In recent years, queries related to the Bible have been steadily rising according to Google Trends. We lament the dwindling faith in God’s inspired words, but does that mean people are less interested? How can we have an upswing in searches but a downturn in faithful response? A closer look a the data reveals some interesting answers to this question.
A quick glance at Google’s Top Charts shows the Bible as number one among all books as far back as they have recorded this data (118 months). Below is a view of the top 5 books as of the time of this post.
It’s important to understand a bit about how Google generates these rankings and what can go wrong. Their algorithm takes its best guess to link what people type in a box to specific things in the Knowledge Graph. Sometimes it won’t be perfect. A search for “The Bible” with the intent of finding out about the TV series of that name or even a search for “The Satanic Bible” may both be linked back to the wrong thing. It is also dependent on language, which may skew “worldwide” results on these charts.
Trends Over Time
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the trend:
Two things jump right out: the overall trend has been slowly but steadily rising over the past decade, and noticeably spikes in March of 2013. Using the news headlines overlay, it becomes clear what happened. The History Channel series “The Bible” was airing and many people noticed that Satan’s character bore a striking resemblance to President Obama. The story erupted on the web, securing its place as a statistical outlier and highlighting the fact that far more are attracted by celebrity sensations than by sober truths.
A closer look at daily totals reveals more:
The jagged peaks follow a distinct pattern. Sundays see the most Bible searches, followed by Wednesday – the day most churches schedule evening events. The numbers decline as the week rolls on, with Fridays and Saturdays typically being the lowest.
This isn’t all we can discover with tools like this. Here’s a view of translation popularity highlighting an unexpected rise for the KJV, overtaking the NIV in 2012:
In a geographic distribution, the Bible Belt stands out. So do African countries which dominate the Top 10.
While biblical literacy and obedience to God’s commands have declined in America, the above trends show us that people are still searching for what he has written to us. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to leave a comment below or use the contact form to send your questions privately. I’ll do my best to answer, but be assured that those genuinely seeking God will find him – with or without the help of Google.