I, Robot movie posterIt’s been a while since we’ve posted a regular episode, but we hope you’ve enjoyed our long run of Initial Reaction episodes this summer. We bring you a critical-thinking discussion on the action-paced, science fiction thriller, I, Robot. Not based on the critically-acclaimed robot stories by Isaac Asimov (as the title would suggest), I, Robot is actually an adapted screenplay that presents a futuristic murder mystery in which artificial intelligences play a key role in solving the murder and was later expanded to include Asimov’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics.”

For a complete synopsis of I, Robot, visit Wikipedia. Also read the family-friendly rating and review from Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn.

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25 years into the Future

It’s a very common theme in futuristic thrillers to have the man-made creation turn on its creator. I, Robot is just one in a long list of similar plots leading all the way back to Frankenstein (a list that contains such thrillers as The Terminator, Matrix, Eagle Eye, and Battlestar Galactica). It’s ironic that Asimov actually wrote his books to avoid this stock plot. Even more ironic is that Asimov, a vocal God-hater during his lifetime, wrote books in which he turns man’s mechanical creations into godlike creatures who watch over and protect mankind—the ultimate form of man creating god.

The mind of the machine

Two robots in I, Robot appear to be sentient (making decisions for themselves) Sonny and VIKI.

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker–
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
“Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?'” (Isaiah 45:9–10)

God gave us a soul and a spirit, which allow us to question, reason, and change our minds. A computer can’t do that like we can—they rely on preprogrammed algorithms. For example, the videogame Spore is designed to evolve a creature and animate it and adjust its behavior based on the player’s “design” of the creature, but even that is still a result of preprogrammed algorithms.

Creation mixing with evolution

I, Robot mixes the terminology of creation with evolution, speaking of robots evolving a soul, but also of being created. Sonny refers to his maker as his “father.”

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? (Malachi 2:10, NASB)


Sonny claims to have dreams, but Del comments that robots are only an “imitation of life.” Dreams are something special. God uses them for communication, for prophecy, for illustration of concepts, and such.

“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28, NASB)

But dreams are not necessarily prophetic. Machines don’t dream. Dreams imply sleep and a special level of sleep and subconsciousness. Sonny’s dream was definitely programmed; it was a way for Alfred Lanning to communicate with Del after his death—just one of the many “bread crumbs” he leaves for Del to follow.


Can a robot write a symphony?

Emotion is required for art, and while Sonny portrays several emotions (fear, anger, compassion, love), they are programmed simulations of emotions. Mechanical objects are not self-aware enough to portray true emotion.

Robots might naturally evolve.

The suggestion that random combinations can make a soul is a very evolutionary concept. Yet, we know that information cannot arise without an informer.

Difference engine becomes a search for truth.

Computers can process information better than we can. For a computer, there is only truth (on or off, ones or zeros), there is no “maybe.” A computer must trust its maker, it can’t correct its own flaws beyond what it is programed to recognize and repair according to more algorithms. Any error-correction that a program can do is part of these algorithms.

Three Law of Robotics

From Wikipedia:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Sonny had a second brain. He could choose to not obey. VIKI had a different way to look at the three laws: she evolved her understanding to put the protection of humanity over humans.


To protect humanity, some humans must be sacrificed. To ensure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered.

An idea that we are dealing with politically, right now, this concept has been dealt with in many movies.

What did you think?

What did you think of I, Robot? Comment on this post on our website, email feedback@AreYouJustWatching.com (audio feedback welcome), or call (903) 231-2221. You can also follow Are You Just Watching?™, Daniel, and Eve on Twitter. And please join our Facebook Page. Don’t forget to leave us some five-star reviews in iTunes!

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About the Author
I’m an avid reader and movie lover. There’s not much I like better than reading a book and then seeing the movie version, or watching a movie and then reading the novelization. I have a degree in English literature, which means that at some point in my life I actually received grades for discussing and writing essays about literature. Can’t get much better than that, right? Well, it can. Who needs to pull apart the deep inner workings of dusty old classics when there’s such wonderful fodder in the mass media that people watch (and read) everyday? Above all, I believe that I can’t do much better in this life than in pointing my friends toward a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything makes perfect sense when viewed from a Christian worldview. Even when the intent of the writer was something entirely different, everything can point to our Creator God. He is the foundation for every logical thought, the judge of all evil, and the author of all beauty.

2 comments on I, Robot, Part – AYJW016

  1. Guest says:

    Not everything makes sense from the “Christian” perspective, unless of course, you are a fundamentalist Christian who reads the Bible “literally”, which has been proven to a false ideal amongst Fundamentalists and Evangelicals in general. Yes, I’m a Christian, but I don’t think that all my problems will be solved by prayer, miracles, or simply waiting for the logic of the Christian perspective to become clear. Christianity is a dangerous thing for many, as all religion is. It takes a responsible person to really take what Jesus said and did and claimed and make it work in their lives. But we are human, flawed, so we need an authority like the Church (the Catholic Church?) to make clear the full understanding of Christian thought. The last person I would trust is an Evangelical with an agenda.

    1. Eve says:

      Thanks for you feedback, Paul. While you are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, I feel I must correct a couple assumptions you have made.

      First off, I do not read the Bible literally. That would be a mistake as there are many passages that are meant to be taken figuratively. However, I do read the Bible as authoritative on everything that it touches on because it is God’s holy, inspired word (2 Peter 1:19-21, 2 Timothy 3:16). The simple meaning that can be derived from most passages of the Bible (especially the books that are primarily histories) are usually the best interpretations. Any passage of the Bible must be examined for context and intent. For example, the Psalms are first and foremost poetry and songs written as praises to God—their primary function—and so they contain poetic language. However, the first five books of the Bible are definitely histories and should be taken as such.

      You have labeled us as Fundamentalists and Evangelicals as if you bear some distaste for those terms. I, however, am perplexed when you claim on one hand that humans are flawed and on the other hand that we need men of the Church to make clear the full understanding of Christian thought (i.e., the Catholic Church). Does not your first observation cancel out your second assertion? If man is flawed, why should we trust him to interpret (or in many cases, reinterpret) the Bible? You claim that religion is dangerous, and then support the denomination of Christianity that is most like a religion (the established, works-dominated Catholic Church). The Evangelical view of Christianity is not religion, but relationship. Religion is how man attempts to reach God or be worthy of God through his own efforts. True Christianity recognizes that man is sinful and unable to reach God through any act, so God reached down to man and provided a way for us to be redeemed through the sacrificial blood of Christ, not through any work or action that we do, so that we cannot boast of our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

      Lastly, I’m glad you are a Christian, but your opening statement makes me wonder if you have actively partaken of the relationship that that term implies. God wants us to bring our concerns to him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). He wants us to expect his working in our lives. Romans 1 says God is so evident in his creation that all humanity is without excuse for denying him. Am I waiting for the “logic of the Christian perspective to become clear”? No, it is already clear, and there is no excuse for not seeing it. If there are things in your life that do not make sense to you from the Christian perspective, perhaps you are not wearing the correct Biblical glasses. Yours might be tainted by a human perspective that is clouding your spiritual vision.

      God bless you!

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