I was preparing a lesson for priesthood recently in which we reviewed a General Conference talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson entitled Let Your Faith Show. His talk highlighted a perspective that is increasingly prevalent in our society. It is the notion that religion has become irrelevant in modern life. This message is broadcast a thousand times a day in a myriad of forms that range from overt rejection of God to the more subtle ideas (such as the belief that government, when properly constituted, will achieve the same results as organized religion [here for an old post]). It occurred to me that this phenomenon is demonstrated even more subtly by considering where we search for help when we need it: Google or God.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore the wealth of information (and misinformation) that exists on the web when we have questions or problems. In fact, I’m certain that the web represents a gift from God to further His work. Furthermore, I believe the Lord wants us to use every resource at our disposal to work out our problems (D&C 9:7-9) before troubling Him with them.* But, for all its good, the Internet certainly drags along its share of problems as well. Google has literally changed the way we solve problems and perceive the world. Though it brings a wealth of resources to our fingertips in an instant, Google makes the ultimate source of knowledge, guidance and direction just a little more elusive.
As members of the Church we have the privilege of having the continual companionship of the Holy Ghost–if we use it. That means we have the opportunity of having God with us all the time. That presence is like spiritual 4G–even when you’re stuck on an airplane, in the wildness, or are subject to international roaming. Brigham Young pointed out that most of us don’t use it:
There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him His will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 12; page 104)
Who do you turn to when the chips are down? Its a question that is cause for some personal introspection. As we become habituated to going to Google for answers, we are less inclined to go to God in prayer, to visit the temple, to open the scriptures, or to listen to the God (i.e. – the Holy Ghost) that is patiently waiting to for us to spend more time with Him.
Google is great–but we are wise to remember it is one more way to persuade us to put our trust in the arm of flesh–in this case digital flesh. Caution is advised, lest we fall into the increasingly prevalent trap of worshiping the creation, rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).**
*The Prophet Joseph Smith is an example of a man that knew where to go for help. His history and the Doctrine and Covenants are replete with examples of how his instincts and experience taught him where to search for answers (JS-H 1:11-13, 1:29-30). In fact, he was so comfortable in going to God with questions that the Lord sometimes had to say “you’re bugging Me . . . knock it off” (D&C 5:29; D&C 59:22; D&C 130:15). ** See also Isaiah 10:15,