A Humanist Interrogation of Religious and Compute-Technological Anthropomorphism


  • Fatai Asodun, PhD Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos


This paper identifies religious and compute-technological anthropomorphism
as two optional paradigms of instantiating human anthropomorphic tendencies.
Founded on Ludwig Feuerbach's theory of religion, the first option suggests
that humans simply project their self-perceived qualities, including
intelligence, outwardly into an imaginary supernatural being conceptualised
as God. The second option, grounded on Alan Turing's theory of machine
intelligence, adds that these qualities, in different forms, are projected into
human fabricated machines. Research reveals that religious
anthropomorphism ignites human religious belief systems in different shades
while compute-technological anthropomorphism is catalytic to the digital
technological approach to carrying out human activities. Research further
indicates that the two paradigms have been playing critical roles in fostering
human development. However, after subjecting them to a humanist-oriented
analysis that promotes human peaceful and continuous existence, this paper
uncovers the reality that an unguided human anthropomorphic tendency can
lead to religious fanaticism and technological singularity. There is ample
evidence suggesting that fanaticism is contributing to societal disorder while
technological singularity is paving way for the emergence of super-intelligent
machines that will autonomously control human affairs or even forcefully end
human existence. To avert the latter and equally manage the occurrence of the
former, the paper suggests that the human ontological tendency for
anthropomorphism should be driven by the doctrines of humanism. These
doctrines are considered to have the potency of appropriately guiding human
anthropomorphic inclinations towards human benefit.


Agassi, Joseph. “Anthropomorphism in Science”. Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas. P. Wiener ed. New York: Scribner, 1973.

Akerkar, Rajendra.Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.New Delhi: PHI Learning Private Limited, 2012.

Asodun, Fatai. “From Controversy to Digital Dignity: The Impact of the Turing Test on ICT Revolution”. Lagos Notes and Records: A Journal of Faculty Arts, University of Lagos 23, (2017): 234-254.

Asodun, Fatai. “Justifying the Place of Intelligent Machines in the Realm of Value”. Sapientia: Journal of Philosophy 9, (2018): 187-195.

Boni, Sarah. “Anthropomorphism: How it affects the human-canine bond”. Journal of Applied Companion and Animal Behaviour 2, no.1 (2008): 16-21.

Brock, Davidand Gordon Moore. Moore's Law: Four decades of Innovation. Philadelphia, Pa: Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2006.

Daley, William. “Mitigating potential hazards to humans from the development of intelligent machines”. Synthesis: Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy (2011).

Epley, Nicholas, Adam Waytz and John Cacioppo. “On Seeing Human: A Three-Factor Theory of Anthropomorphism”. Psychological Review 114, no.4(2007): 864-886.

Epley, Nicholas, Scott Akalis, Adam Waytz and John Cacioppo. “Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: loneliness and perceived agency in gadgets, gods and greyhound”. Psychol Sci. 19, no. 2 (2008): 114-120.

Feuerbach, Ludwig. The Essence of Christianity. New York: Harper & Row, 1957.

Fink, Julia. “Anthropomorphism and Human Likeness in the Design of Robot and Human-Robot Interaction”. Social Robotics 7621, (2012): 199-208.

Finkel, Meir. “AI Singularity and the Growing Risk of Surprise: Lessons from the IDF Strategic and Operational Learning Process”. Prism 8,

no.4(2020): 2014-2019.

Franke, Ulrike.Harnessing Artificial Intelligence. European Council on Foreign Relations. (2019) .

French, Robert. “The Turing Test: The First Fifty Years”. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, no. 3(2000): 115-121.

Georg, A. “Robot”. Microsoft ® Encarta ® DVD. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.

Good, Irving. “Speculations concerning the first ultraintelligent machine”. Advances in Computers 6, (1965): 31-88.

Kalmer, Marimaa. “The Many Faces of Fanaticism”. ENDC Proceedings 14, (2011): 29-55.

Lamont, Corliss.The Philosophy of Humanism. New York: Humanist Press, 1997.

Landon, Brooks. “That Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Plurality of Singularity”. Science Fiction Studies 39, no. 1 (2012): 2-14.

Leach, William. “Religion Fanaticism: Asset or Debt?” The Biblical World 53, no. 3 (1919): 240-244.

Lewis, G.H.Seaside Studies at Ilfracombe, Tenby, the Scilly Isles, and Jersey 2nd ed. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1860.

Meister, Chad. Introducing Philosophy of Religion. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Milgram, Stanley. “The Social Meaning of Fanaticism”. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 34, no. 1(1977): 58-61.

Nwaomah, Sampson. “Religious Crises in Nigeria: Manifestation, Effect and the Way Forward”. Journal of Sociology, Psychology and Anthropology in Practice, 3, no.2 (2011): 94-104.

Okere, Theophilus. Church Theology and Society in Africa. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Company Limited, 2009.

Omoregbe, Joseph.A Philosophical Look at Religion. Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Publishers Limited, 1993.

Russell, Stuart and Peter Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach,2nded. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 2005.

Saygin,Ayse, Ilyas Cicekli, and Varol Akman. “Turing Test: 50 Years Later”. Minds and Machines, 8, (2000): 463-518.

Scheele, Dirk. et al. “A human tendency to anthropomorphize is enhanced by Oxytocin”. European Neuropsycho-pharmacology. (2015) Elsevier.

Schuurman, Bart and Max Taylor. “Reconsidering Radicalization: Fanaticism and the Link between Ideas and Violence”. Perspectival on Terrorism 12, no. 1 (2018): 3-22.

Serpell, James. “Anthropomorphism and anthropomorphic selection beyond the 'cute response'”. Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies 10, no. 4 (2002): 83-100.

Smith, Mathew, and Sujaya Neupane. Artificial intelligence and human development: Towards a research agenda. Canada International Research Centre (2018).

Turing, Alan. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”. Mind 59, no.236 (1950): 433-460.

Vinge, Vernor. “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”. Whole Earth Review. Winter Edition, 1993.

Wani, Navshad, Shakeel Najar and Zubair Masoodi. “The Impact of Automation on Human Behaviour – A Review”. International Journal

of Advance Research in Science and Engineering 7, no. 4 (2018): 448-460.

Wilbur, James and H. Allen. The Worlds of the Early Greek Philosophers. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1979.

Wright Nicholas. “Artificial Intelligence's Three Bundles of Challenges for the Global Order”.Artificial Intelligence, China, Russia, and the Global Order. Air University Press, 2019.

Wynne Clive. “What are Animals? Why Anthropomorphism is Still Not a Scientific Approach to Behaviour”. Comparative Cognition &

Behaviour Reviews 2, (2007): 125-135

Zlotowski Jakub, Diane Proudfoot, Kumar Yogeeswaran and Christoph Bartneck. “Anthropomorphism: Opportunities and Challenges in

Human-Robot Interaction”. International Journal of Robotics, 7, Springer, (2015): 347-360.