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Who Can Write a Better Homily: Father Dave or ChatGPT?

Developments in artificial intelligence have made headlines in recent months, specifically the evolution of a language processing tool called ChatGPT. It is a chatbot that responds conversationally to your instructions, and generates answers to complex questions in a matter of seconds. Team Busted Halo put it to the test: Can ChatGPT write a better homily than Father Dave?

Earlier this year, Krista first assessed the chatbot’s ability to “preach” by giving it a book of the Bible to focus on and an element of pop culture or theme to connect it to. Father Dave notes the extra twist saying, “You asked it to do a homily in the style of Father Dave Dwyer…and as I’ve told this story since then, when people ask, ‘What’s that whole new ChatGPT thing; is it good?’ Here’s how good it is: Krista did this, we played the homily, and Brett got teary eyed because the homily was so good.” 

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This time, Krista offers Father Dave and the artificial intelligence chatbot the same prompt, and both provide a homily in a matter of minutes. She says, “Here’s the question I posed to ChatGPT: Please write a short two-minute homily with Bible readings from the Acts of the Apostles about weight loss in the style of Father Dave Dwyer.” Krista explains that she picked the theme of weight loss due to Father Dave’s 30-Day Challenge in May, where he lost more than 18 pounds.

He starts his thought process and says, “Act of the Apostles is 28 chapters, and we read it for seven weeks during the Easter season, so there’s a lot there. I instantly thought of my favorite, which is Acts 2:42, when [the Apostles are] all together. But weight loss, I think I’m going to go with Acts Chapter 10, when Peter has the vision about stuff he should eat and stuff he should not eat.” After Father Dave delivers his homily, we learn that ChatGPT picked multiple readings from Acts of the Apostles, including verses from Chapter 3 and Chapter 9

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After listening to ChatGPT’s answer, the team marvels at how it composed a great homily in a matter of seconds. Brett says, “I think this is an important part to draw out in terms of comparing what we’re trying to compare. The reason that was so good, is because he’s doing it in the style of you, Father Dave. If we just said ‘make a homily,’ we don’t know if it would have been this good. So you’ve actually brought it’s bar up.” Krista confirms, “There is a difference when you give the prompts. If I don’t say ‘in the style of Father Dave Dwyer,’ it will give me a different homily.” 

Father Dave says, “I doff my hat to ChatGPT, who’s a very good preacher. I will say that if we’re scoring who gave a better homily, I might win on a technical point. He was using the Protestant technique of pulling Scripture verses from all over Acts the Apostles; technically, that’s a sermon. I was preaching a homily on one passage.”