Are the scientific and religious definitions of life irreconcilable or do they overlap in significant areas? What is life? Religion seems to imply that there is a qualitative distinction between human beings and the rest of creation; however, there is a strong tradition in Christianity and in Eastern thought that suggests that the natural world also has a relationship with God. Human dominion over other parts of creation exists, but does not obviate this connection, nor give humans a circle unto themselves. The concept of humans being created in the image of God can be used to explain why we might believe humans are in a circle unto themselves, yet we can expand this concept to include artificially intelligent computers, a new potential member of the cognitive family. Our quest for artificial intelligence tells us both what we value in our humanity, and how we might extend that valuation to the rest of creation.
Herzfeld, Noreen. 2007. A new member of the family? The continuum of being, artificial intelligence, and the image of God. Theology and Science 5(3): 235-247.