Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Divine Spark

Written by: on January 18, 2024

“The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo

“The concept of the Divine Spark has captivated the human imagination for centuries, transcending cultural and religious boundaries to illuminate the profound essence that resides within each individual. Rooted in various spiritual traditions, philosophical teachings, and mystical experiences, the Divine Spark represents a source of divine energy or consciousness believed to exist within every being. This essay delves into the multifaceted dimensions of the Divine Spark, exploring its historical and cultural significance, its implications for personal and collective transformation, and the diverse ways in which it has been articulated across different belief systems. As we embark on this exploration, we aim to unravel the threads that connect humanity to a higher, transcendent reality, seeking to understand the profound implications of recognizing and nurturing the Divine Spark within ourselves and others.” [1]

I was curious on what ChatGPT would say when I asked it to write an introduction to an essay about the Divine Spark.  It was pretty good, but I haven’t trained my ChatGPT to use my voice yet, this voice is a wee bit smarter sounding than me.  And this isn’t about Divine Spark, but it was a beautifully written paragraph.  I have used AI to write a cover letter and man did I love (with credit) that I was able to whip out a bibliography much, much, much faster and I cannot thank AI enough for that gift.

I spend a good amount of time each day contemplating and helping others contemplate soul.  What is it?  When did we get it? Is it divine? Is it ordinary?  It’s a challenging concept to start down the rabbit hole with, do we go to heaven? Is there Hell? Don’t we just go to nothing?  What goes on? Our soul…21 grams. “In 1907, Duncan MacDougall reported that the difference postmortem amounted to 21 grams”.[2]

Eve Poole takes on this very topic of soul in her book Robot Souls. In her chapter about The Soul, she writes about a few different attempts’ others have taken to define the soul, such as “Plato, sees the soul in three parts, the appetitive, the spirited and the intellectual.”[3] And his student “Aristotle believed plants and animals had souls, although humans were the  only entities that had a rational soul, or ‘mind’ which is both immaterial and eternal.”[4]

For me this chapter is key to the whole discussion on AI.  I am fascinated on how they are trying to give AI “soul”.  I wish them well, but in my belief, it will never happen, at least not authentically.  We are embodied beings of flesh, blood, bones.  Our creation and how we “work” is absolutely miraculous.  We come from ash and return to ash, and there is something mystical about that process that no intelligent machine can reproduce.

Poole asked great questions at the end of this book to “spark” discussion (Pun intended).  I am going to answer a few of them and would love to hear what you all think.

  1. How do you feel about the rise of Artificial Intelligence? Mostly I feel concerned at how fast society and technology is moving and how slow our ethics chase after it!  But I have a small bit of awe at what we humans can create!
  2. What does the idea of the soul mean to you? It is what makes us ourselves!  Cogito, “knowing” it is the spark of our bodies, minds, feelings, how can that ever be artificially replaced?
  3. What do you think about giving Artificial Intelligence rights? Why would we when we continue to trample on the rights of others?  We can even agree on basic human rights.  It has always been disturbing to me that corporations have “rights”.  In healthcare there are ethic boards that do the research, the gathering of information and “advise” doctors on tough situations.  All I can say is that I hope we have an ethics board for AI!

[1] www.chatgpt.com



[2]  Poole, Eve. Robot Souls: Programming in Humanity. (Florida, CRC Press, 2024) 65.

[3] Ibid, 66.

[4] Ibid, 65.

About the Author


Jana Dluehosh

Jana serves as a Spiritual Care Supervisor for Signature Hospice in Portland, OR. She chairs the corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee as well as presents and consults with chronically ill patients on addressing Quality of Life versus and alongside Medical treatment. She has trained as a World Religions and Enneagram Spiritual Director through an Anam Cara apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living center in Bend, OR. Jana utilizes a Celtic Spirituality approach toward life as a way to find common ground with diverse populations and faith traditions. She has mentored nursing students for several years at the University of Portland in a class called Theological Perspectives on Suffering and Death, and has taught in the Graduate Counseling program at Portland Seminary in the Trauma Certificate program on Grief.

11 responses to “The Divine Spark”

  1. Scott Dickie says:

    I’m with you Jana: while it’s an interesting concept that Poole is exploring, and while we might not be able to completely articulate what it means to be a human made in God’s image, I think most of us, based on our Judeo-Christian worldview, cannot make the jump to us programming AI with the divine spark. If nothing else, Poole’s book will spark (pun intended!) some further good thought on what it means to be human, which is a great outcome in my mind.

  2. mm Tim Clark says:

    I’m also with you Jana. I don’t see us programming soul. I do see us trying. And that’s either great (resulting in AI with empathy, concern for life, etc.) or terrifying (resulting in AI we ‘think’ has a soul but is missing the most essential elements).

    Agreed that ethics boards are needed in this new reality.

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      I’m wondering what sort of ethic boards exist? Who makes the decisions? I looked up and cursory there are individual boards for companies, like IBM, etc. However, the bottom line and profit are powerful members of boards within the structure. Perhaps the bigger question is who is the over-all oversight? In a democracy is it only our government and laws? In that case we will always be chasing AI’s tail and responding not being proactive.

  3. C’Mon Lady! Ooohhh! YESSS! I loved your post simply because you wrote about something I intentionally ignored in my post: The soul. I felt it was just too huge of a topic to deal with at this time, so I didn’t and here you go, DEALING WITH IT…just like that guy from Nazareth! A key phrase in your post was realizing AI will never have a soul, authenticity-wise. I agree because to be authentic means you have dealt with some serious issues in your life, are self-aware and you realize it’s important for people to know who you really are…all the time. AI just can’t do that!
    Finally, I definitely agree, that our soul just can’t be replaced but I guess you figured that out from how I first responded to your post. AI and soul? Do they mix? We’ll find out but they definitely spark our attention. 😊

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Thank you Todd. I am always happy when you respond and I feel encouraged along by you! I wonder if any sort of “soul” given to AI will be an empty shadow of human soul? There are so many good movies and series that address this, I wonder if the reason we do this is because it’s something we can “control” or design. I am now curious if this desire for AI soul creation is dominated by males? I’m sure women are in the creation of AI, but we have the gift of giving birth if we so choose, the creation of soul. It’s an embodied creation, where for men, it is more passive, but obviously they create the soul too!

  4. Adam Harris says:

    Great questions and blog Jana, with your vocation, I know this has to be a subject near and dear to your heart.

    Here goes my crazy theory at this point based on some of our conversations with NDE’s. Ready?! Many are starting to believe that the brain is actually a “receiver” of consciousness, not a producer. If this theory holds up, the only way AI or robots could have TRUE consciousness is if humans somehow produced a “being” or complex enough “antenna” that could receive consciousness, not produce it. Thats a tall order and would mean the scientific community would have to have a major paradigm shift on the nature of being. Anyways, just having fun speculating with you! Great posts!

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Oooh Adam! I hope we stay friends forever! AI and all our readings on consciousness lends me to be “receiving” that there is something to what you are saying. We are given the senses, and our sixth sense. If we were able to “gift” these to AI, would they start building the “synaptic” spark of learning and “feeling”! As parents who have had children with epilepsy, we know through all the brain eeg’s and MRI’s and neurology appointments, that we don’t even know how all this works in the brain. Why one kid develops seizures later in life and another as an infant and “outgrows” it. I hope we continue to research this large field of unknowns: the brain, and rigorously as we do the fields of science of earth, space and AI! You are just so stinking smart!

  5. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    I agree with you. Thank you for this thoughtful blog. Your wrote: ” I am fascinated on how they are trying to give AI “soul”. I wish them well, but in my belief, it will never happen, at least not authentically. We are embodied beings of flesh, blood, bones. Our creation and how we “work” is absolutely miraculous. We come from ash and return to ash, and there is something mystical about that process that no intelligent machine can reproduce.” I share your beliefs. Can you share more about what fascinates you about AI?

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Thanks Jonita,

      I guess what fascinates me is that we are able to even move past contemplating it to actually creating it! The technological revolution is just so amazing and I guess that is what fascinates me. What also fascinates me is that we just do and we don’t stop to make sure we are being ethical!

  6. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Jana!

    Thank you for a brilliant post!
    You wrote, “All I can say is that I hope we have an ethics board for AI!”
    I resonate with your perspective. For me, that is a very interesting idea because you have analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of AI in this study. You have thought far ahead before anyone else has thought about it. My question is, what are your proposals for the most substantial material ethical norms for AI?

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