Dear Friends,

Being human, a person, is not separate or different from being a human being. To say this is to be counter-cultural, but we Christians have to learn to be winsomely and faithfully counter-cultural.

Many recent movies explore what it means to be a person. They do this by creating a world where we ask ourselves, “When does an android become a person?”

In Ex Machina, the android is a “machine” that looks human. But this is not enough, the question is whether or not it can “think” like a human being. A young researcher goes to rigorously administer the Turing Test, and sort out whether the android has consciousness and is capable of thought – and therefore a person, just like you and me, only not human. The recent Netflix movie Extinction also involves androids which look human. However, merely “looking human” is not enough. The androids become a person when they start to feel emotions. So the presence of human emotions is what makes them a person like you and me. The android is not a human being, but it is a person because it has emotions.

These movies assume that “being a person” and “being a human being” are not synonymous. A robot, or a computer, or an android can become a person when it is able to think or feel. To be a person, one must “pass” this criteria. So it is, that as long as the android cannot “think” or “feel”, it is alright to own it as property and treat it as a thing. As soon as it becomes a person, then it should not be owned as property and should not be treated as a thing.

To many people in our culture, especially among the intellectual class, being human does not make you a person. To be a person, the human being has to pass the same test as the android – be able to think or feel. Until a human being pass the “person test”, he or she can be treated as property or a “thing”. At the same time, when a human being can no longer pass the “person test”, the human being is no longer a person, and can be treated as a thing, or an animal, property to deal with as we, the “persons”, see fit. So it is , that in seeking to exalt the “person”, modern thought is deeply, blindly, and tragically anti-human.

Biology shows that every human being begins as a single fertilized cell in a woman’s womb and then develops till death, leaving the same DNA. This is what it means to be human. The bible teaches the deep, inalienable, God given dignity of every human being, no matter how young or how old; how “able” or how “disabled”. To be human is to be made in the image of God – it is to bear God’s image. A human being does not have to pass a test to have value and worth. Our value and worth comes from God and is inextricably woven into creation. There is no disconnect between being a person and being a human being. Every human being is a person, being in God’s image, worthy of love and respect, full of dignity.

Friends, be counter-cultural!