Religious Robot

Dhole mentioned on Friday that computers belonging to Orthodox Jews do not have to rest on the Sabbath, and I immediately replied that AI's would have to, and then wondered what rest means for an AI, which would have to keep calculating itself.

This character is an artificial intelligence - a robot, a computer, a sentient computer program or similar - who believes in the same religions that its creator species does. This can be Christianity, Judaism, or whatever religions are mainstream in that setting.

However, if the faith is a Robot Religion, see that trope instead: This trope is for robots to adhere to the same religions that the humans (or similar) believe in. Overlaps do exist, as mechanical theologians slowly turn Christianity (or whatever) into a Robot Religion.

Compare Fantastic Religious Weirdness.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mazinger Z: Erika was an android that had forgot her origins due to amnesia. She felt a huge emptiness inside her so her turned to Christianity to fill it. She always wore a cross and prayed fervently.
  • Brainstorm crosses himself in an episode of Transformers Headmasters, implying some sort of Christianity-based belief.
  • Trinity Blood has Father Tres, a Catholic paladin with servos.
  • Gizmo the robot from Superbook, of course, who regularly time travels to Biblical times with two children.
  • One episode of Outlaw Star has Melfina visiting a chapel, worried whether or not she has a soul.

    Comic Books 
  • One Dark Horse Comics short (set in Steam Punk Victorian London, with the sidekick Hulking Out when wearing his hairpiece) in which robots are created that use the Bible as their programming. They start to kill prostitutes and other unsavory people, spouting the specific passages that justify their being killed. They are eventually defeated when the hero cites a contradictory verse for everything they say (the Lord is invincible / chariots of iron, God is vengeance / God is forgiveness etc.), leading to a Logic Bomb.
  • Father Blood Drench Robo Crush
  • Robots on Jannah Station are very religious. Sometimes too much so.
  • Victor Mancha from Runaways is very religious

  • The Iron Giant: The "Souls don't die" conversation between the Giant and Hogarth.
  • ''Short Circuit:
    Johnny Five: "Am not human, but am a life-form. Have soul."
  • It is mentioned in Alien: Resurrection that androids are becoming interested in religion, as a source of morality which is chosen, rather than programmed into them. The android character crosses itself when entering the station's chapel.

  • In Clifford Simak's Message From The Stars, the humans have transcended their physical forms, casting aside their old religions as well as as the robots that used to serve them. Having lost the purpose of serving mankind, the robots have instead turned to Christianity. It is implied that their theological discourse will gradually turn Catholicism into a Robot Religion, just like Afro-American churches tend to have a black Jesus on the cross.
    • Simak really loved this trope. Another novel, "Project Pope" is also built on this, and his other novels and short stories often feature robots and bio-androids as having or getting religion.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency has Electric Monks, robots specifically designed to believe in stuff which frees up their creator race for other things. The Electric Monk that appears in the book goes wrong though, and starts to believe in too much.
  • Discworld:
  • Played With in Jo Walton's poem "When we were robots in Egypt".
  • The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem has robot monks. They believe that if they connected to a robot with all the facts on religion they would become atheists, so they choose not to connect to other robots out of religious principles.
  • In the short story "Tauf Aleph" (part of the collection Son of the Morning) by the great Canadian author Phyllis Gotlieb, the last Jew in the galaxy is dying alone on a failed colony world. Lacking any other Jews to say the mourner's prayer for him, the Galactic Federation sends him a surplus mining robot, filled with data about Judaism, to keep him company on his deathbed. Eventually, the local pre-technological aliens clamor to be converted to Judaism, and the robot becomes almost like a prophet of the faith.
  • Robert Silverberg's short story "Good News from the Vatican" is a satirical look at the election of the first robot Pope. Obviously to become Pope he'd have needed to spend years working his way up to cardinal.
    • Actually not true. Being a Catholic man is the only official requirement (though cardinals have only elected one of their own for centuries). Of course, whether he qualifies on the "man" part is another question...
  • "The Quest for Saint Aquin" is a 1951 novelette on this subject by Anthony Boucher. It's set in a post-nuclear world where Christians are persecuted. A priest sets forth on Mechanical Horse (an artificially intelligent "robass" which happens to be an atheist) searching for the legendary Saint Aquin, who turns out to be an android who is a perfect theologian, able to convert unbelievers with his flawless proofs for the Faith.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe short story "Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM" eventually has 4-LOM deciding he believes in the Force.
    • Curiously, a minor Jedi character from The Old Republic, having noted that heuristic droids that operate long enough develop sapience, wonders if it might be possible for them to develop a connection to the Force. She even built several droids for the express purpose of testing this theory. It's not shown whether or not she was right, although most of the other Jedi are pretty skeptical.
  • Gonard the robot dragon, hero of Chrys Cymri's Dragons Can Only Rust and Dragon Reforged, was built by a scientist who was part of a religious enclave on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Gonard absolutely believes in God. His great concern, and the driving point of the story, is whether or not he has a soul.
  • Page, Mouse's AI in the Archangel Protocol by Lyda Morehouse is a Muslim. Of course, living in a society where being an atheist results in excommunication (religiously as well as from the LINK (essentially the VR Internet)), one tends to acquire a religion, even if just for show. Page, though, is quite a believer and very much more so than Mouse. And he's anxious to find out if he'll be judged to have a soul.
  • From I, Robot: "There is no master but the Master, and Q-T is his prophet." This is the creed of a group of robots in a satellite, much to the dismay of the humans trying to get them to do their jobs. THE Master, by the way, was a supercomputer.

    Live Action TV 
  • Inverted by Battlestar Galactica. Baltar is a missionary spreading Cylon monotheism to the humans.
    • Ironically, Caprica revealed that said monotheism was originally learned from a human cult, so the Cylons play this trope straight as well.
  • Discussed on The Big Bang Theory. When the boys talk about having their consciousnesses implanted into robots, Howard says that his robot would have to stay Jewish because "I promised my mother." The others talk about how Howard would have to power down on Saturdays and have his rabbi discuss with the manufacturer about getting circumcised.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flesh and Blood" is about sentient holograms (also known as photonic lifeforms) rising up against their creators. Their leader believes in the Bajoran faith and spends his free time praying to the Prophets.
    • Of course, the Bajoran Prophets are noncorporeal beings that exist outside of linear time—from their perspective there's probably little difference between a hologram and a flesh-and-blood person, they're both so far removed from their own nature.
    • Actually, while programmed with the Way of the Prophets, the leader implied he was working on a new religion for his fellow "Children of Light" and seemed to view himself as their Messiah.
    • In the Original Series episode "The Ultimate Computer,'' Kirk realizes the M5 computer believes in God because its creator, Dr. Daystrom, believes in God. Kirk makes it realize that it has committed a terrible sin by murdering a ship full of innocent people. It concludes that it deserves to die and self-destructs.

  • The band Grizzly Bear had a song called "Two Weeks". The video depicted the group as robots apparently attending church and eventually breaking down. The video can be seen here.

     Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many Warforged in Eberron adhere to the faiths of other races, such as the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame. In addition, some Warforged have their own Robot Religion in the form of the Lord of Blades. There's also a Warforged cult who call themselves the "Godforged" and believe in the Becoming God, whom they are working on building.
  • C-31 in GURPS became a Buddhist monk.

    Video Games 
  • The geth from Mass Effect have two factions: one known as the heretics who worship the Reapers as gods, and the others, about whom less is known. Their sentience became known to their creators, the quarians, when the geth started questioning whether they had a soul and quoting quarian religious texts.
    • The mainstream geth "religion" (it isn't really, but then, they do call the geth who disbelieve in it "heretics") is a philosophy that might be called humanist if they were human; it holds that all creatures have the fundamental right to self-determination (including other geth, which is why they didn't try to stop the heretics and were shocked that the heretics didn't return the sentiment).
  • Zenyatta from Overwatch was once an Omnic robot and part of the backstory's massive Robot War. He and several of his ex-Omnic buddies have since found not-quite-Buddhist enlightenment and have amassed a great following among humans and robots alike.

    Web Comics 
  • A large number of robots in Freefall have taken interest in religion, since they're curious as to whether or not they have souls. Dvorak has even come up with the concept of "Omniquantism," which allows all religions to be true at once... And is a Logic Bomb to some robots.
    • Max Post, the robots' human "spiritual advisor" and himself described as a "radical agnostic", nonetheless considers this curiosity (Omniquantism and all) a very good thing as seen here.
  • Nick from Skin Horse has an entry in his Character Blog about going to see a rabbi about how he can keep Judaism while being a sentient helicopter. However, he was born human.
  • Some AIs of Questionable Content believe in the possibility of a greater power by which their sentience arises, 2465.

    Western Animation 
  • In Family Guy, Optimus Prime is Jewish.
    • And Soundwave is Catholic.
  • Futurama has Kwanzaa-Bot who spreads the word about Kwanzaa.
    • And there's this exchange when Fry encounters a robotic rabbi during a Bar Mitzvah (well, Bot Mitzvah):
    Fry: What's the deal? You guys don't believe in Robot Jesus?
    Rab-Bot: We believe he was built and that he was a very well-programmed robot. But he wasn't our Messiah.
  • In Tripping the Rift the robots justify their belief in God by stating:
    Gus: If we didn't believe in God, we'd have to worship the engineering dweebs who designed us
    Six: And frankly, the God I pray to doesn't need acne medicine and chronically masturbate.