ChristopherBenek.com https://www.christopherbenek.com/ The social and religious commentary of Rev. Christopher J. Benek Sat, 25 May 2019 18:31:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 Insights (Australia) – Can AI be redeemed? https://www.christopherbenek.com/2019/05/insights-australia-can-ai-be-redeemed/ Wed, 01 May 2019 18:15:52 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=5309 Insights quotes the The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek as it investigates the theological challenges surrounding Artificial Intelligence and redemption. Read the full article HERE.

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Insights quotes the The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek as it investigates the theological challenges surrounding Artificial Intelligence and redemption. Read the full article HERE.

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The Christian Post – Evangelicals unveil statement on artificial intelligence, say the Church needs to engage https://www.christopherbenek.com/2019/04/the-christian-post-evangelicals-unveil-statement-on-artificial-intelligence-say-the-church-needs-to-engage/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 18:25:24 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=5311 The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek regarding the Statement on Artificial Intelligence presented by the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the...

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The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek regarding the Statement on Artificial Intelligence presented by the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Read the full article HERE.

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The Christian Post – NY Times says robot marriage becoming mainstream; pastor believes church partly to blame https://www.christopherbenek.com/2019/01/the-christian-post-ny-times-says-robot-marriage-becoming-mainstream-pastor-believes-church-partly-to-blame/ Thu, 24 Jan 2019 18:30:41 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=5313 Commenting on the The New York Tomes article “Do you Take this Robot,” The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek regarding the rights...

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Commenting on the The New York Tomes article “Do you Take this Robot,” The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek regarding the rights of robots. Read the full article HERE.

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Patheos – James McGrath’s ReligionProf Podcast with Christopher Benek https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/12/patheos-james-mcgraths-religionprof-podcast-with-christopher-benek/ Wed, 26 Dec 2018 02:58:56 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=5299 Butler University Religion Professor James McGrath interviews The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek for an extended Christmas Special version of his ReligionProf Podcast on Patheos. Hear...

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Butler University Religion Professor James McGrath interviews The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek for an extended Christmas Special version of his ReligionProf Podcast on Patheos. Hear the full interview HERE.

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The Christian Post – John Crist pokes fun at virtual reality churches in hilarious new video https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/12/the-christian-post-john-crist-pokes-fun-at-virtual-reality-churches-in-hilarious-new-video/ Tue, 11 Dec 2018 02:52:53 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=5297 Michael Gryboski of The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek as a comedy sketch by comedian John Crist raises theological questions about the...

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Michael Gryboski of The Christian Post quotes The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek as a comedy sketch by comedian John Crist raises theological questions about the future of virtual reality churches. Read the full article HERE.

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God of SuperPosition – Part 1: Seeing Miracles https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/09/god-of-superposition-part-1-seeing-miracles/ Mon, 03 Sep 2018 04:25:14 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4971 Two unlikely miracles happen in Matamoros, Mexico.

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Two unlikely miracles happen in Matamoros, Mexico.

Scripture: Mark 6:30-56 & John 6:1-21, NRSV

Location: First preached at First Presbyterian Church of Tequesta, Florida & The Pink Church, Pompano, Florida

For two consecutive weeks the liturgical calendar places the stories of Jesus feeding the 5000 and walking on water – front and center. We read about them in Mark in 6:30-56 and then again in John’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 1-21. Accounts of both of these stories are actually found in all four gospels. Additionally, Mark’s account leads into three more verses that tell us about Jesus’ continued healing of the sick at Gennesaret.

The described miracles in the Gospels, on their face; do not seem to have good explanations for how they happened. Additionally, because people today live in a scientific and technological age, many want to quickly discount these stories because we don’t have an easy way to explain them. They don’t fit neatly into the scientific method. No one back then had an iPhone to take photographic proof. And, let’s face it, even if someone had been able to take a photo – skeptics on the Internet would probably be claiming that the images were all photoshopped.

But, the inclusion of these stories in the Gospel narrative forces a personal question that must be answered: Do you believe in miracles?

And let me push a bit further… If you believe in miracles, why do you believe in them? Have you ever seen a miracle?

As it so happens – I believe I have.

I saw a woman physically healed outside a church in Mexico. And if I am being honest, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Early in my ministry a mission team that I was leading from Ohio was collaborating with another group in an effort to pour a concrete roof for a church in Matamoros, Mexico. And, in the middle of the job, the cement mixer behind the church stopped working. After trying to fix the problem to no avail, someone sent for a repairman.

The church that day was bustling with activity as over 80 children from the neighborhood swarmed the grounds for the VBS that our group was providing. As children were running around and folks were still focused on getting the concrete mixer back into action, I saw a woman walking along a support wall that started midway along the side of the church and gradually inclined up to about four feet high.

I was coming out of the church to see if any progress had been made on the repair, when I happened to see this woman misstep, her right foot slipping off of the wall. She screamed as she began to fall.

I stood there helplessly and watched as her turned ankle hit the ground about two and a half feet below. She slammed onto the ground. Everyone who saw this happen has no doubt that the result was dreadful.

Fortunately, one of the men working from the other group was a doctor and he immediately rushed over to care for the woman. Slowly her screams turned to whimpers but the doctor quickly concluded that she had broken her ankle and it was swelling quickly. He announced that we needed to get a vehicle to the site immediately that could take her to the hospital. Until then he ordered that she was not to be moved.

Wondering what all the commotion was about, the head pastor of the church came out to investigate what was going on. Immediately, he went to the woman to console her. As he did the doctor intersected with him and told him that she needed to get to a hospital soon. The pastor swiftly corrected him and said “No, we need to pray for her now.” The doctor didn’t seem too happy about this response and vehemently protested. But the pastor insisted, retorting: “Ye of little faith.”Seeing that there wasn’t a vehicle there yet to move her, the doctor backed down.

The pastor then proceeded to call out in Spanish to several of his congregants to come over to the woman. They helped her to stand on her one good foot, gathered around her, and laid hands on her while they began to pray.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself but when they finished – the woman was obviously healed. She was rejoicing, smiling and hugging everyone who prayed for her. Several onlookers and myself stood in awe looking at one another like “what the heck just happened?” Then the pastor invited the doctor to come over to check her out. Sure enough, no pain, no swelling – she was good to go.

The doctor later told me that he had never seen anything like this before in his life. Most of us hadn’t. He was convinced that this woman had been healed completely.

After the majority of this impromptu mini-celebration had concluded, the pastor happened to notice that all work on the roof had come to a screeching halt and that several people had returned to the mixer frustrated that, after numerous attempts, it still wouldn’t start. The pastor inquired as to what the delay was about and he was quickly informed of the situation. Again he simply said “Ye of little faith” and, again in Spanish, called over his congregants who all proceeded to lay hands on the cement mixer! I remember thinking “what the heck are they doing now!?”

After they finished praying, they all stepped back and the pastor flipped the same switch that I had seen flipped a dozen times before. Now intrigued, onlookers watched with anticipation. This time the mixer started. “Everyone get back to work!” he said as he smiled and walked back into the church. It was simply unbelievable… but it happened.

A few minutes later the vehicle showed up that was supposed to take the woman to the hospital. She had already left the church to walk home. The repairman then also arrived only to be informed that he wasn’t needed because a “miracle had occurred.” He was very skeptical. I would have been too if I hadn’t seen it all with my own eyes.

Continue reading God of Superposition – Part 2 of 3: What is a Miracle?

As featured on SuperPosition

 

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Facebook Hosts Posts Encouraging You to Fight So That They Can Make More Money https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/09/4684/ Sat, 01 Sep 2018 04:33:08 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4684 Does your Facebook feed feel like digital Fight Club? Let's break the First Rule and talk about it.

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Does your Facebook feed feel like digital Fight Club? Let’s break the First Rule and talk about it.

How many times have you been on Facebook only to see an inflammatory post that you just felt compelled to comment on? The post might not have been totally off in its reporting but the nuance of it just seemed to miss the mark. So, against your better judgment you, with the best of intentions try to correct the misinformation and then… all Facebook Hell breaks loose.

You end up in some fight that goes on for hours or days or longer. Sarcasm is exchanged, shots are fired, meme volleys are launched – a band of Internet trolls join in. Finally someone ends up blocked. Your friends think you are a jerk – and often the feeling is mutual.
Even if this hasn’t happened to you – you have almost certainly seen it happen to others. Aside from all of the things people love about Facebook – like broadened communication, mass amounts of birthday wishes and endless narcissism… hmmpt… I mean selfies – Facebook can often feel like the digital version of Fight Club. 

But if this kind of digital MMA battle has happened to you – truth be told – it might not be completely your fault. And surprisingly enough it also might not be the fault of the now deemed ass-hat friend that you were just fighting. Why? Because Facebook’s system is setup to encourage you to fight with your friends. 

To understand how this is the case – you need to have a basic understanding of how Facebook makes money. Facebook makes revenue by selling ads to companies that want to sell you their stuff. So when you log into Facebook their goal is to get as many relevant ads in front of you as possible so that they can cash in. 

All this happens very quickly in real time. You get on Facebook and they read all of the info they can from your browser. By this and the data that you already voluntarily gave them permission to when you signed up – they have a pretty detailed profile of whom you are and what kinds of things you like. They then use all of this data to feed you ads that make them money.

It is obviously more complicated than I am about to describe but, in short, Facebook feeds you ads by rapidly sending your data to servers that then compete on behalf of product suppliers to bid on pitching you their ad. These bids are fractions of a cent but they all add up. The person who won the bid – well, that’s whose ad you are seeing in your browser. 

Have you ever had the experience of looking up a product online and then suddenly, and creepily, Facebook puts an ad up in front of you while you are on Facebook? That happened because they are using the data from your browser. And now they have targeted you for a potential product sale. 

Now don’t get me wrong, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with Facebook making money from providing you a product. You are voluntarily choosing to use Facebook. But the problem that we need to acknowledge is that the way the Internet is currently incentivized is through conflict methodology.

If a site is making ad revenue off of its viewers and how long they stay on a web page then it behooves them to write click-bait styled titles and rabble-rousing posts in order to get their readers to disagree. 

Have you noticed that there are more conflict-oriented sites on the Internet than ever before? How you noticed that people are fighting with each other more and more? Have you seen the political climate in the United States lately? It’s not an accident – people are making money off of you

So how is Facebook at fault for this? Well, it isn’t directly their fault if they aren’t the ones creating the conflict-oriented content. But let’s not fool ourselves into believing that they don’t know that this is happening. They have made a point to generally stay out of determining what is virtue-driven and what isn’t on their site – except where Congress intercedes. 

Yes, it is true that Facebook has policies and penalties around hate speech and fake news but is also the case that most people claim that these rules aren’t clear enough. Beyond that, no one has breeched the question as to if Facebook has an ethical
responsibility to ban posts that incite conflict methodology. That may sound complicated but Facebook already bans people for all sorts of minor offenses –often without providing recourse for the violator to even understand clearly what rule they broke or the parameters of the rules.

According to Wired Magazine, Facebook made 10 billion dollars in profit in the first half of this year alone! Cue the Dr. Evil pinky finger because you would think that some of that money might be able to go into devising ethics that help keep the peace.

But don’t kid yourself – Facebook and conflict-oriented sites don’t want you to stop fighting – because when you fight they are profiting wildly.

As featured on SuperPosition

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The Christian Post – Can a Video Game Church Advance the Kingdom of God? https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/08/the-christian-post-can-a-video-game-church-advance-the-kingdom-of-god/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 22:59:00 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4619 The Christian Post interviews the Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek inquiring as to his thoughts on ministry that seeks to serve video gamers. Read the full article HERE.

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The Christian Post interviews the Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek inquiring as to his thoughts on ministry that seeks to serve video gamers. Read the full article HERE.

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Religion News Service – The (holy) ghost in the machine: Catholic thinkers tackle the ethics of artificial intelligence https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/05/religion-news-service-the-holy-ghost-in-the-machine-catholic-thinkers-tackle-the-ethics-of-artificial-intelligence/ Wed, 23 May 2018 16:55:59 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4615 Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service covers how Catholic thinkers are now also beginning to consider the ethical issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence that Dr. Benek has previously raised. Read the full article HERE.

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Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service covers how Catholic thinkers are now also beginning to consider the ethical issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence that Dr. Benek has previously raised. Read the full article HERE.

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The Sun Sentinel – Nothing can be gained by taking Nikolas Cruz’s life https://www.christopherbenek.com/2018/03/the-sun-sentinel-nothing-can-be-gained-by-taking-nikolas-cruzs-life/ Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:33:11 +0000 https://www.christopherbenek.com/?p=4605 The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek, serving as the Moderator of the 41 churches of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida, signs his name to a letter opposing the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz.

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The Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek, serving as the Moderator of the 41 churches of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida, signs his name to a letter opposing the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz.

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