Google and Biblical "Answers"
This image is from Google's autocomplete function. Although I couldn't begin to explain understand the algorithm that Google search uses, I know enough to know that it is based upon user's searches. That is, the things that people search for the most tend to be the most heavily weighted. So when I typed "why does the bibleâ€¦" the autocomplete fills in the most popular searches that begin with the same phrase.
This is an interesting sociological (and theological) exercise, because it shows what crowds of people are interested in when it comes to the Bible. Some of the questions show a basic lack of Biblical literacy. But others are actually quite sophisticated (why does the Bible refer to wisdom as a she?). And all of them could at least be entries into deeper Biblical exploration.
I clicked on a few of the autocompleted questions to see what I could find. When I searched for "why does the Bible contradict itself" the top search result yielded a web page that boiled down this difficult interpretive question with this simple answer:
You must keep in mind the dual nature of Christ, being God manifest in the flesh, he could speak and act as both man and God. Understanding the oneness of God removes all contradictions in the Bible.
Oh, simple. Er â€¦ wait a second.
But what is interesting about these Google searches (at least for me), is not what answers show up at the top of the result list; I assumed that most of the web sites would belong to quasi-fundamentalist writers. (They did). What is interesting is what questions people are asking.
I was surprised to see that the questions really weren't all that personal. Maybe it's because of the way I phrased the search, but the questions largely seem to be about the nature of truth and seeming tension between science and religion. "If I know [that dinosaurs existed], how can the Bible [not mention them]?" or "If I know [that slavery is wrong], how can the Bible [condone it]?"
What does it mean that people are going to Google to ask these questions? And how does an institute of theological education address the kinds of questions being asked?