A church in Texas last weekend hosted a Sunday service featuring a sermon created by artificial intelligence, The Hill reported.
KXAN reported on Monday that the pastor of Austin’s Violet Crown City Church used the OpenAI program ChatGPT to generate a 15-minute sermon.
Pastor Jay Cooper told KXAN that the sermon lacked a “human element,” noting that he had to include additional prompts and flesh out the sermon to “beef it up.”
Cooper said he decided to give ChatGPT a whirl after reading about artificial intelligence and speaking with members of his church who are software developers. He said with all the different applications using artificial intelligence, he decided to see what it would be like to use AI in a worship service.
One congregation member told KXAN that while he was able to worship during Sunday’s service, the AI-generated sermon was unable to express emotions like love, empathy, or kindness. He said such emotions must not only be felt but practiced and expressed.
Pastor Cooper said the purpose of his AI experiment was to grapple with the question of what is sacred.
He explained that he wanted to wrestle with the question of whether AI-generated prayer can “communicate truth” and if worshipers can experience God through artificial intelligence.
Cooper suggested that if worshipers can find something sacred in a sermon generated by artificial intelligence, they might be able to find something sacred in other things.
Cooper also said that while the AI sermon was relevant, it lacked emotion. He said in ministry, as in life, “the human touch is critical.” He said he believes that “the messiness of humanity” is something that “should be present in worship.”
Pastor Cooper has no plans to do an AI-generated sermon again, insisting that last Sunday’s service was a one-time experiment.