SF question: aliens, AI's, and Judaism

Breaking tradition, I am not asking this after sundown on Friday. :slight_smile:

Keeping in mind that there are many variants of “Judaism”, how would Jews of various sorts view an intelligent extraterrestrial seeking to convert?

How would Jews view an artificial intelligence seeking the same thing?

Feel free to draw upon rabbinical teachings, other peoples’ thoughts, and your own opinions.

Well, Judaism as a whole tends to be more than a little reticent about conversion; assuming the aliens/AI weren’t part of the original covenant (that would be a cool plot twist, though), you’d probably see more resistance among orthodox groups, but Reform groups wouldn’t be actively encouraging it, either. Even for Reconstructionists, a large part of the underlying ideas revolve around a shared history. You can read more in-depth about the conversion process/differences in Christian vs Jewish attitudes towards conversion over yonder.

On a larger scale, humans being humans I’d expect widespread discrimination against non-humans (I mean, if some people care so much about variations in skin’s melanin content, imagine a whole different species). As a result of that, it might be harder for a Dalek to convert than your average gentile.

William Tenn’s short story “On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi” deals with this question.

I actually wasn’t looking for story suggestions (though they are always appreciated), I was looking for opinions about whether or not Judaism would admit non-humans.

Yes, I know Judaism doesn’t seek converts and somewhat discourages them to weed out all but the most sincere - assume the non-human has passed that “test” and is definitely sincere about his/her/its belief.

I would guess that the debate within the different denominations (halachic and otherwise) would be similar to debates in general society: Are these alien entities entitled to the same rights as we grant as “human rights”? Do they have “free will” (at least to the same degree that we consider ourselves as possessing such)? Are they allowed to become citizens with full rights of citizens? How would you feel about your child marrying one?

My guess is that an entity that passed the muster of general society granting them full “human rights” and perceived them as possessing “free will” would be able to convert. Probably even before governments reached the point of allowing them citizenships.

Do they have genders? Do any have a bris? Would a mikvah short anything out?

(Harlan Ellison had a funny short about alien Jews looking for enough Jews to have a minyan, “I’m Looking for Kadak”, problem eventually solved when he main character realized it could just divide itself.)

Beyond the fact that a truly intelligent extraterrestrial would not want to convert to any earthly religion, there should be no obstacles to one (or an AI) wishing to do so.

There is currently a website advertising “Become Jewish Online - We turn no one away”.

And I’m reasonable sure a Purple People Eater or machine intelligence would be avidly pursued by the Lubavitchers.

Nah. The Lubavitch preach to less or non-observant Jews; they are not out to proselytize to non-Jews. Now if the AI was created by a Jewish female scientist, then maybe they’d go after it.
Human societies across the world have developed religions and individuals across the world have become attracted to faiths alien to the way they were raised. It should not be incomprehensible that an alien intelligence could also have evolved to be prone to religious thinking and to a desire to belong to a group and adopt group beliefs and norms.

Or is this a no true Scotsman sort of argument?

Some Jews might have a problem if the aliens don’t have foreskins. Otherwise if the aliens express a sincere desire to be Jews they’ll be accepted. The intelligent Golem will be a different story altogether. Someone will assume it makes a spark when operating and so can never go to shul on the Sabbath.

Why would lack of foreskin be a problem? To the best of my knowledge, there are plenty of Jewish women!

And from the opposite perspective, a race of beings whose males have eight penises might find Christianity more appealing.

Different Orthodox Rabbis have different opinions – thus we do not know.