AI Artwork and the Christian Imagination

Engineer and Illustrator Ross Boone shares how using AI to generate art helps bring Scripture to life for him and grow his spiritual imagination.

  • Holy mackerel! Marvelous! just marvelous.

So much contemproary “christian art” has become insipid and trite, or unappreciated by Christians because it’s abstract (for example the work of Makoto Fujimura). It’s good to see something that can help generate some new energy. But there is also a need for an aesthetic among Christians that allows for visual risk taking and honesty. Art conveys more than just beauty. And (in my opinion) the worst kind is didactic or soothing. Art can inform, confront, awaken, foster thought or meditation (as the author of the article seems to intend) and perform a host of other functions.
If Christians involve AI in the production of some forms of art, as if it is another tool that it is, then hooray!

[and for the record the AI produced layered papercuts just knocked my socks off!]

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Wow, I am not artistically inclined but thank you for posting this. I’m intrigued by this form of worship and these images, and am wondering if I might be able to incorporate it into my life of faith. If our God exists, he is a God that stretches the imagination to the fullest.


I am assuming that the images are not imputed but computer designed?


That seems to be the case, according to the article.

Although I acknowledge the artistic values of shape and form I would query the wisdom of meditating on something that, by its very nature, is literal and lacking in theological understanding.


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If I was going to be cynical:
An AI is only as good as its programmed database. It will manipulate and combine but it must have some image for each element to start from.


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Of course. Good point.
However, art is not simply what it is in itself, but rather what we bring to it and our reactions to it. This allows viewers to “see” or “understand” very different things, when interacting with a work or even works in particular contexts. In other words, the intellectual content largely or entirely comes from the viewer, which in many cases is a yawn or a grunt or a groan. But sometimes, a “hmmmm” or “aha.”

Seems realistic to me.
AI seems to be able to generate, (In terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy “synthesize” seems a bit generous to me right now, but may be more accurate.) new content, but even that content is dependent on what “went in” to the AI in the first place.

I think it would be interesting to contrast the products of a number of originally identical, but independent, siloed “AIs” working from similar databases with different emphases. These could be weighted by culture, time period, language, geographic area, preference for ______ , information tending toward _______, etc, etc, etc. Given time to process the same set of some tens of thousands of queries, or problems, where would their “leanings” and “learning” take them?

There’s no question. :slightly_smiling_face:

I enjoy the text command to design AI art generators. I mean it does not make me feel like an artist, but it’s fun to have something you thought of developed in a few moments.

My profile pic comes from AI generated art. Made dozens but this was the only one appropriate for this forum. The others got consistently more gory.


Ha! That explains it. I tried to ID that image not too long after you changed it, but couldn’t. :slightly_smiling_face:

It will/must be due to the parameters it works under.

I have a CD so say inspired by the Zodiac. I can enjoy the music without referencing or considering the inspiration. I know some who would reject the music purely on the inspiration. There are some interesting issues that impinge on the way we view scripture here.

If you didn’t know the inspiration for the pictures the critique would be purely on how you reacted to them. And they are impressive.



Do you mean the way the art we engage with and how we engage with it affects the way we engage afterward with scripture?

I typed something like pale robotic Amanita-man with glowing blue eyes. I’ll send the others to you in a messenger. They all came from basically the same text.

I kept trying to create biblical symbolic pics but lacked the skill to text whatever prompt is needed. I wanted to use it for fun to make some images highlighting the scales of chaos beasts from leviathan, the serpent, the dragon, Goliath and even Paul. But absolutely no luck.


No, the concepts of inspiration.

If something (eg scripture) is inspired by God, many think it to be flawless.What if someting is inspired by Zodiac signs or numerology. Does the source of inspiration affect the result?
Can you be inspired by God and still be wrong? (I think could cite a few examples).



Thank you, Kendel!!!

Yeah it’s a lot of fun and thought provoking to work on each day!


Cool it looks awesome! What generators are you using? For the article I used MidJourney. It actually has a lot of filters and tries to stay away from gory.

Oh this is so interesting, Richard! I didn’t get to talk about it in the article, but I see the value of AI art being the effect it has on the viewer, since any talent or originality of the author cannot be attributed to him/her.

I wonder if “the purpose being the effect it has on the viewer” also distances the viewer enough from the inspiration to be benign?

I suppose the inspiration of the author can often be evident in the AI artwork because AI does take cues (or “inspiration”) from actual sources that we do recognize the genesis of. Like we will easily recognize if something looks like genres like horror or really dark things.

I dabble in art. I have always said that I paint what I cannot photograph and photograph what I cannot paint, although, honestly I am not a true realistic painter.
I am both fascinated and impressed by AI art from an artistic perspective and can enjoy it as such. I just query the theological or contemplative value. In Star Trek Data attempts all sorts of artistic ventures but the claim is that there is no soul or emotion. I am not convinced that is strictly true but the reaction will be personal. On the flip side I cannot understand modern art or the significance of, say a block of bricks or a random set of brush strokes or splatters. I guess that is why there are whole courses on art appreciation.


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