There is a corner of my brain in charge of storing the memories I want to forget about, but can’t. Things like: a number of awkward first kisses, wetting the bed once when I was a senior in high school (an event my mom attributed to “just being stressed”), and life before smart phones. In fact, I barely even remember how I learned about things before smart phones. It just seems like a bad dream.
“Anyone know how many people live in the state of Alaska?”
“No, but I can look it up. Ah, here we are. The 1999 almanac.”
“But it’s 2005.”
“How much could the population have changed in the last 6 years?”
“I dunno. Let’s look it up. I’ll ask my mom if we can use the phone line for a couple hours. Oh shoot. Internet explorer crashed again.”
“Oh well. I guess we’ll never know.”
Historically, knowledge has been a privilege, but like most things, accessibility has damaged value. It doesn’t take much effort or intrinsic motivation to look up the population of Alaska in 2005 (666,946, by the way). Today, if we don’t “know” something, we can type it into a fancy smart phone, and have an answer in less than 5 seconds. Really, typing isn’t even required. We can literally tell our phone to search something, and if a definite answer doesn’t appear on the first page of google search results, we write off the question as unanswerable, or the problem as unsolvable.
One of my best friends really loves animals, and fairly recently, her cat died; she was absolutely heartbroken. I don’t like cats. In fact, I’m pretty allergic. But when I found out it had died, I was immeasurably and inexplicably sad. “It’s a cat. I don’t even like cats. I’m allergic,” I thought to myself. If you google, “Why am I sad that my friend’s cat just died?” there isn’t a single link on the first 3 pages that can give you an answer.
To be fair, we know more about life right now than ever before. We know there is another actual galaxy, Andromeda, which can be seen with the naked eye on a really clear, dark night (I didn’t even google that; I read it in a book a while back). We also know there are about 8.7 million species on this planet, and yet, estimations suggest that 80% of the earth’s species are yet to be discovered (I googled that one). 4.6% of the known universe is comprised of atoms, but the remaining 95% of the universe is made up of dark matter: something we know little to nothing about! We know a lot, but it pales in comparison to what we don’t know, so I think it’s pretty remarkable anyone can say with certainty they know there isn’t a God.
Still, my belief in God seems so irrational at times, and I think one of the reasons is because I’ve gotten so used to typing things I don’t understand into my iPhone. On Wikipedia, I can read about the Theory of Relativity; on YouTube, I can watch a video on how to solve a Rubik’s cube. But telling my phone to google “proof that God is real” is most likely going to procure a bunch of links to loony blogs filled with stories that simply don’t seem believable. “OK Google, how do I have faith?” God isn’t a myth that can be busted by Mythbusters, or discussed by a strange TLC reality series—there aren’t any documentaries out there that can prove His existence. So, why do so many people believe He is real?
My old phone had 47 cracks in the screen. 47. I counted once. Whoops. I felt pretty bad about those cracks, actually, because I probably spent more time looking at that screen than I did looking at actual human beings. And as sad as that is to admit, I think it’s pretty common. We spend a lot of time looking for answers on our phones, don’t you think? We see pins on Pinterest and think, “Hey! I want clothes like that!” Or an engagement picture on Instagram and think, “Hey! I want love like that!” And when we can’t find it by talking or interacting with actual people, where do we turn? You guessed it: phones, apps. We swipe left and right and sideways and across, searching for a fix to our perpetual loneliness, and all the while, we wonder why we feel so alone.
We are surrounded by so many beautiful things–sunsets, forests, oceans, canyons, people. But why are these things “beautiful” to us? YouTube or Wikipedia can’t necessarily explain that. I don’t understand why I’m compelled to believe something so seemingly illogical, but I do. I do believe. There are things about my own faith that I don’t understand, but for now, I’m learning that I don’t have to. When I speak to God, or choose to forgive, or fall in love, I am filled with feelings I can’t google. It isn’t science. It certainly isn’t rocket science. It’s love and light and happiness, and I’ve seen the joy and change those feelings have brought into my life.
I guess what I’m saying is, if we spent more time admitting that there are things out there that we can’t explain, and less time googling the answers, I believe our sense of purpose would be greater, and our desire to love would be multiplied. So, I say, give it a try. Try just believing. Believe in a better world. Believe that people are good, that they’re trying to love, that they can change. Believe that there is greater meaning in life than what the eye can see. Believe that light exists beyond the luminosity of your smart phone, and that you have more control over that light than simply turning the brightness up and down in the settings app.