After coming across the article that Nigeria is one of the leading countries that pray globally, exploring Artificial Intelligence and religion within the technology sphere became fascinating.

Nigeria is highly religious, with a strong affinity for different beliefs that usher its citizenry to spirituality and communion with the world beyond.

No topic, establishment, social discourse, or political leaning does not lean toward our religious beliefs and practices. You can hardly walk on a street without seeing about 4 to 5 religious gatherings or locations. Hence, it is a fantasy for me to explore this topic.

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Artificial Intelligence and Religion

Generative Artificial Intelligence is here to stay with the advent of diverse products and areas of usage. With the release of ChatGPT, it became evident that deep learning models that can generate high-quality text, images, and other content based on the data they were trained on will become part of our lives. Computers can now solve problems and generate content based on deep and unpredictable data training.

As a Christian, I have seen Pastors and Ministers claim their motivation and topics come from different sources, such as holy spirit, revelation, dreams, social occurrences and political issues. Considering the research associated with delivering any good sermon or speech, I think Generative AI could become a good tool for ministers exploring divine topics that will inspire the congregation.

Even a topic received from the spirit can be developed using this viable tool. For example, I searched for “A simple sermon on Love from the Bible” on ChatGPT, and it returned a full sermon with quotations from the Bible. Its ability to structure the sermon and delve into areas such as practical application, the example of Jesus, and other aspects provided a clear pattern of thinking. The bible references remain accurate and provide even contextual realities of the topic.

I replicated the exact search using the “Holy Quran” rather than the Bible. It even gets better with the title “Love and Compassion: Lessons from the Quran”. The sermon cuts across areas such as love for God, love and compassion for others, love and charity, and others. With the quotes from different surahs and verses from the Holy Quran, I got an insight into what love means as a non-Muslim. Hence, Generative AI has become a viable tool for preparing sermons and educating people like myself.

I committed the exact search using “Ifa Religion”, and I was amazed to discover that ChatGPT provided detailed sermons based on the religion. The reality is that this sermon was profound and elicited the traditional and fundamental African belief in love. It presented details and a clear explanation of the representation of love within the traditional context. I am sure that other religions will have corresponding sermons which are relevant, factual, and straightforward.

Hence, religious leaders have toiled and laboured on deriving and preparing sermons daily and weekly. Some have continually repeated sermons and struggle to refresh to optimise their followers’ motivation and insight. It has become evident that AI can help and provide a better way to prepare the message and influence people around them. This is inevitable as we move towards technology-assisted implementation in religion and other aspects of human life. It is possible that the following sermon you hear from your Imams, Dibia, Babalawo, and Pastors might have been supported by Generative AI technology.

Furthermore, this technology is not limited to message preparation. It can become a viable tool in addressing the various misconceptions and vague understanding of diverse religious concepts.

In a country where religious extremism and excesses of religious leaders persist, I think Generative AI can become a core tool for increased public discussion and fact-finding for the masses.

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Every misconception about religion can easily be erased by factual information generated from the tool. Hence, ignorance and non-tolerance of other religions can efficiently be dealt with through this tool.

I do not have a solution, as national discussion can be derived on the best way that we can deploy these tools to promote religious tolerance. One suggestion is developing a mobile application or resource centre with APIs that will allow citizens to search for topics about religion. This application can be made public so that Nigerian citizens can explore any language of their choice further. It can be in different languages and has audio features to ensure usability and improved learning. This will limit the ability and capacity of religious leaders to propagate misinformation, agenda and incitement.

We need to bring Generative AI to use in a way that has never been seen before, especially within religion. This country struggles with religious bigotry and requires innovative technological interventions and deployment to solve this problem. Other solutions and means of deployment can be explored and deployed. Over to you, creative Nigerians, as we collaboratively assist this country in ridding religious extremism.