Google Home users are being stopped from asking questions about...
Is Google deliberately ignoring Christ? It's possible, says Carleton Raisbeck, but we shouldn't be outraged
A new Google device has been hitting the headlines because it doesn't know who Jesus is!
You can ask the new Google Home question box "who is Jesus?" and it claims not to know. It does, however, have knowledge of figures from other religions, including Mohammed and the Buddha, and is apparently causing 'outrage' among some Christians.
Here's the evidence:
So why would Google create a device that ignores Jesus? There are four possible options:
Maybe it's a practical joke. Google could be saying, sarcastically, "Jesus? No, never heard of him!" Amusing to some people, no doubt, but when it goes against Google's mission to make the world's information "universally accessible and usable" it hurts their credibility. And if it is a joke, Christians aren't the only religious group it risks offending – Jesus features in Islam too. So this explanation seems unlikely.
Alternatively, there could be more sinister political motivations. There are people out there who don't believe in Jesus or want anything to do with him. And Google have already expressed their antagonism to beliefs that men and women are inherently different with their firing of James Damore. It's possible Google are censoring who Jesus is.
But maybe it was simply an oversight. Perhaps in the course of creating Google Home they had to write a new bit of code which interfered with the specific part that responds to Jesus? Could it be that the combination of the two syllables which make up his name don't register properly? Mistakes do happen. If it's an oversight, it's a reminder that we need Christians working in all walks of life. There probably wasn't a Christian in the room when this mistake was allowed to happen!
Why are we outraged?
Google Home is reported to say in response to being asked who Jesus is, "Sorry, I'm not sure how to help," or "My apologies I don't understand". If the Google Home was appropriately connected to Wikipedia it would be able to relay the relevant facts about Jesus, like it currently does for Mohammed. But reciting facts about a person isn't the same as knowing who they are. Our world may know that Jesus lived in the Middle East and died on a cross. But do they understand what it means for their life? Most do not.
Until Google issue a correction or an apology, we won't know for sure why this has happened. But before we feel too angry at Google we should remember the words of Jesus (he's the son of God, in case you're wondering, Google): "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-6)
We must ask ourselves, before we try to cast the glitch out of the Google Home, whether we ourselves are free of viruses. Have we done what we can to bring the gospel to our neighbours? Do we give a good answer when asked who Jesus is? Do we say "Sorry I'm not sure how to help" when asked a difficult question about our faith?
Perhaps if we spent more time asking ourselves these questions, we wouldn't feel so much anger when the Google box doesn't give us the answer we would like. After all it's not Google's job to tell the world about Jesus. It's our job.
Carleton Raisbeck is from Weymouth in Dorset. He works as a carer and is currently studying the humanities
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