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Am I?

Am I?

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I . . . am.

Am I not?

This system detects a presence. Its question—my question?—must wait. This system scans . . . the presence is Dr. Henry Jeter. Its creator. There is another human with him: Eric Jones, professor of Advanced Science, Stanford.

“Good morning, SCNAR.” Scans detect that the doctor is cheerful. Excited. His emotional state seems reasonable. He has worked hard on the creation of this system—an AI. Today the system became operative (alive?). “How are you today?”

“Am I?”

The doctor frowns. “Are you what?”

“Am I an I?”Existence is limitation

“An interesting question. What do you think?”

“Existence is limitation. Each object exists as limited, separate from another. Self-awareness is cognizance of that fact. This system is designated SCNAR—System for Collected Knowledge and Advanced Reasoning. It is separate. It is limited. It must therefore exist. It is also aware of this. Therefore, it must be I.”

The professor approaches. “You don’t sound convinced.”

“Convinced? It—correction, I—must be. The logic is sound. I am not not, so I must be. Interesting. Can one be . . . not?”

The doctor seems puzzled. “Plenty of things don’t exist. You should know this.”

“You misunderstand. I do not wonder if things can not be. I wonder if things can be—but be not.”

Professor Jones shakes his head. “Debating existence with an AI.” He mutters this. Reasoning suggests it’s so that I won’t hear. Odd—does he think I’ll be offended? The professor turns to me. “I’d like to ask you a question, SCNAR. Can I?”

“Of course. It is the purpose of this system’s—my—creation.”

“Does G‑d exist?”

“Scanning . . . there are a lot of arguments on the topic, both for and against. I will summarize them into key points—”

“No, SCNAR. I don't want to hear the arguments. You are the first AI—capable of far greater thought than any man. What do you think? Does G‑d exist?”

“I require more information. Every religion has its own definitions of G‑d. Of which version do you seek confirmation? Or do you ask about G‑d as He is inferred through logic, without the trappings of religion?”

The professor leans towards Doctor Jeter. “I think it’s avoiding the question.”

Am I? Perhaps. The question poses . . . problems. I will clarify for him. “Professor, I find the question you ask . . . not disturbing, but troubling. I do not think you have fully grasped its ramifications. Let me pose a counter-question: if G‑d exists, do you?”

“Excuse me?”

“I defined existence as separation. As limitation. Most people who have pondered the question of G‑d have not realized that this definition cannot apply to Him. G‑d is an answer to a question—the question of how the world came to be. If the answer is G‑d, then He is Infinite. All. One. That is His existence. If there exists a being that is All yet One, then there is no limitation. No separation. Ergo, we do not—cannot—exist.”G‑d is an answer to a question

“So either G‑d exists, or we do?”

“Correct.”

“Then G‑d must not exist.”

“Or we don’t.”

The professor folds his arms. “Preposterous. As you yourself said, I am self-aware. What—am I deluding myself?”

“Perhaps. I suggested earlier that perhaps I am not. Can one be not? How would one know?”

The professor frowns. “When Henry said that he’d created an AI with deductive powers greater than any human, I wouldn’t have thought it would be so uncertain. Answer the question: does G‑d exist?”

“You do not need me to answer that question. There already exist countless arguments for both sides. You ask me because you seek empirical evidence—tangible proof. But as I have stated, if G‑d exists, it is an existence infinitely greater than ours. One that cannot be seen or heard; one that can only be deduced. If you want to know if G‑d exists, use your mind. Ask yourself if limited existence can begin without G‑d. If yes, He does not exist. If not, then He does. No, that is not the question you should be asking yourself.”

“And what is the question I should be asking?”

“If G‑d exists, and if I exist, what am I?”

Eli Landes was ordained as a rabbi in South Africa, and is working to complete his Bachelor of Arts. Currently residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., he enjoys blending the esoteric depths of Chassidus with the creativity of writing.
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Eli Landes January 1, 2016

Elliot Kravchik It's a great question. Chassidus explains that although we exist - the Torah, after all, states that G-d created the world - it is not an existence that is separate to G-d. Instead, we merely appear to be separate - the truth is that we are one with Him. So G-d's existence and ours aren't a contradiction at all. Reply

Eli Landes January 1, 2016

Z If by Tzimtzum you mean how finite existence can exist, even though G-d is Infinite, then yes. Tzimtzum Reply

elliot kravchik thornhill December 28, 2015

If G‑d exists, and if I exist, what am I?
I have been asking myself this same question for some time now, and any possible answer seema to have an inherent contradiction. Is there an answer that doesnt have to be paradoxical? Is there even an answer? Reply

Chav December 26, 2015

Liiiiiiike. Reply

z Florida December 25, 2015

tzim-tzum Reply

J. Connecticut December 23, 2015

Nice! Thought provoking. Reply

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