God from the Machine: Artificial Intelligence Models of Religious Cognition
"God from the machine" (deus ex machina) refers to an ancient dramatic device where a god was mechanically brought onto the stage to save the hero from a difficult situation. But here, William Sims Bainbridge uses the term in a strikingly different way. Instead of looking to a machine to deliver an already known god, he asks what a computing machine and its simulations might teach us about how religion and religious beliefs come to being. Bainbridge posits the virtual town of Cyburg, population 44,100. Then, using rules for individual and social behavior taken from the social sciences, he models a complex community where residents form groups, learn to trust or distrust each other, and develop religious faith. Bainbridge's straightforward arguments point to many more applications of computer simulation in the study of religion. God from the Machine will serve as an important text in any class with a social scientific approach to religion.
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actually affiliation agents artificial intelligence Axiom Balance Theory Baptists behavior Catholics chapter cheese Christian cognitive science colonists communication complex computer simulation cooperation cult culture decision rule denominations desired reward Differential Association Theory double-crossing empirical energy error exchange partners experience explanations explore false positive Figure gods happens Hathor hidden units Homans human ID numbers individual input interaction Islamic keep the bargain large numbers low-tension machine learning membership memory registers Methodists mind mouse Nasty neighborhood neighbors neural nets neural networks Nice Random obnoxious outnumbered output particular Pavlov payoff person population Prisoner's Dilemma probability Proposition Protestants random numbers recruit religious conversion religious faith religious groups religious movements religious pluralism residents of Cyburg satisfied Scarpia sect seek segregation shows simulations described social bonds social influence social network society sociogram sociology Stark and Bainbridge strategy supernatural Table theory of religion Tit-for-tat Tosca town variance