The Googlization of Bible Study

Yes, “googlization” is a word.  If you don’t believe me Google it.  Googlization refers to the rapid spread of Google, the internet king.  It’s affecting my brain.  And it’s affecting my Bible study.  That scares me. 

A couple of days ago I was reading through a particularly difficult passage of Scripture.  Five or six years ago I had tiny personal library and internet access that was slower than a turtle on Nyquil*.  When I came to a difficult section in Scripture I was forced to chew on it for awhile.  I had to think through it and pray through it and then write something out and make my best guess.  Then after about 15-20 minutes my page finally loaded and I was able to test whether or not I was a heretic. 

Now, I don’t need that chew time.  If I have a problem I simply Google it.  And it’s making me dumberer.  If I have an intellectual problem I tip my hat to Mr. Google and get an answer.  Very quickly.  I read through some sort of answer and then move on.  The problem with this, though, is that I have an answer but I do not own that answer. 

Google disseminates information.  That’s great and helpful…when what you need is information.  But the vast majority of what I need in personal Bible study and even sermon preparation is not information.  I need the Spirit of God to enliven the Word of God and transform my heart.  I need to chew on a text and sweat through it.  Google gives me too quick of an out.  It shortcuts my labor.  And as a result it shortcuts my ownership of the truth as well as my heart. 

Therefore, I am going to intentionally not Google unless I chew first.  I am determined to use Google primarily as a fact-checker instead of a fact-giver.  I want to think on my own.  I want to wrestle with passages of Scripture and not cheat by eating the fruit of somebody else’s labor.  I’m convinced that the best worship comes from the labor of scrapping with a text of Scripture instead of simply reading about some other dudes battle with that same text. 

Google is a poor replacement for the Holy Spirit. 

*In case you are curious I have never actually given Nyquil to a turtle.  But that doesn’t mean I never will.  I’ve just never owned a turtle nor have I ever heard one sneeze.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05890980972231485330 Brad Gilbert

    Guilty as charged! I have used Google when in a pinch for time. My biggest concern is that you don’t necessarily know the person and how they came to the conclusion that they did.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13619633545839181555 Tim Challies

    That’s a good reflection, Mike. I’ve been thinking of going Google-free for a week just to see what it’s like.

    BTW, stop leaving two spaces between sentences. That’s a relic of the typewriter age. :)

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08034192017775511612 Mike Leake

      You’re a relic from the typewriter age. Plus I Googled it and it’s okay.

      Actually it’s just a really hard habit to break. Oddy enough from when I first learned to type….yes, that was on a typewriter.

    • http://www.yuriyandinna.com/ Yuriy Stasyuk

      Huh? What the heck is a typewriter? :)

    • Anonymous

      Relic or not (you are making me feel old!), it does make it easier to read. Otherwise, the text looks crowded. Just one person’s opinion, though. Doesn’t affect the content.

  • http://aliencitizens.wordpress.com/ Cornell Ngare

    Thank you for this much needed reminder, Mike. We must be careful not to fall into the trap of worshiping the Father, the Son and the Holy Google. The internet age has created a dangerous dependency and many spiritual casualties. We all need to go back to the discipline of personal study.

    Check out my Monday’s blog post on a similar reflection: Plagiarized Spirituality – God or Google? http://aliencitizens.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/plagiarized-spirituality-god-or-google-part-2/

    Have a blessed day and thank you, again.
    Cornell

  • http://mrben.jedimoose.org/ mrben

    This might make you laugh:
    http://vimeo.com/30699606

    I do a lot of my sermon prep on my bike to and from work (30 minutes each way) which makes it a lot easier to avoid external influences.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01189986917641563294 David Becklund

    Interesting view of Google. Google brought me to this website today as a first-time visitor. I wonder why the Holy Spirit was asleep at the switch.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08034192017775511612 Mike Leake

      David,

      First of all, welcome. I hope you look around. Secondly, I want to clarify that I am not anti-Google. It is very helpful. And even helpful in Bible study and other things. However, my argument in this short article is that the easy access of Google has created an unwelcome shortcut. Rather than thinking on my own and really wrestling with a text I simply Google my way out. That’s harmful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01189986917641563294 David Becklund

    Mike,

    The Google shortcut that short circuits thinking on your own is problematic when you look at the flip side of the argument. It assumes we have sufficient information in our cognitive processes to arrive at a similar outcome quality. Most of us don’t and that is why we are surfing for more information. Learning is not only a life-long process but also how we grow both spiritually and cognitively. Ultimately, this discussion will arrive at the issues of information processing and how we handle new information, assuming we aren’t surfing to plagiarize someones work because we can’t put something together ourselves.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08034192017775511612 Mike Leake

      Your last sentence is what I am talking about “assuming we aren’t surfing to plagiarize…”

      Google can be a quick “out” for doing the work myself. Rather than really wrestling with a text and trying to make it my own I can just go to Google and read how someone else wrestled. The text is never owned.

  • Anonymous

    I use Google to strengthen my preparation. As I study the Bible, I wrestle with the Word. Then go to Google to see what others have to add. It then becomes a synthesizing process. What is relevent, useful, teachable, and agrees with scripture? Basically I make it my own, giving credit where it is due.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08034192017775511612 Mike Leake

      That is one way that Google is helpful. What I am speaking against in my own Bible study is not wrestling long enough with a text. I can be tempted to go to Google way too soon in the process.