OK, Google: Who Is Jesus?

The proliferation of home automation devices is exploding around the world. Among the most popular are small speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, which accept voice prompts from users and, in return, supply information or provide various other web-based and home-automation services.

Fans of the old Star Trek television series will recall that the fictional U.S.S. Enterprise's crew could issue verbal commands to their computers and get instantaneous results. That science fiction future is now a growing reality today, with voice-command services available on our smartphones, car audio systems, and the aforementioned home speakers.

Speakers like the Echo and Home can respond at a moment's notice to just about any question, such as, "How many tablespoons are in a cup?" Both speakers will provide a pleasantly delievered audible answer: "There are sixteen tablespoons in a cup."

But ask the Google Home device, which uses the firm's Assistant technology, "Who is Jesus Christ?" and you'll end up with ... silence.

According to CNBC.com, "Anger broke out on social media [recently] when people started creating videos that showed that Google's smart speaker, Home, couldn't answer the question 'Who is Jesus?' but could provide responses for Buddha, Muhammad, and Satan."

Two other voice-based services, Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, both answer that question with a definition from the online Wikipedia encyclopedia: "Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe him to be the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament."

In a Twitter response, Google says, "Some have noticed the Google Assistant wouldn't respond for "Who is Jesus?" This wasn't out of disrespect but to ensure respect. Some Assistant replies come from the web. It might not reply in cases where web content is more vulnerable to vandalism [and] spam." Google said it would "temporarily disable" the Assistant's ability to answer questions about religious figures until it can find a way to ensure more accurate—and, presumably, respectful—answers.

The stated reason for the confusion is in Google's complex algorithms, or computational formulas, used to find and present these answers. The algorithms often pick up the correct answer for the number of tablespoons in a cup, but they could stumble on more controversial subjects.

In a way, it's not surprising that the programmers at Google may not be able to provide a clear answer on who Jesus is. After all, there was confusion in Jesus' day, as we read in Matthew 16:13–16: "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' "

Peter's answer is, of course, not only the correct one, but it's also the only way we can find hope and salvation. We must acknowledge Jesus as "the Son of the living God," and as the Christ, which is how English renders the Greek word for "Messiah," our Savior.

While it's useful to know historical information about Jesus, history won't gain forgiveness for our sins. And make no mistake: We're all sinners; we each have missed the mark of God's standard for holiness (Romans 3:23).

But there is good news, and you don't need a Google Home device to find it: You can be saved, made new and fit for heaven, and experience an eternity of joy. The online Bible Study Guide, "Rescue From Above" features all the details. Click here to read it now. And don't miss Pastor Doug's video presentation on "Who Is Jesus?"—it will give you the true and honest facts that a voice-activated search can't yet provide. Click here to watch!

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