Googling for God

Sep 21, 2015

Sogeti Labs

By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

IT has been a bad decade for God, at least so far. Despite the rising popularity of Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, Google searches for churches are 15 percent lower in the first half of this decade than they were during the last half of the previous one. Searches questioning God’s existence are up. Many behaviors that he supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent.

How are the Ten Commandments doing? Not well. “Love thy neighbor” is the most common search with the word “neighbor” in it, but right behind at No. 2 is “neighbor porn.” The top Google search including the word “God” is “God of War,” a video game, with more than 700,000 searches per year. The No. 1 search that includes “how to” and “Walmart” is “how to steal from Walmart,” beating all questions related to coupons, price-matching or applying for a job.

Of course, we should be careful not to draw overarching conclusions about religion from what people search for on Google. Even decades-long search trends might not reflect real developments, and the composition of people making searches changes over time. Although I think it is pretty clear that various trends are pointing away from God, the best evidence is probably not the search data I started with but long-term polling data, which has consistently shown an increase in the number of people who identify as atheists or agnostics. While the usual sources are biased in favor of wholesome activities, Internet data is probably biased in favor of debauched activities.

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7 comments on “Googling for God

  • It seems that searches for Kim Kardashian (did I spell it right?) are about 6 times more popular than searches for God. Seeing as man was made in God’s image, I’m more of a fan for the female bum, so give me Kim’s over Jesus’ any day. It seems encouraging that, despite likes of Hovind the elder and Hovind the younger, who sell “cancer curing” Vitamin B 17, the trend is moving away from the snake oil salesmen

    (About 4 mins)

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  • Great to see Thunderf00t still in action.

    Seeing that he lists RDF on his site, seems fittin’ to return the favour, esp. with one slot open under ‘Secular Stars’.

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  • 5
    voiceofarabi says:

    I seem to have done a 360degrees on the topic of GOD.

    I use to believe in God,

    Then I grew up…

    Then I got bored, especially since I find supporting football or any other sports is even less appealing than believing in God….

    So, I thought, why not treat god as a sport…, a bit like boxing or wrestling… We all know it is some how rigged, but it is fun to watch and talk about… So, now, I have a completely different view on God… A little bit like a Monty Python view of God. it is quite fun…

    I don’t think religion is all bad… I think it is a philosophy…. It certainly can be used for evil doing, as we have seen in the last few thousands years, but I also think it can be used for good, if you don’t take it too seriously. again, like wrestling… 🙂

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  • I would have found it interesting to track searches of people associated with various points of view about god, e.g.
    Dawkins, Sam Harris, Lane Craig, Kent Hovind, Deepak Chopra, Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, RIck Santorum…

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