‘Making Jesus in their own image’: Left-wing groups are using AI to rewrite the Bible and talk to ‘God’

Liberal activists are using artificial intelligence to rewrite the Bible and put words in the mouth of Jesus, a Daily Caller News Foundation review found.

People for the Ethical Treatment of…

Liberal activists are using artificial intelligence to rewrite the Bible and put words in the mouth of Jesus, a Daily Caller News Foundation review found.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) introduced their version of the biblical account of the creation story of Adam and Eve to give a “can’t-be-missed animal rights message filled with vegan teachings,” according to a May press release. PETA’s manipulation of AI is one in a long list of concerns that religious advocates who spoke to the DCNF had about the technology’s impact on faith.

“I do have concerns with what I understand PETA has done, which is using artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT, to rewrite the creation story,” David Closson, director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at the Family Research Center, explained. “There’s obviously different translations of the Old and the New Testament with ChatGPT … [but] this isn’t just a difference in translation. This is a different interpretation of the actual text and I think that there are theological issues with what PETA is putting out in this version of the Bible.”

“It’s … a misrepresentation of what the Bible presents about creation and in that, it distorts the divine order that is a part of that creation story by really reframing the way the story is presented,” Darrell Bock, executive director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary, told the DCNF. “And so it’s revisionism as opposed to really substantively reflecting what the Bible is saying. It fits PETA’s mission, but it doesn’t reflect what the Bible says about the creation.”

In PETA’s AI-overhauled creation account titled “The Book,” the terms “beasts” and “creatures” are exchanged for “beings,” and the clothing that God provides for Adam and Eve is made of hemp and bamboo instead of animal skin, according to the press release. Additionally, PETA’s version of Genesis includes Abraham and Sarah adopting a dog named “Herbie” from a shelter.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk explained in a statement that they were just getting started and may rewrite more books of the Bible in the future.

“The Bible has long been used to justify all forms of oppression, so we’ve used ChatGPT to make it clear that a loving God would never endorse exploitation of or cruelty to animals,” Newkirk said in the press release. “It took God only six days to create the entire world, but we realized it would take us years to rewrite the whole Bible, which is why we’ve started with just the first book.”

A PETA spokesperson told the DCNF that while the Bible is “evidence enough” that God is against animal cruelty, the organization created its own version of Genesis to help prevent people from misusing scripture. The spokesperson also dismissed the idea that the project was “a rewrite of a religious document,” calling it simply a “modern telling of Genesis.”

“We asked an AI to create The Book as a modern companion to the Bible, and we’re pleased with the results because this complementary piece provides readers with moral lessons relevant to the world of the 21st century,” the spokesperson said. “Our words matter, and this creation story conveys the wonderful lessons of the Bible while acknowledging that animals are now known to be feeling, intelligent individuals, capable of experiencing joy, love, fear, and suffering.”

PETA is not the only one incorporating AI into faith. In Fuerth, Germany, a 40-minute church service was held by a ChatGPT robot for 300 people in June, including a sermon, prayers and music presented by four different avatars, according to The Associated Press. Some of the congregation felt that the sermon lacked emotion and authenticity, finding the computer voices to be unsettling.

Yuval Noah Harari, historian and professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggested that AI could be used to create a new Bible that will “be able to invent new concepts and beliefs that are more socially acceptable than the Bible,” according to the Christian Broadcast Network. Harari further noted that in the years to come AI could make religions that may be “actually correct” and asked the audience to consider what religion could look like “whose holy book is written by an AI.”

In March, a user on the popular gaming platform Twitch created an AI Jesus that other users could engage in a sort of question-and-answer game with the generated Jesus avatar, according to NBC News. Questions included asking for personal prayers and dating advice, and at one point AI Jesus was asked about the “trolley problem” where someone chooses whether to kill one person to save five others, with the avatar electing to not answer.

Closson explained to the DCNF that the avatar is not reflective of who Jesus is in the Bible, and as a result, misrepresents His character to viewers. He noted the danger of putting “moral platitudes into the mouth” of a generated Jesus.

Bock had similar concerns and warned politically motivated groups against making “Jesus in their own image.”

Michael Morris, Director of Media Research Center Free Speech America, told the DCNF that Big Tech has already shown they will censor anything they don’t agree with and religion is no exception.

“A major concern with artificial intelligence is that it works by collecting data that already exists and then supposedly synthesizes that information to provide some sort of average in response,” Morris said. “The risk lies in the fact that the very same companies, Big Tech companies, that are responsible for censoring conservative thought are the ones writing the algorithms for AI. So, the inherent, and growing danger, is how Big Tech will use AI technology to amplify what it is already actively doing to expunge conservative thought and ideas from the public conversation.”

While there are reasons to discourage religion’s inclusion of AI, Closson and Morris both agreed technology has been beneficial in some respects for the church. Closson notes that he saw how technology was able to bring the church together during COVID-19 with live streaming and Zoom, while Morris said technology gave the church a unique opportunity to reach a larger audience.

Bock, however, told the DCNF that because AI is programmed by a human being and Jesus is a divine being, we cannot replicate Christ’s character without distorting it to fit our agendas. Closson also noted that Christians “have their work cut out for them” as they navigate this new challenge.

“I think that there’s still enough of a consensus in America that it’s a good thing to have God on your side. It’s a good thing to have the Bible on your side,” Closson said before explaining that as tech continues to expand, “Christian ministers are going to have their work cut out for them to help people understand what the real Jesus actually taught on a host of issues.”