We met Eric Célérier who presented his new project to us. This is an application called HelloBible which proposes to put artificial intelligence at the service of spiritual growth.
Pastor Eric Célérier is well known to our InfoChrétienne readers. Pastor, founder of TopChrétien, director of the ICNEWS press company, the ZeWatchers media group and so on. This digital pioneer is currently working on a new project: the HelloBible application.
Currently the development of artificial intelligence, with the emergence of ChatGPT for example, is a hot topic in the news. But for many years now, Eric Célérier has seen the potential of this type of tool to enrich the spiritual life of users. Fifteen years ago, he began to think about this possibility. But he hit a wall, with AI development tools still being too immature.
In February 2023, he began to delve into this project again. The pastor asked God to inspire him and help him formalize things, giving himself six days of reflection. “The prototype of the site was therefore born in six days... and 15 years of gestation!”, he tells us.
Artificial intelligence terrifies many people, Eric is well aware of this. “And rightly so,” he explains, “but we have to differentiate between strong AI and a simple algorithm, it also depends on how it is used.”
“It is not because we are innovative that we are irresponsible”
His project involves an artificial intelligence that generates text and does not understand what it says, very far from the image that the general public may have of an AI ready to control the world. “It’s simply a program that needs to be configured, a tool that I train in the same way that I would train an author of A Miracle Every Day”, underlines Eric who affirms that he wants to act with caution and take all possible precautions with this project.
“It is not because we are innovative that we are irresponsible,” exclaims the pastor during our interview. The AI knows the Bible since this founding book is part of the data it has absorbed. It is then a matter of configuring it, to target the type of content that we wish to generate and training it to respond to users with empathy, kindness... "like a pastor would do".
From Gutenberg to... artificial intelligence
Ultimately, he sees this app as a new medium for understanding the Scriptures and making them their own. “Often when we think of the Bible, we think of paper, yet it existed before Gutenberg and the printing press,” recalls the founder of Top.
“The Bible is the inspired words of God whispered to people.”
The Bible was in fact first oral then engraved on tables of stone, on scrolls, copied by scribes before being printed. Today, many believers read it on their tablets or smartphones, even if this created controversy at the beginning.
“We often confuse the form and the content, it’s a real problem in the Church,” maintains the pastor who pleads in favor of new technologies to facilitate the reading of the Bible. “It can be transmitted by different media.”
HelloBible is an application that offers personalized Bible reading plans but also, and this is its greatest innovation, to have a real dialogue with the Bible. The idea is to configure the app as much as possible to allow it to communicate with all types of profiles, always with kindness to bring Jesus to everyone.
So, when a person registers, HelloBible asks them several questions to try to define their profile, their Christian sensitivity, "because we will not address an evangelical Christian and a Catholic in the same way."
Encourage Bible reading
The goal of this app is simple, it aims to connect believers to the Word of God. “The fact is that a lot of people don’t read the Bible or only occasionally, I’m trying to change that,” says Eric, who describes himself as a “Bible madman.”
“I want people who use the app to say, ‘God spoke to me’!”
With this project, he does not seek to reach "super Bible readers", even if he believes that it may interest them, but others, those who have difficulty approaching biblical texts, as well as non- Christians.
Another special feature of HelloBible: the application will be completely free. Inspired by The Chosen model, the app will simply offer users who wish to contribute financially. “This is the model that I chose, because I do not want to limit access to the Bible,” Eric explains to us.
The HelloBible application, whose name is a nod to the first word (Hello) that appeared on the Macintosh screen when it was created, should be released by April 1. A symbolic date, one year to the day after the creation of the site HelloBible.app, the first stage of this major project. In conclusion, when we ask him why he decided to embark on this umpteenth adventure, Eric explains to us that he sees it as the convergence of his entire life.
"The Lord wired me for this project, it's my calling, a talent he gave me. I've always tried to help people connect to the Bible. I studied theology . Everything converges on HelloBible."
While waiting for its release, he continues to work on the development of the application. A colossal work which is starting to bear fruit, as evidenced by the return of Françoise, a test user who has already been blessed through the application.
"First of all thank you for this tool that you make available to the world. I was really curious to see what the HelloBible app would look like. But I really discovered that it is the true message of the Bible and in it using it, I discover that my faith grows stronger every day. [...] Every time I read a verse or whatever, I feel that it is God speaking through his word and these words resonate in my head all the time. throughout the day. It's incredible."
To find out more on this subject, we invite you to discover Eric Célérier's interview with Sébastien Corn in his podcast The Creative Mass.
Camille Westphal Perrier