“AI can write a new Bible”


European Union


Think of holy books written by AI. That could be a reality in a few years. Photo AFP, Kristof Van Accom

“We are almost like gods.” Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari was questioned about artificial intelligence. Christians responded with shock.

“We have the power to create new life forms”, says the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, “and destroy much of life on earth, including ourselves.” The world-renowned author of books like “A Brief History of Humankind” and “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” was a guest on a show in Portugal. There, he interacted with the host about technology and its impact on our lives. Artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, was discussed. Mr Harari’s remarks caused unrest in Christian circles, and several media outlets wrote about it.

AI, says Harari, is different from all other technologies because it can make decisions by itself. “Even an atomic bomb cannot decide which city to bomb. You always need a human to make the decision. But AI is the first technology to make decisions, even about us.”


Another aspect of AI Mr Harari mentioned caused unrest among Christians. “AI can create its own ideas”, the Israeli said. He compared the development of AI with that of the printing press. “The Gutenberg printing press printed as many Bibles as it was ordered to do. But it could not write a single new page.” However, Harari said, “AI can do that. It can even write a new Bible.”

According to Harari, various religions invoke the supernatural way in which their holy book was created, be it the Bible or the Koran. “In a few years, there may be religions that are actually correct,” he said with a smirk. “Think of holy books written by AI. That could be a reality in a few years.”


The interview was picked up by various Christian media outlets that reacted critically toward Harari’s statements. According to the Dutch Christian news website CVandaag, the Israeli historian seemingly cast aside “millennia of claims of divine inspiration by not just Christianity, but all the world religions.” Furthermore, according to Harari, AI could fulfil the religious “dream” of a book written by a “superhuman intelligence.”

According to the Christian Post, in earlier settings, Harari called the Bible a book of “myths” and “stories.” In a column for the British newspaper The Guardian, Harari pointed out that “even secular” schoolchildren in Israel learn about the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Ark “long before they hear about Neanderthals or see the cave art of Lascaux and Sulawesi.” In the paragraph before, Harari argued that today, young people are “bombarded with myths and disinformation.”

When asked, Harari says to wish for a society that lets go of its “fantasies.” “If we let go a little of our ideological and religious fantasies, that is the basis to create a better world for everybody.”



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