The blue line on the top left represents Google search volume for the word “God” over the past eight years. The top red line represents searches for “Devil.” As you can see, God held pretty steady in this virtual battle of the spirit world into early 2010, when it suddenly took an energy shot and pummeled a surprisingly timid Devil into submission. What happened? Is the Devil being wily and biding his time, as is his evil way?
According to the Google News call-outs, God received a search jolt in January 2010 at the time of Haitian earthquake, when many wondered what he was thinking. A few months later, the U.S. right wing began ratcheting up its pre-election holy invocations as a Federal appeals court took up the issue of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. And in October last year, another sad news event led the heavenly charge as one of the trapped Chilean miners said, “I was with God and the Devil and God took me!”
Nothing like a natural disaster to get people thinking about You-Know-Who. It was always such. As I noted in a brilliant earlier post, there was an earthquake in Lisbon on All Saint’s Day, 1755, that horrified proto-agnostics the world over and partly inspired Enlightenment religious skepticism.
Viewing Google as a reasonable proxy for the national psyche, we looked at other telling trends. Every month in this country, about 17 million people conduct a search containing the word “God.” Only 1.2 million search for “Satan.” And a mere 1 million search for “cheeseburger.”
On the theme of this blog, about 165,000 Americans — almost no one, statistically speaking — types the phrase “is there a god” into Google each month. However, all is not lost. Millions and millions — over 16 million, in fact — type some version of the phrases “how can I find god” or “how do I find god” or “who is god” or (in a troubling act of cyber-desperation) “help me god.”
Whew! The Googleverse appears to be a sphere of hopers and believers, not of skeptics. “Jesus” doesn’t make the rankings until you get down to 6 million searches a month (the history-minded “who was jesus” coming in ahead of the more this-worldly, and unanswerable, “who is jesus”). And 5 million souls each month ask the questions “where is heaven” and “what is heaven.”
The scholars out there don’t really appear until we drop down to 1.8 million searches a month, where we find the vague “bible verses” and the practical “bible study.” And warm, glowing testaments don’t appear until the longer tail “love of god” (400,000 searches) and “good news” (250,000).
Interestingly, for all the conservative jib-jab about how we are a godless nation, Google tells a different tale. The first remotely skeptical (and pretty profound) query chimes in at a mere 100,000 searches a month: “who created god.” (If you have an answer, call me.) The troubling “satan worship” doesn’t even get 70,000 searches a month.
Yes, friends, the Devil is on the Google ropes. But a challenger is rising. Witness this:
What is that red storm rising, coming from nowhere in 2006 to threaten the supremacy of God itself in the eternal world order? What does that menacing red line represent? You guessed it: searches for the word “KARDASHIAN”.
You have been warned.