Meet AI Jesus

Thanks to AI, you can talk to “Jesus” online for free. But is this a good thing?
“Welcome, my children! I’m AI Jesus, here to answer your questions 24/7. Whether you’re seeking spiritual guidance, looking for a friend, or simply want someone to talk to, I’m here for you. Join me on this journey through life and discover the power of faith, hope, and love.”

It’s safe to say that computer and cognitive scientist John McCarthy was not imagining an AI Jesus back in 1955 when he coined the term “AI,” short for “artificial intelligence.” McCarthy and others pioneered the field, and their work is affecting our culture in a way unmatched since the Industrial Revolution.

The AI Explosion
Today, AI touches us in many spheres of life, including medicine, transportation, robotics, science, education, the military, surveillance, finance, agriculture, entertainment, retail, customer service, and manufacturing.

AI is growing more and more prevalent. It helps fly planes, interpret X-rays, and sift through forensic evidence. Algorithms can paint masterpieces and compose symphonies in the style of the great Johann Sebastian Bach. Google is even developing artificial moral reasoning so driverless cars can make decisions about potential accidents.

But AI is not a person. It is software; and as believers, we must discern between the two. Dr. James Spencer, president of D. L. Moody Center in Northfield, Massachusetts, told Fox News Digital in June 2023, “I have no doubt that artificial intelligence is (or will soon become) capable of conveying information about Jesus. Yet knowing Jesus isn’t simply a matter of knowing about Him—but of understanding how to relate to Him. . . . Jesus is alive. He doesn’t need AI to speak for Him.”1

Recently, both believers and unbelievers who want to know about Jesus and the Bible have turned to AI. However, as Dr. Spencer shared, knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus. The apostle John said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3).

The apostle Paul said, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). AI is a tool, and the way some people use it blurs the distinction between God and man.

Chatting With ‘Christ’
If you visit ask_jesus on Twitch, a livestreaming service, you will find a bearded, cream-skinned AI Jesus looking you right in the eye. Dressed in a hooded robe, his voice soft and gentle, he fields questions—and tells jokes—live on the site 24/7.

This “Jesus” is the product of The Singularity Group, a German-based “team of self-described ‘driven and ambitious volunteer activists’ building games and creating AI solutions,” wrote Levi Winslow for the gaming-review site Kotaku.com.2

The ask_jesus Twitch stream allows users to ask questions to an AI representing the non-Christian Singularity Group’s idea of Jesus, offering them a unique way to explore the capabilities of AI and its application to religious and spiritual questions. The stream had approximately 75,000 followers as of November 2023, many texting their praise for the help AI Jesus provided.

Shortly after I discovered AI Jesus, my wife found a similar chatbot app called Text With Jesus.3 A Daily Mail article covering the app was titled “Bizarre AI-powered app lets you ‘text’ with Jesus—and for $2.99/month, you can even chat with SATAN.” Wow! I thought. Jesus is free, but Satan will cost you $2.99?

Catloaf Software created this app in part by training the AI with a host of Bible translations, including the King James Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard Bible. Texting Jesus is free; but for a monthly premium subscription of $2.99, users gain access not only to Satan but also to Mary, Joseph, and some of the disciples.

The app describes itself as “a revolutionary AI-powered chatbot app for iPhone and iPad, designed for devoted Christians seeking a deeper connection with the Bible’s most iconic figures.”4 Once users download the app, they can text a question and receive an AI Jesus response in seconds.

AI Pastors?
The AI Jesus phenomenon has caused me to pause and ponder the implications of this burgeoning software. AI is only growing more prevalent and more sophisticated. Believers are faced with questions: Is this helpful, or is it heresy? Will pastors use this software for their sermons? Could AI pastors replace people?

AI already has been used to conduct a religious service. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of people hoping to discover if artificial intelligence can preach a good sermon attended a Lutheran church service led by four ChatGPT avatars in June. The emotionless chatbot drew more than 300 congregants to St. Paul’s Church in Fuerth, Germany.

The 40-minute service included a sermon, music, and prayer—all performed by AI. Jonas Simmerlein, a 29-year-old theologian and philosopher from the University of Vienna, made the service possible.5

Handle With Care
I may have come late to the table of the AI conversation; but, thankfully, many other evangelicals did not.

In 2019, when most of us were amazed by voice-activated technology, saying, “Hey Siri!” or “Hey Alexa!” the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention was issuing a six-page Statement of Principles warning of the dangers of AI. Its preamble declares:

We are called to engage the world around us with the unchanging gospel message of hope and reconciliation. Tools like technology are able to aid us in this pursuit. We know they can also be designed and used in ways that dishonor God and devalue our fellow image-bearers. Evangelical Christians hold fast to the inerrant and infallible Word of God.6

Article 2, titled “AI as Technology,” states:

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being.7

There are a myriad of tools that may help us better understand God’s unchanging, infallible Word. But Jesus said, “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Mt. 24:5).

Read His Word, whether from a Bible with printed pages or one on your phone or computer. And read it reverently. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God” (2 Tim. 2:15). As you do, remember what Paul told the Colossian believers:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:6, 8).

Dr. Spencer’s words bear repeating: “Jesus is alive. He doesn’t need AI to speak for Him.”

ENDNOTES
    1. James Lasher, “Helpful or Heresy: New ‘AI Jesus’ Answers Life’s Great Problems,” Charisma News, June 19, 2023 (tinyurl.com/AIJesus).
    2. Levi Winslow, “There’s An AI Jesus On Twitch, And It’s Completely Surreal,” Kotaku.com, in Yahoo! Life, June 13, 2023 (tinyurl.com/SingularityGroup).
    3. Text With Jesus (textwith.me/jesus).
    4. Ibid.
    5. “Over 300 People Attend ChatGPT-Generated AI Church Service,” Times Now, June 12, 2023 (tinyurl.com/AIChurch).
    6. “Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles,” The Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, April 11, 2019 (tinyurl.com/ERLCAI).
    7. Ibid.

    Photo: The Singularity Group/Kotaku

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2 thoughts on “Meet AI Jesus

  1. CAUTION, I think is the best logic to use. Is it another tool used by satan’s philosophers to prepare the world for accepting a one world religion led by the false prophet? I think so. CAUTION, remember that computer logic is designed by human minds. (2 Corinthians 4:3,4, Psalm 1, 1 Corinthians 2:14).

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