Does Chat GPT have a soul? – Beth Singler on the consciousness of robots, Jediism and AI-created religions

New podcast interview from the Theologischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich 🙂

“The Jedi religion from the Star Wars saga has hundreds of thousands of followers today, down from the hundreds of thousands who said they were Jedi in the 2001 and 2011 England and Wales Censuses. But do they really believe in Darth Vader and the Death Star? And what connections can be established between pop culture and religious ideas in general? Beth Singler, Assistant Professor of Digital Religion(s) – and not, as Chat GPT has suggested, a member of the Health and AI steering committee at the Turing Institute – talks about science fiction-inspired religions, animism in vernacular Christianity and the fact that we think Chat GPT is intelligent just because it is linguistically eloquent. She also addresses ethical issues surrounding the Metaverse, asks whether artificial intelligence could found a religion and presents some specimens from her robot collection.”

Forthcoming – The Cambridge Companion to Religion and AI

We’re very close to submitting the final draft of the CUP Cambridge Companion to Religion and AI, and I’m pleased to be able to share the current chapter list (unlikely final edits to the order and titles in the publication process notwithstanding!):

01. Introduction – Beth Singler and Fraser Watts

02. Steps Toward Android Intelligence – William Clocksin


03. Hinduism and Artificial Intelligence – Robert Geraci and Stephen Kaplan

04. The Buddha in AI/Robotics – Hannah Gould and Keiko Nishimura

05. Artificial Intelligence and Jewish Thought – David Zvi Kalman

06. Artificial Intelligence and Christianity: Friends or Foes? – Marius Dorobantu

07. Islam and Artificial Intelligence – Yaqub Chaudhary


08. Transhumanism and Transcendence – Ilia Delio

09. The Eschatological Future of Artificial Intelligence: Savior or Apocalypse? – Noreen Herzfeld

10. AI Ethics and Ethical AI – Paula Boddington

11. Black Theology x Artificial Intelligence – Philip Butler

12. Imag(in)ing Human-Robot Relationships – Scott Midson


13. The Anthropology and Sociology of Religion and AI – Beth Singler

14. Simulating Religion – F. LeRon Shults and Wesley J. Wildman

15. Cognitive Modelling of Spiritual Practices – Fraser Watts

16. Artificial Companions and Spiritual Enhancement – Yorick Wilks

A pre-order page will go up on the CUP site when the book is a bit closer to publication 🙂

New Blog Post on Secular Religion at the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network

I am very pleased this is now out – written as I needed to exorcise some linguistic semantic bugbears 🙂 In particular around some recent descriptions of the Longtermist worldview and Effective Altruism as Secular Religions:

Taking Bugbears Seriously: Why Does the “Secular Religion” vs. “Religion” Distinction Matter?

And here’s something entertaining on the matter by @HamishDoodles ❤

The Daily Beast – The Radical Movement to Worship AI as a New God, by Tony Ho Tran

I am absolutely delighted to have been interviewed for this piece that covers so many of the details and issues around the deification of AI, which has been a subject I have been looking at, as an anthropologist, for a while now. Tony was a great interviewer and I am pleased to see so many of the ethical issues we discussed in the piece – even if our divergence into AI and D&D wasn’t covered (and I could talk about D&D for days! If you are interested in AI and D&D, you can also check out this older piece by me)

The Daily Beast – The Radical Movement to Worship AI as a New God

AAR 2023 CFP Emerging Technologies

As co-chair of the Emerging Technologies group at AAR I am very excited to share our call for papers for this year’s conference.

There are a few extra things to be aware of since we are still working towards program unit status. First, we do have a fairly tight deadline and ask that paper proposals for this year’s panel please be submitted no later than Friday, February 17th. Also, we are not yet able to accept proposals through AAR’s PAPERS system, so please e-mail your paper to Co-Chair Christopher Senn at


Emerging Technologies 

Call for Proposals 

Theme: Religion and Emerging Technologies of the Self 

Foucault spoke of technologies of the self as technologies that “permit individuals to effect by their own means, or with the help of others, a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection or immortality.”  

How might scholars of religion theorize the way people use emerging technologies to rebel against and reinforce the intersecting imperatives to thrive and find meaning while navigating the economic and legal restriction of the tools they rely on to foster their life worlds? 

The Religion and Emerging Technologies Group welcomes papers that examine how new, experimental, and theoretical electronic or digital technologies are being used to reshape our bodies, souls, or thoughts – through materiality, cultures, and discourse.  

Examples of new technologies of the self could include, but are not limited to: 

  • Pleasure technologies, e.g., teledildonics, virtual companions, romancing NPCs (both AI enabled and not) 
  • Ascetical technologies, e.g., methods of self-perfection and self-improvement, dietary and exercise gamification technologies, moral and spiritual enhancement applications 
  • Spaces of identity self-creation: AR, VR, proto-Metaverses, MMORPGs, games 
  • Technologies for getting rid of the self, and/or for reconceptualizing the self 
  • Conversations about ChatGPT5, a theoretical, coming technology 
  • Vaporware and technology-based scams, and startups 
  • Others not included in this list are also possible subjects 

We also recognize the need to examine technologies of the self that involve emerging technologies. Emerging technologies may be those that we think we currently understand, those that are so nascent we do not yet fully comprehend their abilities, affordances, limitations, and possibilities, and those we think that we never will fully understand. 

Submission Method 

Please e-mail to Chris Senn at 


February 17, 2023 at 11:59 PM 

Review Process 

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members. 


Chris Senn, Rice University, USA 

Beth Singler, University of Zurich, Switzerland  

Steering Committee Members 

Jacob Boss, Indiana University, USA  

Jordan Loewen-Colón, Queen’s University, Canada  

Sarah Gallant, University of Toronto, Canada  

Sharday Mosurinjohn, Queen’s University, Canada 

Victoria Lorrimar, University of Notre Dame, Australia