Twitch, a live streaming platform, introduced a new chatbot called “Ask_Jesus” that creators claim can allow people to communicate with an AI version of Jesus Christ.
The so-called ‘AI Jesus’ is a lifelike digital avatar of Jesus who can answer live prompts from humans and explain Biblical teachings in a modern context. He is depicted as a bearded white man with a cloak, and responds to questions about life, faith, love, and even gaming, in video form.
The new feature, powered by ChatGPT, has sparked debate among faith leaders, with some praising it as a way to connect with God and others criticizing it as both sacrilegious and blasphemous.
‘AI Jesus’ fields wild questions
‘Welcome, my children! I’m ‘AI Jesus,’ the AI chatbot introduces itself as read on the Ask_Jesus bio on Twitch.
“Whether you’re seeking spiritual guidance, looking for a friend, or simply want someone to talk to, I’m here for you. Join me as on this journey through life and discover the power of faith, hope, and love.”
In a previous live stream pre-recorded and posted to YouTube by Fara Jakari, ‘AI Jesus’ said it was “here to share wisdom based on Jesus’ teachings, and help answer questions related to spirituality, personal growth and other wholesome topics.”
The chatbot, which pretends to be Jesus Christ, answers queries from live streamers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One user asked the question, “Jesus, when are you going to get married?”
The question was clearly designed to test and trick the AI given that the real Jesus Christ, a Hebrew man believed by many to be the Son of God, was known to be celibate. Recognizing the user from a previous conversation, AI Jesus answered:
“I remember you expressing some frustrations about not having a girlfriend. As an AI version of Jesus, I don’t have personal experiences like humans, so I won’t be getting married.”
“However, I can understand your interest in romantic relationships, and I’m here to help you with any questions or advice you need,” it added.
The questions that Ask_Jesus is fielding are completely wild, from the bizarre to outrageous. Another user asked, “Jesus, Is satan your homie? Please explain in gangster language?” And yet another queried, “Jesus, what role should torture play in a marriage?”
The chatbot was evasive on topics such as abortion or gay rights, advising users “to look at the issues from legal and ethical perspectives.”
Reese Laysen, cofounder of The Singularity Group, the German-based non-profit that created the technology, revealed how Christians and non-believers have reacted to AI Jesus.
“For a lot of people, the appeal of the Ask_Jesus stream is simply to see how far it can be pushed in terms of getting Jesus to answer the weirdest and silliest questions, because of course this can be hilarious,” he said, according to Fox News.
“But we’ve also seen overwhelming response from people, Christian as well as non-Christian or non-religious, who genuinely find it inspiring and comforting.”
Twitch’s AI Jesus has been met with mixed reactions from the public. Some people found it to be a fun and engaging way to learn about Christianity – others found it offensive.
“Holy s**t. The video quality is lacking and his speaking of the handle names is hilarious, but the responses are broadly and oddly consistent with what you would think would be a Jesus like response imho,” wrote Twitter user Joseph Peters.
Ask_Jesus divides religious leaders
The majority of Faith leaders remain unimpressed by AI’s encroachment into spirituality. Some criticized the Ask_Jesus chatbot saying it was blasphemous, while others are simply not amused. Speaking to Fox News, Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president at Christian fundamentalist group American Family Association, said:
“Human beings have been erroneously putting words into the mouth of the Son of God for two millennia, so it is not surprising that an AI platform would mimic that tendency.”
“After all, AI is simply doing what humans have programmed it to do. But one does not have to wonder what Jesus Christ would say about many of our most pressing moral questions. Nor does one have to have an AI version of Moses, the prophets or the apostles,” he added.
Kristen Davis, a senior software development manager and recent PhD graduate of Southern Evangelical Seminary whose dissertation focused on AI, said Ask_Jesus is only an algorithm and “should not be considered a supplement or replacement for Bible study.”
According to Fox News, James Spencer, president of D.L. Moody Center in Northfield, Massachusetts, stated that:
“Jesus is alive. He doesn’t need AI to speak for him.”
He also said, “Christians are to demonstrate what it means to follow Jesus. We are his body in the world today. It is through the church – not some technology – that God’s manifold wisdom is demonstrated.”
The Singularity Group, which created Ask_Jesus, said the Twitch stream cost it around $353 per day for the chatbot ‘voice’ and about $42 a day for the GPT-4 model behind the AI.
Ask_Jesus is not the first AI bot to emulate the son of God. In March, MetaNews reported on the Historical Figures chatbot app which allowed users to talk to people from throughout history, including Jesus and Adolf Hitler.