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February 20, 2004

What would google say?

I decided to look at the top 10 websites on google when I queried for 5 major world religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism & Buddhism. I quickly looked around the sites and characterized their general tone. Here is what I found:

Islam:

  • 5 pro-Muslim apologetic sites.
  • 2 Muslim oriented news & info sites.
  • 2 Muslim oriented educational sites.
  • 1 pro-Christian apolgetic site

Christianity:

  • 7 educational sites, a mix of Christian and religiously neutral and sectarian.
  • 3 Christian oriented news & info sites.

Judaism:

  • 9 educational sites, 1 religiously neutral, the others from a Jewish perspective
  • 1 pro-Jewish apologetic site, oriented toward countering conversion to Christianity.

Hinduism:

  • 6 educational sites, both Hindu and religiously neutral.
  • 3 Hindu oriented news & info sites.
  • 1 dead link.

Buddhism:

  • All the Buddhist sites struck me as educational in orientation, whether from a Buddhist or religiously neutral perspective

You can check my evaluations, some of these were judgement calls. Overall, I think that the top 10 websites of the various religions reflected them pretty well in terms of what people would have expected.

Buddhism: Many of the sites were very academic. They were dry, often not glitzy, and had a 1996 feel as far as the HTML formatting. You definitely got the feeling that this is a detached faith.

Hindusim: Kind of an F.O.B. feel here. One of the links was even dead. Tend toward community oriented sites that emphasize extra-religious aspects of the culture like marriage more than the others. Seemed a bit more unorganized, with less central structure and commonalities.

Judaism: It's all about the learning! Almost all of these sites were oriented toward Jews to help them practice their own faith, or acted as information dispensaries for gentiles who might have misimpressions of their faith.

Christianity: Generally slick sites. If they were pushy about converting you they tended to be conservative sites. Very worldly in terms of focusing on where the news was, where the mission opportunities are, etc.

Islam: These sites were among the more targeted out there, they sometimes addressed Christians very directly, showing how Islam is the One True Faith. These were the sites where I saw explicit textual appeals to the validity of the Koran or confirmation via scientific discoveries of the Koran's veracity. This sort of site is common on the "Christian" net as well (and no doubt the other religions)-but was pushed down further on the google results. Interestingly, the one Christian site that mirrored the Muslim ones in tone, using textual gotchas and trying to "prove" their religion to unbelievers, was a Christian site that showed up in the same list as the Muslim sites.

Posted by razib at 03:45 PM