News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Praying to Alexa

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. — I got lost the other weekend.

Suddenly, I realized I didn’t know where I was going. Did I ask the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills for help?

No. Instead, I called out loud, “OK Google, find my destination!”

The extreme irony struck me at once.

Why would I speak out loud to an inanimate machine that can do nothing for me when I didn’t utter a single syllable to an infinitely capable God who loves me?

I had just taught a children’s Sunday School lesson about idolatry. I have an ugly little owl statue I use. “It has eyes, but can it see you?” I asked. Of course not, they exclaim. They agreed that the same was true for its ears and its beak. Though it has the parts it needs, it is incapable of using them.

We know plenty about idols.

Their names in Bible times were Molech, Chemosh, Ashtoreth, Zeus, Hermes and Baal.

Their function was to answer the baffling questions of their day and provide what was lacking in people’s lives.

Today, our society calls them Siri, OK Google, Alexa and Cortana.

Canaanites sacrificed their children to Molech. We allow our children to be consumed by Siri.

Moabites expected Chemosh to conquer their enemies. We expect OK Google, Alexa and Cortana to conquer our problems.

Ashtoreth was the goddess of love and fertility. How many use OK Google to find pornography or infertility remedies?

The Greeks worshipped Zeus as the god of sky and thunder. We ask our contemporary idols to tell us about our weather forecasts.

Hermes, the Greek god of trade, wealth, luck, fertility, animal husbandry, sleep, language, thieves, and travel would have given Alexa a run for her money.

Baal was Lord over all, keeping track of the comings and goings of men, just like any of our ever-present idols.

Why do we speak to these things as if they were gods, solving all the questions and problems of our day?

Chicago Tribune journalist Rex Huppke wrote an article anticipating the release of Alexa in 2014. In addition to sharing a promotional video of a family falling in love with Alexa as she assists them through their daily lives, Huppke wrote, “I want five of these.”

Google calculated my route and destination and, oblivious to my plight, replied, “Some routes are incomplete, and you will not receive step-by-step directions.”

The Lord says, “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”

Will you settle for speaking to a machine when you could have access to the one, true, living, omniscient God?

    About the Author

  • Sarah Dixon Young

    Sarah Dixon Young is a writer in North Dakota, where her husband Paul is pastor of Dakota Baptist Church.

    Read All by Sarah Dixon Young ›