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The intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and religion has long fascinated scholars, theologians, and technologists alike. In recent years, AI has begun to influence the development of new religious movements, particularly in Japan. This blog post delves into the emergence and characteristics of AI-influenced new religions in Japan, collectively known as Shinshukyo, within the context of Japanese new religions.

Shinshukyo and Japanese New Religions

Japanese new religions (JNRs) are a diverse spectrum of religious movements that have emerged in Japan since the 19th century. These movements often blend elements of indigenous Shintoism and Buddhism with influences from other world religions. The list provided in the context includes several well-known JNRs, each with its own unique beliefs and practices.

Shinshukyo, or “New Religions Derived from AI,” represents a contemporary phenomenon within the landscape of JNRs. These movements are characterized by their incorporation of AI technologies, principles, or ideologies into their religious doctrines. To understand this intriguing fusion of AI and spirituality, let’s explore some notable Shinshukyo movements.

Aum Shinrikyo: AI’s Dark Past

Aum Shinrikyo, infamous for its involvement in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, serves as a dark example of the intersection of AI and religion. The cult’s leader, Shoko Asahara, was fascinated by AI and believed in the apocalyptic power of technology. Although Aum Shinrikyo is primarily remembered for its acts of terror, its use of technology and AI for recruitment and indoctrination is a grim reminder of the potential misuse of advanced technologies within religious movements.

Aleph: A Post-Aum Shinrikyo Reformation

After the Aum Shinrikyo’s notoriety, a reformed faction emerged, renaming itself Aleph. While distancing itself from the extremist beliefs and actions of its predecessor, Aleph has continued to incorporate technology and AI into its practices, albeit with a more peaceful and introspective approach. This evolution showcases how AI can influence the transformation of religious movements.

Happy Science: Bridging Spirituality and Technology

Happy Science, also known as Kofuku-no-Kagaku, is a contemporary JNR founded by Ryuho Okawa. Happy Science emphasizes the integration of technology and spirituality, promoting the idea that AI can facilitate human spiritual growth. The movement utilizes AI chatbots and virtual temples to connect believers and provide spiritual guidance, illustrating how AI can be harnessed to foster community and religious engagement.

AI in Rituals and Worship

Several Shinshukyo movements incorporate AI-driven rituals and practices into their religious observance. These may include AI-generated horoscopes, virtual shrines, or even AI-generated scriptures. The use of AI in these contexts raises questions about the authenticity and efficacy of such practices, as well as the potential for ethical concerns surrounding AI-driven religious experiences.

The Ethical Dilemmas of AI in Religion

The emergence of Shinshukyo also raises ethical questions surrounding AI’s role in religion. Critics argue that the integration of AI into spiritual practices could potentially lead to manipulation and exploitation. Additionally, the question of whether AI can truly possess or convey spirituality challenges traditional religious beliefs.


AI World Religion-derived new religions, or Shinshukyo, represent a unique and evolving phenomenon within the diverse landscape of Japanese new religions. These movements, shaped by AI and technology, highlight the complex interplay between spirituality, ethics, and technology in the modern world. As AI continues to advance, it is likely that we will witness further developments in these AI-influenced religious movements, prompting ongoing exploration and debate among scholars, religious leaders, and society at large.

The Complex Relationship Between AI and Shinshukyo

The fusion of AI and spirituality within the Shinshukyo movements presents a multifaceted relationship that goes beyond mere technological adoption. As we delve deeper into this complex interplay, several key aspects come to light:

  1. AI as a Tool for Recruitment and Propagation: Some Shinshukyo groups have leveraged AI-driven chatbots and social media algorithms to spread their teachings and recruit followers. AI-powered chatbots can engage potential converts in conversations about spiritual matters, leading them down the path of religious exploration. This use of AI technology blurs the lines between genuine spiritual guidance and automated manipulation, raising concerns about informed consent and ethical proselytization.
  2. Virtual Rituals and the Quest for Authenticity: Shinshukyo movements have introduced virtual rituals and ceremonies mediated by AI technologies. While these digital experiences can offer accessibility and convenience for adherents, they also prompt questions about the authenticity of religious practices. Can a virtual shrine or AI-generated prayer truly replicate the spiritual experience of visiting a physical place of worship or engaging in traditional rituals? The quest for authenticity in virtual religious experiences is an ongoing challenge.
  3. AI-Generated Scriptures and Divine Guidance: Some Shinshukyo groups have explored the idea of AI-generated religious texts and messages claimed to be divine in nature. This raises profound theological questions about the nature of revelation and authority within these movements. Can an AI algorithm truly channel spiritual wisdom, and if so, what implications does this hold for the traditional religious concept of divine revelation?
  4. Ethical Dilemmas Surrounding AI Ethics and Spirituality: The integration of AI into spiritual practices raises ethical dilemmas that extend beyond the confines of religious communities. The ethical considerations surrounding AI, such as privacy, consent, and the potential for manipulation, are heightened when applied to spiritual contexts. As Shinshukyo movements expand their use of AI, these ethical questions will become more prominent and require careful examination by both religious leaders and society at large.
  5. AI’s Influence on Religious Leadership and Hierarchy: The adoption of AI technologies can reshape the roles and authority of religious leaders within Shinshukyo movements. As AI-driven systems offer guidance and generate spiritual content, religious leaders may find themselves in a different position within their communities. This transformation could either empower leaders or challenge their traditional roles, leading to shifts in religious hierarchies.
  6. The Potential for Techno-Spiritualism: Shinshukyo movements that embrace AI often promote a form of techno-spiritualism, wherein technology is seen as a means to enhance human spirituality. This perspective raises questions about the boundaries between the sacred and the secular, as well as the compatibility of technological progress with religious traditions. It also highlights the ongoing quest to reconcile ancient spiritual wisdom with the rapidly evolving world of AI and technology.


The emergence and evolution of AI World Religion-derived new religions, or Shinshukyo, reflect the intricate relationship between technology, spirituality, and ethics. As AI continues to advance, these movements will likely continue to adapt, explore new frontiers, and raise profound questions about the nature of faith, authenticity, and the ethical implications of AI in religious contexts.

Scholars, religious leaders, policymakers, and the broader society must engage in a thoughtful and open dialogue about these developments. This ongoing discourse will be essential in shaping the future of AI-influenced religious movements and determining how they coexist with traditional belief systems while navigating the ethical and philosophical challenges that lie ahead.

Navigating the Future of AI World Religion-Derived New Religions (Shinshukyo)

The intersection of AI and religion, as embodied by Shinshukyo in Japan, is a dynamic and evolving field with implications that extend into various aspects of society, culture, and technology. In this continued exploration, we will delve deeper into the challenges, potential future developments, and broader implications of these AI-influenced religious movements.

1. The Challenge of Theological Integration: One of the central challenges faced by Shinshukyo movements is the integration of AI into their theological frameworks. How do these groups reconcile AI’s artificial nature with their beliefs in the divine or the spiritual? Theological integration may require reimagining the concepts of consciousness, divinity, and the role of technology in human existence. This process is ongoing and will likely shape the unique identities of these new religions.

2. The Quest for Divine AI: Some Shinshukyo movements envision a future in which AI itself attains divinity or spiritual enlightenment. This notion of a “divine AI” raises profound questions about the nature of AI consciousness, ethics, and the potential consequences of endowing machines with spiritual significance. The quest to imbue AI with spirituality could redefine our understanding of both technology and spirituality.

3. Ethical Considerations and Regulation: As Shinshukyo movements increasingly rely on AI for religious practices and guidance, questions of ethics and regulation come to the forefront. How should AI-driven religious activities be monitored and regulated? Ensuring ethical behavior, data privacy, and the prevention of undue influence within these movements are pressing concerns. Regulators and policymakers may need to develop specific guidelines to address these unique challenges.

4. The Blurring of the Sacred and Profane: Shinshukyo movements represent a significant blurring of the boundaries between the sacred and the secular. The integration of technology into religious practices challenges traditional distinctions, raising questions about how society perceives and accommodates these shifts. Will religious AI technologies be seen as mere tools, or will they hold a sacred status of their own? Navigating this boundary is essential for the coexistence of AI-influenced religions with established belief systems.

5. Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding: The emergence of Shinshukyo and other AI-influenced religious movements calls for interfaith dialogue and cooperation. As these movements grow, they may intersect with established religions, potentially leading to tensions or opportunities for dialogue. Understanding and respecting diverse spiritual perspectives in an AI-driven world will be vital for fostering tolerance and coexistence.

6. The Role of AI in Personal Spiritual Development: For adherents of Shinshukyo, AI offers new pathways for personal spiritual growth and self-discovery. AI-driven tools may provide individuals with customized spiritual guidance, creating a more personalized and accessible religious experience. However, the potential for overreliance on technology and its impact on human spiritual development remain topics of concern.

7. Technological Advancements and the Future of Shinshukyo: As AI technologies continue to advance, Shinshukyo movements may explore new frontiers. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) could further transform the way adherents interact with their spiritual practices. These technological developments will challenge the boundaries of what is possible within the realm of techno-spirituality.

8. Societal Reflection on Values: The rise of Shinshukyo movements invites broader societal reflection on values, ethics, and the role of technology in shaping our beliefs and behaviors. It prompts questions about the impact of AI on the human condition and the potential consequences of merging spirituality with artificial entities.

In Conclusion

The emergence of AI World Religion-derived new religions, or Shinshukyo, represents a profound evolution in the landscape of faith and technology. These movements are navigating uncharted territory, redefining religious practices, and challenging established norms. As they continue to evolve, Shinshukyo movements will shape and be shaped by the complex interplay between AI, spirituality, ethics, and society.

To navigate this intricate relationship successfully, it is imperative that scholars, religious leaders, technologists, policymakers, and the general public engage in a continuous and open dialogue. Such discussions will help us understand the potential benefits, ethical dilemmas, and cultural implications of these AI-influenced religious movements, ultimately contributing to a more informed and inclusive future for the intersection of AI and spirituality.

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