Hermits Rock

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Via Slashdot, a short article in The Economist says out loud what I’m sure we’ve all thought about Google. Other companies might think to rule the world is enough, but that kind of thinking is just provincial to Messrs Page and Brin.

If Google is a religion, what is its God? It would have to be The Algorithm. Faith in the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent algorithm appears to be what Messrs Page and Brin have in common. It’s “in their DNA,” says Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist famous for investing early in both Yahoo! and Google. Whereas Yahoo! was started by two Stanford students who turned a hobby into a business, Google was started by two Stanford students who turned an intellectual obsession into a quest, says Mr Moritz. And what is that quest?... Google is already working on a massive and global computing grid. Eventually, says Mr Saffo, “they’re trying to build the machine that will pass the Turing test”—in other words, an artificial intelligence that can pass as a human in written conversations. Wisely or not, Google wants to be a new sort of deus ex machina.

Is this just overwrought hyperbole, or ought we cower in fear?



Note that the real www.god.com is owned by the “Evangelical Media Group,” a pamphlet house that apparently only is asked one question frequently: “What is the Bible?”

The more I look at this, and the more I notice I am talking to myself, the more I realize that this post violates my sense of decent proportionality. I promise to more circumspectly overpower my primary sources in the future.

Meanwhile, who really asks “What is the Bible?” I mean, don’t most people know what it is? Isn’t “Why does the Bible matter?” a more salient, cut-to-the-quick question to ask?

you may be talking to yourself, but you are doing it in a public way, in the service of an interpersonal audience. i think this would render it a sort of dramatic monologue—not evidence of psychosis. in case you were worried.

Oh, no, it’s when I talk to myself at home, alone, out loud, that I worry, because I don’t think the cats count, even though they do often talk back.

Someday there will be a poem showing up in the “articles” section that everyone ought to read.

i think that the people talking to themselves are the god.com people.

i mean, seriously, who names their site god.com.!!!!

haven’t they read anything of the OT? why is it that because they are american evagelicals do they think all of the sudden that blasphemy isn’t something they should be concerned about?

i mean if we are to take the bible as seriously as they do…(and i quote from the one FAQ they have)

If the Bible isn’t true, we can conclude that God, heaven, and hell do not exist, and we can live our lives as we wish without concerning ourselves about what will happen after we die. If, on the other hand, all of this actually is true, it isn’t something to be taken lightly; it’s an extremely important matter.

shouldn’t one likewise conclude that if the bible is tru that one shouldn’t name one’s website god.com?

and, doesn’t putting things in this kind of binary, either/or actually lessen the importance of their claim? or, i guess i should ask, when they mean truth what do they mean? do they mean truth as in 7 days of creation? the sun stood still? etc? or do they mean truth as in some form of abstract, transcendent, universal true?

maybe a better question is demon possession…do they believe that Jesus cured demon possessed or that these people were schyzophrenic? that is, do they try to “update” the claims of the bible so that it is more scientifically accurate or do they actually take it at face value…and if they do the former, haven’t they proven that it is untrue…at least, in some aspect?

yes, i know this has nothing to do with the Google-heads who know more about me than i do because they know every website i’ve ever visited.

Oh, but it has everything to do with the geeks. If they do want to be omniscient—rather, if they want their computers to be omniscient, then they’ll certainly want to appropriate god.com for themselves. Unless they wish to rename god Google, in which case never mind.

I gain a greater appreciation for that all-or-nothing kind of rhetoric these days. “If it’s not true, all ethical and social order might as well disintegrate for all we care; if it is, then WATCH OUT!” It’s the kind of statement that makes me want to ask, “What is the Bible?”

The weird thing about it is that, given all that a site owner can know about the visitors to her Web site, it’s a good chance that the Evangelical Media Group knows we’ve linked to them.

Which is a long way of saying (drumroll), www.god.com is watching.

It reminds me of long nights when, at 14, I would pray myself to sleep, begging God not to send me to hell because I had not been baptized, or afternoons when, alone, I wondered aloud (talking to myself) what would happen if I said, right there, “I sell my soul to the Devil!”, then felt really, really frightened because I knew God knew what I was thinking. Then I would realize that it didn’t matter, because I didn’t actually belong to God and couldn’t sell myself to Satan, which would lead to those interminable nights, praying, in bed.

However, "www.god.com is watching," doesn't carry the same weight.

when i was fourteen, i am pretty sure i was much more concerned with (what i thought were) hot girls than with going to hell—this was probably for the good. i was eighteen or so when i formally became a christian. i am not sure i was mature enough at 18 to really know what i was doing. actually, i am not sure i am mature enough now to actually know what i am doing.

And meanwhile, when I was fourteen, I spent large amounts of time wondering why I wasn’t better-looking—and hence more attractive to all those boys who were largely concerned with hot girls. It’s a complicated matter, this life. I’m glad I’m older now, though.

That’s just the thing: I lived miles from the nearest hot girls—I lived miles from the nearest girls—and the ones that lived closest were rich, and I was poor and embarassed about it, and I was nervous, and I was obsessed with selling my soul to the devil. My neighborhood was populated by owls who, outside my window at night, would wake me to tell me it was time to go to hell. Some nights the moon would be so bright it would wake me, an omen, and I would be certain I’d never see the next day. This went on for several years.

And woodpeckers! How could I forget? We had cypress siding on our house, and the woodpeckers loved to knock on it. I imagine having a house to knock on made a very loud, resonant sound to tell all the other peckers out there that this place is mine (FYI: woodpeckers knock to mark territory, in case you didn’t know). But to have one knock at 5.30 in the morning, just outside your open window, loud enough to wake? You’d swear it was the sound of Jesus at the door, there to tell you he’s sorry, but he just took the last of the saints to heaven with him: rapture’s done come and gone and you missed it.