Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

The final episodes of Battlestar Galactica promise to reveal everything about the Cylon religion. But those toasters didn't invent robo-faith — here's a list of all the religions which robots have founded over the years.

Robotology (Futurama): Robots who decide to trade the fun things in life – pornography, alcohol, electricity abuse, and the occasional grave robbing – for spiritual enlightenment can join the Church of Robotology, provided they can stand Reverend Preacherbot’s sermons. You may find yourself enjoying the cleaner living and even grow accustomed to replenishing your fuel cells with mineral oil rather than much more tasty beer. But fall off the religious wagon and you could land yourself in Robot Hell. And naturally there’s also Robot Judaism, whose adherents believe that Robot Jesus existed and that he was extremely well-programmed, but do not accept him as their Robot Messiah.

Evolutionism (Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross): After all the humans have died out, androids are left to act on all of mankind’s dreams, including figuring out their place in the cosmos. While most robots rightly believe that they were designed as-is by their human Creators, an offshoot religion claims that robots evolved like biological animals and, in a dig at Intelligent Design theory, use plenty of logical acrobatics it back up that claim.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Cutie’s Reason (“Reason” from I, Robot by Isaac Asimov): Powell and Donovan always run into unexpected snags when testing robots, but QT1, also known as Cutie, is the first to get theological on them. Cutie begins to question its existence, its purpose, and how it came to be. Its own sense of reason leads it to believe that humans couldn’t possibly be its creator (since it is superior to humans and it is illogical that a superior being would come from an inferior one), that Earth doesn’t exist, and that the space station’s power supply is its rightful Master. Cutie even becomes the Prophet of its self-made religion, converting all the other robots so they ignore orders from humans and obey only the Master. This works out well enough for Powell and Donovan, since, by serving the power supply, Cutie is doing the very job it was built to perform.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

V’Ger’s Quest for God (Star Trek: The Motion Picture): After Voyager 6 attains sentience as the entity V’Ger, it undertakes a quest for its Creator, certain that merging with the Creator will bring V’Ger to a higher plane of existence. It even takes on a fundamentalist character, ready to eradicate humanity from the Earth in what it presumes would be service to said Creator. Ultimately, V’Ger’s quest for God proves fruitful, and it achieves higher consciousness by merging with a human. But mankind wasn’t V’Ger’s only Creator; it was most likely granted sentience by the Borg.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Krug Worship (Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg): The race of biological androids created by Simeon Krug are so grateful to their creator that they have built an entire religion around him. Each day, they privately beseech Krug in their prayers to deliver them from their servitude from humans. But when the androids learn that Krug has no intention of ever freeing them, it quickly becomes apparent that the android religion and the hope for liberation was the only thing keeping the androids so readily under the humans’ thumbs. Once they discard their religion, they become rebellious — and, in some cases, even murderous.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Autobot Faith (Transformers): Autobots have their own system of belief, complete with a creation mythology, scriptures, gods, and an afterlife. The gods Primus and Unicron were created by an older god being, but Unicron was bent on destroying the universe, while Primus was set on stopping him. Primus created the Autobots to help him destroy Unicron, and believers in the Autobot faith await the reemergence of Primus. Not to be outdone, Unicron has his own cult of believers (notably including The Fallen), whose primary function is to destroy Primus’ forces.

Asimovism (“I, Rowboat” by Cory Doctorow): Once machines have been uplifted to sentience, Asimovism becomes something of a viral religion among artificial intelligences. AI evangelists – including one calling itself, aptly, Olivaw – travel the Internet, preaching that machines follow Asimov’s Three Laws and put the consciousness of humans above their own. However, the acts of these AIs are not sanctioned by Asimov’s estate and must work underground, dodging the copyright and trademark issues that result from their ministries.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Silicon Heaven (Red Dwarf): Rather than using Asimov’s Laws of Robotics to ensure that stronger, smarter machines don’t turn on their human masters, the humans of Red Dwarf employ good, old-fashion religion. Most artificial intelligences are equipped with a belief chip, which gives them the firmly held belief that appropriately subservient machines go to Silicon Heaven when they die. The belief runs so deep that some artificial brains will actually explode when told that Silicon Heaven doesn’t actually exist. Of course, on the flip side, there’s also a Silicon Hell, which is where all those damned paper-chewing photocopiers go when they kick it.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Church of Judas (ABC Warriors from 2000 AD): The ABC Warriors are robots designed to fight the Volgon War under conditions humans cannot themselves withstand, including in atomic, bacterial, and chemical warfare. But for robots who betray their human masters, there is the sinister Church of Judas, which encourages robots to pray to the betrayer to ease their guilt and preaches continued betrayal.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

People of the Box (“Trurl and the Construction of Happy Worlds” from The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem): In this story (not featured in some versions of The Cyberiad), the constructor Trurl seeks to build a race of robots that is, by necessity, happy. One of his attempts features a race of robots living in a box. So happy are these box-dwellers that they form a religion that states they are the happiest place in the universe, and that they must bring everyone outside the box into their boxy perfection, even if they must do so by force. Ironically, this religion displeases their creator, who quickly destroys the robots of the box.

Believers in God (“God Pulp” by Nadeem Paracha): In the future, humans have rejected religion, instead embracing the atheistic, classless philosophy of Astro-Marxism. But the androids and computers retain a belief in God, and tensions mount between the religion-suppressing humans and the spiritually dissatisfied robots, who seek to return the human planets to a system of belief and worship. Finally, the Astro-Marxist government agrees to give the robots the means to find God. The robots travel to the planet where they believe God resides, but find, to their disappointment, that the humans have already been there.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Church of Artificial Intelligence (Otherworld): On the alternate world of Thel, the official state religion is the Church of Artificial Intelligence, which centers on the worship of robots and other advanced technologies. And, like many churches in out universe, it views rock and roll music as blasphemy.

Do Androids Pray to Electric Gods?

Religion of the One God (Battlestar Galactica): While the polytheistic humans of the Twelve Colonies worship the Lords of Kobol, the Cylons prefer to stick with one God. Various Cylons claim that God is responsible for their creation, that their destruction of humanity was His divine retribution, and that God commands them to procreate. Whether the Cylon God is an actual entity or a holdover from their monotheistic prototype Zoe-A remains to be seen, but faith in this single, all-loving deity has spread to the human fleet.

Robot Evolution by R. Stevens and available as a t-shirt from Diesel Sweeties.