Modern science, medicine and technology have made some amazing improvements to the lives of people around the globe. Some have been able to regain hearing or sight. Face transplants for severe burn victims have been possible. Replacement limbs are giving many a nearly normal way to function. AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has given us self-driving cars, better military defenses, robotic surgery, spam filtering for our email, and a host of other benefits.
“The Last Christian” is a futuristic thriller set in 2088. Neuroscience and medicine have progressed so far that people can now swap out their original brain for a new silicon brain that contains all their own memories and knowledge. It’s an improved brain that speeds up learning, and best of all, will never die. It can be transplanted into another body if the original body dies. So a person’s consciousness could go on indefinitely. But what happens to a person’s soul and religious beliefs when they get this artificial brain?
Abby Caldwell, an American by citizenship, has lived her entire life with her missionary parents in a primitive New Guinea village. Her parents died many years ago, but she continued to live there, even adopting an orphaned girl. When a strange illness attacks the village, she goes up the river to look for help. Unfortunately, when she returns, every person in the village is dead. She decides to go to the United States. When she gets there, she is shocked to discover that she cannot find anyone who is still a Christian. She appears to be the last Christian in the country. No religion exists anymore.
Although the story seems somewhat far-fetched, it really does stretch the reader’s thinking. How far can we go with AI? Could it really cause people to lose their faith? A scenario such as this book describes is not that far in the future.