by Ken Rolheiser
Artificial Intelligence and Spiritual IQ 

The two greatest days of our lives are the day we were born and the day we discover why. (Mark Twain). There are many other days when we are fortunate enough to discover realities about life. Today that includes virtual realities.

I listened to Yukon singer-songwriter Diyet sharing stories of her early life in a one-room cabin with her parents and two other siblings. At five she was given a tool bag by her mother. She had a knife and a hatchet in it. Her job was to split wood for the fire.

I realized my background was not that different. At ten I was chopping kindling daily for the fire next morning. We had fourteen-foot drifts of snow that winter which covered all but the dead tops of poplars I could access for kindling. Electricity came to our rural home the next year.

The point is that we had purpose to our lives. Survival depended on everyone’s doing their part in making life better. Today life is drastically different for most children. Cybernet consciousness has replaced environmental IQ. My writing success depends more on Google profile, Social-Media and clicking apps than manipulating the environment.

We have to develop our cyber-consciousness to be successful in this world, but we need to develop a spiritual consciousness to be successful in the next world. I was so blessed to hear Diyet’s sharing of mystic moments under the Northern heavens. She shared those moments that say, “Just once in my life I got to see that.”

Nature will take you there. I remember a scene in the pasture on my father’s farm. It was spring. There was a heavy fog all around, but the spring run-off made tiny rivulets all around me as far as I could see in the fog. I was at sea. Just once I got to see that. 

There are mystic moments if we have developed the spiritual consciousness to see them. Diyet shared a vision she had of figures coming toward her from off the ice, as in a dream. She discovered later it was her cousins who had perished after breaking through the ice that day.

Spoiler alert: “We’re all going to die, all of us. What a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities. We are eaten up by nothing” (Charles Bukowski - Stoic quotes).

There is obviously a need to focus on and develop the spirituality that will get us through this life and into the next. The Christian Church outlines a spiritual path and course of action to get us there. And now the advent of Artificial Intelligence may assist us in developing a sense of virtue in our cultural evolution as well. 

A panel studying work related to the field of AI, including grant-funded research projects, gives us two considerations: “The first, entitled ‘Understanding Spiritual Intelligence,’ is a project of the International Society for Science and Religion and includes a major focus on artificial intelligence. 

“The second, managed by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, is entitled ‘Virtuous AI?: Cultural Evolution, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtue.’ and explores how AI will shape us and society as well as the relationship between humans, AI, and virtue.”

The future of Artificial Intelligence is bright if we develop it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who empowers us emotionally, intelligently and spiritually.

(573 words)