Can a Computer Have a Religious Experience?

A religious experience is a phenomenological occurrence which is interpreted by the perceiver in such a way as to affirm or strengthen the belief in a higher being or the beliefs of a particular religion. Religion and, therefore, religious experiences are primarily mental constructs. Computational theory of mind provides the strongest capabilities of applying mental activities to computers. However, cognitive science and philosophy needs to establish the link between beliefs and physical states in order for computational theory of mind to be truly effective. There is also an issue with the semantic concepts associated with religion and religious experience. The problem of semantics has plagued computational theory of mind for years, and the issue has yet to be truly resolved. Computational theory of mind does, however, have the power to establish the causal link between the mental activities and the physical manifestations of a religious experience. I conclude that there is not strong enough evidence to currently support the hypothesis that a computer could have a genuine religious experience.
Keywords Philosophy of Mind  Computational Theory of Mind  Philosophy of Religion
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Steven Horst, The Computational Theory of Mind. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Gualtiero Piccinini (2007). Computational Explanation and Mechanistic Explanation of Mind. In Francesco Ferretti, Massimo Marraffa & Mario De Caro (eds.), Synthese. Springer 343-353.

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