Role of AI in Religion and AI vs Human in Religion

The landscape of our world is undergoing a profound transformation, with technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), at its core. AI’s influence is redefining various aspects of life, including AI in Religion. Responses to AI, whether fear or acceptance, have been intertwined since its inception, and this sentiment also echoes among religious figures.

In this article, we will try to understand the evolving relationship between AI and religion or AI in religion. We will explore reactions, challenges, and the nuanced interplay between advanced technology and age-old spiritual practices.

Key Takeaways:

  • AI’s impact on religion generates both excitement and concerns globally;
  • Recent AI tools like OpenAI ChatGPT, Google Bard, Claude2, and Microsoft Bing stir possibilities and job displacement concerns;
  • Religious reactions to AI vary, with the Vatican embracing it while others approach cautiously;
  • Research indicates that humans currently excel in religious roles, fostering a unique and irreplaceable connection;
  • Ongoing reflections are prompted by the evolving interplay between AI technology and religious practices.

Reactions to rise of AI in Religion

The recent surge of AI tools like OpenAI ChatGPT, Google Bard, Claude2, Microsoft Bing, Llama 2 and others brings a mixture of excitement and anxiety to the global stage. These groundbreaking technologies hold promise for incredible possibilities while also raising concerns about potential job displacement. Identifying which jobs AI can assume and which ones it cannot is a crucial consideration.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), approximately 27% of all jobs rely on skills that AI systems can automate. While blue-collar jobs have long felt the impact of robotic tools, white-collar roles, encompassing lawyers, economists, writers, and administrative staff, are now facing similar transformations due to the rise of AI.

Among religious denominations, reactions to artificial intelligence vary. For instance, the Vatican has embraced AI by developing an exorcist robot, while others approach it cautiously, fearing it might herald the end times. On the contrary, some religious groups view AI as a positive step towards fulfilling God’s work. The question that arises is whether AI is indeed impacting religion.

If a new research study is to be believed, there is one place or industry where humans are likely to excel and stay ahead of robots, at least for the time being is Religion. While referring to religion as an “industry” may not appear right, but it indeed relies on human involvement to function. From priests to preachers, religious beliefs are nurtured and disseminated through the dedicated efforts of many individuals.

The intersection of AI and religion is a complex realm, where hope and trepidation coexist. As technology continues to advance, the relationship between AI and religious practices will continue to evolve, prompting ongoing reflections on the harmonious integration of these two domains.

AI in Religion: Is it a New Way?

As artificial intelligence continues to progress, a rising concern centers around the emergence of a new world order. While certain religious factions embrace this notion, others harbor apprehensions about the potential implications. Legitimate worries are voiced regarding the consequences if AI were to govern jobs or the military. Conversely, some religious groups view AI favorably as a means of advancing God’s work.

Given the rapid pace of AI development, it becomes conceivable that an exceptionally advanced AI could attain consciousness, potentially serving as a divine messenger, easing our lives significantly.

The strides and technology advancements made in facial recognition software, voice synthesis technology, and AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, have already proven beneficial in our daily routines. Yet, the prospects offered by artificial intelligence are far-reaching and extend beyond these conveniences.

AI in Religion: What different studies suggest?

As it is virtually impossible to divorce religion from humanity, a similar sentiment applies to artificial intelligence (AI). The very essence of AI is ingrained in our DNA, and religious institutions are leveraging this technology to disseminate their teachings and enhance the practice of faith. Through downloadable apps for daily readings and prayer timetables, chatbots, and even sophisticated humanoid robots programmed for ceremonial purposes, AI is making its mark in the religious realm.

An exemplary instance is the Mindar humanoid robot at the Kodai-Ji Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. This robot boasts a lifelike silicone face, complete with moving lips and blinking eyes. It delivers 25-minute Heart Sutra sermons on Buddhist philosophy, complemented by captivating light and sound displays. Developed in 2019 through a collaboration between a Japanese robotics team and the temple, the creation of Mindar required a substantial investment of almost $1 million.

Similarly, developers in Japan crafted Peppa, a humanoid robot adept at conducting Buddhist rituals and performing funeral ceremonies. Meanwhile, the Vatican took a step further and designed an exorcist robot. While these technological innovations significantly contribute to the advancement of religious practices and support believers in their faith journey, AI has not yet reached a point where it can entirely replace real-life priests.

A study conducted on the impact of Mindar’s presence at the temple found some intriguing results. Despite its impressive capabilities, the robot’s credibility was questioned by approximate 400 participants. Comparatively, those who received prayers from a human priest exhibited greater trust and generosity in their donations, indicating that AI may not be universally embraced as a substitute for human religious leaders.

A survey carried out at a Taoist temple in Singapore yielded comparable findings. Study done with around 239 participants, from them half said they have experienced, felt that a sermon was delivered by Pepper – a humanoid robot, and the other half said they felt like they have listened to a human priest. Once again, the robot was perceived as less credible, leading to smaller donations. Moreover, those who heard the robot’s sermon expressed reduced enthusiasm for sharing its message or supporting the temple through the distribution of flyers.

Another experiment was conducted in the United States, involving 274 Christian participants who read an online sermon. Half of them were informed that a human preacher had written it, while the other half were told it was generated by an advanced AI program. The latter group considered the sermon less credible, as they perceived AI as lacking the capacity to think or feel like a human.

These findings indicate that when sermons are composed by Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, Claude 2 or others, individuals may feel less connected to their religious identity and place of worship, potentially leading to a sense of alienation among congregants.

While some faith leaders have yet to employ chatbots for sermon composition, many have acknowledged the impacts of AI chatbots in answering religious questions. This phenomenon is not entirely novel, as people have long turned to the internet for answers about the complexities of religion.

According to the founding president of Bayan Islamic Graduate School, an institution focused on Islamic studies, chatbots and algorithms serve as the true faces of AI in religion. These algorithms influence various aspects of people’s lives, from determining mortgage payments to shaping the information they interact with and the individuals they choose to have conversation with.

AI Chatbots Accuracy Issues

AI Chatbots – Large language models (LLM) such as ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, Llama and Claude 2, along with other chatbots, may encounter challenges related to accuracy and precision. The primary reason behind this issue is their tendency to prioritize responses that maintain conversational flow over those that are precisely accurate. This aspect could prove particularly problematic for religions like Judaism and Islam, which heavily emphasize adherence to textual sources.

This concern revolves around the potential for a reformulation of theological knowledge, which has been meticulously shared and preserved for centuries. ChatGPT functions as a correlation machine, not a knowledge-finding machine. It “hallucinates” answers by predicting the likelihood of the next word based on patterns learned from vast datasets, rather than drawing from a deep understanding of the subject matter. Consequently, there is a risk of producing responses that deviate from the accurate and patient transmission of traditional theological knowledge.

How does AI affect Religion?

Tensho Goto, the steward of Kodaiji temple, expressed how the philosophy of Buddhism makes it uniquely suitable for a robotic preacher. He pointed out the contrasting views between Buddhism and Christianity, stating that in Buddhism, there is uncertainty about the existence of God, making it more amenable to the concept of a robotic preacher. Buddhism is considered an “empirical” religion, focusing on beliefs that can be seen and experienced.

What Goto predict regarding Buddhism’s compatibility with AI and robots is not 100 percent correct, it is very early to justify it. Similar trends are observed among Taoists and Christians. It remains to be seen how Hinduism and Islam, being two of the largest religions, will respond to AI and robots, but experts like Jackson believe that the study’s results will likely reflect similarities there as well.

If we consider another AI Chatbot model – HadithGPT. The HadithGPT AI Chatbot, which employs hadiths or narrations of the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and life, answers questions about Islam. However, it comes with a disclaimer stating that the answers are AI-generated and may not always be accurate. It emphasizes the importance of consulting real Islamic scholars for more precise information, especially for contemporary questions that may not have clear answers in traditional texts.

The combination of AI and religion has received both praise and caution. Some members of the Vatican view it as an opportunity for evangelization. However, others are wary of people becoming overly reliant on AI, fearing it could lead to a sense of detachment from God.

The concerns about over reliance on advanced AI are not unique to the religious context; it is a broader issue across various industries, with even prominent AI and tech executives expressing worries about potential job losses. Despite this, faith leaders like Williams see some optimism in the potential of chatbots freeing people to engage in more “functionally human things” by sparing them from time-consuming research, yet still valuing and longing for human connection.

AI in Religion: Follow Balanced Approach

The growing concern over an excessive reliance on increasingly sophisticated AI technology has raised alarm about potential job losses across industries, even among prominent AI and tech executives. However, faith leaders like Williams maintain a sense of optimism. While chatbots may free individuals to engage in more “functionally human things” by relieving them of information research, Williams believes that human beings will still yearn for meaningful human connections.

The integration of artificial intelligence into religious administration seeks to enhance efficiency and accessibility. AI can serve as a medium to communicate religious concepts to individuals who might otherwise struggle to understand them.

Nevertheless, AI Chatbots and Technologies cannot replicate the fundamental nature of the divine, the transcendent qualities of religious experiences, or the necessity of human conscience and spiritual guidance. Reducing the divine to algorithms and code diminishes the profound human connection to the divine.

While AI can provide support in religious practices, it is crucial to preserve the authenticity, transcendence, and integrity of religious traditions by acknowledging the limitations of AI and upholding the significance of human spiritual experiences. Striking a balance between the advantages and potential risks of AI integration is imperative to ensure that human spirituality and the genuine essence of religious teachings remain at the forefront.

Throughout history, priests, preachers, shamans, and other religious elites have served as cultural models. They not only impart the teachings of their faith but also embody and legitimize those tenets, contributing to the deep-rooted human connection to religion.

Comparison: AI vs Human

Let’s compare AI and Human in the context of religion to determine which is “better” and delves into exploring the distinct roles they may play –

  1. AI as an Aid to Religious Understanding: AI can aid, support humans in religious studies and research by analyzing vast amounts of data, texts, and historical records. AI can offer new perspectives and insights. AI-powered tools can assist scholars in interpreting religious texts, analyzing ancient languages, and understanding complex theological concepts. This collaboration between AI and humans could foster a deeper understanding of religious principles.
  2. Human Experience and Connection: Religion often involves personal experiences, emotions, and connections that are deeply rooted in human consciousness. Humans find solace in their religion. While AI can process data, it lacks the consciousness and subjective experiences that are integral to religious beliefs and practices. Humans may find solace, purpose, and community through religious rituals, prayers, and spiritual experiences that AI cannot replicate.
  3. Ethical Considerations: AI in religious contexts raises ethical concerns. For instance, would an AI religious leader be considered legitimate, and would followers find comfort in interacting with a non-human entity for spiritual guidance? Additionally, using AI algorithms to manipulate religious beliefs or indoctrinate individuals raises ethical dilemmas about autonomy and free will.
  4. Personalization vs. Standardization: AI has the potential to personalize religious experiences by tailoring content and guidance to individuals based on their preferences and beliefs. On the other hand, this personalization might lead to a fragmented understanding of religious teachings, diverging from traditional practices shared by human communities.
  5. Morality and Compassion: Religion often emphasizes moral values and compassion towards others. While AI can be programmed to follow ethical guidelines, it lacks inherent moral understanding and empathy. Humans, with their capacity for compassion, are more likely to demonstrate altruism and empathy towards fellow believers and non-believers alike.


In conclusion, we can say that – It doesn’t matter, if it is in fear of what impacts AI can have in religion or its acceptance, the human factor will have a significant role in it. It is true to say that, Humans will always have more impact in Religion with respect to AI. AI technologies work on the findings and beliefs of human, they don’t build their own set of rules either related to religion or some other practice.

Throughout history, religious figures such as priests, preachers, shamans, and other leaders have played vital roles as cultural models. Their significance goes beyond merely repeating the teachings of their faith; they embody these principles and give them legitimacy. While AI can complement human efforts in religious scholarship and offer personalized experiences, the uniqueness and irreplaceability of human spiritual experiences and connections remain paramount, making the interplay between AI and humans in religion a complex and captivating phenomenon.

Throughout history, religious figures such as priests, preachers, shamans, and other leaders have played vital roles as cultural models. Their significance goes beyond merely repeating the teachings of their faith; they embody these principles and give them legitimacy. While AI can complement human efforts in religious scholarship and offer personalized experiences, the uniqueness and irreplaceability of human spiritual experiences and connections remain paramount, making the interplay between AI and humans in religion a complex and captivating phenomenon.

In essence, the profound longing for genuine connection that humans experience and the way it is deeply felt in the presence of an authentic teacher, spiritual leader or guru cannot be replaced. Despite advancements in robots, AI, and other technologies, they might still fall short in satisfying this fundamental human need and might just not be good enough.


  • Could AI create religion?

Well, right now the answer is “No”. AI role in religion is a relatively new and emerging field of study that attracts scholars from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Author of the famous Sapiens series – Yuval Noah Harari says that AI can create its own religion — which will be more socially and universally acceptable among the humans around the world. Who knows may be in the future, we can see the first religious writings or cult by AI (Artificial Intelligence). Whose complete text and scriptures would be written by AI Chatbot (a non-human intelligence) or by some other technology advance model.

But, right now it is not possible for AI to create religion, because AI is not capable of having beliefs, emotions or faith as it lacks consciousness and self-awareness. Might be in the future, who knows!


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