement that Jesus made by His death on the cross of Calvary for every sinner (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Heb. 2:9; Rom. 5:6-10), will one day come to see what even greater things God can do for them in eternal glory, if they remain true and faithful to Him while here on earth.  For now Jesus rules over all, from the right hand of God (cf. Matt. 28:18); and to whom we willingly and gladly submit, as we await that great day when all the saved will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air and ever be with Him in glory (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Oh, what a day to be ready for — a day of great change from the earthly to the heavenly, from the mortal to the immortal!  What great design God will have for us there!  For He is the Designer of that as well.  As we see in the Lord’s promise to His apostles: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2,3, emphasis mine).

We often give recognition and praise where it is due.  Artists, sculptors, inventors, writers, musicians, etc., are often acclaimed for their great works.  Isn’t it sad that so many see the many wonders of creation, but know of no one to whom they can acknowledge as the Designer of it all to give praise and thanksgiving toward?  But just as seeing a marionette or a robot reminds us that someone made it, seeing the wonders of creation, should cause us all to do likewise, in realizing our need, as well as all other created things, for an Intelligent Designer.

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-2-

News & Notes

Doyle & Joyce Rittenhouse have both been sick lately — with symptoms that sound like a bad cold.  Doyle will be returning to see his doctor tomorrow if there is no improvement by then.

Others who have been on the sick list are Tori McCarthy; Deborah Medlock; and Baxter Cribbs who was with us last Wednesday, but remained on the back row and left immediately following the service, so as not to pass on a sickness that he had.

Danny & Jan Bartlett were also both sick recently, but we were glad to see them back Sunday.

Others that we also want to keep praying for are Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, Kelli Fleeman, Shirley Davis, Melotine Davis, Jim Lively, Bennie Medlock, Ray Richards, and Mary Vandevander.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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