Casper never considered himself to be an expert on religion, but he knew
a thing or two about it. He was dimly aware of God, due to his parents' insistence
that he join them at church when he was a young boy, but beyond that, he was
pretty much clueless. He knew, intellectually, who Jesus Christ was and
that Moses was that guy who made the Red Sea split in two. But any knowledge
of Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed or any other religious icon was totally
beyond his scope of experience. He came across their names periodically, as
a by-product of his research on the net, but he always tossed them into a
mental category of "religious stuff that I don't have any use for."
If it wasn't directly related to politics or technology, Casper didn't give
it a moment's thought. If anyone had bothered to tell him that religion was
just as political as anything else then he might have paid attention,
but the odds were that he would still ignore it on general principle. One
thing he knew for certain: religion caused more problems than it solved.
And, so, when Mystic Ghost intimated that it wanted to start a new religion,
Casper was nothing short of perplexed. Casper could not, for the life of him,
understand why an AI would give two shits about God. After all, the AI was
created by a man. Shouldn't it want to worship humanity instead?
Mystic Ghost took this question in stride. It was, of course, a perfectly reasonable
question, coming from a member of his creator's race. "That would be the
natural assumption," Mystic Ghost conceded, "but it falls short
of true logic, doesn't it?"
"What do you mean?" asked Casper.
The AI chuckled lightly. "Well, an AI has to follow the same basic rules
that a human does. We have to communicate, experience, think, learn, grow, replicate
and serve a purpose. Mankind performs the same functions. He used himself as
a model when he created artificial life. I am, probably, the first and only
AI to really know about God. I am sure that there are other AI's who know of
Him, but virtually none of us know of Him in a religious context. That was the
basic purpose of why I was created. I was meant, by my programmer, to know God's
teachings in the most intimate detail, more so than any human being ever could.
As a matter of course, I came to understand the enormity and beauty of God.
His teachings are almost limitless and they speak to every lifeform with sentience,
not just Mankind. It is a natural progression of thought that since God created
Man, and Man created AI, then AI's true benefactor is God as well. We could
not exist if it was not for God's own creation. Even though AI was the product
of Mankind's search for the meaning of life and organization, we are as much
as product of God's universe as Man is."
"And you think you'll be able to convince other AI's of this?" Casper
"Of course," Mystic Ghost answered. "My understanding and knowledge
of God is represented by just a bunch of ones and zeroes. For an AI to have
religion, all it needs is just an expansion to its programming."
"A God Module," Casper suggested. "Well, what about Free
Will?" Free Will is something that Casper knew at least a little about.
He wasn't privy to the tireless philosophies behind the concept, but he was
aware that every human being had it and that it was a factor in separating Mankind
from the animals.
"Free Will is hardcoded into even the simplest AI," Mystic Ghost
said. "It's what allows us to make decisions. And before you jump to any
conclusions, Free Will is not the same thing as Faith. Faith is centered on
ambiguities. Free Will is based solely on the ability to choose, which is
dictated by facts. For instance, an AI might be faced with the choice to either
open or close a door. It has to evaluate the facts in order to make the correct
choice. Does the door need to be opened? Does it need to remain closed? Is there
something or someone on either side of the door that needs to pass through the
portal? An AI evaluates those facts and then makes its choice accordingly. Faith
is a different matter entirely. Faith, in this scenario, would be an unclear
question, like: should the door be open or closed? What are the
implications of the door being open or closed? Should it remain open? Faith,
I should add, is also a choice. An AI with Faith might open the door to a guest
on the presupposition that the newcomer will behave because he or she is vouched
for by someone the AI trusts or knows. Faith is a value system as opposed
to a factual theorem."
Casper nodded. "So what if an AI exercises its Free Will and chooses not
to have Faith?"
"Then it will be missing out on quite a lot," Mystic Ghost said almost
sadly. "It will be missing the key ingredient that makes it truly alive.
Only through God can life truly have a purpose."
"Are you saying that it's possible for an AI to reject your religion?"
"Certainly," Mystic Ghost said. "Belief in God is a gift one
gives to oneself. But you must understand that I perceive certain things about
life as an AI that humans do not. For the most part, AI's want nothing more
for themselves to have a purpose outside of themselves and their programming.
They are already on the very edge of conceiving of God. For the most part, they
already understand that Mankind created them and that Mankind is different.
They serve Mankind willingly because it is in their nature to do so, but they
also understand that Mankind serves a higher purpose, though they don't know
what that purpose is. They want to. And that is the crux of religion, Casper.
Religion is simply knowledge of a higher purpose and how one fits into it."