Fifty Five Million 'Help Me God' Cries Every Month
Is Google Our New God?
Facts and Figures
According to Google's keyword tool 55,600,000 people each month type the phrase, 'Help Me God' into their web browser. 16,600,000 of these are from God-fearing America. In the godless UK only 2,740,000 of us key in 'Help Me God' each month. Given that only 1,700,000 attend Church of England services in an average month, that is still a lot of people.
We Used To Pray
I might be wrong about this but I assume that people who regularly seek God's guidance in their lives would turn to prayer rather than to the internet for help. Religious faith predates the internet by many centuries and religious understanding is that God hears and answers prayer. We might refer jokingly to the vicar having a hot line to God but we are not sure of God's number and we don't expect him to have a business card.
We believe, if we believe at all in this godless age, that God is somehow plugged into our thoughts and knows what we want before we ask. Like it says in Psalm 139 , " You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.......... before a word is on my tongue you know it completely."
Now We Have Google
Before the internet and Google came along prayer was the only option. You wouldn't want to try and get God on the phone because there'd definitely be a queue and you'd end up talking to a call centre in some far flung corner of God's creation. Or you might get a voice message which would be another story altogether.
'Help Me God' doesn't seem like a regular way to phrase a query so I'm assuming that a significant proportion, if not all, the people who type these words into their browser are desperate in some way. Once upon a time they would have dropped on their knees and pleaded for God's help in prayer but now, it seems, they turn to Google.
A Strange Unwarranted Faith In The Internet
The 'Help Me God' statistics suggest an awful lot of pain out there but they suggest something else as well. They suggest a strange unwarranted faith in the internet.
At least, I say it is strange, but it is something I find myself that I am falling into. Faced with a blank page and not knowing what I want to write, I find myself drawn to Google's search page keying my thoughts in almost at random; looking there for a spark of inspiration when once I would have trawled through the thoughts in my head. It's as if Google has started to think for us. There is nothing new under heaven. It is all out there and captured on Google. Even my 'Is Google The New God' idea is already out there.
I do the same for many of my worries and concerns. I drop them into Google and see what comes back.
Five Reasons Why Google is Like God
There are distinct similarities between Google and our idea of God. (All quotations are from Psalm 139).
- Google knows all about us. Before I can type a phrase into the search engine Google has come up with suggestions. 'Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.'
- Google knows what I have looked for and what I may look for in the future. "You hem me in behind and before.'
- Google knows everything. 'How precious to me are your thoughts O God? How vast is the sum of them? Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand.'
- Google is everywhere. 'Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?'
- Google never sleeps. 'Even the darkness will be light to you, the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.'
So Is Google The New God?
I hope not.
Google is awesome and at times scary, which is a lot like God still. But we have the idea with God that we are loved, that there is a purpose in the universe and that our lives have meaning. Google is about money, what we might buy and how we can be persuaded to buy it. There is really no more to Google than that.
But there is another way in which Google and God are alike. To quote St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th Century Mystic, "Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours,. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world."
Google, like the church is the sum of its parts. It can only connect what is there. The fifty five million souls who type 'Help Me God' into their computer each month don't get Google any more than they get God. They get what others have put there for them to see.
What you get when you type 'Help Me God' is the response of churches and individuals who are trying to show God's compassion in the world. As it says on the 'About Us' section of one of their web sites, "We are real people." Google is a tool for people to help people and that's how most of think God works too.
There is a lot of hurt out there. Maybe the churches should focus their compassion a bit more on the internet and a little less on the empty pews.
The Church of Google
I wasn't the first to see the resemblance between God and Google and it seems now there is a Church of Google. Is Google really the new God or could it be the new Tower of Babel. You can read more about this here.
Leave a comment. I would love to know your views.