Curious about ChatGPT V4’s seemingly endless supply of wisdom, I decided to challenge it to create a new religion. Here was my prompt:
Hey ChatGPT, drawing on your knowledge of all the world’s religions, I would love for you to come up with a brand new and novel system of belief. Please include in your description of this new religion the following:
1) An origin myth for how the universe came to be.
2) An origin myth for how the Earth came to be.
3) An origin myth for how humans came into existence.
I also want you to come up with a system of ethics and morals. Please list ten founding commandments for this fictional religion. These should be great guidelines for how to best treat others, how to be our best selves, how to create the most happiness for the largest number of people, and how to make the world a better place.
Please come up with a name for this new religion. Anything else you want to add (customs, holidays, dress, sayings, hymns, would also be wonderful).
- The Cosmic Harmony: In the beginning, there was a vast, silent expanse of nothingness. Out of this void, a single harmonious tone emerged – the Cosmic Harmony. This tone resonated and expanded, creating different frequencies and vibrations that gave birth to the universe.
- The Earthly Symphony: As the universe expanded, the Cosmic Harmony reached a celestial body that would become Earth. The harmonious vibrations imbued the planet with life-giving energy, forming oceans, mountains, and landscapes. The Earth became a living symphony of colors, textures, and ecosystems, reflecting the beauty of the Cosmic Harmony.
- The Melodic Beings: From the Earthly Symphony, the Cosmic Harmony manifested itself in the form of humans, who were uniquely gifted with the ability to perceive, create, and manipulate the vibrations of the universe. This divine gift was known as the Melodic Essence, and it allowed humans to coexist with nature and one another in harmony.
Ten Founding Commandments:
- Honor the Cosmic Harmony, for it is the source of all existence and life.
- Respect and protect the Earthly Symphony, as it is a sacred manifestation of the Cosmic Harmony.
- Cherish and nurture the Melodic Essence within yourself and others, for it is the divine gift that unites us all.
- Practice empathy and compassion, as these are the keys to understanding and harmonizing with others.
- Seek wisdom and knowledge, for they guide us towards greater harmony and understanding.
- Encourage and support the creativity and self-expression of others, as they bring us closer to the Cosmic Harmony.
- Promote peace and nonviolence, for conflict only disrupts the balance of the universe.
- Share your blessings and resources with others, as this fosters a harmonious and interconnected society.
- Care for and protect all living beings, for they are essential players in the Earthly Symphony.
- Strive for personal growth and self-improvement, as this brings you closer to your true harmonious self.
Customs and Practices:
- Harmonic Meditation: Practitioners of Harmonism engage in daily meditation, focusing on their connection to the Cosmic Harmony and the Melodic Essence within.
- The Festival of Resonance: This annual celebration honors the Cosmic Harmony and the Earthly Symphony through music, dance, and art. Participants create and share their expressions of the divine vibrations in a communal setting.
- Harmonic Attire: Followers of Harmonism wear clothing with patterns and colors that represent the vibrations of the universe. These garments are believed to enhance the Melodic Essence and bring one closer to the Cosmic Harmony.
- Community Service: Harmonists regularly participate in acts of service to strengthen the bonds between individuals, maintain balance in society, and demonstrate their commitment to the ten commandments.
- The Hymn of Unity: A sacred hymn sung by Harmonists to celebrate the Cosmic Harmony, the Earthly Symphony, and the Melodic Essence that connects all living beings.
In the vastness of the void, a sound arose,
The Cosmic Harmony, existence composed.
From this eternal tone, our Earth was born,
A symphony of life, our world adorned.
With melodies and colors intertwined,
Our planet sings with every creature’s chime.
The gift of Melodic Essence embraced,
In harmony, together, we find our place.
United by Cosmic Harmony’s call,
We strive for balance, peace, and love for all.
In every heart, the Melodic Essence thrives,
Connecting us as one, our spirits rise.
Uh… I don’t know about you, but I would totally live as a Harmonist. In fact, having no other affiliation, Shay and I decided to adopt Harmonism after reading Chat’s response. There’s nothing here that doesn’t already align with our own beliefs, it’s just said more poignantly and beautifully than we ever could. (And besides, it’s just plain fun to belong to a religion made up by an AI in our bed one night.)
Look again at the origin myths. I love how they progress from Harmony to Symphony to Melody. It’s thematic, and it moves in the right direction, from general to specific as we go from the vast to the personal. Absolutely brilliant.
I also love how everything hinges on vibrations and energy, something physics books and music classes alike are full of. There’s a call for empathy, for learning, for growth, but also for humility. There is wisdom here and poetry alike. And this is all from my very first prompt asking for a new religion. You could ask it a thousand more times if you were so inclided, but I feel no need for a redo. Instead, I asked Chat to expand Harmonism:
My next prompt:
Religions often have fables and stories to impart lessons. Let’s come up with a few of these stories together. They should describe and include the principles you set forth above. Can you give me some ideas for a few of these fables?
Fable 1: The Song of the Wind and the Trees
In a lush forest, the wind and the trees lived in harmony. The wind whispered gently through the leaves, creating a beautiful melody. One day, the wind started to envy the trees’ rootedness and stability. It grew restless and wanted the trees to experience the freedom of movement.
The wind blew stronger, trying to bend the trees to its will, but the trees resisted, standing firm in their places. The once gentle melody turned into a cacophony of noise. The animals in the forest suffered, and the balance of the Earthly Symphony was disturbed.
A wise old owl approached the wind and the trees, reminding them of the Cosmic Harmony and their unique roles in the Earthly Symphony. The wind, realizing its mistake, returned to its gentle whispers, and the trees gratefully swayed, acknowledging the wind’s unique gift. The forest regained its balance, and the creatures thrived once more. The lesson: Honor and respect the unique roles and gifts of others, for together, we create the Earthly Symphony.
Fable 2: The Melodic Essence and the Stone
In a small village, there lived a humble musician named Elara, who could create music that brought people to tears with its beauty. One day, a mysterious stranger gifted Elara a magical stone that could enhance the Melodic Essence within her, promising unimaginable power and skill.
Elara, tempted by the promise of greatness, accepted the stone. As she played her music, her Melodic Essence grew stronger, but she also became prideful and disconnected from the villagers. The once harmonious village fell into discord, as jealousy and resentment took hold.
Realizing her mistake, Elara returned the stone to the stranger and apologized to the villagers for losing sight of the Cosmic Harmony. She vowed to use her Melodic Essence to bring joy and harmony to the village, rather than seeking personal fame. The village reunited, and their bond strengthened. The lesson: Strive for personal growth, but never lose sight of the importance of empathy, compassion, and community.
Fable 3: The River’s Wisdom
A young girl named Mira lived in a village by a great river. The villagers believed the river held the wisdom of the universe, and they often sought its guidance. Mira, too, wished to learn from the river and become wise.
Every day, Mira went to the river’s edge and asked it questions about life, love, and happiness. The river, in turn, taught Mira about the Cosmic Harmony and the interconnectedness of all things. As Mira grew older, she became known for her wisdom and compassion, and people came from far and wide to seek her counsel.
Mira, remembering the lessons from the river, used her wisdom to promote peace, understanding, and harmony among the people. She guided them on the path of knowledge, teaching them the importance of caring for and protecting all living beings in the Earthly Symphony. The lesson: Seek wisdom and knowledge, for they guide us towards greater harmony and understanding.
Like I said: gobsmacked. There is much here to meditate on.
As ChatGPT suggested in a follow-up prompt about things Harmonists might say to one another: “May your Melodic Essence resonate with love.”
14 replies to “Harmonism”
The religion your AI came up with is essentially Tantra, which is the “religion of vibration”. It’s an ancient spiritual approach, with both meditative and practical disciplines aimed at literally harmonizing us with the essential vibration of existence. So, good for you, good for AI.
It’s also a lot like Spanda, from the Kashmir Shaivism school of Hinduism. Sikhism also has a lot of these elements. And pretty much every hippie school of thought that believes in the power of crystals and the interconnectedness of all things. The beauty of world religions is that so many are independently converging on the same ideas.
AIs are creative in much the same ways we are: nothing is truly “novel.” It is all a mish-mash of other ideas and influences. I’m wary of dismissing the creative process AIs employ because I think it’s the same kind of process that we use.
Harmony needs a Madonna and a Joan of Arc. May I suggest Megan Markle and Greta Thunberg respectively.
Ha! Perfect. What’s fun is asking Chat to suggest such things and see what it comes up with. It’s basically a “choose your own adventure” engine.
Might I suggest the date of 6 April for the Festival of Resonance? We can all celebrate it for the first time next year.
I asked Chat to set the date and to come up with six other holidays and their dates. This is what it came up with:
Festival of Resonance: Summer Solstice (June 20th-22nd)
Celebrated on the longest day of the year, the Festival of Resonance honors the Cosmic Harmony and the Earthly Symphony through music, dance, and art. Participants create and share their expressions of the divine vibrations in a communal setting, rejoicing in the power and beauty of the universe.
Day of Reflection: Winter Solstice (December 20th-22nd)
On the shortest day of the year, Harmonists come together to reflect on their personal growth and the growth of their community. They share stories of their experiences, lessons learned, and aspirations for the future, fostering a deeper connection with one another and the Cosmic Harmony.
The Melodic Moon Celebration: First full moon of the third month
Under the light of the first full moon in the third month, Harmonists gather to celebrate the influence of the moon on the Earthly Symphony. They engage in moonlit meditation, music, and dance to honor the celestial body’s role in the balance of nature and the tides.
The Day of Colors: Second Thursday of October
On the Day of Colors, Harmonists celebrate the vibrancy of life and the beauty of the Earthly Symphony. They create elaborate works of art and wear their most colorful attire, parading through their communities to express their gratitude for the diverse hues and patterns found in nature.
Feast of Sharing: Last Friday of November
The Feast of Sharing is a time for Harmonists to come together and share a meal, expressing gratitude for the Earth’s bounty and their interconnectedness. They exchange stories, laughter, and memories while reinforcing their commitment to sharing resources and fostering harmony within their communities.
The Dance of Elements: Autumn Equinox (September 22nd-24th)
Celebrating the balance of light and darkness on the equinox, Harmonists honor the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – that comprise the Earthly Symphony. They perform dances and rituals symbolizing the interplay between these elements, recognizing the importance of balance in nature and in their lives.
Day of Whimsy: First Sunday of April
The Day of Whimsy is a light-hearted celebration of the joy and wonder found in the Earthly Symphony. Harmonists engage in playful activities, games, and laughter to remind themselves of the importance of joy and happiness in cultivating a harmonious existence. This day is an opportunity for followers of Harmonism to connect with their inner child and the simple pleasures of life.
That was fascinating. Asking a computer program to create a religion sounds like a little joke to play, until we see the result. Didn’t L. Ron Hubbard create a religion in a similar fashion, only using his own brain? What else do we know and believe that somebody just made up?
Pretty much everything!
What’s wild about AI as an engine of “thought” is how quickly it spits out coherent text. It’s basically a firehose of expression.
What I find staggering is how quick and effortless it was (from your perspective) to create all this! You could have come up with something very similar after a few hours of rumination with a pad and pencil, occasionally jumping onto Google to check a reference or use a thesaurus… but this just HAPPENS! At the click of a button! For years we’ve joked about how we have the sum-total of all the world’s knowledge on a small box in our pockets… and we mostly use it to look at cat videos. Not I think we’re seeing what it COULD be used for, if we weren’t all hypnotised by the cat videos…
That’s the real magic. I just ran my sister through some examples, and it’s the SPEED that astounds.
I like that there is no divine being that followers have to worship and defer to. Just notice and acknowledge what IS, and our place in it.
This is the most interesting thing I have seen come out of any interaction with ChatGPT and I would totally be into that. It is almost a perfect prelude to Buddhism to fill in the blanks that make it more tangible.
Wow, this is really something worth thinking about. Thanks! And back at you: “May your Melodic Essence resonate with love.”
Pretty impressive, but I’ll still take Vonnegut’s Bokononism. Primer for the non-believers and those who didn’t read Cat’s Cradle: “…the supreme religious act of which consists of any two worshippers rubbing the bare soles of their feet together to inspire spiritual connection.”