1st Edition

The Digitalised Image of God Artificial Intelligence, Liturgy, and Ethics

By Ximian Xu Copyright 2025
    236 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the idea of the imago Dei to engage theologically with artificial intelligence (AI). It reflects on how enormous progress in the development of AI has raised some challenges to Christian theology. Questions explored include: Is AI created in the imago Dei? If so, does AI challenge the uniqueness of the human being as the imago Dei? If not, could AI be incorporated into human communities as a human companion in the same way as a natural human person? Would AI eventually develop to have human-level consciousness and be capable of performing liturgies and ethical actions? Bringing to light the radical distinction between the imago Dei and the imago hominis, the book constructs a theo-ontological foundation for AI and draws on the Reformed theology of archetype-ectype as a metaphysical tool to deploy a holistic account of the imago Dei in theology-AI dialogues. The author argues that the imago Dei is the signifier of the beginning both of God-human stories and of stories of human ethical performances towards others. From the perspective of the image of the imago Dei, it can be argued that AI can somehow participate into the narration of these religious and ethical stories. The book will be of particular interest to scholars of theology and those working in the field of religion and science/technology.

    Introduction: What Has Jerusalem to Do with Silicon Valley?

    1. A Holistic Reading of the Imago Dei: From the Imago Dei to Imago Hominis

    2. The Consciousness of the Imago Hominis

    3. The Worship of the Church and the AI-Powered Enactment of the Liturgy

    4. Shall We Blame or Commend AI?: Artificial Moral Agency and AI’s Moral Status

    5. Artificial Companion or Companionable AI? The Interaction between the Imago Hominis and the Imago Dei



    Ximian Xu was Duncan Forrester Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Before this, he was Kenneth and Isabel Morrison Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Theology and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in the University’s School of Divinity. He is the author of the book Theology as the Science of God: Herman Bavinck’s Wetenschappelijke Theology for the Modern World (2022).