Dangerous Authorities

dangerWhen you saw the title “Dangerous Authorities” what was your first thought?  I’m guessing a lot of folks might immediately think of government authorities that aren’t to be trusted.  There’s a lot of people getting nervous about those who are holding seats of power these days!  From the local police all the way to the floors of the senate and the Oval Office itself, there isn’t much trust anymore.  We look at them all with a more watchful eye then we used to in the past.  Exercising a bit of discernment, watchfulness and even fear when it come to authority isn’t a bad thing, you know.  In fact, it’s probably something we should all ramp up a bit, which brings me to the real point of this post (is there ever a lot of political discussion on this blog?)  My authorities, and your authorities, are often hidden out of sight a bit, even from us – and some of them might be dangerous.
 Example:  Consider this blog; how did you first find it?  Most subscribers (I think there’s a grand total of three now) googled a subject or expression they were interested in and on the first few pages of search results a link to a ChurchSalt post was shown.  You clicked, you read, and for whatever insane reason you chose to subscribe and thereby allowed the articles of this blog have a voice in your life.  Thanks for that, by the way!  The hidden authority in that little process was Google.  You were looking for information, looking to learn, and it directed you to where it “felt” you would most likely find what you wanted.  Of course, Google doesn’t “feel” does it?  How Google works is it has a formula that was designed to show links leading to the content you are searching out.  The formula takes into account how many times pertinent words appear on the site, how many links take people to and from the site, how much traffic it gets and even how much conversation is generated on the site and about the site.  It takes all this into account (and also how much money a site is willing to give Google to have them send visitors) and when you make a search it spits out the results.  The results then point you down a path.  What this means is that Google directs your learning, to a certain extent.  That’s a pretty substantial bit of authority we’ve given them, and most of us don’t even think about it!  I know many don’t usually consider technology to be an authority, but that’s really what it has become.  Just ask the guy who drove off a bridge because his GPS unit told him to do it (click Here to read about it).
 The formula Google uses basically relies on words and the reactions of people to sniff out where relevant content can be found.  But what if, instead of using this fairly sterile search method, Google used a method that was more influenced by the views and opinions of people?  What if the worldview and truth-claims of a large group of unregenerate and sinful folk were used to guide those searches?  Do you think that Google, your authoritative internet guide, might then lead you into content that isn’t as biblically grounded as you would like?  If the views of the atheist and other rebels of God guided the search, would the search then guide you to content that reflected biblical views and truths?  Probably not.  Actually, let’s drop that word “probably”, we all know the answer here.
 But, such a thing could never happen….right?  Wrong.  It’s happening now, and it is at this point that I, the blogger, must quickly link you to an article to back up my claim before you file ChurchSalt in the “crazy-rightwing-conspiracy” file.  Click HERE to read what I’m talking about.  The fact is, Google is in the process of changing the search formula to be fact-based rather than word/traffic relevancy based.  This brings up a very awkward and scary question…

Who decides what is “fact” or “truth” and what isn’t?
 According to the article, Google will be determining what to display by pulling from what “the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth.”  Now, to be fair, it will show other results also, but much further down the list and only the first few pages of a Google search usually get viewed.  When was the last time you clicked to see what was listed on page 78 of your search results?  So, for all intents and purposes, things not determined by the new formula to be “factual” will be buried.  The new formula will also pull from the Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck websites.  What do all of these sources of Google’s “truth” have in common?  They are all run by people.  If there is one thing Scripture makes crystal clear about people it is that they are sinful.  Every single one of us.  And the vast majority of them don’t even have the most basic truths right; that there is a sovereign God and that we are sinful people in need of a savior.  Many of the people who will have input into Google’s “fact” database are folks who deny that the only place that has real truth (Scripture) has anything to offer and instead embrace myths and theories, denying the Creator and instead worship the creation.  According to Romans, many have been turned over to darkness, sin and the folly of their hearts and yet they will soon be deciding what is a “fact” and what isn’t, and then directing our paths based on their “wisdom”.  I have a problem with that!  Why in the world would I as a Christian ever trust my research to be influenced by people who are enemies of God?  Just imagine what the search results will look like when folks type in search strings like “Is there a God”, or “Is homosexuality a sin”?  I have no doubt that when the new formula is first implemented it won’t be a drastic change at first, but a “fact tank” formed by the opinions of sinful men will be on a continual slide further and further from God.  Historically and biblically speaking, sinful men never draw naturally to the light.  Already an internet search can be difficult when someone wants to dive into deeper subjects.  Just try to research what reformed Baptists truly believe, if there’s a biblical basis for Amillennialism, or why biblical covenants matter in how we read Scripture today.  The water gets muddy fairly quickly!  How much more skewed will the results be when a “fact” source that knows nothing about such things is used to show results?  Just imagine when someone wants to read for themselves the case for and against infant baptism or Calvinism so as to seek out truth.  Will Google provide them any sort of solid path to knowledge?  I can’t see how.
 Yet, the truth of the matter is this; Google will change how the formula works and it will make very small news (probably none) in any circles other than tech circles.  Folks will continue to search for results online, letting Google direct their learning the way they’ve grown accustomed except now the results will be skewed.  Sometimes more, sometimes less, but very rarely will they be sent down a road that is in-line with a biblical worldview.
 The religious world already has an authority problem.  There are “Christians” in England who learn the things of God from a Bishop who, in turn, learns of God by meditating on the emotions she feels when dancing.  I’m not making this up!  Read it for yourself if you need a chuckle (click Here).  Then there’s that honest group of orthodox-ish Jews who have female rabbis.  Rabbis who openly admit (to their credit) that they have grown sick of always having some “document or some structure that says ‘no, you can’t.'”  They look at the authority of what most call the”Old Testament” and reject it, feeling themselves to be of an even higher authority.  Then there are folks like Rob Bell who just flat-out makes stuff up and people believe it because, well, he’s Rob Bell!  I’ve brought up some outlandish examples of bad authority here and throughout this post, and I did it on purpose.  Why?  To demonstrate that the ones following these authorities have done so at great expense, often becoming a laughingstock or source of scorn from others.  But know this, the people following those authorities didn’t think they were outlandish at all, or they wouldn’t have followed them in the first place.  Likewise, in the near future, Christians will be googling away to their heart’s content not realizing that they have come to a place where they are standing under bad authority.  Like these examples, the results will lead to pain, death or mocking laughter (and not for a noble reason).
 We question our political authorities more and more nowadays.  Isn’t it time, maybe past time, we start taking a long look at every authority in our life to see if aligns with God’s Word?  Maybe we should take a page out of Google’s play book and only follow content that is fact-based.  Instead of using sinful men as our source of truth like Google, maybe we should use the only trustworthy source on the planet, the book sitting on your bed-stand.  You know the one, the book you know you should read, the one you tell others to read, but don’t spend enough time actually reading yourself.  In times that are becoming increasingly troubling by the hour, it is imperative we double the guard when watching what influences and exercises authority over us.  Of course, I’m sure some of you still won’t be convinced that technology can be an authority.  But if it guides your path, as Google most likely does, then I’m not sure what else to call it.  This is just one hidden authority, and there are probably lot’s more.  If you haven’t held the light of God’s Word to every one of them, then I fear you are standing in a very, very dangerous place.
If you enjoyed this article and like the blog you might want to subscribe before you click off.  There’s a good chance you won’t be able to find it later when you try to google it!!


Visit the other posts in the Dangerous Places series by clicking HERE now!
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