Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Religion for the Religious Studies Scholar

Singler, Beth
Implicit Religion

This introduction to the special issue of the Journal of Implicit Religion on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and religion will explore the some initial but important reasons why the interplay between these two fields should be of interest to the religious studies scholar. After introducing AI as well as elements of its cultural history and narratives, this article will lay out three arguments for researching AI and religion. First, that the potential disruption wrought by AI will effect society, and as religion and society are intrinsically intertwined these changes will have implications for religion. Second, that AI is potentially reinvigorating for contemporary religion, and may also incite the creation of new religious movements. And third, that AI’s uncertain status as a potential new intelligent being raises questions about personhood that religions have traditionally attempted to resolve based upon their theological understandings of the person, and that the continuing debate in this area will be of interest to scholars of religion.