How well does ChatGPT know the Bible?

12-04-2023

Western Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Photo Dall-E, CNE

What happens if you teach chatbot ChatGPT to read the Bible? How well can it answer questions about the Holy Book? Dutch student Jonathan Vollmuller tried it out.

Would the Bible allow me to have an abortion? According to the Dutch ‘BibleGPT’, the Bible does not explicitly discuss abortion and opinions on the subject are divided. However, it states that the Bible says children are a gift from God, and we should protect and cherish them (Psalm 127:3-5). It furthermore advises seeking help from a professional or a spiritual leader.

The well-known chatbot ChatGPT allows people to add plug-ins to the bot, which enables people to add knowledge and functionalities to the tool. Jonathan Vollmuller, an Artificial Intelligence & Ethics student from the Netherlands, added the Bible to ChatGPT as an experiment. “I was curious to see if artificial intelligence combined with the Bible would lead to an omniscient model that has answers to all Bible questions”, he says to the Christian daily Nederlands Dagblad. “Or if, on the contrary, it would become a terrible version of ChatGPT.”

Vollmuller made the tool public so people could learn about the combination of AI and the Bible. “Maybe deploying this technology on the Bible is a bad idea. In any case, my goal is for people to think about it.”

Kings

“If you are looking for a Bible text about a specific situation, BibleGPT works very well,’ says Vollmuller to the Dutch daily. However, BibleGPT is less good at answering questions about the whole Bible, like “How many kings did Israel have? Then the AI tells you that it cannot give a specific number. At the same time, the chatbot gives information about which Bible books mention kings. For example, 1 Kings and the Book of Joshua lists kings who were defeated by Israel.

At the moment, Vollmuller sees more cons than pros in his tool. “People are lazy. If an AI tells them something, they think it is the truth. The same applies to BibleGPT. While there is no way of finding out where the extra information needed to interpret texts comes from. So it is impossible to use AI as a reliable source of answers, even in the Bible.”

Unpredictability

According to Vollmuller, it remains difficult to deploy this technology responsibly due to the unpredictability and lack of transparency about the training data from OpenAI. This he writes on the website of the Christian think tank Techtics. “Alongside this, ethical issues remain unanswered, with perhaps the most important question being: ‘Will we soon let a machine’s interpretation be leading over the Word of God?’”

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