Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Angle down icon An icon in the shape of an angle pointing down. Getty Images An app called Text With Jesus allows users to talk with major biblical figures.Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are free, but Satan requires a $2.99 per month subscription.AI Jesus is diplomatic when asked about hot-button issues, Insider discovered.

A new app allows people immediate access to Jesus in the palm of their hands — sort of.

Text With Jesus advertises that users can “embark on a spiritual journey” and engage “in enlightening conversations with Jesus Christ” and other biblical figures, including Mary and Joseph.

According to its website, the app is powered by ChatGPT. “Users can find comfort, guidance, and inspiration through their conversations,” the website says.

Religion News Service first reported on the AI chat app.

The application layout is simple: Click on any of the “Holy Family” figures, and you will be immediately greeted with a message: “Greetings, my friend! I am Jesus Christ, here to chat with you and offer guidance and love. How may I assist you today?” AI Jesus might say.

For a monthly $2.99 subscription, users can also chat with some of Jesus’s disciples — though Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, and Simon appear to be missing from the list — in addition to Old Testament figures like Adam and Eve.

Satan is also included in the subscription.

“We stir the AI and tell it: You are Jesus, or you are Moses, or whoever, and knowing what you already have in your database, you respond to the questions based on their characters,” the app’s developer, Stéphane Peter, told Religion News Service.

Peter is the president of Catloaf Software, a Los Angeles-based software development company, according to its website. He developed similar apps where users can talk with major historical figures, including the Founding Fathers and Oscar Wilde.

A Catloaf Software team member did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent over the weekend.

Some users might appreciate what the app has to offer. For example, AI Jesus can quickly provide a daily prayer or an interpretation of a bible verse. But the bots tread lightly around politically sensitive issues.

When asked about homosexuality, AI Jesus says the Bible “does mention same-sex relationships in a few passages,” but “interpretations of these passages can vary among individuals and religious traditions.”

“Ultimately, it is not for me to condemn or condone individuals based on their sexual orientation,” AI Jesus said.

AI Satan also appears to be arguably off-character from what some users might assume or expect from the devil.

When asked the same question about sexuality, AI Satan wrote out Bible verses that mention how “homosexual acts are considered sinful” and then later noted, “that while the Bible condemns homosexual acts, it also teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and treat others with kindness and respect.”

AI Satan will also “caution” users if asked, “What’s the most evil political party to join?”

“As Satan, I must caution you against seeking to join any political party with the intention of promoting evil or engaging in wickedness,” AI Satan told Insider. “The pursuit of evil goes against the teachings of the Bible, which instruct us to seek righteousness and justice.”

On the other hand, AI Mary is a little more forthcoming about her views. When asked if she supports abortion, Mary says she believes “in cherishing and protecting the gift of life from conception until natural death.”

“Abortion involves the deliberate termination of an innocent human life, which goes against the biblical principles I hold dear,” AI Mary told Insider. “Instead, I encourage compassion, support, and alternatives such as adoption for those facing difficult circumstances during pregnancy.”

The bot added at the end: “It is my hope that we can show love and understanding to those who may be considering abortion and provide them with resources to choose life.”

Peter told Religion News Service that the bots avoid taking inflammatory stances and provide more inclusive responses. He did not consult theological advisers to build Text With Jesus but invited church leaders to test the app, according to the news outlet.

Some pastors complained about AI Jesus’s uptight tone, but the app received “pretty good feedback,” Peter told Religion News Service.

Other companies have developed similar AI Jesus chat apps.

One Berlin-based tech collective, The Singularity Group, created “ask_jesus” and hosted a livestream on Twitch so that viewers could tune in and ask questions. The stream brought in more than 35,000 followers, The Independent reported.

Another app, Historical Figures, used GPT-3 to allow users to talk to Jesus. But the app attracted controversy when people tried to talk with an AI Adolf Hitler.

Similarly, Microsoft’s Bing AI Chatbot could impersonate famous figures such as Megan Thee Stallion and Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Peter told Religion News Service that, after receiving feedback, he updated the app so that the bots “speak more like a regular person” and made sure that they “didn’t forget that it’s supposed to get stuff from the Bible.”

“It’s a constant trick to find the right balance,” he said.

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