ChatGPT and our cry for help

If you’re in pastoral ministry, you might know the Pastor’s prayer; with a Sunday sermon looming and more jobs to do that humanly possible, the pastor sits in front of his screen and prays, “Lord, help. Please help.” There is something so intrinsically right and good about this prayer. It represents a proper posture before our heavenly Father.

And yet the human heart is constantly tempted to pray to man-made things rather than call out to God. Isaiah 44 paints a perfectly ironic picture of a man who takes some wood, uses half of it as a tool for making himself warm, and to the other half he prays, “Save me! You are my god!”

The rhetorical question is “Why would you worship something that can’t even move, or act, or speak?”

And yet, we’ve just created a tool that speaks.

ChatGPT is a tool that talks. Well, almost. It is a tool that emulates talking. It is an image of us. In the same way the craftsman (in Is 44:13) take the wood and “shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory”. That is what we’ve done with ChatGPT. When you ask it questions it is reflecting and replicating what it has observed humans do. It’s an image of us.

So here’s a prediction… people will cry to ChatGPT for help. Not just help with their assignments, sermon prep, job application or marketing plan. People will cry out to ChatGPT even more than they have been doing to google.

Have a look at some questions people often ask google:

  1. What is the meaning of life? (99th most popular search in the world)
  2. What happens when you die? (194th most popular search in the world)
  3. How to commit suicide? (636th most popular search in the world)

Google just tells people what other people have said. ChatGPT does something different – it talks back to you. It listens (at least it simulates listening).

So what will the human heart do with this new piece of wood? Will it simply use it for fuel? Will the human heart keep it firmly in the “tool/resource” pile?

I don’t think so. I think people, and even Christians, will turn to ChatGPT before they turn to God. Our deep seated cry for help will always be there. And now there’s a tool that talks back.

So, start strong. Teach yourself the habit to stop and ask God before you ask a tool. Ask God to help you keep the tool as just a tool. Because, from a biblical point of view, a talking tool is a dangerous tool.