Category Archives: faith

What People Want Versus What People Need — A Simple Analysis of the Impact of Sin

People do not want God. That’s for sure.

What People Need

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people’s needs can be broken down into five categories of varying intensity. It is a motivational theory in psychology that depicts hierarchical human needs within a pyramid. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid must be satisfied before one attend to other needs above. It posits that human being first need to have their physiological needs fulfilled. These physiological needs include: food, water, warmth, and rest. Once these are satisfied, one can then move upwards to have their basic needs of safety and security fulfilled. Only with basic needs for physiological and security out of the way can one speak about psychological needs such as belongingness and love (such as the need for intimate relationships and friendships), and esteem needs (such as prestige and the need for accomplishment). Finally, only with all of these fulfilled can anyone speak about self-actualization needs (such as achieving one’s full potential or other activities). These can be visualized using the chart below:

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

With COVID-19 plaguing the entire world, researchers and world leaders in the United Nations highlighted the top five global issues that we should all keep watch in 2021. These includes 1) ensuring equity and inclusivity at the heart of all we do, 2) accelerating progress on sustainable development goals, 3) making peace with the planet by reducing carbon emissions, 4) confronting a looming humanitarian catastrophe such as food crisis, and 5) reimagining multilateralism. You may read more here: https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/five-global-issues-to-watch-in-2021/

From the surface, it appears that the goals of the United Nations is aligned with the needs of people as highlighted by Maslow. Food, security, opportunity, equality, environmental protection, are all mentioned as global issues to watch and work upon. However, is this what the people wanted?

As Christians, we all knew the importance of recognizing the sovereignty of God. We are certain that God will provide for all our needs — the food we eat, the water we drink, and the clothes we wear. We knew this because of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 6 where He told us that as long as we sought His Kingdom and His righteousness, all these will be given to us. But here I’d like to ask a question: — will He really give us all these? Didn’t Jesus say that, “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me”? (Matthew 25:42-43, ESV). In context, it wasn’t really Jesus who was hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or in prison. It was the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40 & 45, ESV) whom Jesus was speaking about. The “least of these” are fellow believers (and possibly even pre-believers) in Christ. If God were to provide His believers, then why are there still these people?

What People Wanted

To answer this, I turn to find out what people truly wanted. According to Google Trends, these are some of the things people were more concerned about.

Figure 2: Google Trending Searches for Singapore
Figure 3: Google Trending Searches for United States

From the above trending searches alone, we can see that none of the trending search included charity, covid, nor covid relief. We do not even see global issues presented such as food production nor education. It was mainly entertainment, stocks, and an occasional work-related items. From the searches alone, we see that most people do not care for one another, let alone God.

Here in this simple blog post, I aim to show you the severity of sin. To do this, I will be using Google Trends for our analysis. We will compare five components: 1) the sin of people, 2) the needs of people, 3) the greatest issue facing the world, 4) people’s desire for God, and 5) people’s willingness to serve the needy.

Operationalisation of Variables

For the impact of “sin”, I consider the teachings of Paul. He wrote that “For although they [these people] knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21, ESV). Because of this, “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves… And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:21 & 28, ESV)

To understand what Paul meant by this, I compiled the words used by Paul and found a few common themes within the sins highlighted (See full text: Romans 1:18-31, ESV). The common themes identified were: lust, adultery, idolatry, LGBT, greed, self-centeredness, and BDSM. Because most of these categories included “sex” in some form, we can further simplify our search to “sex”.

Considering the needs of the people, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as well as one of the UN top 5 global issues to watch, I recognize people’s physiological need for “food” as one of the key things people require.

Considering the biggest issue that we are facing is COVID-19, our next comparison would be “covid”.

Considering people’s desire for God, I assume that people would look for information related to “God” by google searching “God”. Therefore, our next comparison would be “God”.

Finally, we consider people’s willingness to serve the needy. We assume that people would google “Volunteering” as a way to search for avenues to serve the needy. Hence, the next comparison we would want to look out for is “Volunteering”.

Data Analysis

With these five variables, we analyze the results from Google Trends within the year, from February 2020 to February 2021.

Out of all the five terms identified, “sex” was the most frequently searched topic, with “covid” surging past it for a brief period in early 2020. In decreasing search trends, the topics are as follows: 1) sex, 2) covid, 3) food, 4) God, and 5) Volunteering.

Figure 4: Google Worldwide Trends from February 2020 to February 2021

Based on topical analysis for “sex”, we can see that for “sex”, people were most interested in “sex dolls” and “sex videos” (I presume “sex videos” to be pornographic materials of all sorts, including fetish, clothed, un-clothed, real, or deepfaked). The countries that were most sexually inclined were South Asian countries, a few South East Asian countries, and a few East African countries.

Figure 5: Search queries for “sex”

Based on the topical analysis for “covid”, we can see that people were mostly concerned about covid transmission rates and covid testing. Most of these searches were concentrated in Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South America.

Figure 6: Search queries for “covid”

Based on the topical analysis for “food”, we can see that people were mostly concerned about the providence of essential food supplies, as well as food shelters. From this, we can see that the impact of COVID-19 has already taken a toll on people and gotten people searching to have their physiological need for food met. Surprisingly, the results shows that United States, Canada, and Australia have one of the highest need for food.

Figure 7: Search queries for “food”

Based on the topical analysis for “God”, we can see that most related queries are in Arabic. This suggests a concentration of interest for God amongst Arabic nations, and most notably, amongst the Muslims. The only English result that appeared in the top 5 was “the day I became a god”, a Japanese anime without any relevance to the God we knew about — the Creator of the Universe.

Figure 8: Search queries for “God”

Finally, the topical analysis for “Volunteering” showed that though the interest to volunteer were quite evenly spread out across the world, the highest concentration of covid volunteers centered around the Arabic nations. More notably, Saudi Arabia. This results coincides with our expectations that higher devotion to God results in higher desire to serve people in need.

Figure 9: Search queries for “Volunteering”

From the above verses, we determine that the more people recognizes God, the more they will volunteer, and the lesser they will be enticed by “sex” and “lust”. However, due to the fallen human nature, we see that the human struggle is plagued with the desires of lust and sex, regardless of piousness. We see this in the national breakdown for their collective google searches.

In Saudi Arabia, the most pious nation identified by Google Trends, the highest searched topic was “God” at 60%, followed by “sex” at 25%, “covid” at 9%, and “food” at 4%, and “Volunteering” at 2%.

Figure 10: National Breakdown of Google Searches — Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia ranks the highest in piousness in the entire world, with other nations searches for God wavering below the 10% mark. Singapore, for example, has a relatively evenly distributed google search trend, with “sex” at 35%, followed by “covid” at 34%, “food” at 28%, “God” at 3%, and “Volunteering” at lesser than 1%.

Figure 11: National Breakdown of Google Searches — Singapore

At 93%, the nation that ranks highest for “sex” is Vietnam. This is followed by “covid” at 6%, “food” at 1%, while “God” and “Volunteering” both remained below the 1% mark.

Figure 12: National Breakdown of Google Searches — Vietnam

The trend is similar for other highly “sexually” driven countries, such as India (“sex” at 88%) and Pakistan (“sex” at 87%). Both India and Pakistan has “God” at 1% and “Volunteering” at lesser than 1%.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, countries that rarely sought God may not be tempted by sexual desires. However, they may have an exceptionally high concern for “covid”.

Some of these countries includes Italy, with 81% concern for “covid”, 11% for “sex”, 4% for “God”, 3% for “food”, and 1% for volunteering.

Figure 13: National breakdown of Google Searches — Italy

The trend is similar for countries that are away from God, but are not greatly affected by the temptation of sins. Some of these countries include Canada (“covid” at 72%, “God” at 2%), Ireland (“covid” at 69%, “God” at 2%), France (“covid” at 78%, “God” at 3%).

Discussion

From the above data analysis, we see that people’s relationship with God is related to the way they prioritise life. People who love and fear God tends to respond with acts of altruism. However, it can be seen that people who are away from God tend to fall into the trap of “sex” or the concerns for “covid”. I am not saying that we should not be less concerned about “covid” if we are pious. However, I am saying that as a community of people who loves God, we should obey our authorities and be less concerned about the concerns in life, knowing that God has given the authorities wisdom to have these sorted out. However, if we were to fall away from God, we will begin to fall into all sorts of desires — including sexual desires with objects like dolls — and have no regard for our security, safety, and our basic physiological needs to live.

At the beginning, I highlighted that Jesus was in the “least of these”. I asked why would there be needy people if all Christians were called to serve the “least of these”? From the google trend analysis, we found that most people were either preoccupied by sexual sins, or are preoccupied with the concerns of covid. So much so that there are people looking for food in food shelters, even in first world countries. If only Christians around the world can renew our faith and our love towards God, offering food for people in need and spare clothes for people who doesn’t have them, then will we be able to fully resolve the issue of poverty and the food crisis. Only as a collective will we be able to change the world. But why haven’t we? Are we preoccupied with other things other than God?

Have this post broken your hearts for God? I sure hope it did as it did for me. May God fill our minds and change our hearts to serve Him in the way that is pleasing towards Him so that we may indeed be the salt and light we are called to be.

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