NYT Blasted for Printing 'Silly Article' Claiming God's Decline Based on Google Searches

Google | Reuters/File

A Jewish rabbi who lives in and serves a small community in New York has written a hard hitting rejoinder to an op-ed in The New York Times suggesting that God is in the decline because He is being "googled" less than in previous years.

There are 4.7 million "results" for Jesus, but 49 million for Kim Kardashian, writes Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, quoting from an op-ed titled, "Googling for God," published in the Times last weekend.

"By that standard she is more popular than John Lennon, who in turn claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ," adds Rosen, who received his rabbinic ordination from Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, in an American Jewish newspaper, The Algemeiner. "And indeed they were if you think that kind of popularity should be taken seriously."

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The op-ed author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, says, "I looked at the war in Ukraine, the civil war in Syria, the tsunami in Japan and 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. In every instance in the affected country, searches for news increased by between 90 and 280%. The top religious searches be they Bible, Quran, God, Allah, or prayer tended to drop."

Rosen questions if anyone believe that God is a popularity contestant or a product. "Since when did God care how many people voted for him? Only Satan in the Christian tradition worries about pride."

The rabbi then argues that the op-ed author overlooks popular tendencies among people.

People want news of a crisis, especially if they are affected, more than sitting down to a theological discussion, Rosen points out.

"The piece reminded me of all those silly articles in which God is described as a kindly old man sitting on a cloud in the sky (or very angry, hurling down thunderbolts at evil doers). Having set up a caricature as the target, the article then proceeds to make fun of the idea. Well, yes. If you compare God to Superman it would be laughable. But which thinking believer sees Him that way? Do people assume that all religious grownups still cling to kindergarten ideas of what God is?"

Bad is always more fun than good, Rosen says. "Taking a drug is an easier way to escape your problems than working hard to overcome them… That's why the papers are full of all the bad things Israel does but rarely does anyone ever mention the good, even if there's just as much of that too."

For most human beings, life is sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, the rabbi adds. "That is what sells."

He goes on to say: "Your average Joe or Josephine is a yahoo who is satisfied with the lowest common denominator, the easiest and simplest of everything. He will vote for [Republican presidential candidate] Donald Trump to become president of the United States. He will hate foreigners, minorities, and probably women too. But this merely tells us what we already know – that most people in this world love pornography more than the self-discipline of a religious tradition."

We live in a dumb world, and Google searches prove just how true that is, the rabbi argues. So why does a "supposedly serious newspaper" publish such a "silly article, unless it too feels the need to attract more dumb readers?"

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