Understanding Spiritual Intelligence: Psychological, Theological and Computational Approaches​

  • TWCF Number:


  • Project Duration:

    October 1, 2020 - July 31, 2023

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Priority:

    Diverse Intelligences

  • Region:


  • Amount Awarded:


  • Grant DOI*:


  • *A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Director: Yorick Wilks

Institution: International Society for Science and Religion

Spiritual intelligence is a distinctive but under-explored mode of human intelligence. This gives rise to many questions. What are the distinctive characteristics of language that arise from spiritual experience? Why is religious language so difficult to translate and thus understand? How is human intelligence significant from the perspective of theology?

Directed by Yorick Wilks, this project aims to advance the scientific understanding of spiritual intelligence by using artificial intelligence (AI) and computational cognitive science. It will show the value of AI in different ways:

  1. use cognitive architectures to explore how attention is deployed in spiritual practices;
  2. use computational linguistics to investigate the use of language in religion and spirituality;
  3. develop a theology of intelligence by comparing human intelligence to both nonhuman animal intelligence and machine intelligence;
  4. undertake exploratory computer programming to model spiritual reasoning; and
  5. conduct preliminary research on the potential for building an artificial "spiritual companion" to help people flourish.


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