Ai generated sermons

The Limitations of Sermons Produced by AI (Shortened)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced in text generation, impacting many fields, including sermon creation. While AI sermons can save time and seem acceptable, perhaps even attractive, they often lack a personal touch, resulting in messages that feel detached. AI systems, trained on vast text corpora, can predict word sequences and produce grammatically correct text, but they cannot replicate the lived experiences behind the words.

To illustrate this, imagine if, from the moment of your birth, you had been locked in a small windowless room with no human contact. (We will skip over the details of how you survived.) Instead of living a normal life, you had access to all the books in the world. (Again, we ignore the question of how you learned to read.) How much of reality would you understand? It seems doubtful that you would truly know what sunshine was – or ice cream, tennis, jealousy or love. You would know the words and could use them. But there would be no genuine experience.

Similarly, AI-written sermons may use “the right language” but lack the authenticity that comes from a preacher’s personal insights and emotions. This authenticity is crucial for sermons to resonate deeply with congregations.

Moreover, sermons often address specific contexts and congregational needs, which AI cannot comprehend. A preacher considers these factors, crafting sermons with relevant examples and stories. AI, lacking this contextual awareness, produces generic sermons that may not connect with the audience’s experiences or concerns – or, worse, may connect with them in an entirely inappropriate manner.

Additionally, AI struggles with religious texts, lacking the nuanced understanding that humans inspired by the Holy Spirit, possess. This can result in misinterpretations and theologically dubious messages.

AI is transforming many sectors, including healthcare and environmental conservation. For example, AI language systems can aid individuals with dyslexia by improving their written communication. Despite these undoubted benefits, AI-generated sermons present challenges, lacking the depth and personal connection of human-crafted messages as well as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible illustrates that God can communicate through all creation, as seen in the story of Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22. This suggests that AI might be used by God to convey His word in some situations. Nevertheless, the responsibility of sermon creation should remain with preachers, as the risks associated with AI-generated sermons are too great.

This article is a shortened version. The original was commissioned by Preach Magazine and will be available to read in full in their September 2024 edition, which focuses on Artificial Intelligence. Click here for details of Preach Magazine.


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