Some religions already use robot priests. It has also occurred to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook could stand in for churches:
”Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that Facebook can act like a type of church for its users.
Zuckerberg claimed that as church attendance declines, the social network site he established can offer that same sense of community that worshippers normally get from church.
This is part of Facebook’s new mission statement, which is to ‘Bring the world closer together.’ Consequently, Zuckerberg hopes Facebook can be an enabler of community and even encourage people to be more active in volunteering and in charitable work. – Michael Bird, “Why Mark Zuckerberg Will Never Be My Pastor” At Christianity Today (June 30, 2017)”
Will the trend really catch on? It’s true that the robot Pepper chants at Buddhist funerals in Japan but then some people in Japan also hold funerals for robotic dogs.
What might work in Japan fell flat among Western theists, probably because a great deal depends on what we understand religion to be. For example, most Western theists assume that, to the extent that God is a Person, only a human person can mediate the relationship.News, “Will we outsource religion and spirituality to AI?” at Mind Matters News
See also: And now… can AI have mystical experiences? A philosopher wonders whether technology could be part of some bigger plan to enable us to perceive other dimensions. Philosopher David O’Hara argues that machines might have mystical experiences and help us understand the underlying reality. But he fears we won’t accept them.
Are robot pastors the answer to religion’s decline? Many Christians say no. Some Buddhists say yes. What is expected of the pastor?
A.I. Jesus sputters from the King James Bible. The developer emphasizes that the program is a purely human creation. Possibly tongue-in-cheek, Durendal thinks his creation is the right sort of religion for humans and robots over the next few millennia.