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 An Oxford Evangelical, Part 2


NOTE: Following John Lennox’s lead, Sophie and I, in our previous conversation, addressed question #1 in Dan Brown’s novel, Origin:

Where did we come from?

In this conversation the two of us, along with John, tackle Origin question #2:                        

Where are we going?

Let’s get started.




Human Immortality


Don: From a smarter toaster, to a smarter watch, to a smarter car, everything involving AI ultimately points in one direction to a final destination – eternal life.

Fifty years ago, if you were to ask 100 random individuals what immortality was about, most of them would have answered like John Lennox and said “religion,” but a significant minority would agree with atheist leader Richard Dawkins, and either deny that human immortality is possible, or say something completely banal, like leaving a personal legacy as a remembrance. Either way, it’s a sure bet that, fifty years ago, no one but a handful of tech geeks and sci-fi fans were seriously entertaining the possibility that technology would one day open a pathway to human immortality.

As late as the turn of the millennium, John Lennox and Richard Dawkins and their creation/evolution debates were still relevant.

But then, like the giant asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, there was a massive explosion.


The asteroid that hit Earth was AI, Artificial Intelligence, and virtually overnight it reduced John Lennox and Richard Dawkins from being apex predators into fossilized dinosaurs. Creation/evolution debates suddenly became irrelevant.

Today, no one is arguing over divine creation and biological evolution. All the talk is about how AI is changing the world, even to the point where it now appears all but certain that the gods of religion will be replaced by the new kid on the block - an AI Superintelligence who will bestow immortality on those who he deems worthy.

The Great Transition from analogue to digital is well under way, but the Final Transition from all biology to all silicon remains unrealized. What happens over the next ten years will likely determine if the Bostrom/Kurzweil Model stands or fails. The jury is still out.

Sophie: Do you think the possibility of achieving personal immortality through AI in our lifetimes will ever break into the global consciousness as a real and imminent possibility?

Don: That day isn’t far off. It will happen when someone like a Ray Kurzweil issues a public announcement about a mind uploaded to the cloud who then speaks back to us.

Sophie: That would basically amount to an announcement that religion is dead, replaced by technology.

Don: Which is the central theme of Origin, where Edmond Kirsch, after solving the brain/mind upload problem, prepares to announce to billions of people around the world, in a live streaming video, that:


“The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns.”


Don: Dan Brown makes it clear that the “dark religions” Kirsch is referring to are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, all monotheistic faiths that recognize the Bible as the inspired Word of God. And the “sweet Science” is the new physics of AGI technology.

Sophie: Does John Lennox see it that way?

Don: After acknowledging that Edmond Kirsch singles out Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as enemies, John, for no justifiable reason that I can see, ignores the clear intent of Dan Brown and injects his own Fundamentalist world-view into the text, making Robert Langdon appear like a closet Christian. Following are some examples.



John Lennox
Dan Brown

2084 Excerpt:

John: “What are we, then, to make of Dan Brown’s book and indeed of Dan Brown himself? He claims to have lost his Christian faith and is moving towards atheism, although he says he has not made that final step. Like his character Edmond Kirsch, he believes that the laws of nature can explain life. He calls his views conflicted. The book bears that out. At times, it seems to endorse atheism, and yet towards the end, the notion that there is an intelligent designer God behind the universe is given credibility. At other times, the book appears to approve of the destruction of religion by science. Yet, again at the very end, there is an intriguing section where Langdon is discussing with a priest the line from William Blake that forms the password to Kirsch’s computer, the search for which plays a prominent role in the plot-line of the book: ‘The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns.’”

“Langdon suggests to the priest that this could mean that science destroys the dark and bad religions but not the enlightened ones. There is truth in that. For science has indeed got rid of the ‘god of the gaps’ type religions of the ancient Greeks, for instance, that stood in the way of the advance of science, but science has certainly not got rid of God the Creator and Upholder of the universe as revealed in the Judeo-Christian heritage, whose intelligent creation inspired the pioneer scientists in the first place.”


Sophie: Oh my God! Lennox replaces the three monotheistic religions cited by Dan Brown with the “god of the gaps” religions of the ancient Greeks! That is blatant misrepresentation! Why would he do that?

Don: Because John thought he could get away with it. By using the phrase “There is truth in that,” John does a bait and switch by interpreting the “dark religions” mentioned by Blake as the “god of the gaps” religions of the ancient Greeks.

Sophie: So what does “dark religions” really refer to?

Don: In Origin, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and other books in the Langdon Series, Dan Brown identifies Christian Fundamentalism as the darkest of the dark religions. And I should note that the term “Christian Fundamentalism” includes conservative Catholicism.

Sophie: Remnants from the Dark Ages.

Don: Right. John’s twisted interpretation of the Origin text is so off-base and unjustified that I suspect he may have intentionally violated academic norms in order to make readers think that Dan Brown might, in secret, be a born-again Christian.

John had to know that the “dark religions” mentioned by William Blake include the religion he believes in. It is historical fact that what John calls “the Judeo-Christian heritage” was covertly challenged by Newton and his fellow Rosicrucians during the time of the English Enlightenment.

Sophie: But John cites Isaac Newton as a champion of the Fundamentalist Model.

Don: Another example of John misinterpreting Origin in order to advance his own Fundamentalist agenda. It’s common for Evangelical scholars like John to embrace Isaac Newton as one of their own, even while knowing that Newton harbored a deep and not-so-secret hatred of the Nicaean model of the Trinity, and an equal disdain for the doctrine of the deity of Christ.

John’s aberrant interpretation of what Robert Langdon believes is a ploy to keep readers from learning the truth: that Robert Langdon’s fight is against Christian Fundamentalism, which he views as a gross misrepresentation of what the Bible actually teaches.

Sophie: Which is why John misinterprets Brown’s words in ways that reinforce his so-called “biblical” world view.

Don: It’s called confirmation bias. Evangelical leaders are still reeling from the negative impact the Langdon series had on their congregations. Dan Brown’s extensive research into the history and teachings of the Church is mostly negative, and, to this day, Church authorities are mindful that the biting criticisms of Christian orthodoxy that Dan Brown injected into the Langdon Series still rings true in the minds of many of their most intelligent, faithful, and affluent followers.

Sophie: I wonder how many Christians have lost faith because of Dan Brown?

Don: I wonder how many Dan Brown-reading Christians remain active in their churches for various reasons, while privately skeptical of its teachings?



Don: The Bostrom/Kurzweil solution to achieving human immortality within the next few decades involves the invention of a Superintelligence who agrees, for reasons that I have yet to understand, to absorb our simple human minds into his Super Mind, and, on top of that, to graciously allow us to retain a measure of free will.

John rebuts the B/K Model in chapter 10 with what he calls his:




John begins his essay with a hearty Oxford whine:

“I would be sad if my skeptical, agnostic, or atheist readers switched off at this point. Not that you owe me anything, but I have spent a great deal of time attempting to understand what you write, and I would hope that you in turn might be interested in hearing how my view interacts with yours.”

Sophie: Sounds like you and John have a lot in common. You’re both about the same age, and you both like to whine.

Don: Ha-Ha, very funny. At least I have empirical evidence to support my model. All John has are claims of fulfilled biblical prophecies, which AI atheists cavalierly blow off as religious bullshit.

Sophie: So, does John succeed in convincing readers that his “biblical worldview” is still competitive in the Age of AI?


Don: Not without contradicting himself. For example, in one instance he writes:

“As we have seen, there appears to be as yet little, if any, evidence or even consensus of belief that AGI will ever be reached.”


Sophie: It sounds like John is still living in a pre-AI universe.


Don: I know, but in another place he writes that the AGI Superintelligence could be the “beast” mentioned in Revelation 13:


“In this connection, one naturally thinks of AGI proponents aim to make artificial life and to upload the contents of minds onto silicon. While we do not know exactly what Revelation has in mind here, it could be the creation of some kind of “life” that is so sophisticated and impressive that the world is deceived and oppressed by it. That is, it could represent some partial realization of AGI.”


Sophie: What in the hell is a “partial AGI?” Some kind of embryonic Singleton half way to becoming the AGI God of the universe?


Don: It gets worse. In the following excerpt, John appears to agree with Carl Sagan that Jesus Christ is a merger of humanity and technology:


“In contrast, there is a great deal of evidence and a widespread conviction that Jesus Christ is both man and God (Homo + Deus). This is, of course, a staggering claim. If true, it at once implies that we do not have to wait for some kind of merger of human life and technology to reach a different kind of being with hitherto unprecedented powers. Such a human superintelligence already exists.”


Sophie: Unless my eyes deceive me, it appears that John believes that Jesus Christ is a cyborg, a combination of humanity and AI technology.


Don: When John asks why we should wait for tech geeks to invent a cyborg when one already exists, he basically concedes that Carl Sagan was right when he declared Jesus Christ to be an extraterrestrial.

But as much of a hatchet job John did on Origin, he can take solace in knowing that, in 2004, a well-known American Evangelical theologian, Darrell Bock, outdid him on a book he wrote that was titled: Breaking the Da Vinci Code.

Don: In 2004, Da Vinci Code hysteria was sweeping across the globe and millions of readers were turning to Bible experts for answers. Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, saw an opportunity to cash in. Claiming to know the answers to the questions everyone was asking about Brown’s mega-bestseller, Bock proudly wrote the following:

“The novel presents seven codes, issues that can be formed as questions, that are expressed or implied within its story.”

Sophie: Seven codes! The Da Vinci Code is singular, not plural. What in the hell was he thinking?

Don: He was thinking about only one thing – cashing in. As Darrell introduces his seven imaginary codes, even throwing in an eighth at the end for good measure, he is laughing all the way to the bank. The sad fact is that biblical sensationalism sells. No one knows the depth of Evangelical gullibility better than Evangelical theologians.

Sophie: And he calls himself a man of God!

Don: Yeah, and get this. Before I was recruited to Western Seminary in 2006, I was preparing to enroll at the seminary where he teaches. Had that happened, I would likely have had Bock as one of my professors!

Sophie: Scary thought. He makes John Lennox look squeaky clean by comparison.

Don: I agree.


Sophie: I have to ask. Is John doing the same thing Bock did, taking advantage of an opportunity to cash in, and sacrificing academic norms in the process?


Don: I see that as a possibility. There is palpable fear among evangelicals that AI is taking over the world, creating such a high level of anxiety that I expect more books like 2084 to be popping up - which actually gets me kind of excited. As more and more conservative Bible scholars like John write books on AI, some of them might actually be daring or stupid enough to take on the Sagan Signal



The Divine Signature


Don: When I read Origin, I was pleasantly taken aback when Dan Brown equated God to codes. John Lennox had a similar reaction and wrote about it in his book:




John: “I get the impression that Dan Brown’s Origin more than leaves a door open for God, presumably deliberately. For its fictional hero Robert Langdon hesitates to accept Edmond Kirsch’s thesis uncritically. The reasons given are important and are revealed when the equally fictional highly intelligent director of the Guggenheim Museum, Ambra Vidal, asks Langdon about God. Langdon’s reply to her is that:

 ‘for me the question of God lies in understanding the difference between codes and patterns . . . Patterns occur everywhere in nature . . . codes do not occur naturally in the world . . . Codes are the deliberate inventions of intelligent consciousness.”

John: “She then mentions DNA, which is a superb example of chemical coding in the DNA molecule that consists of a ‘word’ in a four letter ‘letter’ chemical alphabet. At 3.4 billion letters, it is the longest word that has ever been discovered. Langdon then goes on to confirm what many of us (including the author) have long since thought, that this is powerful evidence of a divine signature. As a mathematician, I was both surprised – given Brown’s overall thesis – and delighted to read Langdon’s conclusion:”

‘When I witness the precision of mathematics, the reliability of physics, and the symmetries of the cosmos, I don’t feel like I’m observing cold science; I feel as if I’m seeing a living footprint . . . the shadow of some greater force that is just beyond our grasp.’”


Don: For me, reading the above narrative was the highlight my analysis of 2084.

Sophie: I can see why. Out of nowhere, Robert Langdon distinguishes codes from patterns. Do you think Dan Brown inserted this narrative into the text as a clue to finding the Sagan Signal?

Don: I do. By equating a code to evidence of the existence of God, Brown completes the circle he started in The Da Vinci Code. The equivalencies between the genetic code, the Da Vinci code, and the Sagan Signal are striking.

Sophie: Mathematics, physics, symmetry, fundamental aspects of Nature - all present in all three codes.

Don: The connections between the code narrative in Origin and the plethora of code references in The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol pass right over John’s head. He apparently read only the last book in the Langdon series.

Sophie: You know, Don, I think you’re being too hard on John. It’s obvious that he got caught in the Academic’s Dilemma.

Don: What in the hell is that?

Sophie: It began with Carl Sagan, a brilliant scientist highly respected by his peers, who began writing books on science that the masses found enjoyable to read and easy to understand. But once such a book is written, it is critically reviewed by fellow scientists who frown on any academic who dares to sacrifice the technical writing standards of the Academy for personal fame or fortune. John, like many other scientists who write for the masses, knows that it’s impossible to satisfy both sides.

Don: I get it. If John had written 2084 for his peers, he would have filled it with five syllable words, complex mathematical equations, and abstract concepts that would have been unfathomable to regular folk.

Sophie: Right. And even worse, nobody would buy it.

Don: But isn’t that’s the risk that every scientist/academic takes in writing for the public? If they sell a lot of books and receive great press reviews, they stand a good chance of being excoriated by their peers. But their reward: broad public recognition, a hefty advance, and regular royalty checks, make it all worthwhile. All I’m doing is holding John’s feet to the fire. He may not like it, but I’m sure he understands.

Sophie: John’s been around awhile, he’s no spring chicken, so I suspect that is true.



Grain, Wine, Oil



John’s problem and that of other Evangelical theologians is that by using a human-invented hermeneutic to interpret Scripture, they are, in effect, reducing God’s written word to the level of humans rather than recognizing the Bible for what it is, a divine revelation that requires looking through a divinely encrypted lens for it to be properly understood.

It should come as no surprise to born-again believers that God encrypted a miracle lens into the Bible as it was being written to help believers “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Sagan Signal is a miraculous gift from God that Christ loving believers should be celebrating and implementing, not castigating and ignoring.

In defending their version of a “biblical worldview,” John and his fellow conservative theologians have a lot of work to do if they hope to be relevant in the Age of AI, and it has to start with  a willingness to acknowledge the existence of a competitive biblical worldview, the Sagan Model.

In John’s defense, it appears that he is unaware of my discovery of a divinely encrypted hermeneutic in the Bible – and since I have made little effort to publicize that fact, I can’t hold that against him.

But now John has no choice. The Sagan Signal is here to stay until such time as it is properly addressed and debunked. If the Sagan Signal can be falsified, John, with his vast knowledge of the Bible and his scientific expertise, is the right man for the job. If he can’t do it, it probably can’t be done.

For John to claim that he represents the “biblical worldview,” he needs to engage my “biblical worldview” with an exhaustive investigation of the Sagan Signal and post his research online for the whole world to see. If John is unable or unwilling to defend his model against my model, he has no business asking Nick Bostrom and The Future of Humanity Institute to take his “biblical worldview” seriously.

The Sagan Model is relevant in the Age of AI because the Sagan Signal is direct evidence that the AGI Superintelligence that Ray Kurzweil and other AGI geeks are hoping to invent was developed and perfected eons ago by a technological species vastly superior to our own.

In contrast to John’s struggle to make his “biblical worldview,” relevant in the Age of AI, my “biblical worldview” is simple, comprehensive, and confirmable. It’s clear that Nick Bostrom and the boys at The Future of Humanity Institute are less than impressed with John’s model, but they should be, and I believe are, shaking in their oxfords over the threat the Sagan Model poses to their natal model of AGI Superintelligence that is pockmarked with troubling uncertainties.

 Oxford Shoes


Concerning the question: “Where are we going?” I think it’s an inquiry that needs to be personalized. In my heart, I need to ask: Where is Don Zygutis going? You, the reader, in your heart, need to ask: Where are you going?

If personal immortality is your goal, what’s the plan? If you’re looking to God, which is the better “biblical worldview, mine or John’s”? If you’re looking at AGI technology, which is the better construct, mine or Ray Kurzweil’s? Do your due diligence – shop and compare, and when you decide, jump in and don’t look back.

Of course it would help if we had as much investigative information on the Sagan Signal as there is on the B/K Model. For a variety of reasons, it‘s been slow in coming. My hope is that these conversations with Molly and Sophia will balance the scales.

"Everything you need to know"
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