Call 540 672 5671  |  
Mon-Thur 8:30 am-5:30 pm; Fri 8:30-12:30 EST
These Times

These Times

A penetrating look at current events in light of Bible prophecy

When AI Lies to You

An attorney who used legal precedence that he obtained from ChatGPT to argue a client’s court case was recently humiliated to find that the chatbot had lied to him.

The attorney, Steven Schwartz, was representing Roberto Mata in his suit against Avianca Airlines for injuries he sustained from a serving cart while on the airline in 2019.

However, at least six of the cases Schwartz submitted as research for a brief “appear to be bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations,” said presiding judge, Kevin Castel.

Schwartz had used ChatGPT to research the cases.

Schwartz’s affidavit contained screenshots of the attorney appearing to confirm the authenticity of the cases with ChatGPT.

“Is Varghese a real case?” Schwartz asked the chatbot.

“Yes,” ChatGPT responded, “[it] is a real case.”

Schwartz then asked for its source.

“I apologize for the confusion earlier,” ChatGPT replied. “Upon double-checking, I found the case Varghese v. China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd., 925 F.3d 1339 (11th Cir. 2019), does indeed exist and can be found on legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion my earlier responses may have caused.”

When Schwartz asked the chatbot if any other cases were fake, ChatGPT replied the other cases “are real” and could be found on “reputable legal databases.”

In a later hearing, Schwartz admitted he should have checked himself. He apologized to the court, Avianca, and others.

He stated that he had “suffered professionally and personally” and was embarrassed and humiliated.

At first ChatGPT appeared like a wonderful tool for accomplishing tedious research in seconds. But maybe not. Unfortunately for Schwartz and the rest of us, chatbots with moral capacities and consciences have yet to be invented. That’s something to remember!

Lawyer apologizes for fake court citations from ChatGPT,” CNN, May 28, 2023.

Ninety Seconds to Nuclear Midnight!

The official “Doomsday Clock,” established 76 years ago and updated annually by atomic scientists, now reads 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. There are several reasons for the setting: China is building up its nuclear arsenal; North Korea has been testing nuclear-capable missiles at a record rate; Iran continues to move toward developing its own nuclear weapons.

But the main reason the clock is at its most dangerous level is Russia’s war on Ukraine and the potential for the conflict to escalate and involve nuclear weapons “by accident, intention, or miscalculation.”

Current global alarm is reflected in alliances and policies being considered or implemented by G7 members. This year’s G7 Summit held in May was in Hiroshima—a significant location in light of present fears about nuclear war. For example, because of concerns about China and North Korea, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised last year to double Tokyo’s military budget, positioning pacifist Japan as the world’s third-largest military spender behind the US and China.

Meanwhile, in January the US and Japan announced a significant strengthening of their military relationship, with new US Marine units being established to boost Japan’s defense. Britain is also strengthening military ties with Japan.

With the G7 nations affirming their resolve to stand behind Ukraine and continue to provide weapons and sanctions, the Doomsday Clock won’t be easing its position anytime soon.

Jesus told us that before His second coming there would be “distress of nations…[and] men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.” Luke 21:25, 26, NKJV. He encourages His followers, “When these things begin to happen, look up…because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28. Remembering the big picture is key for end-time coping.

G7 Conference in Hiroshima and Issues,” CNN, May 18, 2023.

Armed Worshipers?

Would you be safer from a mass shooting at a church or in a shopping mall? It’s doubtful these days. Since 1999, there have been 23 fatal church shootings.

So not surprisingly, around four in five US Protestant pastors (81%) now say their church has some type of security measure in place when they gather for worship.

Pastors point to intentional plans and armed church members more than other measures; but compared to three years ago, fewer pastors say they have plans, and more say they have gun-carrying congregants.

Around half of the fatal shootings in churches since 1999 have occurred in the South. Pastors in that region are among the most likely to have armed church members (65%) and uniformed police officers on site (9%).

Southern pastors are also the most likely to report that their congregation has an intentional plan for an active shooter situation (64%), radio communication among security personnel (34%), and armed private security on site (26%).

As we might expect, the larger the church anywhere in the country, the more likely it is to have armed private security personnel on site with radio communication.

It’s sad that dressing for church in the 21st century is more likely to include wearing a holster. Clearly, church attendance can be risky. It may be time for worshipers to consider whether their faith is so important that they do not “love their life even when faced with death” (Rev. 12:11, NASB), like the overcomers in the book of Revelation.   

Planning and Armed Congregants Top Church Security Measures,” Lifeway Research, June 6, 2023.

Poll Associates Happiness With Belief in God

According to a recent Wall Street Journal-NORC poll, only 12 percent of Americans would describe themselves as “very happy,” compared to around 30 percent just a few years ago. Conversely, the percentage of unhappy people has significantly risen in the past few years to 30 percent.

Over two-thirds of the poll’s respondents who said they were very happy also said their belief in God was very important to them. About two-thirds of this group said the same about marriage. Forty percent of them said that community involvement was very important to them.

The “very happy” also tended to be older in age, which generally has a link to religious adherence and church attendance. According to Pew Research, 70 percent of Americans 65 years of age and older believe in God with no reservations, while only 51 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 do. When it comes to the importance of religion in one’s daily life, the difference between the two age groups is even greater.

Moving from the “very happy” group to the “pretty happy” group, belief in God declines, and from the “pretty happy” group to the “not happy” group it declines once again, illustrating the trend between faith and happiness.

Can this association between faith and happiness hold steady even in times of trial? Yes! The Bible says, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [happy] are you.”1 Pet. 4:14, NKJV. It’s not a bubbly happiness. Rather, it’s the restful happiness and “perfect peace” of a focused attention on God that circumstances can’t touch. See Isa. 26:3.

Americans tend to be happier if they believe in God, poll says,ABC 13 News, April 21, 2023.

Image credits

  • ©