Artificial Intelligence: A Brief Catholic Reflection

August 7, 2023 at 12:20 a.m.
Freepix image
Freepix image


Let me state upfront that I am not a robot!

There has been a lot of conversation lately about the benefits and risks associated with the rapid expansion of artificial intelligence technology into our society. There are valid arguments on both sides. The challenges and opportunities presented by new technology have been part of the human conversation for generations. Still, anyone familiar with the Terminator movie series cannot avoid the image of runaway technology taking over the planet and imposing its will on an under-equipped humanity.

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t fully understand what artificial intelligence (A.I.) is or does. What little I know has been gleaned from both secular and Catholic media. Yes, the debate is also taking place within the Catholic Church, particularly as it involves two aspects of Catholic teaching — human dignity and social morality.

As families get ready for the start of a new school year, it is worth taking time to think from a Christian perspective about A.I. and how much of this technology we want our children to access. Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Human dignity: Though we can never fully know God’s being, we can discern from what we see around us that God is intelligent, creative, dynamic and generous. Being made in God’s image, humans have inherited these attributes. Yet, we also know that the human person is an imperfect reflection of God’s fullness. Can or will A.I. replace these human imperfections? Intelligence is more than just processing information. It involves experience, emotion, vision, imagining. What do we lose if we allow mathematical algorithms to supplant our own rational (and sometimes irrational) thinking?


  • Is using A.I. cheating? More and more students have begun to make use of artificial intelligence apps like ChatGPT to generate schoolwork. In some cases, children as young as middle school are handing in assignments that have been created or aided by A.I. Many of the apps employ a process called “scraping” to collect large amounts of creative materials that mimic the styles of countless content creators. When an A.I. bot generates an assignment, is this plagiarizing? Is using an A.I. bot instead of one’s own creative abilities the same as copying off another’s work?


  • Is using A.I. stealing? As A.I. becomes more prominent and popular, people who create and post content for a living have begun to respond to having their material lifted from social media and other sites to help “train” A.I. programs. When such material goes into A.I. databases and is filtered together with the millions of other data points, its origins are lost. So-called “generative A.I.” sites that produce “original” content will incorporate elements of what has been lifted from elsewhere without attribution. As one artist recently stated in a news article about A.I., “It just feels like wanton theft from me and other artists” when A.I. sites “create” content using his materials and styles. When our children use A.I. to generate schoolwork, should we remind them of the Seventh Commandment?



After you do your own homework, talk to your children about appropriate ways to employ A.I. when they do theirs.

Mark Russoniello is the parish catechetical leader in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.


Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry.  For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.



Let me state upfront that I am not a robot!

There has been a lot of conversation lately about the benefits and risks associated with the rapid expansion of artificial intelligence technology into our society. There are valid arguments on both sides. The challenges and opportunities presented by new technology have been part of the human conversation for generations. Still, anyone familiar with the Terminator movie series cannot avoid the image of runaway technology taking over the planet and imposing its will on an under-equipped humanity.

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t fully understand what artificial intelligence (A.I.) is or does. What little I know has been gleaned from both secular and Catholic media. Yes, the debate is also taking place within the Catholic Church, particularly as it involves two aspects of Catholic teaching — human dignity and social morality.

As families get ready for the start of a new school year, it is worth taking time to think from a Christian perspective about A.I. and how much of this technology we want our children to access. Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Human dignity: Though we can never fully know God’s being, we can discern from what we see around us that God is intelligent, creative, dynamic and generous. Being made in God’s image, humans have inherited these attributes. Yet, we also know that the human person is an imperfect reflection of God’s fullness. Can or will A.I. replace these human imperfections? Intelligence is more than just processing information. It involves experience, emotion, vision, imagining. What do we lose if we allow mathematical algorithms to supplant our own rational (and sometimes irrational) thinking?


  • Is using A.I. cheating? More and more students have begun to make use of artificial intelligence apps like ChatGPT to generate schoolwork. In some cases, children as young as middle school are handing in assignments that have been created or aided by A.I. Many of the apps employ a process called “scraping” to collect large amounts of creative materials that mimic the styles of countless content creators. When an A.I. bot generates an assignment, is this plagiarizing? Is using an A.I. bot instead of one’s own creative abilities the same as copying off another’s work?


  • Is using A.I. stealing? As A.I. becomes more prominent and popular, people who create and post content for a living have begun to respond to having their material lifted from social media and other sites to help “train” A.I. programs. When such material goes into A.I. databases and is filtered together with the millions of other data points, its origins are lost. So-called “generative A.I.” sites that produce “original” content will incorporate elements of what has been lifted from elsewhere without attribution. As one artist recently stated in a news article about A.I., “It just feels like wanton theft from me and other artists” when A.I. sites “create” content using his materials and styles. When our children use A.I. to generate schoolwork, should we remind them of the Seventh Commandment?



After you do your own homework, talk to your children about appropriate ways to employ A.I. when they do theirs.

Mark Russoniello is the parish catechetical leader in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.


Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry.  For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.


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