The Theology of Google
By Byron Macías
During one of my classes at Catholic Theological Union, professor Steve Bevans planted another curiosity seed on me: what is the theology of Google?
The obvious step was to google “Theology of Google.” The top three results are: “Theology After Google;” “Theology in Google Era;” and “Theology of Search Engines,” which comes from a New York Times article published in 2003. I am not sure what the theology of Google is but I can guess what it does: just as what the very term “theology” means, it is a discussion concerning the Deity.
Then I proceeded to search for images of the theology of Google. There show up theology book covers and a Peanuts comic strip. In this comic strip, Charlie Brown hears that Snoopy is writing a book on theology and hopes the cute dog finds a good title for it. Snoopy says he has the perfect title: “Has It Ever Occurred to You that You Might Be Wrong?”
Now that I have in a way understood that the theology of Google is a perspective composed by millions of opinions and has a pretty good chance to be wrong, I proceed to google “God.”
Top results are: Wikipedia (figure that!) comes first. Second, God.com, which is a website by the Evangelical Media Group. Third, “God is Imaginary.com” which apparently lists 50 proofs that God does not exist. You can also follow God on Twitter (@god). Top images of God include the old man with white beard. Jesus comes in 20th place, followed by mythological gods and Morgan Freeman.
Finally, I googled “Catholic Church.” There are about 250 million search results. Top results include of course Wikipedia, followed by Catholic Online, whose majority of articles are critics on President Obama. The official Vatican website comes in 27th place, right after EWTN, BBC Religions and Facebook. Top pictures of the Catholic Church in Google include gorgeous empty temples of beautiful steeples. The first picture in which people appear is picture number 80 in page 8; it is a picture of the People of God in Tibet. Ironically enough, this picture is close to a picture of Hitler attending Mass. The next time I see a picture of the Catholic Church as People of God is in page 16 (after over 150 more pictures) and it is a picture of a wedding. Therefore, it is good to ponder: How accurate is Google’s description of the Catholic Church?
Certainly, what Vatican II had in mind is not what Google shows about the Catholic Church. The Church is not a mere temple of beautiful architecture and golden vessels; the Church is its people, the living vessels for whom God came to the world to save. And God did this out of love. Perhaps this is what my professor tried to convey. Google is fine but it can miss the point. So did some Pharisees when placed external as more important than the people. In Greek, missing the point translates into as hamartia.