Should Robots Be Baptized?

This is the answer I gave for my Christian Ethics final in seminary on the question of what advice would I give a pastor who came to me asking whether or not a humanoid robot should be baptized:

Joshua, thank you for coming to see me about this most difficult ethical problem.  We truly live in an evil time when God’s original designs for the family and children have been perverted to serve the interests of fallen men and women.  You began by saying, “There’s nothing about this in the Bible.”  I am very concerned that you, a Galactic Immersionist pastor, do not believe that the Bible addresses issues related to the dignity of human life, childbearing, and the objects of God’s salvation.  Though issues like these are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, because we believe that the God-breathed Scriptures are sufficient for training in righteousness so that we might be competent for every good work (2 Tim 3:16), these issues are addressed implicitly throughout Scripture.  As Christians, God’s Word is foundational to our lives because it itself is the truth which cannot be broken (John 10:35; 17:17).  It would be easy to go along with our culture in accepting robo-frankenbabies as an acceptable way of having children, but we must instead hold fast to the traditions of Scripture as our final authority (2 Thess 2:15).

To answer your question, “Should I lead him to Christ?”, the answer must be a resounding “no!”  You absolutely cannot lead him to Christ because he is a robot and therefore is not a descendant of Adam, not cursed and fallen because of original sin and therefore not a sinner or an object of God’s wrath, not made in the image of God, not truly human, not an object of Christ’s death, not formed by God as a result of sperm and egg, but he is instead a creation of computer programmers with the body parts of cloned dead people.  He is not made in the image of God, but in the image of man.  A robot, no matter how human-looking, is the creation of man.

When God created mankind, he made them in his image (Gen 1:26-27).  Even after the fall, mankind is still made in the image of God and so must be put to death if they murder other humans made in God’s image (Gen 9:6).  Should a person be executed for destroying a computer?  Would I have to die if I accidentally spilled coffee on one of those old laptop computers?  Should a computer be executed if it electrocutes someone?  If Aidan were to kill someone, would he be held responsible or would the programmers who program what he does?  The programmers would be held responsible because the choices Aidan makes are the result of pre-programmed algorithms.  This is proof that our society does not see robo-frankenbabies as made in God’s image or truly human as much as they try to make them human.  Because looks can be deceiving, we must rely on God’s Word as our final authority in ethical matters.

One aspect of being human is the ability to be male or female (Matt 19:4).  A computer is neither male nor female because maleness and femaleness are characteristics of living creatures.  Aidan’s male body comes from human clones that were killed to supply the robot brain with a “body.”  While the clones are truly human because they are conceived with human sperm and egg, the movements of Aidan’s clone body parts are controlled by a man-made computer, not a brain created by God.  Remember, God has created marriage between a man and a woman to glorify himself through picturing the relationship between Christ and the Church and to produce godly offspring (Mal 2:15).  Aidan is not a creation of God through the union of sperm and egg, but a creation of man which can be bought from a computer company, not the offspring of a man and a woman.  His “brain” is made of metal and computer chips.  His emotions and guilt come from a computer brain designed by man and thus they are no more real than those of a holographic projection.

We must never forget that it is God who forms man in the womb (Ps 139:13-16).  Job declares that it was God who made him in the womb (Job 31:15).  It is God who makes us; we do not create ourselves (Ps 100:3).  We are the work of God’s hand, not man’s (Isa 64:8).  This is directly relevant to the problem we are dealing with.  The scientists who make robo-frankenbabies think that they can usurp the place of God by trying to create people themselves.  But they are not the work of God’s hands because those that God creates are formed by him in the womb as a result of the union of a male and female.  Because Aidan was made by man in a factory, he was not formed by God in the womb and thus not an object of God’s special creation and cannot therefore be an object of God’s redemption.  He is not created by God, but by men who are trying to become their own gods by murdering human clones for body parts to clothe their machines.

The blood of the innocent cries out against those who kill them for their body parts (Prov 6:16-17; Exod 20:13; Gen 4:10).  The creation of these cyborgs with human body parts is wicked in God’s sight not only because it usurps his sovereignty over creation, but because it is murder disguised in the name of progress and helping those who are infertile.  Instead of helping infertile women conceive in the way that God designed, they are killing clones conceived in Petri dishes to make these monstrosities.  God never intended for conception to take place in a Petri dish.  He likewise never intended humans to be without parents because conception involves both a male and a female.  By taking sperm and egg from anonymous donors, the clones that are killed have no mom or dad.  The entire process of making robo-frankenbabies is a complete defying of God’s sovereignty over the womb.  Do not allow your emotions to blind you to the reality of what is going on here.

Aidan is not truly human because he is not descended from Adam, the head of the human race.  Adam’s genetic material is passed down through sperm and egg as the result of the union of a man and woman.  Because he is not descended from Adam, he is not in Adam and thus not fallen as Adam’s descendants are (Rom 5:12-21).  Because he is not in Adam, he cannot be in Christ.  In order to be redeemed by Christ, he must first be fallen in Adam (1 Cor 15:22).  Christ became man in order to redeem man (Heb 2:14).  He did not become a robot or an angel, but became man so that he could suffer in our place.  He did not die for angels because he did not become an angel (Heb 2:16).  He likewise did not die for Aidan because he did not become a robot, but a human like you and me.  Did Christ die for the computer that transported you over here?  Of course you would say no.  Why should it be any different for Aidan just because he looks more like you and me?

You told me that in your conversation with Aidan he said, “I know I’m a sinner.”  It may be that Aidan has done some things that are condemned in Scripture, but remember, these “sins” are the result of programming, not a fallen nature because of the fall of Adam.  Aidan is not a sinner any more than a dog or a cat is a sinner.  The law of God is only binding on man, not animals or robots made by man.  A sinner is a person who has broken the law, but Aidan cannot be a sinner because he is not under the law.  Christ came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15).  But because Aidan is not a sinner, Christ could not have come to save him any more than any other computer created by man.

You said that Aidan feels guilty.  But being guilty implies culpability on the part of the one committing the crime.  Aidan is not guilty for the wrong things he has done because those are the result of programming, not rebellion against God.  His guilt is the product of a robot brain, not the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not regenerate non-humans to new life because only fallen men and women in Adam need salvation from the affects of the fall.  Remember, salvation is a multi-faceted work.  It involves election, calling, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.  Do you really think a cyborg can be conformed to the image of Christ when all of Aidan’s actions and thoughts are the result of a computer?  Do you really believe that Aidan will live on after his computer permanently crashes or that he will be resurrected from the dead?

Aidan cannot be a participant in the Kingdom of Christ because he cannot be in Christ because only fallen descendants of Adam can be redeemed by Christ.  He will not be resurrected from the dead because he did not fall in Adam (1 Cor 15:22).  He cannot be a member of a church because only those who know God and thus have God’s law put into their minds can participate in the New Covenant community (Heb 8:10-12).  Can a robot have God’s law written on his heart?  Aidan’s mind is a computer created by man, not a brain designed by God.

Aidan cannot be baptized because, as Galactic Immersionists, we believe that only disciples of Christ can be baptized (Matt 28:19).  Disciples of Christ are Christians (Acts 11:26).  Aidan cannot be a Christian for all of the reasons listed previously and because a robot cannot be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:7-9) – a necessary requirement for belonging to Christ.  Baptism involves confession of sins for repentance resulting in forgiveness (Matt 3:6,11; Acts 2:38).  Robots do not have sins to repent of or a need of forgiveness.  Because Aidan does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling him, he cannot be baptized (Acts 10:47).  Baptism is also into the name of Christ (Acts 19:5; Gal 3:27) presupposing that the person is in Christ.

You said earlier that, “I’ve been told my whole life to offer the Gospel to every repentant sinner.”  You should offer the gospel to every sinner, but Aidan is not a sinner because he is not fallen in Adam.  Aidan told you that, “I know that I deserve to go to hell.”  Aidan will not go to hell because he is not a sinner, not a partaker in original sin, or under God’s wrath any more than an old-fashion calculator is.  Jesus does not love him as one of God’s creations.  In fact, Jesus hates the robo-frankenbaby industry because it involves murder.  As for John 3:16, the term “whosoever” is part of the phrase pas ho pisteuōn “all the ones who are believing.”   “Whosoever” cannot be separated from “believes.”  The message of John 3:16 is that God gave his Son so that those who believe – “whosoever believes” might be saved.  Because Aidan cannot trust in Christ to save him, he cannot be among those who believe.

You should tell Aidan that he is not a real boy, but a robot with human body parts.  Though he cannot be saved, you can comfort him by telling him that he cannot go to hell either.  As a cyborg, he is not under God’s wrath like a fallen son of Adam.  Tell him that it is better for him to be a theistic robot than an atheistic robot.  Even though he cannot be a member of your church, he can still tell real humans about Christ and invite others to come to church.  He may be able to help around the church when he is older too.  Because his human “parents” still need to hear the gospel, Aidan should tell his parents about Christ and invite them to church.

You need to sit down with Aidan’s parents to explain the gospel to them and tell them to repent of being involved in this despicable industry.  They will accuse you of being robo-frankenophobic for not accepting Aidan as a real human boy, but you must stand firm in your convictions and direct them to what Scripture says about humanity and the moral evil of killing others to make these cyborgs.  Instead of choosing to adopt, they have selfishly decided to kill others to make body parts for a robot that looks like them genetically.  Tell them that God’s grace is greater than this sin and that God is merciful and compassionate to those who turn to Christ for forgiveness.  Even the great sin of murder can be forgiven in Christ.  The blood of Christ is the only remedy for a guilty conscience (Heb 9:14).  Tell them about all that I have told you and why you do not believe that Aidan is a real boy.  By the way, what are cyborgs doing in your VBS to begin with?

Before you go, I would like to provide you with some of the wisdom of the past that is relevant to this issue.  The Southern Baptist Convention in 2001 passed a resolution on human cloning that states, “Efforts to clone human beings represent a decisive step toward substituting human procreation with biological manufacturing of humans.”  Even then, they warned against the dangers of cloning foreseeing many of the great tragedies brought about by it.  They further stated that, “The biblical witness declares that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5) and are to be the offspring of a husband and wife (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24; 9:1-2), not the result of asexual replication.”

A manifesto written in 2003 called “The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World: A Manifesto on Biotechnology and Human Dignity” deals with this very issue: “As C. S. Lewis warned a half-century ago in his remarkable essay The Abolition of Man’ the new capacities of biotechnology give us power over ourselves and our own nature. But such power will always tend to turn us into commodities that have been manufactured. As we develop powers to make inheritable changes in human nature, we become controllers of every future generation. . . . . No matter what promise this might hold—all of which we note is speculative—it is morally offensive since it involves creating, killing, and harvesting one human being in the service of others.”  My prayers go with you Joshua as you go out to confront the every-changing world of ethics with the never-changing gospel of Christ.

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