Google and the problem of evil

I was reading this story about Google — and how it is the most important company in the world — when I came across this little discussion about the problem of identifying evil:

[W]e don’t have a book that defines evil in terms of how we should specifically behave. I think we understand as a culture what is good and what is evil. You need some mechanism to judge that. So I welcome the criticism that “this is evil” but it’s also possible that the critic is wrong, right? In other words, the critic doesn’t understand the trade off, doesn’t understand the consequence. I spend lots of time with people criticizing Google on this or that and I sit there and I think, “I just don’t agree.”

Of course, as a Christian, the “we don’t have a book” bit made me smile. He is correct, though, that there are times when even our book does not tell us specifically how to behave in every moment. It does give us some pretty good landmarks, though. Many of them are problematic for a global corporation bent on making profits as its reason to exist, but that is an issue for another day. What struck me more about the quote is how it captures wonderfully the contemporary mind.

Part of the truth about the culture we live in is that everything is contested. Everything is justified based on competing human perceptions. It can’t be evil, the Google executive says to himself, because I’ve looked at the data and I don’t agree. It is all he said, she said.

This is one way that Christianity simply does not fit the world in which we live. It is something else entirely, a kingdom breaking in and hidden in the shadows of this world, a place where evil has a name.


2 thoughts on “Google and the problem of evil

  1. Actually, as scripture tells us and as C. S. Lewis, and numerous natural law philosophers point out, the civilized men through all of history have known how to recognize evil. (See So, the situation is less one of Christianity not fitting in (paganism wouldn’t either); but rather one of our Post-Modern Western “Civilization” not fitting in with the classic understanding of civilization. I doubt that our Post-Modern “civilization” can long persist in this state. Apres le deluge.

  2. Even popular, late-night radio voice, George Noory, who keeps over-the-road truck drivers awake investigating ufology, the paranormal, the Nephilim and a lot of other “high strangeness,” believes the world is “cracking up” (his terms). “Somethings not right,” he says. How does he know this?? The Apostle Paul says there is a law is written on our hearts, to which our conscience bears witness, and our “conflicting thoughts” are actively accusing or excusing us…

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