Eric Schmidt, CEO of the Internet search engine Google, speaks for a company that's not only conquering the world of data, but figuring out ways to expand it. When asked about Google's future, he talks about the targeted personalization of search results: "The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask questions such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?' " (Financial Times, May 23).
Some may wonder if that's just where the company is headed, or if it's where we're all expected to go – toward depending on behavioral data and analytical technology to assess and predict our needs, and perhaps even fulfill them. But before becoming captivated with how a universe rich with searchable information might steer our lives and solve our problems – might become a superhuman mind – let's try an experiment that takes us to ancient times.
A problem needs solving right away. For the great Hebrew leader Moses, that translates to his confrontation with the Red Sea as he's going about freeing 600,000 Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
What might have happened if, at the Red Sea, Moses could have Googled "Creative escape routes"? "Negotiating skills"? "Speedy chariots"? "Boats"? "Help"???
There's no question that Moses sought help. But would he have found Google's knowledge base preferable to trusting God to care for him and his mission?
The point is, for all that we can glean thanks to technology, sometimes no amount of knowledge – gathered and sorted at any speed – provides the answer that best meets our need. Sometimes something totally unconventional is required. Something no one has ever seen or heard. Something new.
New to the human mind, that is.
So then, what sort of intelligence did Moses have access to and rely on when, as Pharaoh's forces drew closer, he said to the Israelites, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day" (Ex. 14:13)? His conviction – which you can almost feel as you read the Exodus story – was that there was nothing to fear and that a life-saving solution was at hand. This perception couldn't have come from anything his eyes or ears reported, or from human reason. All the physical evidence indicated that their journey was at an end.
But this humble leader turned to the all-intelligent God and trusted that he would receive whatever ideas he needed. And what came to Moses was something the human mind would fail to see as wise or possible given his predicament – that he and the Israelites should go forward – even by walking into the Red Sea, where "the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left" (Ex. 14:22). This idea not only guided them, but once acted on, continued to reveal the means, the encouragement, and the care they needed for moving ahead.
Moses' prayer and humility and faith lifted his thought to wake up to this more divinely intelligent view of things, and in yielding to it he found the direction and felt the confidence that enabled him to advance and to fulfill his mission.
This patterns a revelation any one of us can have. Sometimes we need more than human knowledge or technology can provide. Mary Baker Eddy's observation in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" speaks to this point: "Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?" (p. 264).
The Mind we should learn to trust, the Mind that is supremely intelligent and infinite, the Mind that emancipated a nation with a spiritual idea – and that continues to do so universally – is not human. It is divine. We should think about this all-important fact as we weigh the goals of the expanding world of data and technology.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.