It was an unexpected discovery. Definitely not something I had imagined writing a blog post about. Well, at least not what I originally set out to look for on Google. But maybe I should have. And maybe this was just what I needed to make me decide to put this out there.
This is going to be two stories in one. The first should be the most powerful and garner the most attention. However, it will likely be the latter that will do so. Let me explain.
Two weekends ago I was sitting on the porch relaxing, when I remembered a story I heard several years ago about a man who had lost his voice because of an illness that attacked his vocal cords. His prognosis was not good, and he anticipated being without a voice for a long time, if not the rest of his life. The man was a Christian, who had been a pastor and was forced to leave that position because he was unable to preach any longer due to his voice. It was some time later that his new church’s Sunday School class asked him to teach the lesson one morning. After being very hesitant, he agreed, and with the help of a special microphone was able to emit enough sound that the class could hear and understand him. The class taped each week’s lesson to give to those who were sick or otherwise unable to attend. It was during this lesson that the former pastor’s voice was completely healed – in mid-sentence! He was teaching on Psalm 103, about God’s incredible power to heal. Not that He always heals our physical ailments, but He is able and is sovereign. And He did heal this man in awe-striking fashion, and on tape for many to hear!
Here is the story with the actual audio recording. Check it out- it will give you goose bumps!
Ok, so a pretty cool story, right? What in the world could be the 2nd story I referenced? It centers on how I found the story on the pastor. I couldn’t remember his name, nor many of the details, but I did recall that I had heard the story on a Focus on the Family radio program. So I typed this search into Google: “Focus on the Family Sunday School teacher voice healed as he spoke”.
I didn’t find what appeared to be any helpful links on the first two pages and was about to try a different search term when I happened to glance at the “related searches” section at the bottom of the page. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here were things Google told me were related to what I searched for:
Homosexuality in the church both sides of the debate
Homosexuality in the church today
How should the church deal with homosexuality
Gays in church leadership
Pastors who accept homosexuality
Mega pastor comes out
Megachurch pastor comes out of the closet
Homosexuality in the church statistics
“What in the world?!?” I thought as I read them. Incredulously, I slowly moved to the search bar to change my search term, and as I began to make my revision, I looked at the autocomplete results that populated, and they included four of the same things I just listed.
Now, I don’t have to tell you that these things have absolutely nothing to do with what I searched for. So why in the world would Google suggest them? Why, indeed. If they were a collection of random search terms even loosely related to my query, I could dismiss it as either a fluke, or that my search just didn’t match much of what others before me had searched for. But these suggestions obviously all had something in common.
This was agenda-driven. There is no way you can convince me that these suggestions were organic. People searching for the story of God’s miraculous healing of a pastor’s voice are not at the same time searching for churches and pastors that embrace homosexuality. No, this was bias, plain and simple. And it is certainly not unheard of for Google. You may have seen the recent credible accusations by one media outlet of Google’s manipulation of search results to benefit Hillary Clinton. But I don’t think this really ought to be such a surprise. Google is widely considered to be a very left-leaning company; and companies – and even search algorithms – are controlled by people. People who have their own opinions, ideas, goals and political leanings.
Manipulation of public opinion by information sources that people trust should not shock us. It’s what the mainstream media has been doing for years. It’s just that we’ve come to rely so heavily on things like search engines that we may not notice the subtlety with which they attempt to shape our opinion. And so, I say again, be on guard and check things out for yourself. Do not blindly trust any source of information, be it the news, talk shows, comedy shows or even search engines. The truth is discoverable for anyone who truly wishes to find it. Do you?
With that, let’s return to the original story for a moment. Such an awesome and inspiring event is not one you hear about every day. But the truth of this man’s story, and the story of the One he credits for his healing is out there, too. It’s one you can find if you are willing to search for it. And it is far more valuable than any political information ever could be.