Jay Cooper of Violet Crown City Church in North Austin decided to see if the transformative technology was up to the task of inspiring his congregation through a complete one-hour service.
The Methodist minister asked Chat GPT to come up with prayers, a sermon, and an original song based on the sermon for the church which promises members ‘a safe space to explore life’s big questions’.
‘My assumption was that it would kick out a full hour-long worship service as is traditional in many churches,’ he said.
‘It turns out Chat GPT is Methodist and had no intention of sticking around that long and gave us about a 15 minute service.’
Pastor Jay Cooper said he ‘wanted to incorporate it into our community life in such a way that it would make an impact’.
The congregation was greeted by a slightly unusual notice at the church in North Austin
‘Good morning slash afternoon slash evening everyone, and welcome,’ the technology told its slightly baffled listeners.
‘We’re so glad you’ve chosen to join us in worship today.’
But it soon got into its stride, telling them to ‘strive to make the world a better place’.
Cooper recorded his service for posterity while other members of the church delivered the words devised by the bot.
‘I’m renaming today Regret Sunday if it turns out to be the day that AI took my job,’ he told them.
He said the congregation was surprisingly open to the idea of an AI-generated service but handing control to Chat GTP will remain a one-off experiment for the time being unless robots start joining the church.
‘Although many were impressed by AI’s ability to create prayers, a sermon, and an original song based on the sermon, along with being glad we have a much better understanding of AI now, many in our church expressed that the service felt shallow and generic and that it was missing the most important component of worship, which is heart and the human spirit of joy and authenticity,’ he explained.
‘What ultimately brought us closer to God as a community was the discussion after the service. We were able to share what was most important to us in worship and how much we treasure the human element in a community of faith, something that was clearly lacking in the AI-generated service.
Church attendee Ernest Chambers told KXAN he was able to worship during the service, but that it all felt rather cold.
‘I’m not sure that AI can actually express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy,’ he added.
‘I think that we must practice love and express that. Not only feel it, but we must express it.’
Cooper asked different members of his church to read the passages devised by AI
Cooper said he had been interested in the technology since using it to write humorous lyrics to country songs and was intrigued by its spiritual possibilities.
‘We’re not doing this as some gimmicky event or misguided attempt to be provocative,’ he told his congregation.
‘This is not like we’ve said ‘God take the Sunday off we’ve got a really unqualified substitute teacher’.
‘Perhaps in some way if we can experience the sacred in something like artificial intelligence then maybe we can see it in that neighbor who has political beliefs we just cannot stand.
‘The idea to create an AI-generated worship service came from my belief that the church should not only be aware of the most pressing issues of our world, but also to actively engage in them,’ he added.
‘AI is definitely one of those issues, so I wanted to incorporate it into our community life in such a way that it would make an impact.
The church advertises itself as a ‘a safe space to explore life’s big questions’
Pastor Cooper says he has no plans to repeat the experiment
‘The initial reason we offered this, admittedly unorthodox, service was to inform our congregation about AI and to understand its potential and its limitations.
‘The purpose is to invite us to consider the nature of truth and challenge our assumptions about what God can make sacred and inspired.’
It is not the first time AI has been used to enhance the experience of church worshippers.
Last year a group of avatars created by Chat GPT led a congregation of 300 through a 40-minute service at a church in the German town of Fuerth.
‘You end up with a pretty solid church service,’ said Jonas Simmerlein, the theologian from the University of Vienna who devised the program.
The sermon produced by Chat GPT
‘Come, all who are weary, come all who are heavy-laden,
‘For in this place, we find rest for our souls.
‘Come, people of all backgrounds and walks of life,
‘For here, we celebrate the diversity of God’s creation.
‘Come, seekers of justice and peace,
‘For together, we strive to make the world a better place.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk