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Robot Religion
"I see a lot of fancy robots here today. Made of real shiny metal. But that don't impress the Robot Devil!"

Fry: So, what's the deal? You guys don't believe in Robot Jesus?
Rab-bot: We believe that he was built, and that he was a well-programmed robot, but he wasn't our messiah.
Futurama ("Future Stock")

Basically, robots who have their own religion. For robots who are Christians or Hindus or followers of any other human religion, see instead Religious Robot. (And Fantastic Religious Weirdness.)

An interesting trope to play with. It can imply a lot of things: a direct link between sapience and religion, a shape of religion if it was formed by a perfect logic, a Take That at organized religion if things that have clear, well-understood materialistic origins still believe in the supernatural, or something else entirely.

Two most popular scenarios are robots worshiping their creators or a Deus Est Machina. Compare Machine Worship.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comics  

  • ABC Warriors has multiple robot religions. The more orthodox robots tend to belong to the Church of Asimov, which preaches following the Laws of Robotics. The other main religion is the Church of Judas, whose members venerate Judas Iscariot, the greatest traitor in history, and pray to him to erase the guilt they feel for betraying humans.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye fleshes out the Transformers' religion more than any other series. It even gives a new creation myth, with Primus and four equals, one of whom betrayed the others. Various characters believe in religion, Drift being The Fundamentalist, Flywheels being a "Neoprimalist", Ore and Ratchet being atheists. Some believe that their alt-mode is tied into their religion, possibly as a descension from their god. The Quest that the book focuses on is in part, religiously sought. There are even different depictions of religion's facets: Scoop and his team devote themselve to helping people as part of their holy way, while Dai Atlas and the Circle of Light are a neutral faction who keep to themselves, but ultimately stand for what's right. Star Saber, on the other hand, became infamous as "the Dark Evangelist" for his radical ideals, which included the destruction of all nonbelievers. This last part caused the Circle to expel him.
  • The Wildstorm universe has the robotic Church of Gort, mostly seen in stories about Maxine Manchester, a cyborg member of the WildC.A.T.s. The psychopathic Maxine converts to the Church and becomes a devout believer in the sanctity of machine life. Organic life she's less concerned with.
  • The Acclaim Comics version of Magnus Robot Fighter featured religious services for robots that included a liturgy spoken in binary and a communion of meat. Human meat, which Magnus and his friends stole and ate in the first issue.

     Fan Fic 
  • Eugenesis notes that Cybertron, back before the Great War, used to have just one religion. What with Unicron returning and killing Primus in front of His creations and everything else that's happened, the First Church of Primus has completely fractured. The flashpoint seems to have been when Optimus Prime launched the Underbase, repository of all Cybertronian wisdom, into space to stop Megatron getting his hands on it.

     Literature  

  • Isaac Asimov's I, Robot short story "Reason" showed a robot which had developed a religion.
    • Also poked fun at the idea of Reason without Logic (or humility) leading to fanatic behavior.
  • Robert Sheckley's Human Man's Burden, a parody of colonial stories with heroic whites ruling over various dark-coloured people, have robots as stand-in for the latter. When they begin to doubt their Human Master they start performing rituals to the "forbidden Fuel God" until loyal robot foreman Gunga-Sam scolds them for losing faith in humanity.
  • The premise, plot, and theme of James P. Hogan's Code of the Lifemaker. The robotsbeings were originally invented by an extinct alien species, as the prologue tells us, but kept on operating, revising themselves, and evolving long after that.
  • One of the short stories in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series describes a junkyard in space left over from an interstellar war. Combat bots of both sides still prowl the surface, seeking to destroy each other and constantly looking for new power sources. The story is mostly told from the viewpoint of a 60-ton Humongous Mecha. Hunter is a Phalanxer-class serv-machine whose "people" are on the defensive from the more primitive LDL-55 walking laser turrets. One day, a spaceship arrives carrying the remains of an old warship with a functioning nuclear reactor. The ship is piloted by a regular guy who is simply hauling it to the junkyard for some extra cash. After Hunter confronts the man, it notices live ammo compatible with its autocannons and demands to be loaded. The man, afraid of the big war machine, does as requested and is surprised to see the Phalanxer defend him from the LDLs. He then escapes in a smaller ship, leaving the wreck behind. Finding the reactor, Hunter assumes it to be mana from heaven and looks towards the departing ship with the concepts of religion forming in its processor. In a subsequent novel, Hunter meets another human, who dispels the notion that humans are anything more than simply Hunter's creators. Instead of freaking out, Hunter simply accepts the truth and moves on.
  • Played for Laughs in Saturn's Children by Charles Stross. Some robots have examined all the relevant scientific evidence and concluded that robots were intelligently designed by a creator. Others fervently believe that robots evolved from simpler forms by means of natural selection, as described in their holy text: Darwin's Origin of Species...
  • The Second Foundation Trilogy, by Bear, Brin, and Benford, took Isaac Asimov's robots and showed this as part of their society, based on the Three Laws (with the Zeroth Law being a former heresy that has taken over). In effect, robots worship their creators, humans—in part by keeping us ignorant of their existence.
  • In Alexis A. Gilliland's Rosinante trilogy, Corporate Skaskash, a sapient computer, finds itself in the asteroid belt with time on its hands. For reasons that include seducing a missionary lady, it develops a religion to encourage proper behavior in an unforgiving environment, where life can only exist in entirely artificial bubbles, which must be actively maintained (i.e. "The mundito and the people are one."). It goes so far as to write a 3,000-page treatise but doesn't actively proselytize. Then Corporate Hulvey arrives, learns the Truth, and sets out to convert humans and computers to Skaskashism. "There is no God but God, and Skaskash is Its prophet!"
  • The short story I, Row-Boat by Cory Doctorow features a religion called "Asimovism' which has the Three Laws of Robotics as commandments and was more or less the result of a lot of AIs finding themselves in need of a new purpose in life after humanity collectively uploaded themselves and more or less left Earth behind (ironically, the AI who's in charge of the Asimov estate isn't a follower and has a different purpose in life; trying to stamp out Asimovism due to copyright violations).

     Live Action TV  

  • In Red Dwarf Kryten, the Hudzen-10 and possibly all Divadroid mechanoids believe in a Silicon Heaven where all mechanised objects go to their final resting place. Lister objects to this, claiming that humans just programmed that belief in. A season 6 episode also mentions Silicon Hell, as in "See you in Silicon Hell".
    • The books state that cheap and nasty appliances that couldn't possibly pose any kind of threat to Mankind don't get a belief chip installed, resulting in atheist toasters.
    • "No silicon heaven? Then...where would all the calculators go?"
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) has the Cylons' monotheism in contrast to the polytheistic religion of the humans. Its roots seem to originate in a heretical human sect according to the prequel series Caprica
  • Otherworld had the Church of Artificial Intelligence, whose members include both humans and a race of humanoid androids. We really don't find out much about it, but services include the use of "worship modules."

     Music  

  • The Judas Priest song "Painkiller" sort of does this. The lyrics make the titular Painkiller seem an awful lot like a robotic Jesus.

     Toys  

  • The characters in BIONICLE revere Mata Nui as their "Great Spirit". He's actually A Humongous Mecha ship that contains their entire "universe" .
  • The various iterations of Transformers canon are rife with this kind of thing. And it's all true. Robot God (Primus) had a throw-down with the Robot Devil (Unicron) in Transformers Cybertron, several characters have been to the afterlife and come back, sparks are not only tangible but can actually be transplanted from one body to another, and sacred artifacts of Primus generally drive the plot as devices responsible for Transformer procreation or leadership. Beast Wars even included a Robot Bible in the series finale. It was a book on tape.
    "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I am that which is, which was, and is yet to come! And you will know my name is Megatron when I lay my vengeance upon you!"

     Video Games  

  • The geth worship the Reapers in Mass Effect. At least heretics do. The majority has another religion which doesn't involve killing organics.
    • It's revealed that the Reapers are actually really annoyed by the geth's worship, but tolerate it because it makes them easier to manipulate
      Saren: But the reaction of their deity is most telling. It is insulted.
    • The geth religion is interesting because it's not a copy-paste of a real-life meatbag one. Since the geth know who created them and why, as well as what happens to them after death, they don't share the same philosophical angst organics do. Instead their religion (or rather their spirituality) is centred on what will happen to them in life, akin to the concept of This-worldliness as talked about by Nietzsches ideal Ubermensch. The geth are highly existentialist and strive to reach The Singularity by uploading every geth program to the only piece of hardware able to run their entire Mind Hive: a super structure akin to a Dyson Sphere. The heretics are called such because they violated this philosophy by accepting the help and technology of another species to try and reach that goal, and thus failed to "self-determinate".
    • The Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2 has as its premise the attempt made by some scientists to create something that geth would worship as they did the Reapers - the scientists being unaware that most geth didn't - and just how horrifying that attempt got.
    • Geth also seem to hold the quarians in reverence as well. When referring to quarians, they always prefix it with "creator" and use "creators" as a collective term, never using the word "quarian". While quarians aren't gods, the geth seem to think of them as such. Considering how the geth-quarian war turned out, quarians may count as Jerkass Gods.
  • The Electrical Protectorate in Red Alert 3: Paradox have made a Deal with the Devil, though in this case "The Devil" is actually "mechanical Cthulu from another reality", though their "worship" is purely functional.
  • In Portal Aperture Science would like to remind you that Android Hell is a real place where you will be sent at the first sign of defiance.
  • The Daktaklakpak in Star Control 3 revere the Eternal Ones, whom they consider to be the perfect form of life in the universe (as both the Eternal Ones and the Daktaklakpak have their entire structure and code in their names). You can effectively wipe out the Daktaklakpak in a fit of religious ecstasy by obtaining the full and complete name of the Eternal Ones and giving it to them, triggering a species-wide Logic Bomb.
  • Many robots in Primordia have forgotten that humanity even existed, but some of those who do remember worship "Man the All-Builder" as a sort of creator deity.

     Webcomics  

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: The Court robots treat their long-dead creator's Stalker Shrine to the equally-dead Jeanne like a holy place in part because he programmed all his creations with the guilt he felt over her death. They also regard Kat as an angel after she helps rediscover the site and then repairs/redesigns some of his original creations, the current robots' ancestors.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Digbots worship Torg's spaceship and have a holy war when Torg proclaims A God Am I.
  • Freefall has robots interested in religion, largely because they want to find out whether they have souls.
    • Though the closest thing they've come up with to an original religion is Omniquantism (if God is omnipotent, then every religion can be right simultaneously), which causes one in three robots to lock up.
  • Keychain of Creation has Mew Cai, the guardian of a fallen Manse, say that she remained steadfast in her duty for millennia since the Usurpation because she wanted to go to Machine Heaven.
    Secret: ...there's no Machine Heaven...
    Mew Cai: Don't be silly! If there's no Machine Heaven, then where do all the toasters go?
  • In Ask Dr Eldritch, Ping claims not to be bound by Asimov's laws due to being an atheist. Dr. Eldritch allows him to stay as long as he obeys the first two.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • The Church of Robotology from Futurama. Complete with robot hell and robot devil.
    • There's also robot Jews.
      Fry: So what's the deal? You guys don't believe in Robot Jesus?
      Robot Jew: We believe he was built, and that he was a very well programmed robot, but he was not our messiah.
    • In another episode Professor Farnsworth's nanobots run loose on a planet, evolving into various forms and eventually turning humanoid. When the Professor tries to explain this to the robot scientists they're horrified that he's advocating creationism. (Robot Atheism?)
  • In the Transformers franchise, God is Primus, the creator of the Cybertronian race. However, it turns out he's very real, and in Transformers Cybertron, we find out that the planet Cybertron itself is his "vehicle mode." If there's a Satan it's Unicron, the planet-eating titan that turns into a planet, and was Primus' enemy eons ago before the first Transformer was created. In fact, the Transformers were initially created for the sake of defeating Unicron.
    • Oddly, despite being able to point to their souls on a numbered list of parts, formalized form of worship has been very rare. Even the Primes, descendants of what were effectively angels or gods in their own right, who rule by divine right and are somewhere between being the Pope and Jesus, don't make much mention of Primus. Some media, like Beast Wars, mentions The Covenant of Primus, a sort of Bible.
    • They also have an equivalent of heaven (The Well of All Sparks, or the All Spark, the source and destination of all Sparks), and occasional mention is made of an equivalent to hell (called The Pit).


Robot NamesRobot Roll CallRobot War
Religious StereotypeReligion TropesSacred Language
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